My Twitter followers know that I’m a huge hockey fan and that I’m really upset that we have now entered the third work stoppage under NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s tenure. But the current lockout, like previous lockouts, has paved the way for the temporary flight of NHL talent to European countries so they can continue earning a paycheck and staying in game shape. That necessarily paves the way for a discussion of comparative politics and economics. Take, for example, the case of Swedish-born Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist, who was going to sign with his former (pre-NHL career) team Djurgarden, even though they’re no longer in the Swedish Elite League:
Following in Roman Josi’s footsteps, the next Nashville Predator is heading overseas during NHL Lockout 2012, as Patric Hornqvist will reportedly play with Djurgarden, the team he played for before coming to North America. Djurgarden is currently in Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan, having been relegated last spring from the Swedish Elite League after a 35-year run.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been holed in up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for about two months now. The British government is trying to have him arrested and have him extradited to Sweden to face rape allegations. Well, the Ecuadorian government has granted him political asylum, but the British government has made it very clear that they will not allow him safe passage to Ecuador and have surrounded the embassy with armed policemen. This is an issue where there is a lot of passion, especially among Assange’s defenders who see him as a crusader against the imperialism and the war crimes of the Western world and particularly the United States. In this passion, there have been been a lot of confusion about the facts involved in this case. I will do my best in this piece to shed some light on what this case is all about.
On Wednesday, the United States Senate narrowly avoided a two-year ban on the closing of post offices, which prompted me to ask: do you guys still live in the 1950s?
In a world of Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, cloud services, Google Drive, Dropbox, 3D printing, UPS, DHL, and who knows what else, I have to ask: who still uses the postal service any more?
There are only a few people with which I still get mail from through the USPS. The first are direct mail types, and nobody reads those sort of things. (This is the way your trash can goes “OM NOM NOM.”) The second are my parents and grandparents, so, in other words, old people.
The thing is, as I said, nobody is reading the former, and the latter are getting fewer and fewer. Meanwhile, the postal service is hemmorraghing money; the Cato Institute’s Downsizing Government project notes that it lost $20 billion between 2007 and 2010, and it hasn’t done any better since then. The thing is, we taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill. A bill for something that these days, an increasingly small portion of the populace actually wants. And, at the same time there’s decreasing demand for its services, its costs have continued to go up as it struggles to deal with employee pensions. Not a good situation to be in.
Here’s a better idea: let’s just privatize the post office. And by privatize it, I don’t mean sell it to one major corporation, but let’s privatize the entire industry. Allow competing mail delivery services in the market. Ensure that there are no more monopolies on first-class mail within the United States.
And good lessons at that. No, seriously. Sweden—the country that is usually held up as an example on the left—actually shows that cutting spending is the way to go. From Investors’ Business Daily:
Sweden has a reputation as the prototypical cradle-to-grave socialist European nation, and the political left has long yearned for America to be more like the Scandinavian nation.
But it’s looking through a smudged window. With little notice, Sweden has changed.
The turnaround has been driven in no small part by the election of Fredrik Reinfeldt as prime minister in 2006. He took office in October of that year and by January of 2007, tax-cutting had begun. The Reinfeldt government also cut welfare spending — a form of austerity — and began to deregulate the economy.
That doesn’t sound like the Sweden that American Democrats hold up as the standard.
But as Finance Minister Anders Borg told the Spectator, the Reinfeldt government was simply continuing the last 20 years of reform.
Far from hurting Sweden’s economy, the changes have improved it. And they’ll likely help to protect it from the 0.3% economic decline now forecast for the euro zone in 2012.
That’s right—Sweden, of all places, is cutting spending and shrinking government, and has so far kept itself out of the economic downturn (or day I say disaster?) that has befallen Europe.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Schools run by private enterprise? Free iPods and laptop computers to attract students?
It may sound out of place in Sweden, that paragon of taxpayer-funded cradle-to-grave welfare. But a sweeping reform of the school system has survived the critics and 16 years later is spreading and attracting interest abroad.
“I think most people, parents and children, appreciate the choice,” said Bertil Ostberg, from the Ministry of Education. “You can decide what school you want to attend and that appeals to people.”