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Minister: 'Sweden needs the American dream'

Clara Guibourg · 28 Jan 2012, 14:36

Published: 28 Jan 2012 14:36 GMT+01:00

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"In other European countries it isn't strange to have diversity in a group," said Ohlsson to financial newspaper Veckans Affärer.

Sweden has long had a strong collectivistic tradition, but according to Ohlsson the time has come to exchange this ideal for individualism and facilitated social mobility.

Veckans Affärer held a seminar on how to discover and promote talented individuals in a society earlier this week, and Ohlsson is one of those whom the newspaper previously named a "Swedish super talent".

"I want more of the American dream in Sweden," said the EU-minister.

Birgitta Ohlsson also called for Sweden to modernize its view of the rest of the world, warning that with today's out-of-date view, the country risks losing many future talents.

"Knowledge intensive jobs are moving straight from Sweden to Shanghai as we speak, and that's serious. Besides, the most well-educated teenagers are already there. Our view of the tiger economies is extremely outdated," she said.

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Whilst agreeing with Ohlsson's ideas, Green Party head Gustaf Fridolin called for a wider definition of individualism.

"When people are given the tools that individualism provides, they can find solutions together. We can't solve the climate issue on our own, but the parallel between individualism and the desire for one's actions to lead to change is very strong right now," said Fridolin to Veckans Affärer.

Clara Guibourg (clarabara@hotmail.com)

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Your comments about this article

15:07 January 28, 2012 by Avin a go
Never going happen. Sweden is a closed society based on small country syndrome.

First it has to gain self-confidence in its current values and culture, before attempting to be something else.

Society here is based around the average person, with an average income, with an average car. It's currently frowned upon to stand out from the crowd.

Individualism is not encouraged in fact its discouraged and I can't see that changing anytime soon.
15:20 January 28, 2012 by Svensksmith
America needs the American dream.
15:26 January 28, 2012 by AmusedMuses
Yeah because the American dream works SO well!! at least for some 10%.
15:31 January 28, 2012 by star10
Though she is right that Sweden should consider how to retain talent (99% foreign masters students leave Sweden after finishing their study), she should be very stupid to miss that Sweden is much more successful than America to the average citizen. Americans had a dream and it utterly failed (except for the few wealthy). In the US, for more than half of the population, incomes have persistently fallen over the past 25 years. Basically, over half of the population got worse over the past quarter century.
15:33 January 28, 2012 by StockholmSam
I don't think Sweden needs the American dream. That certainly is not sustainable. What Sweden, or rather Swedes, need is the American spirit. By that, I mean the idea that we should work hard to excel, take some pride in what we accomplish and strive to be the best. Unfortunately, too many people define 'being the best' as being the richest or having the most toys, which has created too much individualism (rather than liberty) and a many-tiered socio-economic class structure. We don't want that. In fact, there is a stronger argument that America needs more of the Swedish spirit. I think we are seeing this manifested in the Occupy movements and their demands for a fairer distribution of wealth and greater security for the average American.
15:40 January 28, 2012 by Opinionfool
Hell no! That's the last thing anyone needs. There's a book "American Dream; Global Nightmare" sums it all up. Birgitta Ohlsson needs to read it and then change her mind. Americans need to read it too but they refuse to as they see nothing wrong in their attitude.
15:43 January 28, 2012 by hugedingleberry
The American dream...Yes! Lets build that wall up on our southern borders so we can keep those pithy, unscrupulous, Danes out of our Texas/Skane. They are taking all our jobs, not the Chinese. The American dream collecting them up and drop kicking them back over the sound.

16:00 January 28, 2012 by J Jack
I know! Let's get an American Prime minister!
16:18 January 28, 2012 by jostein
Dream and democratic mandate first, immigration afterwards. But these bleeding acutocrats like this abomination Olsson did it the other way around. And she still wants to be considered a democrat?
16:21 January 28, 2012 by Dekka
The American Dream in the land of Lagom!!! Kind of weird combo...Mrs Ohlsson.
16:24 January 28, 2012 by seborga82
i am from shanghai, you wont even believe how many swedes are there, but also the arab looking "swedes" are now damaging our society
16:47 January 28, 2012 by Douglas Garner
I agree with Ohlsson. Over logomizing of Sweden has resulted in limiting drive of Swedish youth and younger workers. It has now been generally recognized that the social equality movement in education has seriously hurt capabilities of new graduates from gymnasium (not to mention those that drop out at 16).

At least more standardized tests are being given to monitor progress of students and grades will once again be issued. Everyone is not created equal... some are smarter or more self motivated than others. Why Sweden has worked so hard to quash that is a mystery to me. Logom mostly beneifits the bottom half of society.
16:56 January 28, 2012 by Abe L
Sweden sure needs to start considering more what's in their best interest compared to doing what they consider to be "the right thing". Put your economy and economical successes higher on the priority list, invest in education and infrastructure and make the country appealing for foreign enterprises to settle in.

You can be fair to people AND reward hard work, but Sweden needs to stop covering and providing for those unwilling to contribute. Amongst the most important things would be a sensible legal system that punishes the criminal and compensates the victim, instead of the other way around as the current system does.
17:02 January 28, 2012 by Svensksmith
@ Jack #8

You can have ours. He wants socialism anyway.
17:03 January 28, 2012 by Roy E
The 'American dream' .... What a perfect Rorschach test !
17:03 January 28, 2012 by Smiling Canuk
Be careful what you wish for Birgitta. In today's economy for many Americans the "American dream" has been turning into a nightmare.
17:04 January 28, 2012 by AirForceGuy
Take Obama from us....NOW!
17:24 January 28, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
Without meaning any disrespect at all to the US, or Americans, if Ms Ohlsson believes Sweden needs the 'American Dream' she should actually go there and see how it actually works in practice. I couldn't see any reference in her CV that she's, as yet, done so.

Otherwise, the news header is nothing more than a 'sound bite'. The USA is unique in getting rid of its colonial British rulers and then drawing up a written constitution written for INDIVIDUALS rather than interest groups - from which, the promise of the 'American Dream' follows - although there are winners and losers, as there are everywhere
17:43 January 28, 2012 by skogsbo
the american dream is bankrupt, like the UK, italian, french, greek, irish dream.. it hasn't or didn't work. No dream stands the the test of team. After china/india and the east has bailed the west out, over the next 10 years, we will see how their dream progress, whilst the USA & Europe become the also rans. 30-40 years time, chinas dream may slowly fold and the African dream will grow, it goes in cycles, as nothing is truly sustainable.

Sweden's best bet is to focus on what it is good at(techno stuff) and become a brand in itself. Ikea, blondes, abba and ice hotels... anything that brings the chinese and asian tourists and their money!
19:03 January 28, 2012 by Gamla Hälsingebock
The American dream is gone.

The China/India/Asia dream is beginning.

European founded nations have reached the top of whatever they should be...The global economy is going east.

Woman wake up!
19:28 January 28, 2012 by Lukestar1991
What a load of rubbish. I would have expected better from an EU minister.
19:35 January 28, 2012 by LimpFish
"Sweden has long had a strong collectivistic tradition"

According to a study carried out a few years ago (Hofstede and Hofstede, Cultures and organization, software of the mind, 2005), Sweden ranked 14 on the individualism index among 74 countries, where higher rank means a more individualistic society.

According to the survey "In individualistic societies, the stress is put on personal achievements and individual rights."

Something is a bit wrong with your reasoning dear minister...
19:40 January 28, 2012 by Gletta
something is wrong with that survey
20:31 January 28, 2012 by AmericanSwede16
I think she used the term American Dream wrongly. Basically she is stating that Sweden just needs more individualism. In America, especially big cities, people form friendship circles of all kinds of different people from all backgrounds. This gives them more individualism and therefore teaches them socially about different people. In sweden, friendship circles have no diversity.

The bottom line.. Sweden needs more diversity first!
20:33 January 28, 2012 by dizzymoe33
The land of milk and honey has turned sour! It no longer exists!! There is no such thing as the American Dream-it is a pipe dream! And this is coming from an American.
20:34 January 28, 2012 by AmericanSwede16
America has the top universities, hospitals, companies, restaurants, etc. That is all due to individualism. That will never change.
21:57 January 28, 2012 by Gamla Hälsingebock
America reached it's wold power status by allowing capitalism to do as it pleased.

Capitalism is doing it today but is leaving America behind. Businesses have stated that although they were founded in America, they are now multi-national and therefore owe nothing to America.

Capitalism at it's finest, although it will do for the third world what it did for America and Europe.

So let's immigrate East and get our jobs back! LOL
22:06 January 28, 2012 by LimpFish

Can you justify your critisism against the book?
22:19 January 28, 2012 by ramshead
The American Dream is not for everyone, unless you want to benefit the ideals we stand for, like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, individualism by hard work to advance yourself financially, free election, to redress our government and the list goes on and on. That is not to say other countries don't have similiar advantages, but consider why millions upon millions people from all over the world came here to make a new life for themselves and still more want to come here. If you're happy where you are and with your government as it is, then fine and let's be friends. If some of what we stand for appeals to, let's hope you bring about changes to fit your society and culture.
22:55 January 28, 2012 by Hunner1210
Haha ya let's be individuals by copying another country. How about you develop a SWEDISH dream. And Sweden is smart enough to recognize that just because someone has a knack for studying math does not mean they are any "better" than someone who has a knack for studying art (like viewed in America). The Scandinavian countries are actually doing impeccably compared to the rest of the world! Moderation is key, in USA-everything is pushed to the extreme. Creating extreme results. I say if you want the American dream, GO TO AMERICA.
00:26 January 29, 2012 by mibrooks27
The American Dream is dead! American's want to be more like Sweden. The new American Dream is a Swedish passport and citizenship, leaving the corrupt oafs that ran their country off a cliff behind. Unless your dream involves defrauding entire countries into bankruptcy, allowing Hedge Funds to blackmail the EU for payoff or you'll road block any plans to fix that debt crisis. For the Dictaor, the American President, it involves his having the power to assemble a Gestapo style secret police that opens mail, reads email, tracks intent use, collects information when you write letters to the editor or post of blogs, claims his reading of a new law (NDAA) allows him to imprison US citizens for any length of time without a court order oversight of any sort. The American Dream is a nightmare, where 23% of it's citizens are without jobs or hope, where corrupt windbags playing a elected representatives, and Wall Street gangsters rule. The American Dream is a nightmare!
00:40 January 29, 2012 by CALA
The American Dream is a fallacy. Over the last 30 years, incomes have dropped, more people have been forced into poverty through a lack of healthcare and a lack of even the most basic of safety nets. For the lucky students who end up graduating from a university, they are so mired in debt that they will spend decades trying to pay back student loans at ridiculous interest rates with stiff penalties for being late. American individualism or even American Exceptionalism has bred a culture of selfishness and hate that is slowly but surely (not so slowly anymore) caused the U.S. to rot at its core.

If anything, both Sweden and the U.S. could learn from each other and take the best of which each of them have to offer - that sort of communal attitude is what could save them both as well as the rest of the world.
01:09 January 29, 2012 by bow290
i'd rather the aussie dream
01:12 January 29, 2012 by HenryPollard
Miss Olsson is 100% right!!

I for one am sick and tired of Sweden's high levels of equality and living standards.
01:23 January 29, 2012 by AmusedMuses
haha, you guys crack me up. (in a good way)
02:36 January 29, 2012 by Marc the Texan
The American dream is pretty inconsistent with modern Swedish culture. The Swedish state plays too big a role in everyone's lives. It's difficult to escape the default position of being on the same page as everyone else in Sweden. Much less chance of that in the US. People are left to their own devices for better or worse in the US. That would be intolerable in Sweden, on both ends of the spectrum.

I think Sweden has a different dream though. For example, it seems that Sweden produces more musicians and bands per capita than the US. I really think this is due to the Swedish safety net, which creates a different kind of individualism. Swedish kids can work minimal hours or not at all and focus on music, knowing the state will take care of them. American kids have to live at home in the basement if they want to be able to develop a musical career. If they want to move out, that usually means a lot more time working and not enough to get the band beyond the garage. So there are trade-offs between the two.

As for jobs in China, that's a completely different issue. Massive inflows of capital from the US and Europe have built China over the past 2 decades. That has finally changed in the past 6 months, now there have been net outflows. The first in twenty years. All the profits from the developed world have been invested in the developing world for some time now. That is why there are jobs in Shanghai. Jobs follow capital, education follows capital, rising standards of living follow capital. Stand-outs like Silicon Valley continue to do well because venture capitalists invest their capital locally. If they back a start-up in Houston, they force them to move to Palo Alto. Most everyone else in the western world sends their investments to a money center like London or New York which skims some then invests in China. So most workaday people in any community have their capital working to build up some other part of the world, like China, instead of their local community.
03:14 January 29, 2012 by Indignerad
Sweden has a higher degree of social mobility than the USA. What does the "dream" matter if we are feeling the supposed positive effects of it anyway?
03:55 January 29, 2012 by Challie70
As an American who has lived in America most of her life and has experienced it from low, middle and high income...there is another saying about the american dream...the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Soon middle class will not exist.

Oh the freedom thing is a bunch of BS too. Your free until someone in the state/federal office decides your not.

Want honesty...take care of yours, be patriotic and not racist. If they don't like it let them go home and keep yours here. Only way to save this country and it's heritage or maybe I should keep my my America ID.
06:50 January 29, 2012 by Global Macro
Without doubt, Minister Ohlsonn is right. It is no secret that the American dream is broken in America. But that doesn't mean that it must be permanently broken for everyone. If by individualism she means more freedom for every individual Swede, a lesser burden on the economy by reducing the role of government, reducing the tax burden, and reducing the resources that are drawn away from the private sector, that would be wonderful news for the Swedish economy and for every Swede. But I am a bit skeptical that that is what she really means. And I am a bit skeptical that such proposals would be accepted in Sweden.

Nevertheless, there is no reason that the American dream could work wonders in Sweden as it once did in America and many other places.
06:56 January 29, 2012 by Grokh
the american dream ruined america!

what is this idiot minister talking about when the rest of the world praises sweden for its attempt at social equality ?

if a country has a strong economy where everyone earns a good living even on low jobs then we can see people growing up in an environment where they dont have time to go to school because they need to work.

so in the long run the country gets dumber.

the american dream is about the top 1% while everyone else gets screwed.

if that worked then the entire African continent would be the wealthiest place on earth.

also right now USA ranks 90th on social mobility aka the american dream.

another way to view this is reason why sweden didnt get caught for long in the world crisis.

because most swedes earn a good living and can pay their debts and still consume stupid stuff like everyone else.

sweden needs to be more swedish and less of stupid stuff from everyone else. be it the american dream, or the stupidity of allowing right wing extremists (christians /nazis / islamists) to participate .

if everyone earns a good living and the govenrment puts the money on the people prosperity will create the so called individuals that will innovate.
07:06 January 29, 2012 by blik
Yeah, what have the Romans ever done for us!

How come the obvious facts become the Elephant in the room that every one conveniently wants to ignore?

Fact: 95% of the world's smartest people live and work on the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Why do you think that is?

No body is suggesting for one moment that Sweden become the United States.

That would be just plain bloody stupid.

Sweden is Sweden and that is a good place to start.

Sweden has and does punch well above its weight in the international innovation and manufacturing arena. However one must realise that partly to thank for this position in the international market place, was a set of fortuitous, recent historical circumstances.

The world has changed and if Sweden wants to continue to prosper it must adapt and change with it. And if that means (god forbid) that some ideas from the United States are explored and considered for discussion then so be it.
08:01 January 29, 2012 by Global Macro
Wrong on many points, Grokh. The American dream did not ruin American. The politicians and the special interest groups corrupted the government. That is what ruined the American dream. The challenges that Minister Ohlsonn identified are very real. More individualism and free enterprise and smaller government would strengthen the Swedish economy enormously.

And your analysis of why Sweden did not get caught in the world financial contraction is is also wrong. Sweden did not drown itself in debt, as many other countries did, and Sweden did not get caught holding the debt of countries that could not pay.
08:01 January 29, 2012 by engagebrain
The American nightmare - just one serious illness away from financial ruin
09:25 January 29, 2012 by blakesteel
I'm a software engineer in the good old U.S.A. here, thought I might provide my two cents to the conversation here. Everyone here keeps saying that the "American Dream" is dead, but I believe that the genie is already out of the box. Whether we lose it here someday it will never truly be lost, someone will always be dreaming somewhere. Maybe Sweden, China, Africa, Greece, or Peru? The dream, you see, is that everyone regardless of their perceived status, the family they came from, or how much property they own can be considered equal and free human beings with just as many rights to pursue happiness as the next man or woman.

Is the dream lost here in America? I work with Americans that come from many nationalities here. We all have respect for one another. We get along, we joke and commiserate. We work hard together to produce the software that makes our company successful. And, at the end of the day we go home to our loved ones and enjoy our evenings together. That is the American Dream, the pursuit of whomever and whatever makes you happy in life, safe in the knowledge that you are treated just like everyone else.

James Truslow Adams probably said it best, "The American dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been much more than that. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class."
09:44 January 29, 2012 by Douglas Garner
@Global Marco... right on! The American Dream does work... that is where most of the 1% have come from. It would be even better if or when America adopts the universal health and education programs of Sweden. But we can NEVER let go of the fact that "the cream can rise to the top".

To some of my apparent countrymen... yes, situations do occur which can limit your quality of life. Jobs are lost, people become ill, not all ideas are brilliant, just as some people are lucky enough to be born to wealth parents which provides them with greater access to influence. This does not change the fact that a person with a good idea and willing to work hard CAN have a successfull life in America.

Special influence, ruthless capitalism, illegal drug proliferation, and misplaced social concerns are other issues. None of this is as simple as folks would like to think. Just as unions further the interests of their members... they limit the ability of the firm to modernize and compete! How many American jobs has this driven overseas... yet to be blamed on the greed of Corporations? How many people complain about the environment, yet are unwilling to conserve energy or even pick up trash from their own yard? Take a harder look folks!!!
09:47 January 29, 2012 by Mark737408
Sweden needs a swedish dream. Not amrican bullshit
10:14 January 29, 2012 by Douglas Garner
You are right, Mark, they need an updated Swedish dream. The old social democrat programs, while altruistic, have created their own unanticipated problems. I totally applaud Sweden's lack of debt and the wonderful care and education programs. But they have subverted the concepts of healthy competition among children within the school systems and parental responsibility, strived to make everyone feel good about themselves to an extent that dampens innovation and drive, and created a social system which virtually encourages less motivated young people remain unmotivated.

We see progress, of course. Recognition of the problem is the beginning. Just as the problems of today were not created overnight, neither will the solutions for the next generation. The current generation of 12-30 year-old will probably suffer from confusion and disorientation as society evolves.
12:14 January 29, 2012 by Swedishmyth
Swedes see the government not as the upholder of individual rights, but as the manager and custodian of people's lives. Any liberties enjoyed in Sweden is by way of license, not right.
12:31 January 29, 2012 by cogito
The old American Dream was that anything is possible. By working hard, I can achieve the good life for me and my children.

The new American Dream is to get on food stamps, collect 99 weeks unemployment, and have the government bail out me out my mortgage.

It's called "Hope and Change."

@Mark (#46) "Sweden needs a Swedish dream." #46

There already is a Swedish dream. It's to get out of Sweden.
14:27 January 29, 2012 by Bumblebeetuna
I think she meant that Sweden needs to ecourage individualism through new programs. She doesn't say anything about changing every aspect toward the american style. In that case i think she is spot on but the usa could take a dose of lagom.
15:48 January 29, 2012 by cattie
I am with @blakesteel #44

The American Dream is about more than money, it is about the opportunity to pursue, with hard work, your ideals.

There are many broken dreams these days with business failures, foreclosures and a higher unemployment rate.

But still....I personally know many, many immigrants in America that achieve a active, fulfulling working life, homeownership and the respect of of their workmates and neighbors. Their children are considered "full" or "native" American regardless of ethnicity.

That is very far from the prospects of many newcomers to Sweden.
15:52 January 29, 2012 by Kaethar
What nonsense. But leave it to an EU minister to be completely out of touch with Swedish society. If she was she'd know that Sweden regularly tops innovation rankings and is amongst the best in the world in all sorts of areas from music to fashion to technology. Not bad for a society supposedly lacking in individualism.

Like many others she confuses individualism with a lack of social diversity. Just because a society forms a tight-knit group as a whole does not mean the society in question lacks individualism. In fact removing this aspect of Swedish society would be disastrous. It would no doubt make Sweden more like America (in that people would care less about others and have a dog-eats-dog mentality) but this is hardly something to aim for.
16:06 January 29, 2012 by Roy E
@cognito = #49

Yes indeed (on the America part) The entitlement mentality of deserving is the antithesis of the traditional American Dream of earning . It will be very interesting to see if America will be able to recover from its 2008 act of insanity because the current trajectory of ' Hope and Change' ends in a crash and burn. Trillion dollar plus annual budget deficits are simply not sustainable. yet politicians carry on as if they are.

I believe the minister is referring to the 'American Dream' that was embraced by so many Swedish emigrants to the New World. Those people migrated in order to build something. Today's migrants seem much more much more interested in migrating in order to get something. Sweden would probably do well for itself to become more attractive to builders and less attractive to takers.
17:34 January 29, 2012 by Fergal
@cogito = #46 - It takes true talent to write that. The rare ability to envy people who eat on food stamps, when stamps are for poor people. The unusual capacity to invent fictions, like the US government bailed out mortgages, when they bailed out the bankers. It takes a special skill to overlook that the American Dream existed only in marketing propaganda. The facts about the USA are easily discovered. @Roy E = #53, the entitlement mentality in the USA is strongest amongst the 1%, who feel they are entitled to be the 1%. I believe that 99% of the people generally don't feel entitled, as they have never experienced it.
18:03 January 29, 2012 by cogito
Oh goodie. More confusion from the Occupy Sofa movement...or rather non-movement? (#54)


Suggest you get up and get out more--if that is not too much of an effort. You might appreciate that you and your fellow Fleabaggers are more fortunate than 99% of the people in the world. That makes you the 1%.
18:05 January 29, 2012 by skatty
@AmericanSwede16 #24

I agree with you, the minister uses the term American Dream wrongly! Actually, she even uses the definition of individualism wrongly in connection with American Dream.

The term American dream roots to the times of the available low-cost lands for farming and farm ownership; reasoned mass emigration to America, mainly from Europe. However, the term has been change during the centuries for many political reasons.

Anyway, in other European countries it isn't strange to have diversity in a group, because most of the European countries have been colonial powers until the mid 50s or some 60s. By considering the colonial function; it has been long time of cultural, economy and political connections between different people; in contrast homogenous Sweden mostly got invited guest workers from Europe and mainly neighboring countries.

As a matter of fact; Swedes couldn't even think of the word "diversity", if refugees haven't moved to Sweden (who mostly moved to Sweden, because of the war or political conflicts in their own countries; not based on colonial factors, or job opportunity).

The jobs move to Shanghai; because in the market economy, capital moves were there would be cheaper labor for production, and larger number for consumption. At present China is on top, but by according to the same rules of market, sooner or later, bubble will burst in China as well (and probably will start with housing bubble)!

As a rule; most of the dreams build on money and debt, American or non-American.
18:24 January 29, 2012 by dimi73
American dream - in other words a weird combination of greed, foolishness, selfishness and disregard of the others.

I wonder sometimes how in their humbleness the Swedes overlook their great values. I think that rather US would benefit greatly of adopting some features of the Swedish model - then maybe they will feel a bit happier..

If more countries would look like Sweden then the world would be a better place to live.

And please, do not borrow anything from the Americans - as a beginning try to explain to them what lagom means:)
19:51 January 29, 2012 by bcarroll
Speaking as an American who is working on moving to Sweden: this woman is off of her nut. The American dream is a mirage and most Americans envy the wealth distribution in Sweden, until you mention that this is achieved through taxes and socialism (oh no! The dreaded "s" word!). Retaining talent is important but I don't think that emulating the U.S. model is a good idea. Tax breaks for high need/demand workers is a good idea, and Sweden does this for foreigners looking to move to Sweden (lower taxes for 3 years if you are on their official work need list), but they should do this for their own population as well.
20:45 January 29, 2012 by faisy07
make it a land of opportunities for all as USA did no language religion, region restrictions and you will get what u want. bring multi talented people from all over the world not the uneducated ones and feeding them none for nothing.....,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
03:29 January 30, 2012 by Shawntooth
lots of misinterpretation on what she meant, the part of the "american dream" she was trying to emphasize is about no matter as what/where you come from, a particular land recognizes and provides the possibility for you succeed through intelligence and hard-work; put aside if america is still a land like that (that's not the point here at all), what would sweden do to maintain its competitive advantage under a inevitably more globalized economy is the real question. technology/innovation driven higher profit margin industry's sustainable development is the focal point (aside of screaming one's ass off driving all immigrants away), and clearly she realizes the difficulty is not as simple as modifying taxation etc. it's a cultural issue, most of the highly-skilled foreign worker has little place/opportunity in this society.
04:54 January 30, 2012 by lilymaye
I have no idea if Birgitta Ohlsson has any idea what she is saying. Has she lived in the U.S.A and experienced this 'individualism' first hand, or is this just something she have read about and thought sounds great?

My adult son spent a few months in New York recently, trying to check the country out if it was a place he wanted to live in. He had previously lived in London for a couple of years and has been growing up in Australia, well aware of some other English speaking culture. This trip was his second trip to the U.S.A, but his first to serious have a look at the culture and not at a tourist.

After the initial couple of weeks of everything being new and interesting his findings surprised him, at least in New York where he mainly spent all of his time. Most people seem to see others as a threat to their survival, their jobs, housing etc. Although this happens in all big cities he noticed a huge difference between New Yorkers and those in London where comradeship was still happening in a very tough economy.

So, is this what Birgitta Ohlsson wants Swedes to become in the name of progress?

Do we really need more selfish people that see others as a threat to their own dreams? I sure hope not!

Perhaps it's more the Swedish jealousy she should look into and why people don't want to excel. This is already a well known phenomenon that Swedes living overseas notice when they travel back to Sweden. Other things to look at may be to encourage new ideas and businesses. Perhaps this is closer to the good side of the American way that she is really talking about.
04:54 January 30, 2012 by Global Macro
Maybe some of us are reading too much into what she said. Maybe she does not really mean more individual freedom for Swedes, free markets and smaller government. And Kaethar, you have a good point when you point out that an EU Minister does not have much credibility.

But even so, I cannot understand how Swedes and other Europeans are so stubbornly blind to the devastating effect that big government and the welfare state have had on economies. Even before the financial contraction, Sweden had an average annual growth in GDP of just 2.7%. That is pathetic and should be embarrassing to a people who are highly educated, enjoy a very stable political and social society, and spend very little on national defense. Swedes should be alarmed about that, but they are not.

It might be that those who have said that I have misinterpreted her words are correct. That she did not realy mean more freedom. And even if she did mean that it is unlikely that Swedes or other Europeans would be receptive to a freer society. They prefer to be deliberately blind as European societies continue to implode.

Does anyone seriously believe that the most recent bailout of bankrupt European counties has finally resolved the problems.? Of course it has not. Once the welfare state has gotten hold, no county has ever unwound it. Europe is collapsing into a new Dark Ages, and in their complacency Europeans refuse to see it coming.
08:57 January 30, 2012 by cogito
"...as a beginning try to explain to them what lagom means:)" #57

@dimi, #61 explains perfectly what lagom means:

"Perhaps it's more the Swedish jealousy she should look into and why people don't want to excel. This is already a well known phenomenon that Swedes..."

iow, "lagom" = striving for mediocrity and envy of those who succeed.
09:38 January 30, 2012 by flintis
The American dream is alive & well in Malmö, poverty, crime, illegal immigration & a small minority of wealthy.
09:52 January 30, 2012 by Danne8
The American dream is very much in part the thought that people in general envision where they can be whoever they want, or do whatever they want in a successful way, regardless your education, economical income, etc. It is the desire to excel!

I believe people in Sweden are blurred by the Jantelagen and the Lagom mentality which in my perception is great! but is creates a conformist society who cannot excel (or doesn't need to)...

You can see it from all famous Swedish celebrities.... they had to leave Sweden in order to excel and become famous!
10:21 January 30, 2012 by Michaelmack
Before the minister chooses the American "dream" over the Swedish one, she should perhaps take a look at http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/slides
10:41 January 30, 2012 by HYBRED
The American Deam is simply having the opportunity to be as successful as you want.

With the unemployment rate in the US at 8.5% and 7.4% in Sweden, a large amount of people in both countries just want a good, stable job and get on with life. Other than that there are many cultural differences between to two countries.
10:42 January 30, 2012 by Michaelmack
To summarize the Spirit Level slides:

Health and social problems, child wellbeing, levels of trust, drug use, life expectancy, children's experience of conflict, rates of imprisonment, social mobility, homicide rates, teenage birth rates, educational scores, obesity, infant mortality and even rates of recycling are all dramatically better in Sweden than in the USA. In many cases, they are at the opposite ends of the scale.

American dream? Which items would the minister like to start with?
11:05 January 30, 2012 by mnphoto87
The 2010 Local article, "The American Dream is actually Swedish"


I agree that America has much more to learn from Sweden than the other way around, but as an American who has lived in Sweden for more than half a year now, I have to admit that there are things I'd like to see change about the Swedish system.

As a University-educated job-seeker with plenty of relevant work experience, I have applied for perhaps 30 jobs that are exactly relevant to my qualifications, but I have yet to be called in for a single interview. All the job descriptions have said I must speak English, no Swedish required. Yet I suspect they would very much prefer someone who is Swedish. One one occasion, the employer actually emailed me back and asked if I spoke Swedish (even though the job desc said Swedish was not required). When I said I was learning and not yet fluent, they told me straight up that they are looking for a candidate that speaks Swedish.

My Swedish friends tell me I would be a great asset to any company if only they knew me personally, yet I have found it so difficult to get a chance to make this happen! My friends are now telling me to stop looking and concentrate on learning Swedish, which is what I'm doing. But my main point is that Sweden can't afford to miss out on qualified workers who are ready and willing to be employed, whether it's because they aren't fully fluent in Swedish, or come from a different ethnic background, etc. If Sweden want to stay competitive in the 21st century there has got to be a new kind of open-mindedness in the workplace.
11:27 January 30, 2012 by EP
It's lagom that rules the day in Sweden
11:40 January 30, 2012 by HYBRED

One reason for your problem finding a job is that you are a immigrant or potential immigrant. The Swedish dislike immigrants. And that does include Americans.
12:37 January 30, 2012 by flintis
@danne# Swedish celebrities left Sweden to slip paying taxes or move to the job, nothing to do with how to excel & be famous.

In other words "Good old fashioned GREED"
13:01 January 30, 2012 by HYBRED
Is it "greed" to want to keep money you worked for?
13:37 January 30, 2012 by soultraveler3
Agree 100% with HYBRED in comment #67. "The American Deam is simply having the opportunity to be as successful as you want."

Like it or not, (like America or not) that is dream is still available for those willing to work for it. America is still one of only a handful of countries in the world where an immigrant family can come from anywhere in the world and "make it" in just a generation.

Mom and dad might come in dirt poor, have to live in a not so nice area and work long hours. If they're willing to do that though and are successful in passing on those traits to their children, it works.

If the kids study hard and stay out of trouble, there are plenty of grants and scholarships available that make university affordable or even free, especially if you're coming from a low economic standing. The children of those original immigrants and even the immigrants themselves, often times go on to be doctors, lawyers, small business owners, engineers, store managers etc.

It's not about becoming wealthy (although you certainly have more opportunity to do so than in most other countries) for most people. It's about knowing that if you work hard and try to be your best, your potential success can be almost limitless. Some people define success as being rich, others that's having a job you love, or being able to feel good about your work and provide for your family. Even with the financial mess we have currently that's still achievable.
13:59 January 30, 2012 by Greysuede
I'm for Swedish Dream!
14:15 January 30, 2012 by cogito
Outside my hotel in New York at 5:30 on a cold winter morning there was an immigrant selling donuts and coffee to passersby from one of those typical mobile street stands.

I suppose he could have qualified for welfare, but he said he liked working and practicing his English by chatting with the regular customers who bought their breakfast from him every morning on their way to work.

He told me proudly his daughter was attending Harvard medical school.

That guy understood the American Dream better than the Swedish minister.
14:18 January 30, 2012 by dimi73
Well, take a chance with the American dream then...

In the near future in this case the Swedish society will consist of 5% wealthy individuals, who will be mortally scared to keep their wealth, who will have the luxury to live among poor destitute people - thus having the perfect oportunity to indulge thier inferiority complex - and fulfilling their 'dream' they will have the pleasure to die of a heart attack at the age of forty, leaving the money to their kids to keep the race rat rolling.

And concerning the high taxes in Sweden - yes they are necessary in order the people of this country to be kept healthy, secure and their dignity to be safeguarded.

In the land of the American dream many talanted kids cannot study, because they lack the funds, they have rotten teeth, because they can't afford to see a dentist and so on.

Well it is a geed, asking to keep all the money that one earns and then expecting to benefit from the social care system.

I have a suggestion - let those people who do not want to pay taxes to have their way - but also let them be deprived of the free health care, children care, sickness leave, generous pension schemes etc - let them go and pay cash for all that.

Maybe then they would see some of the bright sides of the dispised 'lagom'.
14:51 January 30, 2012 by HYBRED
There is no such thing as free health care. In Sweden it is paid for by high tax's. To put it in real terms; if you have a job that pays 18,000kr a month, only 12,000kr is going to show up in your account. 6,000kr or about $900 is not chump change. And then there are all the other tax's on top of it.
16:09 January 30, 2012 by cogito
@dim (#77)

What planet are you on?

Hybred enlightened you on the "free" healthcare myth.

I'll try to disabuse you of another of the misconceptions in your fairy-tale: generous pension schemes

Many old-age pensioners who have worked 40 years have an income of 10.000 SEK a month (about $1,350) on which they must pay 30-35% in taxes, leaving them roughly 7.500 sek for food, rent, medications. At my local grocery store, I sometimes see them counting out their small change for the couple of potatoes that will be their dinner.

Healthcare for the elderly is severely rationed in Sweden. Many cannot afford to see a dentist.

In the USA, roughly half of the population (47%) pay no income tax at all. Nol.Zero. Nada.
16:42 January 30, 2012 by dimi73
Thank you, gentlemen for your comments on my 'fairy tale' .

You might have your point, I still agree that there always coud be found a good example for any thesis to be supported, but at least you might accept that in Sweden everyone has an even start in life. The education is not only free - but it is a very high quality one. Well those who opt not to take advantage of it should only blame for their failures in life themselves.

And trust me in the countries, where i have lived - US, UK, Eastern Europe - i have seen much poorer and dissatisfied pensioners. Unlike the Swedish and German ones they could be rarly met on the Mediteranian beaches...
17:06 January 30, 2012 by mibrooks27
#79 - Ah, the wisdom of an AMerican "conservative" pretending to be Swedish, but the facts so wrong as to laughable. No one in Sweden go's hungry. You will not see people laying about the streets. Both common sights in the US. Our politician's are, for the most part, honest, decent folk, no matter their particular political bent. I don't think an honest, decent or concerned American politician exists. All are corrupt, foolish, self serving. This is especially true of your current president and his hard partying bribe. If half of the rumors of paramours, dead aides, etc. are true of this guy, he will go down in history as a worse monster than Hitler. But, his opponents! Mr. Gingrich, Romney, Cain, Sarah Palin, Barbara Bachmann, Santorum, a group of people so insane, so bereft of sanity that their eyes appear to spin about their heads like the melting down Drudge Dredge in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". Your country s downright creepy, your citizens pathetic numskulls, your business and investor class predatory monsters, your economic system a failing ramshackle engine shaking itself apart, and your "leaders" have been combed from the garbage heap of humanity.
17:31 January 30, 2012 by expatjourno
Yeah, let's have the top 1% own 90% of everything.

The U.S. has one of the most appalling distributions of wealth on the planet. And one of the highest rates of violence. There is nothing worth imitating about it.
17:42 January 30, 2012 by dimi73
Comment: And something else in addition In UK I still pay 35% taxes, however if i wish my children to be well educated, I have to pay 10000 pounds per year, if a proper healthcare is needed one should see a private doctor etc. Not quite the same in Sweden eh?
18:43 January 30, 2012 by efm
As a naturalized American, I could not help but laugh at the stupidity of Swedes! I came to America with nothing but a diploma, and studied further and attain my American dream!

A good job, security, a nice family , a nice house and

be called an American Citizen. I wonder if Sweden can give this to me? Nope! with all the hatred, racism and narrow minded of it's people. The so called "dream " has do do with the attitude that if you try your best, and study hard and

work as hard as you can, you will be better than where you where before.
19:02 January 30, 2012 by bramblebush
You have Malmo, what else do you need to be like the gang banger American culture? 1900 Somalians and Eriteans?
19:19 January 30, 2012 by dimi73
The fate of this world is that there are too many Americans and too few Swedes on it...

The selfish and the greedy cannot comprehend the motives of the generous and the noble.

Even Swedes often disregard their great system, so they should be reminded and demonstrated what the alternatives of their values are.
19:49 January 30, 2012 by HYBRED
Swedish values? The country that made beastiality legal?
20:03 January 30, 2012 by vladpootin
The American dream is ambiguous...

Yes, Sweden could learn from California's racial equality and Miami's cultural diversity. Swedes are in need of certain sensitivities to "people of color" who do not drive Mercedes Benz or BMW.

The American (economic) dream has been gutted...Part by Wall Street and political buffoonery and part by the Americans who lived beyond their means for 2 decades!

As for the expat Americans living in Europe...I ask where your financial freedom came from? Daddy's trust fund - Or you sold that Cali property in 2005 with that same system you seem so ready to distance yourselves from? Adopting the fake Euro accents will not fool anyone - Ask Madona or Johnny Depp.
21:22 January 30, 2012 by efm
There is a certain sense of misunderstanding of Swedes with regards to the so called American Dream. No, it is not for everybody! Only to the few or % of people who are lucky enough to have the right attitude,hard work, study and a little luck,-----

the opportunity is there. It is not meant to all in the way a solialist Sweden likes everyone to be the same. Certainly there will be failures, some mediocre results and others, affluent and few very rich.

It is a race, which depending on how hard you work, you may find yourself in the front or middle of the pack- you hope.

If everybody is the same, that is not free enterprise system supposed to work.
21:46 January 30, 2012 by Dekka
@ Swedishmyth I think your comment is very poignant and I am surprised I am not alone in thinking this way.
01:07 January 31, 2012 by waffen
mibrook27, CALA, Challie70, Smiling Canuk, skogsbo, dizzymore 33, engagebrain, mark737408, dimi73, bcarroll, flickr, expatjourno, bramblebush, are only touching on the tip of the iceberg about the United States.

The real truth about the place would make you hair stand on end.

Delusion rules, even among the so-called "smartest" on the East Coast.

Whatever the Minister meant, she is way off the beam.
06:14 January 31, 2012 by Carbarrister
Both of my parents moved from Sweden to America in the 1920s. The American Dream was made up of people like them who came as individuals looking for opportunity not available in Sweden at that time. There were no social programs. They learned English and created their opportunities. They never made a lot of money but they had a lot of self respect. I admired them very much.They always considered themselves Swedes but by the late 1970s they feared that the Swedish social welfare state had killed Swedish hard work and initiative.
11:18 January 31, 2012 by cogito
@#81 Mibrooks "the facts so wrong as to laughable. No one in Sweden go's hungry. You will not see people laying about the streets."

In a five-block walk yesterday in central Stockholm, I saw three people lying in the street. A fourth was not lying, but kneeling and holding a hand-written sign asking for money for food.

The rest of your post is too incoherent for comment.
13:58 January 31, 2012 by godnatt
Replicating the American dream would involve immigrants who:

A) Actually value hard work.

B) Don't hate your culture and your people and consider you depraved infidels to be exploited.
17:01 January 31, 2012 by efm


I'm sure if you look beneath the skin and superficiality of things, you will find immigrants that value hard work and willing to embrace the local culture, if you are so kind enough to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Why the heck will I hate the Swedish culture and people. I am married to one Swedish lady!! I think it is the other way around. The people should give the immigrants a chance to integrate and adopt.

You might even find a few with actual brains and motivation to

create actual valuable industries and trades.
17:21 January 31, 2012 by texeg
It depends how you define the American Dream.

To me the American Dream is the opportunity to use your talents and efforts to create something from nothing and become successful without being hindered by your government or frowned upon by your fellow citizens. This does not exist in Sweden. It is beginning to not exist in the US with the newly founded "hatred of the 1%". i.e., hate everyone that has more than you regardless of how they got it.

If you consider the American Dream owning a house and obtaining a high paying union job for life, then the American Dream is definitely dead. Social engineers believed everyone in the US should own their own home so they artificially lowered the cost of home ownership (the fed lowered borrowing rates) and artificially and temporarily propped up the jobs market (union jobs). Not to mention the fact our government borrowed from everyone on earth to pay for all the benefits we receive. Eventually the free market found China, the jobs left, the mortgages defaulted, and it all came crashing down.

The US won't recover until we figure out that hard work, education, frugal living and saving for the future is how to get ahead, not just by begging for more scraps from the federal government.

But that's just my opinion.
22:51 January 31, 2012 by Global Macro
There are some differences of opinion about what is meant by the American dream. And there are some differences about what the Minister meant. But putting the sarcasm aside, it is no more complicated than what #92 said. Yes, it is disappearing in the U.S. Yes, the U.S. government has been corrupted by special interest groups. But it worked wonderfully in the U.S. for a long time. And it would work just as well in Sweden. But it sounds from many of the comments here that Swedes really don't want that. They would prefer the status quo, even though the Minister has said that that presents hazards.

The greatest challenge is that once the American dream is inconsistent with a welfare state, and once a welfare state has gotten a grip on a country, no country has ever been able to unwind it.
21:30 February 1, 2012 by efm
The American dream and spirit is not dead. It is just harder to get it. Compared to any 3rd world country, the dream is still alive and well. Compared to Socialist Sweden, well, it's hard to know if Swedes even want that. It appears here that the individualism that Americans cherish is not compatible with the uniform thinking average Swede.

It's hard to be equal in everything and have a shot at something bigger.

But just don't count USA out yet. It is such a big and

heterogeous group of people with a lot of different ideas.

It can change faster than most, if it hurts too bad.
20:09 February 2, 2012 by mibrooks27
#98 - What an oaf! "socialist" Sweden doesn't have anything like Homeland Security or NDAA. They don't lock citizens up without a court order and for no reason. "Socialist" Sweden doesn't spy on it's citizens, listen to their cell phone calls, monitor their internet usage, read their mail, open their packages, treat Swedish citizens like prisoners in an internment camp. Swedish politician's aren't bought and sold by big corporations like cattle at a stock yard and Swedish citizens vote in huge numbers because they know their vote actually counts. The Swedish Dream is doing just fine without you silly American's and your oligarchy, thank you.
23:50 February 2, 2012 by Global Macro
mibrooks, you are right, but it is beside the point. Many of us lament the loss of the American dream in the US. The point is that we understand what is meant by the American dream. See #92 and #96 above. Although it has been lost in the US (BO has a 49% approval rating), people can still aspire to that goal, if people even care anymore. It was based primarily on a principles of individual freedom and initiative. Some of us think that those were very noble principles. In addition, those principles are very closely related to a nation's prosperity. Although some in this chain would disagree, the economies of countries that have embraced collectivism are stagnant at best, and more often collapsing.
18:19 February 3, 2012 by efm

The somewhat lost or decay of the American dream is really more complicated than a joust on who's better, who's bad, etc/

The world is becoming global and industries move to the cheaper labor countries. The rise of China and India as super power can affect the world's future. America is still a land of opportunity for people willing to try. The rise of China's and India's middle class emulate the American lifestyle.

Whether it's good or bad, who knows. Despite the anti US

sentiment around here, which is deplorable, I believe each country can still learn from the American experience. The US is still a country to reckon with. America's problems are big but are somewhat overly dramatized. But a cough in the USA is easily and pneumonia somewhere! Maybe Sweden is just that perfect?
18:20 February 3, 2012 by cogito

Sweden doesn't have anything like Homeland Security or NDAA....Sweden doesn't spy on it's citizens, listen to their cell phone calls, monitor their internet usage, read their mail, open their packages, treat Swedish citizens like prisoners in an internment camp. Swedish politician's aren't bought and sold by big corporations..."

Sweden does all of the above. Either you don't live here or you are hopelessly naive.
19:27 February 3, 2012 by mibrooks27
#102 - No it doesn't. You are, apparently, Indian, and don't have the slightest notion of Scandinavian culture. Quit blathering and do a little reading. Spreading your fantasies and passing them off as fact does no one any good.
23:53 February 4, 2012 by slapbangwallah
Has anyone seen George Carlin's diatribe on "Who Owns America?' He ends with the comment that the reason they call it "The American Dream" is that "you have to be asleep to believe it." I would think that most Americans' dream would be closer to the "Swedish dream." You know, a system not run by and for the corporations. Where the constant bombardment of propaganda from the corporations and the rich tell us that everything the people want is "socialist" such as health care and pensions. Instead our money is stolen from us to kill people around the world to satisfy psychopaths' blood lust and desire to rule the world. Believe it or not, we don't want that. The basic American is a peace loving friend to the world. Such a statement to me means that the Swedes are being owned by the Americans and lately it is getting worse. Reading on this site about the American surveillance bugs to spy on your government with the consent of your government means that you are owned.
16:42 February 6, 2012 by bethrichardson
#32 CALA is right - I am 36 years old and still paying off an education that I never benefited from. I am now returning to school to try and better myself yet again, but accruing yet more debt for it. Unfortunately, it's the only way I'll ever get into a better place. I think that most Americans are hopelessly ignorant of what we could learn from other countries like Sweden. This arrogance is what is killing our country. Does Sweden need to embrace more diversity? Maybe. But for 99% of the people here, the American dream is just that - a dream. Personally, my dream is to leave here, whether it's to Sweden or Spain or another country remains to be seen, but the goal is to get out.
04:30 February 7, 2012 by Global Macro
#105: Beth, I wonder whether you have thought it through. Why did you not benefit from school? Why was it too expensive? How do you hope to improve yourself by going back to school? What should America learn from Sweden? What is it that you hope to find when you leave the US?

I think that many of us would agree with you that if the American dream is not dead, it is dying. But #92 and #96 know what is meant by the American dream and know that it was once very real. People can still pursue their dreams and should.
13:57 February 7, 2012 by cattie
@#99 mibrooks27

""Sweden doesn't have anything like Homeland Security or NDAA....Sweden doesn't spy on it's citizens, listen to their cell phone calls, monitor their internet usage, read their mail, open their packages, treat Swedish citizens like prisoners in an internment camp. Swedish politician's aren't bought and sold by big corporations...""

You really know nothing about Swedish national security, do you? Sweden never needed a patriot act because Sweden never offered citizens the "right" of privacy. 90% of the Swedidh national security budget is in Surveillance. Swedish intelligence agencies publish the facts of swedish national surveillance right in the telephone book along with other national security policies. Swedes accept this as the price of neutrality. Why do you think Sweden is so advanced in the telecom industry?
22:47 February 7, 2012 by neckx6
Massive forclosure on homes, high unemployment, tens of millions without health care, endless wars and tax money flowing to the military industrial complex, peaceful protesters beaten and pepper sprayed by the police, political parties trying to outlaw birth control for women, Right wing wants to cut health and retirement(medicare & social security) for elders. The Republican Party wants tax cuts on the wealthy but raise taxes on the middle and poorer classes. The super wealthy see their wealth rise 297% while middle and poor stay stagnant or loose ground. Racism and homophobia unchecked in right wing parties. It is starting to be known as the American Nightmare. If Minister Ohlsson wants the American Dream so bad lets switch places. I see the Swedish dream. As our freedoms are eroded by the Patriot Act, NDAA and they are trying to push SOPA to restrict the internet your freedoms remain steady. Becareful of what you wish for, you just might get it.
02:25 February 8, 2012 by Global Macro
#108, you are way off base. The lower 47% of US household incomes pay no income taxes at all. Nothing. The 10% of households with the highest incomes pay more than half of all federal taxes. They pay more than 70% of all federal income taxes. The economic problems that you have identified are caused primarily by the government. And SOPA and the NDAA are being pushed by the left, who want ever larger government, not by conservatives.

You are just making up your facts to fit into your convenient stereotypes. You have distorted the facts so badly because you are blinded by radical left wing ideology.

The economy of Sweden is stagnant. Even before the economic contraction of the past few years, Sweden's economy was growing at a feeble 2.7% per year over the previous ten years. That is why some still long for the American Dream. Americans long for the American Dream. Sadly, it is gone. The US is plunging quickly toward the socialist sewer that you say you prefer to live in. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, such as the PIIGS, the left is determined to do everything they can to plunge us toward economic collapse. And they are winning.
22:33 February 8, 2012 by expatjourno
The American REALITY is that the richest 400 people have as much money as the poorest 150 MILLION people. The American REALITY is two weeks of vacation a year. The American REALITY is medical costs are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. The American REALITY is the most violent society in the developed world.

If I wanted all that, I'd move back to California. Birgitta should just move to the U.S. and leave Sweden alone.
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