Let’s learn from Sweden!

There’s an article in today’s CH entitled “HRM goes to Sweden: Who will learn what from whom?” which suggests that HRM has lots to learn from Sweden.You can get the tongue in cheek tone of the piece from this summary:

You know in retrospect maybe there’s not all that much the Swedes can learn from the HRM delegation about energy, housing and public transportation. On the other hand, maybe the Swedes would like to know more about cat bylaws. [The article is not to be found at the moment on line so we quote from the tree killing copy.]

We agree. The delegation, which is on a fact-finding mission, could learn a lot from Sweden.

The author of this piece, Mr. Hughes, is apparently a visiting professor with the Global Energy Systems research group at Uppsala, Sweden.  Regarding energy, he mentioned how about half the homes there are heated from community central heating plants [is it feasible to replicate district heating in a country less compact and less densely populated than Sweden? ]  He mentions extracting heat from sewage treatment plants [ we’d just be happy if sewage was treated in HRM, for a start]. Similar laudable aspects of Swedish life are touted in housing and transportation – they keep old buildings, have height restrictions, encourage the use of bicycles and run their buses on bio-fuel. We don’t doubt these are worthy things the HRM officials could observe. But he doesn’t mention cost and he doesn’t mention taxes. Perhaps Mr. Hughes could tell us how Sweden managed these things  and are lowering taxes too! Yes, Sweden has lowered taxes in each of the last 4 years! Now that we would like HRM to learn and pronto.

Sweden’s government will lower income taxes for a fourth consecutive year in 2010 to get more people to take jobs and boost the economy, which slipped into its first recession since 1992 last year.

The government will cut income taxes by another 10 billion kronor ($1.46 billion) in 2010, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told a news conference today in Stockholm. It will reduce fees small business pay by 1.2 billion kronor to create more jobs in the Nordic region’s largest economy, which shrank an annual 6 percent in the second quarter in its second largest contraction in at least 15 years.

We think Sweden’s taxes were probably pretty high to begin with but it might be instructive for the HRM big wigs to ask about the cost of Sweden’s  aforementioned improvements  and how cutting taxes now fits into that picture.

The government has already cut income and company taxes by almost 80 billion kronor, or about 2.6 percent of gross domestic product, since coming to power in 2006 after 12 consecutive years of Social Democratic rule. It cut the corporate tax to 26.3 percent from 28 percent this year and lowered the general payroll tax by 1 percentage point from 32.4 percent in an attempt to make Sweden more business-friendly. [Source]

Sounds like the electorate has spoken in Sweden.

Related: We could learn from the Danes too but that is fodder for another post.

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