The Swedish Reform Model, Believe It or Not
By 1991, at age 23, Mr. Borg [Swedish Finance Minister] was advising the grown-ups in Stockholm, where the cabinet of then-Prime Minister Carl Bildt was deregulating everything in sight in a bid for growth. Welfare was frozen and housing subsidies slashed, along with tax rates at the top and bottom of the income scale. The government introduced a private option for health insurance and a voucher system for « free » schools (just don’t say « for profit ») that today educate 10% of young Swedes. Eventually even the bank assets were sold off, at no net taxpayer loss.
The panic had left a « scar » that Mr. Borg says « transformed a lot of our society. » He says « no country should wish for a crisis, » but Sweden’s helped forge a national consensus for the kinds of reforms against which Southern Europe is now revolting: checks on government spending, changes to taxes and welfare to encourage work, and labor-market liberalization.
Since becoming finance minister in 2006, Mr. Borg has further nudged down income and business taxes, abolishing Sweden’s « wealth » tax on assets of more than 1.5 million krona ($215,000) and scrapping most property taxes. In 2010, Prime Minister Friedrik Reinfeldt’s center-right alliance became the first non-Socialist government in modern Swedish history to win a second term.
Au Québec ce genre de réforme est difficilement imaginable… Question de maturité politique j’imagine…