Rational Government?


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Hi Betty Pages readers! Another month has passed it seems. Taxes are finished and we await the return of our hard earned money. The weather is starting to turn from second winter into summer. Those cute summer outfits that we’ve been hiding in the closet for months start to come off their hangers as we get ready to hit the street markets and sidewalk cafes. If you live in the far north, compared to the PNW, like I do the days start to get ridiculously long where sunset to sunrise is only about 6 hours. It is time to forget the cold harsh winter season and start fresh.
With the fresh weather it is time for new beginnings, or in my case a second new beginning. As I mentioned a few months ago I have officially affiliated myself with one of Sweden’s many political parties, the Left Party (formerly the Left – Communist party). My foray into far left socialism, in Swedish standards, was short lived. On May Day of this year I decided to attend the Left Party parade to celebrate International Worker’s Day, which as can be expected is a big holiday for the party. I was, however, greeted with open arms and wildly unrealistic policy objectives. Not only where their sign boards expressing policy slogans that were logically untenable but their call and answer chant literally started with the cry, “Take from the Rich, give to all!” I might not be a strict capitalist in the sense of supporting the absolute privatization of the economy but I certainly find nothing objectively wrong, or universally bad, with financial achievement or wealth accumulation. Needless to say I did not march with the party and I unregistered from their Facebook page. I guess I simply am not a Swedish communist.
My May Day activities didn’t end there though. Just a bit down the street from the Left Party parade was the Social Democrats May Day celebration. The Social Democrats, being Sweden’s largest party, are particularly wealthy and it was obvious. They had a full brass marching band, a bouncy castle for the kids, a bunch of free candy, and by far the largest crowd. While my five year old son was overjoyed with the candy and bouncy castle I was privately critical of the garish display of wealth for a political party that supposedly supports the common Swede. Needless to say I did not sign up to their Facebook page. But being too realistic for the far left party and too critical of the excess expression of wealth from the majority socialist party I was left with a conundrum, what political party suits me best? Enter the benefits of living in a country that has multiple political parties. If none of the established political parties are a fit for my support I always have the option of founding or joining a new political party.
Being an analyst at Sweden’s largest asset management bank provides me with a plethora of colleagues who are fiscally conservative. Fortunately in Sweden, at least, being a hard core fiscal conservative does not necessarily require being a social conservative. But along with fiscally conservative and socially progressive bankers I also am colleagues with what I like to call standard nerds (much like myself). It was one of my standard nerd friends (a great guy who also happens to have been my graduate school professor) who suggested that I attend a local meet and greet for a new political party that is currently trying to build support. Enter Medborgerlig Samling (Civil Society).
The Civil Society party was a recent, 2014, off-shoot of the Moderate Party whose founding members were dissatisfied with the seemingly undemocratic method in which the major parties handle their voting powers in the Riksdag. Instead of offering up policies for rational discussion in the general sessions of government they complained that the parties, much like our two parties in the US, used government procedure and stonewalling tactics to bully legislation through the voting process without acknowledging opposing views in open debate. Their tagline is that they want evidence based and personally responsible government. While the party’s roots and starting point for policies are liberal financial and conservative social views they appear, so far, to be willing to live up to their tagline ideals. During their last local meeting the local party literally changed one of their policy stances after a rational on-floor discussion between three professionals in the field being discussed. I was impressed. Whether the party can maintain that ideological practice when it comes to the big dance, Riksdag membership, is another thing altogether.
I still have some very serious reservations about whether to throw my lot in with this new party. I am hesitant to belong to a group whose starting block for policies are socially conservative but I am optimistic that the logical reasons for supporting socially progressive policies might ultimately win out the day on the government floor if the party can remain true to their founding principles. At the least I am willing to give the Civil Society party another opportunity to impress me with their practical and rational approach to democracy and government.
On a more Trumpian subject Sweden still doesn’t seem to care so much about how messed up the US has become, domestically, under Trump’s administration. Now that the novelty of the US government shit-show has worn off the major Swedish news outlets have pretty much paid lip service to Trump. That isn’t to say, however, that we get no news regarding US politics. In the wake of the US violating the Iran Nuclear deal, moving their Embassy to Jerusalem, and playing the losing end of a pissing contest with North Korea we get a pretty steady stream of US news in the form of how well everybody is adjusting to a world where the USA is no longer the leader. As always I look forward to another opportunity to write to you next month if I am extended the honor. Please feel free to address any comments or questions to me via the Betty Pages email address: Info@theBettyPages.org

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