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Springsteen: US should be 'more like Sweden'

17 Feb 2012, 10:19

Published: 17 Feb 2012 10:19 GMT+01:00

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During a press conference in Paris, The Boss explained that much of the inspiration for his new album, set for release on March 6th, is anger at what he sees as the crushing of the American Dream in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

“I have friends who lost everything they had,” Springsteen explained, according to the Dagens Nyhter (DN) newspaper.

In 2009, he put pen to paper began writing the album's lead track “We take care of our own”.

“In this song, I pose a number of questions. Questions which I later try to find answers to in other songs,” said Springsteen.

The 62-year-old rocker claimed the 2008 financial crisis was the result of decades of deregulation that spawned an ethic of unbridled greed.

“We've destroyed the idea of an equal playing field," he said, according to the AFP news agency.

When asked if he thought the United States should be changed into something closer to a Swedish-style welfare state, Springsteen responded enthusiastically.

“Exactly! That's my dream! It's written between the lines. But you have to listen very closely,” he said, according to DN.

When informed that tickets for his scheduled performances in Gothenburg on July 27th and 28th sold out in less than an hour, The Boss once again expressed his solidarity with the Swedes.

“Those are my people over there! Those are my people!” he said.

Story continues below…

David Landes


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Your comments about this article

11:08 February 17, 2012 by isenhand
and then Sweden tries to emulate the US!! :(

In the end, we all need to move towards more equality in living conditions!
11:23 February 17, 2012 by Abe L

More equality in living standards/conditions for people that contribute to society and the (local) economy. But with a much harder crack down and no tax-payer money spending on people who don't.
11:38 February 17, 2012 by Dr. Dillner
We should stick listening to his music and NOT his politics.
12:18 February 17, 2012 by Roy E
There are too many freeloaders in America to pull that off.

And yes, musicians should stick to music, even when their singing sounds more like a cow stuck in a mud hole than anything else.
12:24 February 17, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
What makes America strong is it's semi-free market economy. A welfare states for 330 million people? Talk about removing the incentive for people like steve jobs or bill gates to create new technology. Bottom line, business runs on green and if you remove the benefits of greed, well you get lagom industries that slug along with government support.
12:35 February 17, 2012 by StockholmSam
Dr. Dillner, you are obviously not listening to Springsteen's music. Perhaps you just like the pretty melodies.

And bourgeoisieboheme, have you failed to notice that Sweden produces an amazing number of highly innovative products and companies relative to its size and position in the global economy? Sweden produced Spotify, Skype and plenty of other fantastic ideas under the brutal Swedish welfare regime. Imagine that. I don't begrudge you that American-style capitalism has its advantages, but Sweden's style of capitalism also fosters plenty of innovation. If anything, much of the population feels more free to pursue their ideas thanks to the social safety nets rather than remain chained to a desk job for fear of unemployment. By your logic, all the Swedish freeloaders would become highly productive in the US. Sorry, you are very wrong. Those people would be lazy no matter where they lived.
12:42 February 17, 2012 by RobinHood
Give Bruce some credit. He has since the beginning used his music to express political ideas about the US - some posive, some negative. He is obviously a thoughtfull and well- meaning man, who wants his country to do better. He is not the run of the mill bimbo rock/movie star shooting his/ her mouth off about things he/she knows nothing about.
13:23 February 17, 2012 by Eagle63
Sweden? USA?.... both nice, but no thanks;

my choice would always be CANADA !
13:51 February 17, 2012 by procrustes
I believe the goal should be equality of opportunity. Trying to even things up among various demographic groups always ends with some sort of injustice to someone.

In the USA there is no, nor has there ever been, equality of opportunity. If you're the village idiot with a rich papa that endows Harvard with bazillions of dollars, you can get whatever you want, even get to be President with a "daddy" to do your job for you. If you're a working class kid from mid-America your chances are not good.

Sweden's education system may be the best part of the country's system in that everyone, if they're willing to work, can have as good of an education as they're capable of achieving.

If American could achieve that, then Bruce Springsteen's vision could eventually be realized.
14:12 February 17, 2012 by Roy E
@ procrustes - 'In the USA there is no, nor has there ever been, equality of opportunity.'

What absolute nonsense! Your statement is true only for those who choose to wallow in a cesspool of envy and self-pity.
14:24 February 17, 2012 by StockholmSam

Hahaha! I am an American and have never been to Canada, but based on all the Canadians I have met in my life, I might have to agree with you. :-)


I don't believe evening things up for everyone was ever the goal. I think the goal should be to prevent the gap from getting too wide. As you said, there will always be some injustice (the gap). We cannot remove it entirely and if there were a way to remove it, I do not think that would be a good thing. We have to have some incentive to work to cross the gap. It is in our nature. But the differences between the upper and lower levels of American society have become unsustainable. People should be able to get rich, but not to the current extent where you have multi-billionnaires living on another planet. And we cannot let the lazy and less-fortunate simply fall by the wayside. That breeds crime and instability. I think you are right about the silver spoon fools.

@Roy E

I think you have bought into the American myth that has been oversold at rock-bottom prices by the Republican party. A black kid at a public high-school in Watts does not have the same opportunity as a white kid in private school in Grosse Pointe. And don't try to argue that their parents had equal opportunities, either. You know they did not. The opportunities to build an education, a toolbox of manual and mental skills, has to be made more equal for young people. Then, when they graduate and enter adulthood, they should be left to their own devices to use those skills to seize upon opportunities that arise. That is where the rewards for hard work should manifest themselves. But as it is today, the rewards are given already to the children of prosperous (usually white) parents before those kids have done anything at all.
14:55 February 17, 2012 by Roy E

You need to ask those kids in Watts why they turned their schools in zoos, refuse to study, drop out. They've chosen to torch their opportunities. Those school were not always failing schools. they were turned into failing schools. Those neighborhoods were once respectable. They were turned into areas to avoid.

And it certainly doesn't help matters when you have a group that finds political power in encouraging victim mentality and promoting dependency upon government. It's a hugely corrupting influence.

But I don't need to explain this to you, you can watch it happen yourself in Rosengård.
15:33 February 17, 2012 by Vermaldeehide
This is joke, right?
15:35 February 17, 2012 by eppie
@roy e

You are over-simplefying things. It would be very nice to be like that, but you are not correct and fail to grasp the details regarding having the same chance. Neither donät you understand the difference between things like, cause, blame, reason, result etc.


Yeah, if Bill Gates would be Swedish he probably would only have 30 billion dollars, indeed not much of an incentive.
15:47 February 17, 2012 by 2394040
I've lived in the USA my entire life. What people don't seem to understand is that technology is not the economic saviour that many think it is. In the 1950s and 1960s in America, if you were willing to work, you could find work. Once technology really started to take off, more and more jobs disappeared at the same time that the population was increasing. My parents owned and paid for at least four homes in my lifetime. And they were textile mill workers! Not professional nor college-educated. The typical American today will do good if they manage to pay-off one home in their lifetime, and increasingly fewer have that chance. What we have achieved is a lot of material things that we don't really need and are actually making our lives more demanding and complicated. And we have so lost touch with reality that we believe this is progress? We have so much stuff, in fact, that an entire new business (self-storage centers) now exist so that we can store all of the extra stuff that we can't even keep on our own property? We, and everyone else in the developed world, have obviously lost touch with reality.
15:48 February 17, 2012 by Roy E
sorry eppie, but there are simply too many stories of people rising up out of 'disadvantaged' circumstances simply by applying themselves that contradict the helpless victim narrative.
15:52 February 17, 2012 by Svensksmith
I think Springsteen should be more like Magnus Uggla.
16:32 February 17, 2012 by zooeden
Love the Boss but no, Im good with the US like it is!!!
16:52 February 17, 2012 by T Murphy
Shut up and sing.
17:19 February 17, 2012 by StockholmSam
@T Murphy

Your post contradicts itself. You are not paying attention.
17:43 February 17, 2012 by fitzpatrickj
Yes, Bruce wants the US to be more like Sweden...monolinguistic and monochromatic...it might work better then???
18:13 February 17, 2012 by klubbnika
He would be surprised to find out that people like him would be worse off if his dream comse true. If he wishes more economic equality he can start with giving huge donations to charities instead of living in luxury.
18:24 February 17, 2012 by calebian22
The Boss only has a high school education, so he would be perfect in Sweden.
19:44 February 17, 2012 by taffy69
springsteen has always been an anti american piece of f**k....as an american that has been to sweden and plans on moving there forever i must say this...im no fan of socialism...but its all swedes have known...and you all seem to be able to handle it...we americans on the other hand are having our capitalist/democratic form of government taken away from us by force..and have a clearly socialist president...trying to turn the united states into a socialist country by an abuse of power...like i say...when i move there...i will have learned the language,open a business,and pay my share of taxes due..because thats what a swedish citizen does...and again im not saying socialism is bad...its just not what im used to...springsteen would have the united states america be like anyplace except what we are now.
20:04 February 17, 2012 by procrustes
I really doubt that Mr. Springsteen is anti-American--in fact, he's (so I believe) about as patriotic as one can be. He just UNDERSTANDS what the country is supposed to be, what it really is, and that it could be what's it supposed to be. I believe part of his mission is to support his hope that America can be what it's supposed to be.

@Roy E....Sigh. You have no effing idea. Maybe I'm one of those who pulled himself up from his bootstraps and once on top looked around, didn't like what he saw and got the fxxk out.

The American Dream is supposed to be a myth, but Bill Clinton dangerous gave it reality and had to be stopped. President Obama is doin' it again and the Rabid Right is going nuts. Think about it. What if the American Left finally succeeded in making the Dream real? All hell would break loose: New Yawk country clubs would have to admit Jews, their daughters would marry blacks, and...wait for it--the rich would have to PAY TAXES!!

Pant, pant. oh the horror.
20:25 February 17, 2012 by babychuma
Haha well this hackneyed has been can write a check as big as he wants to the treasury, they'll take it that's for sure. boooring
21:19 February 17, 2012 by Wedey
I didn't even read what he said, but what I say is why doesn't he just move to Sweden.
22:59 February 17, 2012 by true democrat
springsteen should be more like houston, found dead in a bathtub
23:55 February 17, 2012 by Rebel
Oh yeah, wasn't he some rock star back in the days of Boy George and George Michael?
00:57 February 18, 2012 by Indignerad
All I know is I consider myself very lucky to have been born a Swede in Sweden rather than an American in the USA.
01:46 February 18, 2012 by skatty
Why not more like Canada; it's nearer to US, and much better than Sweden (except winter times, however winters are not dark like Sweden).
03:36 February 18, 2012 by French Nordman
Springsteen is a hypocrite. He and his buddy Bongiovi are involved in tax schemes involving cattle and horse ranches that create tax losses so he pays little if any taxes. If he likes Sweden so much he should stay there. Can you find a way to take 90% of his earnings in taxes?

All of these stars are hypocrites. Barbara Streisand has a 25,000 sq Ft. air conditioned barn where she breeds horses to create tax losses too. They want others to be under the thumb of the government while being free to do as they please. Springsteen and I have common Dutch ancestors who would feel great shame to see how what he has become. Tot zien.
09:20 February 18, 2012 by StockholmSam

You need to do a bit more research and pay closer attention. You are about to move to Sweden with very inaccurate preconceptions and knowledge about the place. Sweden is not socialist and your comment that "its all swedes have known" reveals that you really do not know much about socialism or Sweden.

Private businesses could never incorporate in a socialist system and the wide wealth gaps we see in Sweden would never exist. Neither would you see the prosperity in a socialist system that you see in Sweden. Some would argue that the innovation and creativity you see in Sweden would be impossible in a socialist environment. I don't know because I have never lived under socialism, yet I have lived in Sweden for nearly a decade. This place is a welfare state, yes, but socialism is about collective ownership. Sweden is not about collective ownership. Capitalism is alive and well here, though it is not unrestrained like it is in America. Swedish capitalism is practiced with responsibility and the poor and elderly are not left to fend for themselves.

Beyond all this, I am terribly curious...if you are "no fan of socialism" and if you fear the conversion of America to a socialist state "by force," (what a load of cr*p that idea is, btw) then why in the world are you moving to a place you believe (incorrectly) to be the epitome of socialism? You seem terribly confused about more than just socialism.
10:02 February 18, 2012 by Rishonim
Sweden is brilliant and not integrating talented non Swedes into their work force.

Sweden is brilliant at forcing people to change their names to a Swedish sounding one if they want to find a job.

Sweden is brilliant at segregating Swedish born of foreign background.

Sweden is brilliant at not allowing foreign looking people into their nightspots

Swedish police past time is harassing foreign looking motorist.
13:44 February 18, 2012 by cogito
" A black kid at a public high-school in Watts does not have the same opportunity as a white kid "(#11) @Stockholm Sam: Is it possible you are unaware the POTUS was once a black kid?

@Bruce aka the Boss: Normally, the talented and successful LEAVE Sweden, traditionally for America. So shut up and sing.
17:36 February 18, 2012 by StockholmSam

"Is it possible you are unaware the POTUS was once a black kid?"

Is it possible you are unaware that Obama is the FIRST BLACK POTUS in over 200 years of Presidents? Is it possible you are unaware that his ethnicity is a tremendous source of hatred among his opponents? Is is possible you are unaware that his background (two college-educated parents, one of which went to Harvard; private college prep school; Harvard U) is not typical of any kid in the US, black or white or other? Is it possible that you are unaware that nobody who becomes POTUS comes from a typical background? Is it possible you are not aware that there are exceptions to the rule and that Barack Obama is a HUGE exception to the typical black American male?

I would consider Obama's skin color to be a limiting factor in his ability to perform his job since so many people base their opposition to him solely on that. Certainly you can see how that is clearly discriminatory even with all of the things he has accomplished to this point. No wonder any lesser black man will struggle in a white man's country.
20:40 February 18, 2012 by taffy69
stockholm sam..tack for clearing up a few things a bit...social security was first establised in sweden as i understand,as well as socialized medicine...the reason im moving there is for the "lagom" lifestyle that some still llive by...and the people that are wonderful...and the beauty of the entire country...i can adapt if its my choice to do so...just curious...do you live in the united states my friend??..or just read about it?..i ask this with all due respect.
10:53 February 19, 2012 by cogito
@stockholmsam #36

In 2007, the percentage of recent high school completers who enrolled in college was 67 percent for all, 56 percent for African Americans. Since then

the percentage of college students who were Af-AM has been rising and rates are closely aligned with their respective shares of the general population in this age range.

Sweden is hardly in a position to sermonize about racism, given the rampant discrimination here.
12:24 February 19, 2012 by Bumblebeetuna
Springsteen may be right! Sweden has a lot to offer the USA.

My opinion is that Sweden is much better on paper and the USA is better in reality.
12:25 February 19, 2012 by StockholmSam

Born and raised American, my friend. Been in Sweden for nearly a decade, but I am back to the US often to see friends and family. Social security is not socialism and neither is socialized medicine. These are state-run welfare programs funded by citizen taxes. Very different from collective ownership. Sweden is a Social Democracy, which allows citizens to take part in the decision-making while maintaining a higher level of federal regulation for businesses than unfettered capitalism. Without such regulations, large swaths of the populace fall into poverty and crime. Most Swedes are happy to pay higher taxes, even the "right-leaning" moderates (who are certainly very left of American conservatives), because they see the benefits of such a system very clearly.


source please, although I do not see those figures as surprising. Some, perhaps most, of those results are due to affirmative action-like programs seeking to improve the demographics of college populations. Certainly such programs are not libertarian or capitalist in nature but rather more in tune with the ideals of social democracy; it is a regulation of college entrance with an objective of reducing the effects of prejudicial distribution of resources. There are many conservatives wanting to eradicate such programs in the name of the free-market. IMO, the intent of such programs is spot on, but then one has to look at where the students are going to college and what they are studying. I will bet you that the vast majority of those minority students are attending two-year community or vocational colleges that prepare them for low-wage occupations or are entering third- and fourth-tier universities. I bet minority entrance to first-tier and elite programs in business, law, medecine and science is still relegated to a very few high-performers and those who get in on quotas. Lets look at grades of those students, too. I would be interested in seeing SAT scores broken down by race in order to judge the quality of education (ie resources) those students receive. My point is that such programs help, but do not solve the root problem which is an unfair distribution of resources to help level the playing field and provide equal opportunities for young people.

And yes, Sweden is terrible when it comes to race relations, but that is slowly changing. I see America as much better at integration and opportunity than Sweden, but I see Sweden as much better at protecting its people from outright poverty and the trappings that attend it.
19:21 February 20, 2012 by wakak
Bruce Springsteen is 'The Boss'.

Let's make a small experiment and have the Boss work with Swedish employees / musicians. Soon, the bass player would not turn in because the child care was closed this day, or all the musicians would stop in the middle of a rehearsal because of fika, and the drummer would have to leave at 3 pm to attend his kids, etc...

Would the Boss continue to think of Sweden as a superior country?
14:38 February 21, 2012 by cattie

So funny.

Actually the USA and Sweden are both rather good and we all should be grateful, considering some of the nations on earth.

However, a nation cannot stand still and keep up. Most nations that wish to give its citizens good chances in life must continue to adjust and strive for improvements.

The question of "how" to do that is hammered out in politics.
11:30 February 23, 2012 by Luke R D
....so he wants Americans to be an unsociable, cold species of human, unable to express themselves and petrified of being found out to be....human? Damn it. Most of the Americans I've met have been open, friendly people.
19:20 February 23, 2012 by Gocra
Everyone has to keep on improving themselves and their societies, even as it is not always extremely easy.
11:46 February 24, 2012 by StockholmSam
@Luke R D

I can guess that you have never worked in an environment with Swedes, seeing as you like to perpetuate outdated stereotypes that you read about on the internet. I spent six years working in a company surrounded by Yanks, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Kanuks and Saffas with a sprinkling of Swedes. The Swedes were, far and away, much more interesting, outgoing and warm than any of the others. Only the Americans were their equal in that environment.

Today, I am one of two non-Swedes in a company of 50 workers. It has turned out to be a real eye-opener. These people are warm, funny, engaged, outgoing, supportive and very much willing to make contact. I think if you take off your glasses, you might see things the way they really are. People are people all over the world, no matter what stereotypes might be espoused by a few disgruntled idiots.
08:39 March 12, 2012 by Gjeebes
Sweden talks like a Socialist and acts like a Capitalist. Sweden is really no different than other countries, they just have a very good PR machine, which is actually US based, to try and make everyone think they are ahead of everyone else on planet earth. Just look at the headlines, "Sweden best at this", and, "Sweden best at that". Take away all the hype/smoke and mirrors, about how great Sweden thinks it is, and you'll quickly seem the darker corners no one wants you to know about. And Swedes are so easily controlled, albeit with a much less extravagant media machine than that used to control Yanks. It's no wonder "the Boss" looks to Sweden as some kind of example, it is already half Yankie-doodle-dandy, but without the bells and whistles. One doesn't hardly need to manufacture consent here, just post an article saying it is so, and Swedes will believe it, and be happy they didn't have to think for themselves; the ultimate puppets for the mono-culture (failing) welfare state.
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