A few years ago, I read a book called “The Almost Nearly Perfect People.”
It extoled the virtues of the Scandinavian people, often told in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Yet, in many ways, there’s a lot of truth about these people who live in a relatively cold climate most of the year and have persevered.
My ancestors came from Denmark, so maybe I’m prejudiced.
Among the 77 countries I’ve visited around the world, they include Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland, and I’ve always been impressed with the hard-working, smart-thinking Scandinavians. Most recently, we spent a week in Oslo, Norway, with economist Finn Kydland (the Nobel Prize winner) and his wife, Tonya, as part of the Mont Pelerin Society meetings.
Swedish economist Johan Norberg has a short, two-minute video dispelling the idea that Sweden is a socialist paradise.
Click here for a good summary of the Nordic nations being what I call “democratic capitalists” more than anything.
Sweden was hit with a major monetary crisis in the early 1990s that forced it to reform. It cut taxes, reduced the size of government, adopted more free-trade policies, school choice and partially privatized its Social Security system.
It has flourished ever since and is now ranked one of the most successful capitalist economies in the world, by the Economic Freedom Index by the Heritage Foundation and the Fraser Institute.
My Schumpeter Lecture in Stockholm, Sweden
In late 2017, I was invited to give the prestigious “Schumpeter Lecture” in Stockholm, Sweden, on the following topic: “GO Beyond GDP: Why Business is the Real Driver of the Economy.” You can read it here.
COVID Success Story
Sweden, in particular, turned out to make the right decisions during the COVID pandemic. While almost all other countries locked down their economies and imposed draconian restrictions on the freedom of movement in 2020-21, Sweden did mostly the opposite and was heavily criticized for it.
As Steve Moore reports in his Unleash Prosperity Hotline: “In 2020, Sweden was disparaged for discarding lockdown mania and was called a nation of ‘science deniers’ and ‘merchants of death.’ Sweden kept open schools, workplaces, and cafés, encouraging Swedes to make their own decisions about staying home and wearing masks. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, declared that lockdowns would fail in keeping the virus out indefinitely.
[The chart below shows the amazing results.]
Sweden has admitted it didn’t do enough to protect its elderly nursing home residents, but even in 2020, there was no excess mortality in Sweden among those below the age of 75. During the first three years of the pandemic, Sweden ranked lowest in all of Europe, including Scandinavia, in excess mortality.
‘Sweden’s approach had benefits not immediately visible,’ says Tegnell, ‘from lower levels of domestic violence, continued medical care for cancer patients and others and none of the child development issues seen in countries that chose lockdowns.’”
Good investing, AEIOU,
You Nailed it!
Visiting My Father’s Alma Mater in California
“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.” — William Wordsworth
Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting the San Bernardino Valley College, where my father Leroy B. Skousen was student body president in 1941-42 and was reelected president unopposed.
I’ve been teaching at Chapman University since 2014, and I thought it would be cool to visit my father’s alma mater and maybe even give a lecture there.
I was hosted by two dedicated and smart economics professors, Michael Levine and Wei-Chung Wang. I lectured on Say’s law vs. Keynes’ law, Gross Output (GO) and the $15 minimum wage legislation before 30 students attending the two-year community college. They come from all kinds of background and seem highly motivated to better their lives. Some are acquiring trade skills (welders, plumbers, electricians, carpenters) while others are going on to get a four-year college degree. Some are on welfare, and one is homeless living in her car!
My cousin Mel Skousen joined me, and we had a great time looking through the old 1941-42 yearbooks and the student newspaper, and found pictures of Leroy, his brother Max and sister Rita, all of whom held leadership positions at San Bernardino Valley College. Roy and Max were debating partners and one time beat Harvard and Yale! My father also taught dancing lessons and learned how to fly airplanes. He qualified as an army pilot (but ended up joining the FBI).
Michael Levine, Mel Skousen, Mark Skousen and Wei-Chung Wang.
The visit reminded me of Bruce Springsteen’s lines from his song, “Glory Days”:
“Glory days, they’ll pass you by
In the wink of a young girl’s eye
I hope when I get old
I don’t sit around thinking about it
But I probably will
Just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the gloria.”