Singapore’s Ministry of Health reported a major increase in breakthrough infections of COVID-19 for four straight days despite being ranked Number 5 in the world in vaccination rate. Over 80 percent of the country is vaccinated for COVID-19.
As of 7 October 2021, 83% of the population has received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and 85% has received at least one dose, according to the latest report.
(CBS) Stockholm — Sweden’s Public Health Agency on Wednesday recommended a temporary halt to the use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine among young adults, citing concerns over rare side effects to the heart. It said the pause should initially be in force until December 1, explaining that it had received evidence of an increased risk of side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) and inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis).
This is in addition to Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark saying young men should not get the vaccine.
John Ziegler, a conservative American journalist and once a vaccine advocate, has admitted that he had been wrong about the injections against Covid-19, especially seeing the alarming data from Israel.
I will post his TWEETS along with the larger graphics under the associated Tweet:
TWEET on ISRAEL
TWEET ON SWEDEN
Noted in the story is this common sense position:
Berenson added: “A rational response to their plunging effectiveness would be – at the least – to stop encouraging their use while scientists investigate why they have stopped working so quickly. Instead Fauci is pressing Americans to take a third mRNA dose in the hope it will work better and longer than the original two.
“But no clinical trial data shows a third dose will reduce infections, much less hospitalizations or deaths. And a research preprint released Monday (Aug. 23) in Japan suggests the Delta variant could evolve in a way that could produce vaccine antibody-dependent enhancement, a nightmare scenario.”
So, What is antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)? RIVER CITY MALONE (RCM) has a wonderful article explaining this well enough for myself, and hopefully the audience here:
In reacting either to an infection or a vaccine, your body makes antibodies of various types to a variety of proteins on the surface of the virus. Some of the antibodies will be neutralizing, meaning that when they bind to the virus they prevent the virus from getting inside human cells. Other antibodies can likewise bind to the virus, but not make any difference to the virus’s successful functioning. These are non-neutralizing antibodies.
The problem is that both types of antibodies can also bind with loose viral proteins, especially from a vaccine, or a subsequent exposure to another virus, or with proteins of similar shape on or in human cells themselves. When antibodies bind to a loose protein, this triggers what’s called an immune complex reaction.
Immune complexes tend to deposit in certain parts of the body, such as the joints and kidneys. Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) appears to be a damaging inflammatory reaction of one’s own antibodies against one’s own tissues or cells, again, provoked by antibodies binding to one’s tissues or by immune complexes being deposited.
The antibody/antigen reaction triggers other inflammatory cells in a cascade effect, leading to tissue and organ damage which can be very serious.
RCMthen links to two studies. You can view them yourselves when there. As noted in a previous post, Stephanie Seneff has said the following:
Stephanie Seneff, a senior researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL), says that the situation is reminiscent of a phenomenon seen among other vaccines called antibody dependent enhancement (ADE).
According to a study published in September 2020 in the Nature Microbiology journal, “One potential hurdle for antibody-based vaccines and therapeutics is the risk of exacerbating COVID-19 severity via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). ADE can increase the severity of multiple viral infections, including other respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and measles.”
In another study published in 2012, lab animals injected with experimental coronavirus vaccines developed enhanced lung diseases. As a result, the researchers concluded, “Caution in proceeding to application of a SARS-CoV vaccine in humans is indicated.”
According to Seneff, several studies have shown that coronavirus vaccines can alter how human immune systems respond to infections. In addition, the vaccines can activate dormant infections such as herpes, resulting in symptoms of Bell’s Palsy or shingles.
“It is conceivable to me that the laser-beam specificity of the induced antibodies is offset by a general weakening of innate immunity… I also suspect that massive vaccination campaigns may accelerate the rate at which the vaccine-resistant mutant strains become dominant among all the SARS-CoV-2 [coronavirus] strains,” Seneff said.
I highlighted this portion: including other respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)BECAUSEI have noted the rise in RSV cases filling our ICU beds in a previous post… let me update this a bit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing this health advisory to notify clinicians and caregivers about increased interseasonal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity across parts of the Southern United States. Due to this increased activity, CDC encourages broader testing for RSV among patients presenting with acute respiratory illness who test negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. RSV can be associated with severe disease in young children and older adults. This health advisory also serves as a reminder to healthcare personnel, childcare providers, and staff of long-term care facilities to avoid reporting to work while acutely ill – even if they test negative for SARS-CoV-2…… Due to reduced circulation of RSV during the winter months of 2020–2021, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months.
There is now a renewed push to find a vaccine for RSV. RSV is a life-threatening, hidden epidemic for growing population of adults 60+ with over 177,000 hospitalizations — and 14,000 deaths — every year. I am sure that with the new CDC guidelines on Covid death categorizations (April 2020), I am positive a majority of these “Delta cases” are in fact RSV cases.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – While COVID-19 cases are rising, so are cases of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), and it’s not just children getting infected.
Doctors are also seeing more people aged 65 and older come down with the virus. “
We know that 2.5 million cases a year happen in that age group, we also know it causes hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Terry Klein, a physician at Family Medicine East. “14,000 they estimate, could be more, in fact, likely more because the truth is we don’t test for RSB very often.”
Increase in RSV cases forces Sierra View to restrict visitations (THE SUN-GAZETTE)
PORTERVILLE – An increase of off-season cases of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus has forced Sierra View Medical Center to put age restrictions on visitations to the hospital. Sierra View will begin implementing Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) restrictions to prevent the spread of this virus to those who are more susceptible beginning today, Sept. 1.
As North Carolina hospitals struggle with rising numbers of COVID-19 patients, they’re also seeing a surprising number of people, particularly children, sick with another respiratory illness that’s usually a problem in the winter. Hospitals say they’re not used to seeing summertime cases of respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. The viral illness has symptoms similar to COVID-19 and influenza and is usually hardest on children under 5 and adults 65 and older.
RSV is Spreading This Summer Concerning Infectious Disease Doctors (NBC 7 – SAN DIEGO)
The virus typically spreads in the winter, months before tapering off in the early spring, but this year it has begun to spread in the summer months. In 2019, there were 5 cases of RSV at Rady Children’s Hospital over the months of June, July, and August. In 2021, there have been 16 cases in one week of August and 70 known cases so far. Many cases of RSV in both adults and children aren’t a cause of concern, but some severe cases lead to hospitalization.
But the hints early this summer weren’t about the flu; rather, they were about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an illness that has been known to cause severe sickness and sometimes death in older adults and young children. First Australia reported high spikes of RSV. Last winter, there were only a handful of cases of RSV in the U.S., but in early June, the CDC issued a health advisory about an uptick in interseasonal RSV activity across parts of the Southern United States.
“Parts of the Southern United States,” coupled with “could be more, in fact, likely more because the truth is we don’t test for RSB very often.” What do you have? This nonsense via R.T.:
And our least vaccinated states are our current problem, Sean.
R.T.is trying to say Texas and Florida. He is no better than the MSM looking for anything to stick on whom they think are deniers.
Sweden, of course, was maligned in 2020 for foregoing a strict lockdown. The Guardian called its approach “a catastrophe” in the making, while CBS News said Sweden had become “an example of how not to handle COVID-19.”
Despite these criticisms, Sweden’s laissez-faire approach to the pandemic continues today. In contrast to its European neighbors, Sweden is welcoming tourists. Businesses and schools are open with almost no restrictions. And as far as masks are concerned, not only is there no mandate in place, Swedish health officials are not even recommending them.
What are the results of Sweden’s much-derided laissez-faire policy? Data show the 7-day rolling average for COVID deaths yesterday was zero (see below). As in nada. And it’s been at zero for about a week now.
Even a year ago, it was clear the hyperbolic claims about “the Swedish catastrophe” were false; just ask Elon Musk (also see: here, here, and here). But a year later the evidence is overwhelming that Sweden got the pandemic mostly right. Sweden’s overall mortality rate in 2020 was lower than most of Europe and its economy suffered far less. Meanwhile, today Sweden is freer and healthier than virtually any other country in Europe.
As much of the world remains gripped in fear and nations devise new restrictions to curtail basic freedoms, Sweden remains a vital and shining reminder that there is a better way.
….If the treatment group in a clinical trial were dying off faster than the control group, an ethical researcher would halt the experiment. But the lockdown proponents were undeterred by the numbers in Florida, or by similar results elsewhere, including a comparable natural experiment involving European countries with the least restrictive policies. Sweden, Finland, and Norway rejected mask mandates and extended lockdowns, and they have each suffered significantly less excess mortality than most other European countries during the pandemic.
A nationwide analysis in Sweden showed that keeping schools open throughout the pandemic, without masks or social distancing, had little effect on the spread of Covid, but school closures and mask mandates for students continued elsewhere. Another Swedish researcher, Jonas Ludvigsson, reported that not a single schoolchild in the country died from Covid in Sweden and that their teachers’ risk of serious illness was lower than for the rest of the workforce—but these findings provoked so many online attacks and threats that Ludvigsson decided to stop researching or discussing Covid.
Social-media platforms continued censoring scientists and journalists who questioned lockdowns and mask mandates. YouTube removed a video discussion between DeSantis and the Great Barrington scientists, on the grounds that it “contradicts the consensus” on the efficacy of masks, and also took down the Hoover Institution’s interview with Atlas. Twitter locked out Atlas and Kulldorff for scientifically accurate challenges to mask orthodoxy. A peer-reviewed German study reporting harms to children from mask-wearing was suppressed on Facebook (which labeled my City Journalarticle “Partly False” because it cited the study) and also at ResearchGate, one of the most widely used websites for scientists to post their papers. ResearchGate refused to explain the censorship to the German scientists, telling them only that the paper was removed from the website in response to “reports from the community about the subject-matter.”
The social-media censors and scientific establishment, aided by the Chinese government, succeeded for a year in suppressing the lab-leak theory, depriving vaccine developers of potentially valuable insights into the virus’s evolution. It’s understandable, if deplorable, that the researchers and officials involved in supporting the Wuhan lab research would cover up the possibility that they’d unleashed a Frankenstein on the world. What’s harder to explain is why journalists and the rest of the scientific community so eagerly bought that story, along with the rest of the Covid narrative.
Why the elite panic? Why did so many go so wrong for so long? When journalists and scientists finally faced up to their mistake in ruling out the lab-leak theory, they blamed their favorite villain: Donald Trump. He had espoused the theory, so they assumed it must be wrong. And since he disagreed at times with Fauci about the danger of the virus and the need for lockdowns, then Fauci must be right, and this was such a deadly plague that the norms of journalism and science must be suspended. Millions would die unless Fauci was obeyed and dissenters were silenced.
But neither the plague nor Trump explains the panic. Yes, the virus was deadly, and Trump’s erratic pronouncements contributed to the confusion and partisanship, but the panic was due to two preexisting pathologies that afflicted other countries, too. The first is what I have called the Crisis Crisis, the incessant state of alarm fomented by journalists and politicians. It’s a longstanding problem—humanity was supposedly doomed in the last century by the “population crisis” and the “energy crisis”—that has dramatically worsened with the cable and digital competition for ratings, clicks, and retweets. To keep audiences frightened around the clock, journalists seek out Cassandras with their own incentives for fearmongering: politicians, bureaucrats, activists, academics, and assorted experts who gain publicity, prestige, funding, and power during a crisis.
Unlike many proclaimed crises, an epidemic is a genuine threat, but the crisis industry can’t resist exaggerating the danger, and doomsaying is rarely penalized. Early in the 1980s AIDS epidemic, the New York Times reported the terrifying possibility that the virus could spread to children through “routine close contact”—quoting from a study by Anthony Fauci. Life magazine wildly exaggerated the number of infections in a cover story, headlined “Now No One Is Safe from AIDS.” It cited a study by Robert Redfield, the future leader of the CDC during the Covid pandemic, predicting that AIDS would soon spread as rapidly among heterosexuals as among homosexuals. Both scientists were absolutely wrong, of course, but the false alarms didn’t harm their careers or their credibility.
Journalists and politicians extend professional courtesy to fellow crisis-mongers by ignoring their mistakes, such as the previous predictions by Neil Ferguson. His team at Imperial College projected up to 65,000 deaths in the United Kingdom from swine flu and 200 million deaths worldwide from bird flu. The death toll each time was in the hundreds, but never mind: when Ferguson’s team projected millions of American deaths from Covid, that was considered reason enough to follow its recommendation for extended lockdowns. And when the modelers’ assumption about the fatality rate proved too high, that mistake was ignored, too.
Journalists kept highlighting the most alarming warnings, presented without context. They needed to keep their audience scared, and they succeeded. For Americans under 70, the probability of surviving a Covid infection was about 99.9 percent, but fear of the virus was higher among the young than among the elderly, and polls showed that people of all ages vastly overestimated the risk of being hospitalized or dying.
The second pathology underlying the elite’s Covid panic is the politicization of research—what I have termed the Left’s war on science, another long-standing problem that has gotten much worse. Just as the progressives a century ago yearned for a nation directed by “expert social engineers”—scientific high priests unconstrained by voters and public opinion—today’s progressives want sweeping new powers for politicians and bureaucrats who “believe in science,” meaning that they use the Left’s version of science to justify their edicts. Now that so many elite institutions are political monocultures, progressives have more power than ever to enforce groupthink and suppress debate. Well before the pandemic, they had mastered the tactics for demonizing and silencing scientists whose findings challenged progressive orthodoxy on issues such as IQ, sex differences, race, family structure, transgenderism, and climate change.
And then along came Covid—“God’s gift to the Left,” in Jane Fonda’s words. Exaggerating the danger and deflecting blame from China to Trump offered not only short-term political benefits, damaging his reelection prospects, but also an extraordinary opportunity to empower social engineers in Washington and state capitals. Early in the pandemic, Fauci expressed doubt that it was politically possible to lock down American cities, but he underestimated the effectiveness of the crisis industry’s scaremongering. Americans were so frightened that they surrendered their freedoms to work, study, worship, dine, play, socialize, or even leave their homes. Progressives celebrated this “paradigm shift,” calling it a “blueprint” for dealing with climate change.
This experience should be a lesson in what not to do, and whom not to trust. Do not assume that the media’s version of a crisis resembles reality. Do not count on mainstream journalists and their favorite doomsayers to put risks in perspective. Do not expect those who follow “the science” to know what they’re talking about. Science is a process of discovery and debate, not a faith to profess or a dogma to live by. It provides a description of the world, not a prescription for public policy, and specialists in one discipline do not have the knowledge or perspective to guide society. They’re biased by their own narrow focus and self-interest. Fauci and Deborah Birx, the physician who allied with him against Atlas on the White House task force, had to answer for the daily Covid death toll—that ever-present chyron at the bottom of the television screen—so they focused on one disease instead of the collateral damage of their panic-driven policies.
“The Fauci-Birx lockdowns were a sinful, unconscionable, heinous mistake, and they will never admit they were wrong,” Atlas says. Neither will the journalists and politicians who panicked along with them. They’re still portraying lockdowns as not just a success but also a precedent—proof that Americans can sacrifice for the common good when directed by wise scientists and benevolent autocrats. But the sacrifice did far more harm than good, and the burden was not shared equally. The brunt was borne by the most vulnerable in America and the poorest countries of the world. Students from disadvantaged families suffered the most from school closures, and children everywhere spent a year wearing masks solely to assuage the neurotic fears of adults. The less educated lost jobs so that professionals at minimal risk could feel safer as they kept working at home on their laptops. Silicon Valley (and its censors) prospered from lockdowns that bankrupted local businesses.
Luminaries united on Zoom and YouTube to assure the public that “we’re all in this together.” But we weren’t. When the panic infected the nation’s elite—the modern gentry who profess such concern for the downtrodden—it turned out that they weren’t so different from aristocrats of the past. They were in it for themselves.
What do Democratic Socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want America to look like? They say they want America to emulate Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden. But do their proposed policies reflect that? Or do they point down a darker path? Debbie D’Souza, a native Venezuelan and political commentator, investigates.
Armstrong and Getty go over some referenced materials regarding the The Vid (Covid-19). This material comes from the Swiss Policy Research: “FACTS ABOUT COVID-19” (30-bullet points added below video). Pretty amazing stuff.
According to the latest immunological studies, the overall lethality of Covid-19 (IFR) in the general population ranges between 0.1% and 0.5% in most countries, which is comparable to the medium influenza pandemics of 1957 and 1968.
For people at high risk or high exposure (including health care workers), early or prophylactictreatment is essential to prevent progression of the disease.
In countries like the UK (with lockdown) and Sweden (without lockdown), overall mortality since the beginning of the year is in the range of a strong influenza season; mortality is higher in the USA (comparable to 1957/1968), but lower in countries like Germany and Switzerland. However, antibody values are still low in large parts of previously locked-down Europe.
In most places, the risk of death for the healthy general population of school and working age is comparable to a daily car ride to work. The risk was initially overestimated because many people with only mild or no symptoms were not taken into account.
About 80% of all people develop only mild symptoms or no symptoms. Even among 70-79 year olds, about 60% develop only mild symptoms. About 95% of all people develop at most moderate symptoms and do not require hospitalization.
Up to 60% of all people may already have a partial T-cell immune response against the new coronavirus due to contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. cold viruses). Moreover, up to 60% of children and about 6% of adults may already have cross-reactive antibodies.
The median age of Covid deaths in most Western countries is over 80 years – e.g. 84 years in Sweden – and only about 4% of the deceased had no serious preconditions. In contrast to flu pandemics, the age and risk profile of deaths thus essentially corresponds to normal mortality.
Up to 30% of all additional deaths may have been caused not by Covid-19, but by the effects of the lockdown, panic and fear. For example, the treatment of heart attacks and strokes decreased by up to 40% because many patients no longer dared to go to hospital.
Many media reports of young and healthy people dying from Covid-19 turned out to be false: many of these young people either did not die from Covid-19, they had already been seriously ill (e.g. from undiagnosed leukaemia), or they were in fact 109 instead of 9 years old. The claimed increase in Kawasaki disease in children also turned out to be exaggerated.
Most Covid-19 symptoms can also be caused by severe influenza (including pneumonia, thrombosis and the temporary loss of the sense of taste and smell), but with severe Covid-19 these symptoms are indeed much more frequent and more pronounced.
About 10% of symptomatic people develop so-called post-acute (“long”) Covid and report symptoms that last for several weeks or months. This may also affect younger and previously healthy people with a strong immune response to the new coronavirus.
The often shown exponential curves of “corona cases” are misleading, as the number of tests also increased exponentially. In most countries, the ratio of positive tests to tests overall (i.e. the positivity rate) always remained below 20%. In many countries, the peak of the spread was already reached well before the lockdown came into effect.
In most Covid hotspots, including New York City, London, Stockholm and Bergamo, the infection rate dropped as soon as about 20% of people had developed antibodies against the new coronavirus. This value is much lower than the inital estimate of 60 to 80%.
Countries without lockdowns, such as Japan, Belarus and Sweden, have not experienced a more negative course of events than many other countries. Sweden was even praised by the WHO and now benefits from higher immunity compared to lockdown countries. 75% of Swedish deaths happened in nursing facilities that weren’t protected fast enough.
The fear of a shortage of ventilators was unjustified. According to lung specialists, the invasive ventilation (intubation) of Covid-19 patients, which is partly done out of fear of spreading the virus, is in fact often counterproductive and damaging to the lungs.
There is still limited scientific evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks in the general population, and most countries with mandatory masks couldn’t contain or slow the epidemic. Some experts warn that face masks may interfere with normal breathing and may become “germ carriers” if used repeatedly.
Many clinics in Europe and the US remained largely underutilized during lockdowns and in some cases had to send staff home. Millions of surgeries and therapies were cancelled, including many cancer screenings and organ transplants.
At no time was there a medical reason for the closure of elementary schools, as the risk of disease and transmission in children is extremely low. There is also no medical reason for small classes, masks or ‘social distancing’ rules in elementary schools.
A global respiratory disease pandemic can indeed extend over several seasons, but many studies of a “second wave” are based on very unrealistic assumptions, such as a constant risk of illness and death across all age groups.
The number of people suffering from unemployment, depression and domestic violence as a result of the measures has reached historic record levels. Several experts predict that the measures will claim far more lives than the virus itself. According to the UN 1.6 billion people around the world are at immediate risk of losing their livelihood.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that the “corona crisis” may be used for the permanent expansion of global surveillance. In several parts of the world, the population is being monitored by drones and facing serious police overreach during lockdowns.
The origin of the new coronavirus remains unknown, but the best evidence currently points to a Covid-like 2012 pneumonia incident in a Chinese mine, whose viral samples were collected, stored and researched by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Just a quick note on the reasons Sweden’s death count was higher than other countries:
…Amid the post-lockdown flare-ups, it’s worth revisiting Sweden, which has been widely criticized for never closing businesses and primary schools. Cases have been falling over the past month after a modest uptick in June due to more testing. Only 27 patients have died in the last week, fewer per capita than New York.
America’s liberals cite Sweden’s relatively high death rate (56 per 100,000 compared to 45.1 in France and 35.8 in the Netherlands). But two-thirds of deaths have been among those over age 80, and 97% never received intensive-care treatment. Blame Sweden’s socialized health system, which rationed treatment for the elderly even though ICUs were never overwhelmed….
To update the “Sweden Story,” REUTERS has an interesting update:
Sweden’s decision to keep schools open during the pandemic resulted in no higher rate of infection among its schoolchildren than in neighbouring Finland, where schools did temporarily close, their public health agencies said in a joint report.
Sweden decided to forego a hard lockdown and keep most schools and businesses open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, a divisive strategy that set it apart from most of Europe.
Its Public Health Agency has maintained that the negative consequences of a shutdown on the economy and society outweigh the benefits, and says this also applies to schools.
The report, which has not been peer-reviewed, found that during the period of February 24 to June 14, there were 1,124 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among children in Sweden, around 0.05% of the total number of children aged 1-19.
Finland recorded 584 cases in the same period, also equivalent to around 0.05%.
“In conclusion, (the) closure or not of schools had no measurable direct impact on the number of laboratory confirmed cases in school-aged children in Finland or Sweden,” the agencies said in the report, published last week.
The report showed that severe cases of COVID-19 were very rare among both Swedish and Finnish children aged 1 to 19, with no deaths reported. A comparison of the incidence of COVID-19 in different professions suggested no increased risk for teachers.
Children made up around 8.2 percent of the total number of COVID-19 cases in Finland, compared to 2.1 percent in Sweden.
Separate studies by Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet (KI), an independent medical research institute, and the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children and Unicef, showed that Swedish children fared better than children in other countries during the pandemic, both in terms of education and mental health….
Gay Patriot introduces us to the myth often put forward by the left. This post by Gay Patriot will add to the video by Bill Whittle that follows it:
One of the myths Progressive Leftists elevate to “fact” by constantly repeating it to each other is the idea that Scandinavian countries are the closest on Earth fulfillment to their socialist dream utopia. ~ Gay patriot
Visitors say Danes are joyless to be around. Denmark suffers from high rates of alcoholism. In its use of antidepressants it ranks fourth in the world. (Its fellow Nordics the Icelanders are in front by a wide margin.) Some 5 percent of Danish men have had sex with an animal. Denmark’s productivity is in decline, its workers put in only 28 hours a week, and everybody you meet seems to have a government job. Oh, and as The Telegraph put it, it’s “the cancer capital of the world.”
So how happy can these drunk, depressed, lazy, tumor-ridden, pig-bonking bureaucrats really be?
I think my favorite paragraph is where he cites the Scandinavian Social Contract as the “Ten Commandments of Buzzkill.”
“You shall not believe that you are someone,” goes one. “You shall not believe that you are as good as we are,” is another. Others included “You shall not believe that you are going to amount to anything,” “You shall not believe that you are more important than we are” and “You shall not laugh at us.”
They read like the 10 Commandments of Progressive Leftism…
…From 1970 until 1989, taxes rose exorbitantly, killing private initiative, while entitlements became excessive. Laws were often altered and became unpredictable. As a consequence, Sweden endured two decades of low growth. In 1991-93, the country suffered a severe crash in real estate and banking that reduced GDP by 6 percent. Public spending had surged to 71.7 percent of GDP in 1993, and the budget deficit reached 11 percent of GDP.
TURNING POINT The combination of the crisis and the non-socialist government under Carl Bildt from 1991 to 1994 broke the trend and turned the country around. In 1994, the Social Democrats returned to power and stayed until 2006. Instead of revoking the changes, they completed the fiscal tightening. In 2006, a non-socialist government returned, and Finance Minister Anders Borg, with his trademark ponytail and earring, has led further reforms. Sweden successfully weathered the global financial crisis that started in 2008, and the Financial Times named Borg Europe’s best finance minister last year.
Before 2009, Sweden had a budget surplus, and it has one again. For the past two years, economic growth has been 4 percent on average, and the current-account surplus was 6.7 percent in 2011. The only concerns are the depressed demand for exports caused by the current euro crisis and an unemployment rate that is about 7.5 percent.
Sweden’s traditional scourge is taxes, which used to be the highest in the world. The current government has cut them every year and abolished wealth taxes. Inheritance and gift taxes are also gone. Until 1990, the maximum marginal income tax rate was 90 percent. Today, it is 56.5 percent. That is still one of the world’s highest, after Belgium’s 59.4 and there is strong public support for a cut to 50 percent.
The 26 percent tax on corporate profits may seem reasonable from an American perspective, but Swedish business leaders want to reduce it to 20 percent. Tax competition is fierce in some parts of Europe. Most East European countries, for example, have slashed corporate taxes to 15-19 percent….
Reason.org Weighs in on the “Swedish” experiment, how it got its wealth, noting how it squandered it, and how it is returning to the pre-70’s ideology:
Sweden is a powerful example of the importance of public policy. The Nordic nation became rich between 1870 and 1970 when government was very small, but then began to stagnate as welfare state policies were implemented in the 1970s and 1980s. The CF&P Foundation video explains that Sweden is now shifting back to economic freedom in hopes of undoing the damage caused by an excessive welfare state.
And do not think for a moment that the free-market has not allowed Sweden or other Nordic nations to get back on their feet. This is is pointed out in the following “101” presentation on economics:
For those of us who place more trust in free markets than state-directed economies, we must inevitably (and repeatedly) confront the skeptical interlocutor who details the “successes” of Swedish social democracy. “If state intervention into the economy is so bad, high taxes so destructive, then why is Sweden such a success?” It’s an irritatingly simple question with a incredibly complicated answer, though I do recommend pointing out, when the conversation turns to health care and secondary education, that nothing, in a state the confiscates a massive portion of your income, is “free.” But as many have pointed out, during its boom years, Sweden was a pretty free market place; from the 1970s through the 1990s—when taxes and regulation dramatically increased—the economy slowed until it spun out in the early 1990s…
…So here is my bottom line: When some American pundit, with expertise is everything, explains why some European welfare state “works,” or how everything you know is wrong about taxing income at 75 percent, do a little digging, make use of Google Translate, and don’t trust that, because Swedes and Danes tell researchers that they are happy, the United States should introduce “daddy leave” and provide subsidies to syndicalist newspapers.
The best English-language explication of the Swedish model comes from my pal Johan Norberg, who wrote this brilliant piece for The National Interest a few years back. And watch my interview with Norberg on Swedish welfare politics here and on Naomi Klein here.
The following interview is Johan Norberg, author of In Defense of Global Capitalism, sits down with reason.tv’s Michael C. Moynihan to sort out the myths of the Sweden’s welfare state, health services, tax rates, and its status as the “most successful society the world has ever known.”
National Review seems like a good place to continue the theme of showing how the Nordic countries have used the free-market system to recoup what it has lost with previous regulations that crippled free-enterprise. Here is a comparison between Sweden and Venzuala that was helpful in explaining how Sweden has less regulations that us in many places (a recent phenomenon BTW):
Talk to a Bernie Sanders voter about “socialism” — and they can be very insistent about using the word — and you’ll get paeans to Sweden, which is not a socialist country but a country with large, expensive welfare state. The distinction is not trivial: There is relatively little in the way of state-run enterprise in Sweden; the Swedish government is in fact only a 60 percent partner in the postal service. The Swedish government is, alas, in the casino business, albeit in a more transparent way than American government is. On the Heritage economic-freedom rankings, Sweden isn’t that far behind the United States. It has very high taxes, but taxes are not the only burden that governments put on the economy, not necessarily even the most important, and Sweden outscores the United States on a number of important metrics: free trade, property rights, freedom from corruption, investment freedom, monetary policy, etc. The United States’ small edge in the rankings comes mainly from relatively low taxes and a much less regulated labor market.
Reason.org again weighs in on whether Sweden is the right model for the U.S. to emulate:
The Above Video Description:
To the American mind there may be nothing more quintessentially Swedish than the leggy, blond supermodel.
But there’s another Swedish model that inspires almost as much admiration—the Swedish economic model. With a generous welfare state and high living standards, Sweden seems to prove that socialism works. Much of the hope that swept Barack Obama into the White House rests on the belief that America could reach new heights under a regime of enlightened progressivism, that we could be more like the Swedes.
Not so fast, warns Stockholm University sociologist Charlotta Stern: “If an American told me that the US should be more like Sweden I would say I don’t think it’s possible.” The United States can centralize its health care system and pass other laws that mimic Sweden’s welfare state polices, says Stern, but it’s impossible to replicate a culture that allows those policies to operate about as smoothly as possible. Swedish bureaucracies inspire trust, but their American counterparts (DMV, TSA, IRS) inspire punch lines, if not outrage.
But America could emulate some of the Swedish policies that don’t require extensive bureaucracies. Take school vouchers. Teachers unions in America regard the idea as free-market radicalism, but families in Sweden enjoy universal school choice. Sweden adopted its famously progressive policies during the 1970s, but after years of sluggish economic growth the land of ABBA altered its course in the 1990s, adopting a host of free-market reforms, from deregulation to tax cuts.
Although much of the disco-era welfare state remains, economist Andreas Bergh credits the free market reforms with reviving his nation’s economy. “Sweden is moving in the market economic direction,” says Bergh, “but that does not mean America should be moving in the socialist direction.”
What if the two nations continue on in different directions? Maybe some day when America is looking for a way to rejuvenate its economy, pundits will point to a different kind of Swedish model. One that increases individual choice and competition.
“Sweden—A Supermodel for America?” is produced by Daniel B. Klein, and written and produced by Ted Balaker, who also hosts. Shot by Jonathan Liberman and Henrik Devell, with additional production support by Zach Weissmueller and Sam Corcos and post production by Hawk Jensen and Austin Bragg. Special thanks to Niclas Berggren, Martin Borgs, Nils Karlson, and the Ratio Institute.
Finland is joining military exercises with other Scandinavian countries, as well as several members of NATO, in late May, Finnish media report. The maneuvers called Arctic Challenge will span 12 days, starting May 25, and include nine countries and close to 100 planes. The drills, over Sweden and northern Norway, come amid increased tensions between Russia and its Baltic and Nordic neighbors.
Sweden and Switzerland, which like Finland are not members of NATO, are expected to join the exercise, along with NATO members Norway, the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Finland plans to send 16 F-18 Hornet fighter jets, while the other countries will supply Gripen “multirole” fighters, F-16s, Eurofighters and Jet Falcons, as well as transports and tankers, Russian news agency Sputnik reported. The Norwegian armed forces said the purpose of the Arctic Challenge exercise is to “learn to coordinate efforts in complicated flight operations conducted in cooperation with NATO.”
Russia has ramped up military activity along its borders with northern Europe, causing consternation in several Baltic and Nordic countries and pre-emptive actions to head off — or prepare for — a possible military crisis. Latvia, which reported a Russian submarine near its coast in mid-March, is beefing up security on its eastern border, while Finland recently began a letter campaign notifying some 900,000 reservists of their duties in a potential crisis. Sweden also intercepted four Russian planes flying over the Baltic Sea in March with their radios off. Russian jets have been intercepted in other instances while flying in European international airspace….
I also pointed out that this promise went back to the Cold War, and was not known about till a Swedish defense think-tank/security firm uncovered the agreements in 1994. The original story’s link has been lost, but it is here on FOI’s site. FOI’s “about us” page has this:
FOI is one of Europe’s leading research institutes in the areas of defence and security. We have 1,000 highly skilled employees with various backgrounds. At FOI, you will find everything from physicists, chemists, engineers, social scientists, mathematicians and philosophers to lawyers, economists and IT technicians…. The Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence Material Administration are our main customers. However, we also accept assignments from civil authorities and industry. Our clients from the defence sector place very high demands on advanced research, which also benefits other customers.
Initially after the end of World War II, Sweden quietly pursued an aggressive independent nuclear weapons program involving plutonium production and nuclear secrets acquisition from all nuclear powers, until the 1960s, when it was abandoned as cost-prohibitive. During the Cold War Sweden appeared to maintain a dual approach to thermonuclear weapons. Publicly, the strict neutrality policy was forcefully maintained, but unofficially strong ties were purportedly kept with the U.S. It was hoped that the U.S. would use conventional and nuclear weapons to strike at Soviet staging areas in the occupied Baltic states in case of a Soviet attack on Sweden. Over time and due to the official neutrality policy, fewer and fewer Swedish military officials were aware of the military cooperation with the west, making such cooperation in the event of war increasingly difficult. At the same time Swedish defensive planning was completely based on help from abroad in the event of war. Later research has shown that every publicly available war-game training, included the scenario that Sweden was under attack from the Soviets, and would rely on NATO forces for defence. The fact that it was not permissible to mention this aloud eventually led to the Swedish armed forces becoming highly misbalanced. For example, a strong ability to defend against an amphibious invasion was maintained, while an ability to strike at inland staging areas was almost completely absent.
In the early 1960s U.S. nuclear submarines armed with mid-range nuclear missiles of type Polaris A-1 were deployed outside the Swedish west coast. Range and safety considerations made this a good area from which to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike on Moscow. The submarines had to be very close to the Swedish coast to hit their intended targets though. As a consequence of this, in 1960, the same year that the submarines were first deployed, the U.S. provided Sweden with a military security guarantee. The U.S. promised to provide military force in aid of Sweden in case of Soviet aggression. This guarantee was kept from the Swedish public until 1994, when a Swedish research commission found evidence for it. As part of the military cooperation the U.S. provided much help in the development of the Saab 37 Viggen, as a strong Swedish air force was seen as necessary to keep Soviet anti-submarine aircraft from operating in the missile launch area. In return Swedish scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology made considerable contributions to enhancing the targeting performance of the Polaris missiles.
Some More Discussion
In this first back-and-forth, I noted some of the above and got this response:
Seems Sweden is searching for the viable balance of Capitalism and Socialism. Good for them. Bernie Sanders seeks the same.
To which I respond:
They want [and have] a lower tax rate than Sanders wants. They dumped their “wealth tax” and “death tax.” They lowered their corporate tax-rate and want it at 20% and below. Lessened regulations on businesses… on-and-on.
Bernie wants the 70’s through 90’s Sweden… I am down with the 2006 and beyond Sweden.
Someone else joined the discussion, and mentioned the following:
My family is Swedish and I can tell you with 100% accuracy they are way better off than we are…. Across the board pretty much.
Again, I respond:
There is a Swedish economist in the post that from first hand experience (and expertise in his field) telling you they are where they are because of the free market and a reduction [greatly] of the welfare state/socialism enterprise. [And, BTW, they use the many life saving drugs produced by the profit motivated “Big Pharma” spending on R&D to extend the lives of their fellow Swedes.]
When you get all these health care services for “free” then people start taking them for granted, calling ambulances without second thoughts, and going to the doctor for simple things that you don’t really need to see a doctor for… False alarms for ambulances and fire trucks end up costing the government and indirectly tax payers huge amounts of money every year. Which is why Sweden has as of late started to reform its health care system by privatizing parts of it. Mind you, these are somewhat limited in scope, but people are able to pay now for private care (1-in-10 now have private insurance/health-care).
…The paradox is that America has been doubling down on government authority over healthcare with the Affordable Care Act, just as more and more European governments, including Denmark, England, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, have been forced by public outcry to address the unconscionable waits for care by introducing new laws. But it is even more essential for American voters to realize, and for our government leaders to acknowledge, what other countries are beginning to recognize all over the world. These governments have started to understand that the cure for their failed nationalized health systems is a shift to privatization. And citizens under government-dominated health systems are increasingly circumventing their own systems, pursuing private healthcare to solve the uniformly poor access to care and limited choices.
Let’s consider Sweden, often heralded as the paradigm of a successful welfare state. The facts tell a very different story. Having failed its citizens in healthcare access, the Swedish government has aggressively introduced private market forces into healthcare to improve access, quality, and choices. Although once entirely public, over a quarter of Swedish primary care clinics are now run by the private sector. Sweden’s municipality governments have increased spending on private care contracts by 50% in the past decade. Private nursing facilities now receive substantial public funding to care for patients. Widespread private sector competition has also been introduced into pharmacies to tear down the pre-2009 monopoly over all prescription and non-prescription drugs. Since the Swedish government sold over half of its pharmacies to private firms in 2009, 20 private firms entered the market and over 300 new pharmacies opened, not only improving accessibility but providing the first pharmacies ever to many small towns.
Moreover, despite the fact that an average Swedish family already pays nearly $20,000 annually in taxes toward healthcare according to Swedish economist Per Bylund, about 12% of working adults bought private insurance in 2013, a number that has increased by 67% over the last five years. Half a million Swedes now use private insurance, up from 100,000 a decade ago, even though they are already “guaranteed” public healthcare….
…In the pre-Reagan Era, the media was just as left-leaning and reluctant to discuss the poverty and oppression that permeated the Soviet Union. But there were enough people willing to talk about it outside the media for the truth to get out. The pervasiveness of social media should make it easier, not harder, for conservatives to get a message out around the media gatekeepers. Millennials should be told what happened in Venezuela after his ideological brother Hugo Chavez took over; they should be told how toilet paper became a black market commodity and supermarket shelves became bare. And they should be made aware that Sweden is not quite the utopia they’ve been taught it is, either.
Dennis Prager reads from an older article by the JERUSALEM POST, in which a family is interviewed about why they left Sweden. Here is an excerpt that caught my eye:
“The politicians, the media, the intellectuals…they all played their parts in pandering to this dangerous ideology and, sadly, it’s changing the fabric of Swedish society irreversibly.” Karla, who’d sat passively, occasionally nodding in agreement at Dan’s analysis, then interrupted, saying, “If you disagree with the establishment, you’re immediately called a racist or fascist, which we’re definitely not. At times I felt that this was what it must have been like to live in the old Soviet Union.”
Larry Elder quickly explains Trump’s gaffe, then moves on to a fascinating interview of a German who has moved from Germany due to the government not keeping them safe. The interview can be listened to by itself on Larry Elder’s site.
Dennis Prager interviews Ingrid Carlqvist from the GATESTONE INSTITUTE (1-11-2016). Her works can be found here, at GATESTONE. I was tipped off about this interview via an upload from Prager’s show yesterday. A very interesting call happens after the midpoint.(12:25).