“Socialism works in Sweden.”
By Dean Russell
Advocates of the Welfare State are forever citing Sweden as the perfect example of democratic socialism in practice, especially for housing and city planning. They proudly proclaim that there are no slums in Sweden and that everyone has adequate living space. And they recommend the Swedish way as the proper solution to our own housing and urban development problems.
The picture painted by the liberal-socialists of a paradise in Sweden is persuasive indeed. And when I finally visited that country, I admit that I was quite impressed by those attractive government housing projects — surrounded by lovely parks with happy children playing in them. I didn’t see a slum anywhere.
Since I try to be a reasonably honest person, I had no alternative but to give credit to socialism for the housing situation in Sweden. Further, I was faced with the possibility that housing might be an exception to my long-held theory that the results of socialism will always be undesirable in the long run. As the months and years went by, however, I began increasingly to encounter statistics on the Swedish experiment like these two items from The New York Times:
“. . . the waiting time for an apartment in Stockholm continues to be six or seven years.” (October 21, 1962)
And two years later (September 20, 1964):
“At present, Stockholmers must wait up to 10 years for an apartment.”
Thus I have no logical choice but to stay with my old theory — that is, when government assumes responsibility for any product or service that has (or can have) a price in a peaceful market, the result will eventually be bad.
Under governmental responsibility for housing, there is now no place to live for a young couple who would like to get married and set up housekeeping in the capital city of Sweden. The socialistic housing and investment laws effectively discourage private investors and contractors from providing adequate free-market housing in Stockholm. Thus, most Swedes have no alternative but to wait on their paternalistic government to award them space to live. That is a degrading relationship that will never be tolerated by a proud people.
This same thing happens — must eventually happen — whenever and wherever the government usurps the functions of the market place wherein peaceful persons can voluntarily exchange their goods and services. Socialism (whether in Russia, Sweden, or the United States) is necessarily destructive of individual freedom and personal responsibility; for when the government moves in, those character-building attributes are automatically displaced by force and compulsion. I am convinced that any law that deprives a peaceful person of his freedom and responsibility (as socialism does) is clearly immoral. Thus, no one should be surprised that, over a period of time, the results of socialism in practice are always universally bad.
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Perhaps a significant deduction on the efficacy of socialism in practice can also be made from an advertisement that appeared in The New York Times of April 9, 1964. It claims that a certain made-in-Sweden automobile is unusually rugged and tough “because 80 per cent of the Swedish roads are unpaved.”