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Snuggling With the Enemy

My Fake Magazine of LIfe in Sweden – by Scott Ritcher, American publisher of a real magazine called K Composite

Alternate Reality Check

Is this thing on? Can you hear me? Testing, testing…

Today’s report is being broadcast to you all the way from Kentucky, in the heart of God’s Great United States.

After finishing up a European tour with my band Metroschifter last month, I returned to my hometown of Louisville. A medium-sized city of just under a million people – bigger than Göteborg and smaller than Stockholm – Louisville is the 16th or 27th largest metro area in America, depending on who you ask.

It hasn’t been entirely unpleasant to be back in America. I totally love seeing my friends and family again.

As I’ve said before, no wonder everyone in America is fat, the food is amazing. After many months in Sweden, I had quickly forgotten that in other places of the world it is actually quite affordable to just eat and drink all day long. Gaining back the weight I lost in Sweden could prove to be an effortless endeavor. Oops, I did it again.

My brother at Impellizzeri’s in Louisville

If it’s wrong to only eat burritos, deep dish pizza, Kentucky bourbon, microbrews and espresso, then maybe, for now, I don’t want to be right.

The nearest Ikea and H&M are about 90 minutes away by car, but Louisville has more amazing Mexican food in just a few blocks than the whole of Sweden does. Louisville’s bars are open until 4:00 in the morning. The liquor stores are the polar opposite of Systembolaget and are open nearly as late as the bars.

As the capital of Kentucky’s Bourbon Country, with bars offering one-dollar beers and $1.50 mixed drinks, and the CityScoot service that will drive you home in your own car if you drink too much, Louisville is a city that essentially dares you not to become an alcoholic.

Compared to Stockholm, everything here is half price. Maybe it’s even less.

They couldn’t just put up one sign that
says “All Yoplait yogurt 59¢”

Nothing is subtle in America. Everything is in your face. People are shouting as their normal tone of voice. The music from headphones, car stereos and your neighbors can be heard far outside the reasonable realm of what could pass as personal entertainment. Everything is extreme and awesome and retarded and made of flashing lights. Religion is actually a topic that people think is a good idea to bring up.

This place is loud in every possible meaning of the word.

As soon as you get off the plane in Boston (or Chicago or Atlanta or wherever), you immediately notice that the people are sloppy. Clothes are draped over these people like bibs and tarps. Sure, the Snuggie commercials are funny, but you wouldn’t see them on television unless there were actually millions of people who were lazy, messy and resigned enough to buy them. A blanket with sleeves is designed only for people who refuse to get out from under the covers, even when nature demands that they use their arms or legs.

Just the size of the people in America is absurd. They’re wearing sweatpants and sports shoes but it’s obvious that these garments – designed for exercising – are not serving their intended purposes.

Americans look tired and agitated.

Air travel is not pleasant to begin with, but I don’t think that’s the culprit. People in European airports don’t look like this. After almost a year away from the United States, my first impression upon seeing a crowd of Americans was that they all looked exhausted. As a group, this first batch of Americans in the Boston airport looked like they barely had the energy to give a shit about anything.

Why would anyone care? The planes were late, the food was expensive, the kids were misbehaving, the lines were unreasonable, the security checks and announcements were the demeaning equivalent of a cattle drive, the fake executive asshole with the earpiece was talking way too loudly about business meetings and golf. Unrewarding.

Chicago’s charming Logan Square subway station

When I finally made it to the public transit system in Chicago – nearly half a day later than scheduled and without my luggage – that place had a the charm of a prison train. At one point I stood up and faked like I was stretching, just to make sure I wasn’t actually chained to the seat.

Stockholm’s transit system can spoil its riders pretty quickly. I got used to it right away and fell into its comfort and convenience. Like everything in Sweden, from taxes to transit, it’s expensive, but you really get what you pay for.

La Bamba Restaurant: “Burritos As Big As Your Head”

Outside the airport on the city streets, people are exercising everywhere, presumably running away from the food they eat. It’s an endless tug of war in which the food supply is so packed with artificial sweeteners, preservatives and genetically-modified ingredients that you basically have to exercise in order to not become obese.

Every wall and surface is plastered with signs, advertisements and businesses that are designed to appeal to a fourth grader’s mentality. “You deserve the best.” “Go ahead, have another!” “America is number one and nobody is gonna take that away.” “Whatever. It’ll grow back.” I’m exaggerating, but only a little.

There is no self-awareness in graphic design. Professionally-produced signs are littered with spelling and grammatical errors. The fonts in widespread usage betray the fact that there is often no delineation between graphic design and desktop publishing. Any jackass with Microsoft Word can make a sign. It’s great that everyone can make their own signs, but it’s a shame that everyone does. Comic Sans isn’t even the worst offense.

“Y’all got any Tide? Well where the hell is it?”

Ikea has made the Swedish word “lagom” famous, but the concept of “just the right amount” is a hard sell here. Explaining the word “lagom” to Americans takes five minutes because there’s simply no equivalent – not just in the language, but in the national psyche.

How can I say this delicately and believably? I love America, I really do. But seeing her again is like running into an old ex-girlfriend who has gained 100 pounds, a drug problem and a mountain of debt. Her beautiful eyes are still the same color, but they’ve lost that sparkle that made them special. You’ll always remember her as an important part of your life, but trying to help save her might take more energy than you could possibly muster.

When I first considered going to Sweden longterm, it was partially as a result of that feeling. After an exhausting fight to become a candidate to represent my neigborhood in the Kentucky Senate, I had a realization. I could stay in America and fight for the rest of my life toward noble goals – goals that lobbying groups and corporations have long since claimed as unattainable – or I could just move somewhere where everything is already fixed.

I understand that there are many Swedes (and Americans) who will read this and disagree with that characterization, or write off this entire article as exaggeration. But honestly, after about a year on the ground in Sweden, it seems at this point, the things being argued about in Swedish politics amount to fine tuning.

When the populace has elected someone from a political party whose sole objective is to protect privacy rights and repeal patent and copyright laws, well, things must be going pretty well.

Comparatively, the problems in the United States are insurmountable. The number of people in Sweden without homes, jobs, sufficient health care or the ability to read is negligible. In America, these problems claim millions of victims.

It was no easy decision to opt out of Louisville and America, even if my absence was to be brief or temporary. The people in Kentucky and the rest of the country desperately need fighters who care about the individuals and disregard the bidding of special interests. Leading up to the election in 2008, I tried to give that fight as much as I had in me. In the end, though, I don’t want to fight.

Louisville protesters demonstrating against a
construction site that has blocked the sidewalk. Pedestrians
and cyclists seem to be an afterthought in the streetscape.

I can’t kill myself for the sake of objectives that are taller than all of us. Maybe Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were the kinds of guys who could do that, but at least for right now, I’m not that guy.

And to be clear, Sweden is not the cure for the common cold (though the country’s health care system has been pretty effective in eliminating all manner of other medical nonsense that Americans still receive outrageous bills for). To be honest, if I wasn’t entirely happy in America, being in Sweden instead can only do so much to affect that.

Being in America again has been fun, but I’m anxious to get back to Sweden. To that end, my application for the appropriate residence permit is finally being filed this week at the Swedish Embassy in Washington.

At first glance, this sign for training classes
appears to charge people for emergency help.

The application process toward Swedish residency is much faster if one has a written job offer from a Swedish company.

So if you’re a business person reading this, I would be delighted to work for your company in Sweden doing graphic design, web design, English writing or editing (see some samples of my work) … hell, I’m also available for toilet cleaning, umbrella repair, VCR clock setting, picnic planning, bartending. Really, whatever I can possibly do that any Swedish company may need somebody to do.

I basically have no worldly belongings, no expensive apartment on Kungsholmen, no fancy clothes or monthly bills. I would be very happy to work for less money than you’d have to pay a career professional.

My hope is to be back in Sweden as soon as humanly possible to continue writing on this site from the ground in Stockholm. Until that time, I will continue to publish new stories with regular frequency from wherever I am. My online bloggery will continue.

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35 responses to “Alternate Reality Check”

  1. Julie says:

    Hey,
    I feel exactly this way about my home country of the UK. I’m planning to move to Sweden in July to live with my Swedish boyfriend. Of course, the process is easier for me, as an EU national, as I already have the right to move wherever I want in the EU. I would like to wish you the very best of luck in your residence application, and hope you are back in Sweden soon.

    Julie

    Report abuse »

  2. caleb says:

    You will fit in just fine here in Sweden, with the other self-hating Americans who live here. Here is some free advice though. You will get farther having cultural pride, dosed with respect for Sweden as your new home.

    Many people like ass lickers, but no one respects them.

    Report abuse »

  3. shawnna says:

    I COMPLETELY agree with you. Good luck on your application. I’m lucky enough to have been accepted into a University Program at Uppsala which made my ability to get my resident visa much easier.

    Report abuse »

  4. David says:

    I live in Tennessee and agree with what you have said. I stumbled upon TheLocal.se and TheLocal.de and find these sites a pleasant refuge. Responsibilities, obligations, and commitments keep me chained here. I would leave tomorrow if I could.

    Report abuse »

  5. Mr. Puppy says:

    I liked this article… your experience of reverse culture shock here was the same experience I had as a native Oregonian every time I visited other states. So if you’re ever thinking about moving back to the states, I can recommend Oregon as a softer landing spot – it is somewhere in between what you describe in this article and Sweden.

    Report abuse »

  6. Liana says:

    loved this post. absolutely hilarious and so true.

    i’m an american currently living in the north of france. planning on moving to sweden this spring for school and my boyfriend.

    don’t know when i will be back in the u.s. of a, and while i totally have the same sentiments as you about the reasons why i have chosen to live abroad, i really really love America as well and i would KILL for a burrito as well.

    whatever europe, you are awesome, but your tex mex sucks (i’m from san francisco and am sooo spoiled in that cuisine)

    i can’t wait to go to a strip mall and eat processed food. you have no idea :)

    Report abuse »

  7. E says:

    Still jabbering I see. Why don’t you do something about it and open a Mexican food chain? :D

    Report abuse »

  8. Joe says:

    How can I reach you more directly? I’ve admired Sweden for years and would love to live there. It would be a much better fit for me.

    Report abuse »

  9. MarkB says:

    So many Americans hate America, yet so few will leave.

    The land of poor health and bad graphic design? Graphic design? There’s one we won’t miss.

    Report abuse »

  10. RandyT says:

    I’m 64 and have spent the years between Reagan and now working to correct that hard right turn we made then – and I’m tired of fighting the right wingers – the constant hate coming out of FOX, Rush, Beck and all their ditto heads is insane. They, the ditto heads have no idea they are working voting against their own interest and that of their children.

    I had a grandchld born at 23 weeks, the American doctors and insurance companies let him die – to early to save his life – the child died in my son’s arms. In Sweden he would have had a 60% chance of being one year old and on my lap helping me type tonight. Yeah the fight is tough but if we don’t continue the fight our country may well slip back into the Dark Ages. Or worse after today’s supreme court ruling allowing corporations to spend all they want promoting politicians – we are headed for a Corporate-fascist state it this power is not take from heathless and breathless corporations.

    I spent weeks in Sweden, mostly Stockholm with a week each in Gothenberg and Karlstad. I’ve also spent over a week in Oslo. What I noticed most of all was that one people were happier and two, the strss level was just not the same as here. Oh, and yes we are a FAT country – fat on worthless food.

    Report abuse »

  11. Streja says:

    It would be great if the American who wrote the blog could contact me with a private msg on The Local.

    I hear he needs a job? I have a recommendation on where to look.

    Report abuse »

  12. malmoman says:

    I suspect you spent a very short time in Sweden and your perception is somewhat shallow. I often find myself sitting around with fellow Americans who have spent 6 or more years here in “wonderful” Sweden. We lament the limited job prospects, lack of career opportunities, differences in work habits, etc… Many of our friends with similar educations and ages are doing infinitely better in the States than we are (I am talking PhD and MSc types).

    Sweden is in many ways a great place but it is not without a ton of problems. As an immigrant you are very lucky to have a job. Swede’s themselves are wonderful people but they are not without their warts. They can be very insular and sometimes harbor a sheep mentality. My musician friend from Ireland once quipped that “even the edginess in Sweden seems planned and fake and just plain awful”.

    Free healthcare is great but I had better care in Boston (I have been hospitalized in both places). Plus my employer paid for it and I had MUCH MUCH more money at the end of the month than here (ever had 40 percent of you paycheck disappear). Schools where I live in Sweden are awful and many of the Mass schools are much better (recent TIMMS findings support this).

    America is a land of many things, and it most certainly escapes generalizations as well as comparisons to Sweden.

    Like someone said, everyone, including the Swedes, hates ass-lickers.

    Report abuse »

  13. Hammad Khan says:

    Interesting article, I agree with you. Although I am not an American, I have lived there for 11 years; from 89 to 2001. I got my B.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of South Alabama and afterward worked for the Aviation Industry for 7 years as an Electrical/Avionics and Systems Engineer, working for almost all the major airlines via an Engineering Firm. Currently pursuing a Masterís program at Lund University in Sweden, I can see where you are coming from.
    Being a Muslim and having Middle Eastern features, I can tell you something else that you could not have experienced; after 9/11 I left USA due to all the negativity the media has created against the Muslims. Yes, I agree ALL the terrorist involved were Muslims, but that by no means justifies the modern day witch hunt. To be short, I cannot imagine myself going back to USA due to the fear of being outcast, ridiculed, the derogatory treatment at the airports, the jungle law that anyone the authorities like could be picked up, subjected to whatever treatment for indefinite period, without him/her having any right to question it OR consult the legal system. Well, thanks but I believe I will settle somewhere like Sweden, where I can live with a little more dignity.

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  14. Robert says:

    Excellent article! The impressions this country makes on the returned American are all too true, reflective of the true nature of America. I can recall similar impressions on returning to the US. In 1990 I landed in New Jersey on my way back from Hamburg. Everything seemed dirty run down and out of date. In 2006 I landed in Chicago on my way back from Stockholm. Ditto the 1990 impressions plus being herded through the customs area seemed like entry into a gray dismal prison.
    The Midsouth is a particularly dismal backward ignorant (and proud of it!) part of the US. One letter writer suggested fleeing to Oregon, not a bad alternative, and you can drive there as well, no ugh!, repugnant demeaning air travel needed. Perhaps things are so much better in the Pacific Northwest because such a high percentage of the population are descended from Swedes, Norwegians, Danes and Finns?
    For an early impression of the general uncouth wildness of Americans you might read the old Knut Hamsun story of his life in America in the late 19th Century. Not much has changed in terms of spirit and behaviors.
    However when all is said, one must concede that there are big problems on either side of the pond and that blindness to one’s usual environment is perfectly normal.

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  15. Frank Lee says:

    You are not comparing Sweden to America. You are comparing Stockholm to places in America that you find wanting. If you lived in a less glamorous part of Sweden, your impressions might not be so rosey. Or if you lived in South Beach, Miami; Dupont Circle, Washington, DC; or the Castro in San Francisco; or if you just stepped out of the elevated train in Chicago and walked around that great city, you might have a more positive impression of America. And to those who have noted that the Swedes hate ass-lickers: the Swedes also hate anyone (any foreigner) who DOESN’T lick their ass. Any culture bereft of honest self-criticism hates to be criticized.

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  16. David says:

    The US once comprised of Big Business, Big Government, and Big Labor. Big Business killed Big Labor during the 60s and 70s. Big Business is now taking control of Big Government. I guess nothing remains the same and grass is always greener; but, the new norm suggesting the success of Wall Street is infinitely more important than Main Street and corporations should come before people is new to the US. It has not always been that way. I have been here for a while. I remember Buddy Holly, so I go back a few years.

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  17. Malmoman says:

    With all due respect Hamad Khan I will agree to disagree. I have spent many nights out with common, educated, native Swedes drinking beers. The racist comments that come out of there mouths would just not be acceptable in group discussions in the US. At least not with people at the same education levels. All of it is directed towards Muslims. If you are not aware of it look at the explosive growth of the various nationalist parties in Scandinavia, ie Dansk FolkPartiet, Fremskridtspartiet, and recently the growing Swedish Democrats. One is the largest party in Norway, another the second largest in Denmark. It is only the beginning and I really do fear where it leads.

    A great way to see how an ethnic group is accepted in a society is to look at economic participation…employment. You would find the numbers startling comparing Arabs in Sweden and their success in the US.

    Sweden is at least 100 years away from electing anyone with a middle name of Hussein.

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  18. Hoodoo says:

    I would have to agree with some of these assessments from both pro and con. I am an American who has lived and traveled in Europe as well as other countries. I find Sweden very intriguing and would love to live there for a while.
    I also find that America is rapidly declining into a capitalist fascist country dominated by a minority of prominent Christian conservative lunatics who are incapable of of recognizing their misdirected angst. They loath and distrust anyone of a different race and culture and have degenerated into wanting to eliminate all but those of similar beliefs.
    There exists, I believe, a majority of Americans who do not eschew this lunacy but are either too disconnected or too apathetic to involve themselves in the process of change. We may be witnessing the waning years of a once great society.

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  19. Heavy says:

    After some 25 years living and working abroad in countries like Japan, Korea, Australia, India, Bahrain, Turkey etc I am moving back to Scandinavia. Yes, all is not perfect and we still have to improve in many areas. However the fact remains that the Nordic countries offers among the best quality of life in the world. I have been privileged by working for a multinational that has provided accommodation in posh areas and taken care of work permits and such. Now I will be part of the Swedish society once again and I love it!!!

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  20. Darren says:

    As a person who has lived in Japan for one year and is now living in Sweden for almost 7 months going on to a year, I can understand your symptoms of reverse culture shock. I can, but as an American, I can never forget where I come from or even look down on where I come from. I am proud to be an American and certainly wouldn’t refer to America as a tired, overweight ex girlfriend… I respect your opinion, but I can’t sit by and let you pull a laundry list of things wrong with America. I understand things are different. I haven’t even gone to Chicago or Kentucky before even. But where I come from (Oklahoma), people are extremely nice and generous.

    America to me is like a nation with everybody living together in a great melting pot. Is it the only example in the world? No of course not. And maybe yeah we are lazy. That is okay with me. We are a great nation anyways with a foundation that all men (women) are created equal. Maybe it is idealistic of me. I dont know.

    BUT, I also agree with others that my country might be taking steps in the wrong direction (i.e. big corporations) but there are always ways to change it.

    BUT, Is everything really in your face? Are Americans really that loud? I met some loud Swedish people in the train as well. In other words, it can’t all be generalizations.
    Sweden has good things and bad things. So does America!

    The reason I speak with such pride is that I have worked in many restaurants as a server, and in a call center as well. I have talked to many many Americans. For the most part, they are really nice and considerate people. They all have interesting stories and experiences to tell.

    Anyways, a little more pride on where you come from would be awesome…

    Report abuse »

  21. Malmoman says:

    Hoodoo,

    I agree that America does have a religious conservative side that probably dictates more than it should. I am from the Northeast and I did not really see it growing up or as an adult. I think that the election of Obama, and even the nomination of McCain (hardly a darling of social conservatives), tell us a lot about their sway during the last election. As I said earlier Scandinavia has seen a rapid rise of far right parties. I doubt any American Christian Conservative party, if one existed, would garner 15% of the vote, as the Dansk Folkpartiet had done in Denmark (it was probably more like 13%). Now Hoodoo if that is not loathing of other cultures?

    I would absolutely agree that one thing the US does VERY poorly is limit the rights of corporations and their influence over the government. I recall reading how Frito-Lay, KFC, Burger KIng, Kraft Foods, and a slew of other companies lobbied to shoot down a bill to make the school lunches in America healthier. I know this would happen in Sweden. Maybe it is the party coalition, or the difference in the sheer size of corporate wealth, Sweden just does not have this problem.

    I remember growing up in Vermont and knowing our state senator who was a neighbor up the street. It seemed like everyone had a neighbor that was a senator. If you had a problem you knocked on his door. I think in a lot of other parts of the country there is a disconnect with the political process. There are still some special places in the US.

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  22. Carl Henrik Ek says:

    As a Swede living abroad in the US I can understand some of the things that you are saying but to be fair I think you are a wee bit harsh on your home. Sure this place has a lot of problems such as the health care and other things, however, it also has a lot of advantages such as peoples will to create and be innovative. I agree that its a very work oriented culture and much more stressful compared to Sweden but that can also be a good thing. I do really like my job, in Sweden that is nearly a negative thing while here its good, back home I felt put down focusing on work here I’m encouraged. Further as an expat myself you shouldn’t forget about the comfort of being an alien in a culture. When you live abroad and there is something you don’t agree with its generally no problem because its not your culture compared to your own country where its a lot more personal. Anyhow, good read, and if Sweden makes you happy I hope that you can find the possibilities to stay there.

    Report abuse »

  23. Swedesmith says:

    I have lived in the US (my native country) and Sweden. I love both countries but am living in America now for two main reasons: 1: my family, and 2: I can get a decent job here and not donate half of my pay back in taxes. But, I greatly miss the beauty of Sweden and may return some day when having a decent job is no longer a necessity.

    By the way, there are health alternatives to the crap food that is commonly available in America, but you have to shop carefully.

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  24. Roy E says:

    America is an extremely diverse country in every way imaginable. Everything and anything can be found there. The fact that the author’s preferences are not delivered and set down in the author’s lap is more testament to his own industry, ambition, and attitude than it is a convincing indictment of an entire nation.

    The author sees that he chooses to see. If he wants to see fat people, he will surely find them. Conversely, if he wants to see toned hardbodies they are also there. If he wants to find junk food it is there, as is organic foods of every kind.

    Yes, the stress of having so many choices can be difficult.

    America presents the individual with the ultimate Rorschact test. Self indulgent commentary such as this is more a window into the the author’s character than anything else.

    The author’s perception of America as a land of deprived victims is especially off the mark. He is of the entitlement mentality and wants things given to him and to be provided for at other’s expense, so I must agree, America is not a good place for him.

    A great many Americans will no doubt be emphatically wishing him ‘So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, goodbye!’ , happy that someone else is assuming the burden of being his mommy.

    America is a great place if you have the ‘right stuff’, but if you don’t have ‘the right stuff’, this is the typical sort of whine that one can expect to hear. Yawn.

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  25. Bruce says:

    Roy has it right.

    There’s a tradeoff regarding the differences between the US and more socialist countries like Sweden. Swedes have less to worry about, and also less to aspire to than Americans.

    As an American with family in Sweden my overall impression is the bottom 30% is better off in Sweden than in the US. The top 10% in either have no problems. The 60% in the middle live better in the US than those in Sweden. They are more likely to own their own home, live in a bigger home, have more material possessions. There is also considerable upward mobility in the US. many in the bottom 30% don’t stay there.

    As for the Muslim complaining about prejudice in the US, no doubt there is some, but Muslims freely travel and function in the US. What would happen to me, a blond Christian in most Muslim countries?

    It’s interesting to note the arrogant contempt of the malcontent American expatriates for other Americans and the hatred they feel for Christians, Southerners, Midwesterners and so on. To paraphrase Churchill:
    Never have so many been so self-impressed over so little.

    The US is like the British soldier in Kipling’s poem:

    For it’s Tommy this and Tommy that, and chuck him out, the brute!
    But it’s savior of the country when the guns begin to shoot.

    The developed countries, be they Western Europe, Japan, or the US face a common economic problem in the near future. In the global economy they are at a great disadvantage in labor costs until the standard of living in the other countries whose societies/cultures are capable of high tech manufacturing catch up. The productivity advantage they once enjoyed has narrowed and it will be tough sledding until that happens. Much of Europe and Japan also have a demographic crisies. Some European countries including Sweden are replacing the babies they couldn’t be bothered to inconvenience themselves with by importing immigrants resistant to assimilation and who don’t share Western values. They could lose their entire cultures in the next few decades.

    Good luck, you’ll need it. So will we.

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  26. M says:

    @Malmoman: The Sweden Democrats get less than 4% of the votes whilst the American Republicans get more than 40%. And yes, they do have similar policies.

    And employment? Most Arabs in the USA get in the country in the first place because of WORKING PERMITS. Most Arabs in Sweden are asylum seekers or refugees. People who for starters do not even speak the language. -.-

    @Bruce: Sure, if you define having more cars and bigger houses as “living better.” The bottomline is that the people who choose to live in the US choose to accept the fact that their financial gain means the loss of someone else’s financial means. The American system relies on that bottom 30% living in poverty. People may fall up or down the financial ladder but the American society is built to have such contrasts. Now, I myself could never live in such a society. It’s why I choose to remain in Sweden (and to contribute to the system) even though I may make more money elsewhere.

    Money and financial wealth isn’t everything. Living in a healthy society with happy people is.

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  27. Bruce says:

    M,

    It certainly hasn’t been my impression that Swedes are happier than or morally superior to Americans. Regarding the happiness, quite the opposite.

    The mobility in American society fosters the attitude that you can greatly improve your lot in life. That includes a great many in the bottom 30%. I know. I was a part of it once.

    I don’t know where, other than Karl Marx, you got the absurd idea that an individual becoming more successful means someone else must become impoverished.

    There’s a tradeoff. One system limits upward mobility with high taxation and regulkation, but provides more social services. The other provides more opportunity, but entails more struggle.

    You obviously prefer the former. I’ll take the latter. I’m Grandpa got on that boat.

    Report abuse »

  28. Trying hard says:

    I’m a little bitter this morning after reading through the last few days TL articles. Between the donation of massive monies to an Anti-Islamic group and the Anti-Jew actions in Malmˆ it is pounding the nails in the coffin on any utopian delusions Sweden may have.

    I would never call the US a utopia. I don’t agree with many of the political decisions made for a number of years now (although I am still giving this president a chance). Yes, there is poverty, and we need a decent health care bill to actually pass. But what was described here was a severely warped view. Many of the people (including Americans) who post on this (especially in the comments) seem to be looking for a place where spouting racist trash in a public forum is okay – and the hate commonly expressed on this site appeals to them. Sweden seems to attract and condone that sort of behavior, what with athletes turning to some of the ugliest points in history to taunt rivals, discrimination against the very immigrants they claim to help, and a general ‘holier than thou’ attitude while they lecture the world. If you really want the peace on earth you agitate for a little acceptance would go a long way.

    By the way, Americans as a whole are hard working, and certainly not lazy. And, at least in the area I come from, we even dress nice. Like someone said earlier, even in a big city like Chicago – get off the tram and look around. Decent people, who offer directions and help, and even occasionally smile at strangers. It’s not all good, but it’s alive.

    I’m looking forward to going home. Perhaps I have done well for Sweden in the job I was brought to do, but I don’t belong here, and even if I wanted to join into the faceless mass, I doubt if I could.

    This is the first time I have ever been anything but pleasant here – but enough is enough. America gets regularly racked over the coals for her faults and convienently ignored for her virtues and generosity. I truly hope that the friends I have made here are the true face of Sweden, and that the hate reflected on this site is the work of a nasty minority.

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  29. Malmoman says:

    M,

    While I am no republican I think you are quite wrong comparing them with the Swedish democrats. Let us not sugarcoat the agenda of the SD. Republicans have traditionally been for lower taxes and smaller government. There are lots of different kinds of republican as well. I don’t know how it is in the south but in the Northeast republicans favor low taxes. Most of them that I know own small businesses and are looking for policies that will help them grow their business.

    I think Sweden is much better on this respect though. I was really talking about Norway and Denmark.

    I would agree that many Arabs that move to the US have a higher education level and speak the language. Still the research out there suggests that similar cohort groups, at the same education levels, have an easier time finding a job in the US. This is true for immigrants from non-OECD coutries. There are lots of studies that support this. The tax and employment policies may have something to do with this. I am not sure.

    Report abuse »

  30. RandyT says:

    M, you are correct; “The American system relies on that bottom 30% living in poverty.” This group makes up the underclass of our country from where originates much of the crime.

    I read a very interest essay by a fellow of the conservative Hoover Institute a few years back. The essay was about why we, the US, should not ok same sex marriages. However in the essay he twice pointed out that Sweden had eleminated its underclass by having universal healthcare and universal education up to and including college. He pointed out how yes there were poor people in Sweden, but they did not produce a large under class of crime causing people. He pointed out that in Sweden a person born to poor parents had a very realistic chance of doing much better than his/her parents – not so in the USA. Here the old boot straps pull up is a figment of imagination by all but about one percent of the born poor.

    We are divided more and more by the haves and have nots. The haves, have healthcare, have a home, have a job and don’t give a darn fro the have nots. Here, for sure in the South, the poor are poor because they are lazy. Oh the American Christians will send a few buck to a cause now and then like Katrina or Haiti, but they will not look at the cause of poverty and do anything about it, because it might mean higher taxes and they might not be able to buy their four ton gas sucking pickup truck to drive three miles to work and back in.

    Report abuse »

  31. Bruce says:

    RandyT,

    One wonders where you get your misinformation.

    In the first place, poverty doesn’t cause crime. Culture does. Some of the lowest crime states, such as The Dakotas, are among the poorest. Moreover The US has a lower crime rate than Sweden and many other European nations:

    http://danmark.wordpress.com/2006/07/01/last-comparison-of-crime-rates-between-nations-ever/

    No shortage of upward mobility here in the US. Just look at Asian immigrants, many who come here with next to nothing and in short order make more on average than white Americans.
    What dooms upward mobility is having a kid out of wedlock and also means the kid is more likely to fail.

    Report abuse »

  32. Jeanne says:

    Denmark is not much better than Sweden:

    30 percent of social workers and so-called case workers have been
    threatened or attacked, then we obviously have some more
    uttered to advise and handler futile.

    Crimes against these and other vulnerable groups should not be recorded
    properly (read halfway down below in the post under this link)

    When police officers in gang cities – the five largest – and a couple of
    threatened in their homes, their cars and outbuildings burned, and their whereabouts
    limited so we obviously have some more to the band.

    When 40 percent of welfare benefits went to non-western immigrants
    late 2005, so of course we must make sure that not less than 50 percent
    of welfare is transferred to the group in 2010.

    When the violence and the number of homicides and attempted homicides rise sharply, then
    number of these offenses, of course, grow explosively.
    Home Robberies rose in such numbers, 2006-2009: 16-23-56-more
    than 100, and so must increase year by year, of course, increased
    further.

    5 times more murders and attempted murders in 20-year period from 1985
    to 2005, although the ethnic Danish population during the same period went
    back with nearly 300,000. During the same period the number of alien
    immigrants, however, increased by a factor of 10 1967-2005, d.v.s. at 38 years
    is the number of murder and attempted murder increased by 644% or 6.4
    times. From 1967-2008: increased 7.53 times.

    If you want know anything about Denmark:
    http://danmark.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/shall-you-even-get-enough-yes-i-think-so/

    Report abuse »

  33. Johan Falköga (Falcon Eye) says:

    Bruce.. Your statistics is made up, do you actually believe the US has a lower homicide rate than all those countries?`

    “In 2003, there were 189 homicides reported in Sweden.[3] In 2001, there were 169 reported, which gives a rate of approximately 2 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.”

    “Recently, however, the homicide rate has stagnated.[7] While the homicide rate decreased continuously between 1991 and 2000 from 9.8 homicides per 100,000 persons to 5.5 per 100,000, it has remained level through 2005.”

    The homicide rate in the US is still more than double that of Sweden, and that’s after having gone down 9,8 in the 90’s…
    Stop lying!

    Report abuse »

  34. Kelly says:

    I have to disagree with @Hamad Khan…..Swedes are definitely NOT open towards Muslims or anyone that looks “Middle Eastern”. Swedes may have a reputation for being shy/reserved but this is definitely not so when you’re in a social situation and the subject comes up about Middle Eastern immigrants. It would be one of the last places I’d go if I were Muslim.

    Also, it’s very easy to think Sweden is far better in many ways when you’re living there as an American with all of the rights and privileges we have. But try living as a Swede and being told you can’t leave the country to go on vacation/visit a friend because you can’t find a job and should be home looking for one, not traveling. And that’s just one example. I love Sweden, but I don’t like seeing anyone bash their own country just to look good in the eyes of another.

    Report abuse »

  35. God Bless America says:

    This entire blog is an epic fail…move to Sweden ya puss, don’t let the door hit ya

    Report abuse »

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