Tag Archives: G20

Some Tips for Obama In Time For His Visit to Sweden

For the first time ever, a sitting U.S. president is going to visit Sweden this week. President Obama is stopping by Stockholm on Wednesday before traveling to the G20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday and Friday. Among the issues to be discussed is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, (TTIP), (which Young Voices recently commented on).


The Obama administration has had a tough year. With the support for ObamaCare struggling, the global NSA scandal still on people’s minds and a pending U.S. strike on Syria stuck in Congress, it’s clear that Obama needs some good publicity. What better way than to visit Sweden: a social welfare state where healthcare is free and warrantless wiretapping of telephone and Internet traffic is legal. A country which claims to be the happiest on Earth.

Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible for a low-income person, student, or new entrepreneur to find a place to live near any major Swedish city. Due to a highly regulated real-estate market it’s both difficult to build any new houses or rent the ones already in place. In addition, most rentals are part of a severe governmental rent control scheme, which has resulted in long queues for housing. If Mr. Obama were to give up his presidential salary, and donate the rest of his fortune to charity, it would take him 24 years to get a rental apartment.

Faced with the defeat of being homeless, at least Mr. Obama wouldn’t have to fear the terrorists. Much like the U.S. has the NSA, Sweden has the FRA. It’s a legislative package that authorizes the state to wiretap all telephone and Internet traffic that crosses Sweden’s borders, without any warrant. What again were the words of one of the United States founding fathers? “They who can give up essential safety to obtain a little temporary liberty, deserve neither safety nor liberty.”

When Mr. Obama finally finds a home, on the outskirts of Stockholm, he might like to bring his family here to live with him. In that case, we can only hope that there is a suitable English-speaking school in Mr. Obama’s neighborhood, since homeschooling is illegal in Sweden. Private schools are allowed, although highly regulated and supervised by government authority. The point is to protect! No dangerous parental indoctrination is allowed. The government on the other hand takes its job to enlighten the rabble very seriously – from the cradle to the grave.

Sweden is a country where the largest employers are the municipal and county councils. Since the 1950s Sweden more than doubled its taxes, regulated the labor market and for a while implemented marginal taxes over 100 percent. In recent years the country lowered it taxes somewhat, and tried to follow a more liberal path. Unfortunately, the battle fought in Sweden is no longer between liberty and collectivism but between state-individualism and state-collectivism. The individual has no say, no role and can always be compromised, for the “greater good,” for the sake of the government.

So, Mr. Obama, if you sincerely believe in “he didn’t build that,” we suggest that you take your family and move to Sweden. If not we suggest you end — not start — wars, cut spending and cut down on both private and public sector corruption. Implement the principles of liberty that once made the United States one of the greatest nations in history – a breathing space for anyone who believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

PRISM Might Be the Scandal – But Protectionism Poses Danger Too

Recent news has been dominated by revelations about the NSA and British intelligence agencies spying on citizens, without warrants, who have not been charged with crimes. It’s important for citizens to resist government intrusion into their privacy, as governments tend toward authoritarianism in the absence of pushback from their people.

Yet one aspect of the growing surveillance state that hasn’t been discussed as much is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the United States. Politicians have been trying to use negotiations around it as leverage for the unrelated political dispute about surveillance. It would be terrible to let elected officials use international political conflicts surrounding the US and UK surveillance state to erode free trade.

The economics on the matter simply could not be more clear: 95% of all US economists agree that tariffs and quotas decrease standards of living. Realizing this, Western nations have reduced tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade significantly. And protectionism, which massively harms Africa and other developing parts of the world, has been mostly off the table between Western Nations. Until now.

With TTIP, the stakes are high. If the agreement manages to reduce the amount of tariffs between the US and the EU it will lead to beneficial outcomes for both economies. Lowering trade barriers are estimated to create up to two million jobs within Europe and the US. This would be especially crucial in the face of the present-day problems of youth unemployment and unfunded liabilities. Successful TTIP negotiations would create the largest free trade area in the world. The economic growth generated from this could be seen as a first step on the long path towards world-wide free trade.

Let’s be clear first that free trade agreements would not be necessary at all if governments were not interfering with trade in the first place. A free trade treaty (such as TTIP) should not be understood as a gift from government. It’s a Band-Aid, which presents a real opportunity for wealth creation for people living in those economies.

Free trade empowers people from different nations to exchange goods on a voluntary basis without government interference. Following from an understanding of the benefits of trade, all people should be able to trade freely under the rule of law. Each party of a trade expects to benefit from a transaction otherwise they would not do it. Interference from government hampers such mutually beneficial transactions.

Sadly, protectionism is still prevalent in the 21st century. It takes the form of direct tariffs or non-tariff barriers such as regulation and arbitrary standardization about, for example, the shape of bananas.

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Realizing free trade and reducing trade barriers is to the benefit of both consumers and producers. A prosperous world in which human beings have the freedom to pursue their own peaceful ends is a desirable goal. To achieve this policy makers ought to proceed with initiatives such as TTIP to the point that free trade will be the norm and not the exception.
Using political disputes over other atrocious acts of government as an excuse to deprive more than 800 million human beings of the possibilities to freely exchange goods and services is grossly negligent and outright harmful.

Government leaders have shown a capacity for learning, albeit slowly, from the mistakes of mercantilism. They’ve opened up their borders for goods, bringing much prosperity to the world. To stop this engine of wealth creation due to political disputes is holding millions of peaceful traders and consumers hostage. Citizens should not be punished for misconduct by governments and intelligence services.