They Do Things Better In Spitzbergen
October 02, 2009, 04:35 AM
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Back when I was a kid in the 1960s, the universal assumption among right-thinking Americans was, "They do it better in Sweden." The blue-eyed utopias of Europe were widely admired for such policies as paying generous welfare to single mothers.

Over time, though, you heard less about Sweden, in part because, outside of places like Minnesota, Swedish-style welfare policies had unexpected consequences in America. Also, increasingly after 1967 in American intellectual life, whose side were you on in WWII became the touchstone of all morality, and, while few quite came out and spoke openly about Swedish neutrality (unlike that of those evil Swiss, who were constantly denounced), American pundits` enthusiasm for Sweden waned.

A new generation of liberal commentators is growing up, however, innocent of all that history, and their enthusiasm for the blue-eyed utopias is growing. Their chief spokesman is young Matthew Yglesias, currently vacationing in Stockholm. (I mean, where else would one vacation in Europe in October? Venice? Florence? Barcelona, or some other brown-eyed dystopia? Don`t be silly.)

Matt’s entire political philosophy is like the old joke about the economist shipwrecked on a desert island with a can of beans: �Assume we have a can opener …�

His philosophy of public policy for the U.S. begins: �Assume we have 300,000,000 Swedes …�