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Swede showers cash over Almedalen crowd

Published: 02 Jul 2014 14:58 GMT+02:00

Almedalen is gaining a reputation as a hot-spot for money-wasters, symbolic and otherwise. At lunch time on Wednesday, 20,000 kronor ($2,980) rained down at Donners Plaza in Visby, with regards from the ''Expenditure Ombudsman" (Slöseriombudsmannen).

His real name is Martin Borgs.

"Whether rosé or reforms, it's someone else who has to pay [for Almedalen]," Borgs wrote on his website. "Is it wasteful to shower away money like this? Maybe. But for me this is such an important question that I will pay the price, with my own money."

Borgs attempted to get accreditation to attend Almedalen Week, but was denied by Gotland municipality. He has written a book called 365 Ways to Waste Your Tax Money (365 sätt att slösa med dina skattepengar), which he planned to give out to politicians and lobbyists at the event.

"Almedalen Week's purpose is to push societal issues," the municipality explained in its decision. "Marketing of products is not such an issue."

Insisting that the point was not marketing but lobbying against wasting taxpayers' money, Borg attended anyway - just outside the event but close enough to make an impact. 

So at midday, Borgs, dressed like a harlequin, used confetti machines to shoot one thousand 20 kronor notes into the air.

Borgs' cash flash was somewhat reminiscent of Sweden's Feminist party (Feministisk intiativ, Fi), who burned 100,000 kronor at Almedalen in 2010. Party leader Gudrun Schyman said the party's actions were "for equal pay and democracy", though the embers included a fair deal of backlash

In an interview with Dagens Media, Borgs confessed that "this whole money thing" at Almedalen may indeed be a bit overdone, but said that his display was different.

"I think it's easier to burn someone else's money than it is to see your own disappear. And it won't actually disappear, people can do what they want with them. Pay for their rosé, donate to Unicef, or buy ice cream."

Borgs explained for the audience on location that he had been diagnosed with cancer - and that his life was saved by good use of taxpayer money. But there are many ways to waste it, he said. The sum he threw away was equal to a monthly tax for a typical Swedish teacher, he said, if sales tax and labour taxes are included. 

About 5,000 ($747) kronor worth of notes were returned to Borgs, an action which surprised him. 

"I was truly touched. I had never expected that."

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