Miscellaneous: August 15th, 2008 by JS
A Guardian journalist who doesn’t want to import the Scandinavian social model lock, stock and barrel is something of a rarity, so it felt worth linking to this piece by Madeleine Bunting.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper is generally known as a bit of a cheerleader for the Nordic (particularly Swedish) social model, but columnist Madeleine Bunting this morning tries to pour a little cold water on the flames of the pro-Nordic ardour of journalists like Polly Toynbee. Bunting points out, not unreasonably, that the big welfare state is based on a consensus culture, and this necessitates the curtailment of personal liberties, either by law or by social conditioning. It would never work in Britain, she argues.
On successive visits to Denmark, Norway and now, just back from two weeks in Finland, I’ve kept bumping up against the same puzzling phenomenon: a kind of unquestioning assumption of how things should be, a form of social control about the way to behave and one’s responsibilities to others.
The article is a bit thin on detailed analysis (and Bunting seems to be labouring under the false impression that Scandinavia is Calvinist), but her point that you can’t just export the Swedish model abroad seems valid.
Miscellaneous: August 4th, 2008 by JS
Are we starting to see a genuine easing of restrictions on alcohol in Sweden? Draconian restrictions on buying booze may seem to be firmly in force on the Swedish high street, but there are chinks in Systembolaget’s armour.
A ruling last year by the European Court of Justice lifted Sweden’s ban on private imports of alcohol from other EU countries, and this has opened the door to new ways of buying wine online. One company trying to prise the state’s fingers from the booze bottle is Antipodean Premium Wines, which is soon to launch a cooperation with Coop, one of the country’s largest supermarket chains.
A new article by David Ibison in the Financial Times (registration required) looks at how the state monopolies on alcohol and gambling are being undermined. The monopolies’ challengers, he writes, are still pretty small scale:
But they are significant in a country that has been ruled for most of the past 70 years by socialist governments, chipping away at one of the most potent symbols of state authority.
See also: Mark Majzner, CEO of Antipodean Premium Wines, wrote this article for The Local about how the Swedish authorities are turning a blind eye to people who dodge tax on imported alcohol.
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