Sweden’s Quiet Revolution 06.11.2014
Mauricio Rojas. Director of the http://www.academialiberal.cl/ de la Fundación para el Progreso
In the 50’s Milton Friedman launched the idea of public financing systems that enabled everyone –and not only the wealthy– to choose school. Among the different systems, the best known is the one of the vouchers or school vouchers that gives families the corresponding part of the government funding so they can choose their children’s school. Nowadays, one of the few countries that adopted consistently and comprehensively this kind of system is Sweden. This supposed socialist paradise not only implemented a system of school vouchers, but it used similar systems of subsidy to demand to introduce the freedom of choice and enterprise in practically all the welfare services of public responsibility, such as health care, eldercare, disable support and child care.
Therefore, school vouchers are part of a much larger change that transformed the old Swedish “Welfare State” or “Tutorial State” into a “Solidary State”. Instead of building closed public monopolies, the State opens up to competition and to extensive public-private collaboration, empowering its citizens so that they can choose freely the services they want. Briefly, it is a State that, instead of prevailing over its citizens, is at their service.
This was an essential part of what Duncan Currie (National Review Online, September 2010), called “Sweden’s quiet revolution”. This quiet and peaceful revolution is the same as the one The Economist (February 2013) considered as the basis of the Swedish success to face the challenges of the recent European crisis and to transform itself, together with other Nordic countries, in what it called “the next supermodel”.
In sum, this is the most unexpected victory of Milton Friedman; unexpected, obviously, because of the socialist reputation of Sweden. It is also considered unexpected because the Welfare State, in this way, was able to find out its way of surviving –“changing everything in order that nothing changes”– in its current disquieting situation.
The Nordic people, discrete and pragmatic, made one of the most significant revolutions of the present time, without anyone noticing it.