Thursday, November 29, 2018

Pyrrhus

Biking home from the university through a wintry mix of ice and sleet after finishing marking an unmentionable number of exams, I could easily relate to Pyrrhus and his fear that “one other such victory would utterly undo him”. With both kids sick at home, I have been stretching everything far beyond all sanity but at least I am finally on the other side.

That however is more than one can say about the previous Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his attempts to form a new government. After more than two months of stalemate and grandstanding, the centre-right parties are finally publicly considering supporting a new Löfven administration but only under the, slightly odd, condition that Löfven implements their key policy proposals rather than his own. After providing a feverish laundry list of neoliberal reforms such as lower taxes for high-income earners, lower payroll taxes and further tax reductions for domestic services, Jan Björklund concluded that he also would like an increase in defence spending to 2% of GDP and NATO-membership. Listening to his press conference, I started to wonder why he did not go all in and made his support conditional upon the building of the Death Star?

I mean, seriously, it is not like these things have not been tested in other countries. Greater inequality does not lead to economic growth. Full stop. Long-running and sustainable growth comes from accelerated structural change, technological innovation and, most importantly, broad social investments. If Björklund really wants the upper middle class to benefit, he should advocate greater equality, better paying jobs and an end to the numerous subsidies that are currently delaying structural change and emancipation (such as financial support to rural areas).

And, finally, as for defence, how about spending a fraction of that money on integrating Russia to lower the risk of a military confrontation in the first place?

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