SNS Subscriber Edition • Volume 24, Issue 13 • Week of April 25, 2019




Hosted by Ed Butler



SNS: The Scandinavian Model

A Conversation with Leif Pagrotsky

Hosted by Ed Butler


In This Issue
Week of 4/24/2019 Vol. 24 Issue 13


We look forward to returning to our FiRe roots on the beautiful California coast, October 8-11, 2019, at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla.

Our growing roster of 2019 speakers and moderators includes:

  • Paul Jacobs, CEO, XCOM
  • George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School; and Director,
  • Dmitri Alperovitch, Co-Founder and CTO, CrowdStrike
  • Kimberly Prather, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry, UCSD
  • Rob Knight, Founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation and Professor, Pediatrics and Computer Science and Engineering, UCSD
  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Hugo-winning Author of Science Fiction
  • George Dyson, Technology Historian & Nonfiction Author
  • Larry Smarr, Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and Harry Gruber Professor of Engineering, UCSD
  • Kimberly Dozier, Global Affairs Analyst, CNN; and Daily Beast contributor
  • Don Norman, Author and Founder, The Design Lab, Calit2
  • Ed Butler, Senior Correspondent, BBC
  • David Brin, Founder, Futures Unlimited; and Sci-fi Author and Physicist
  • Jack Gilbert, Professor, UCSD School of Medicine and Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and Group Leader for Microbial Ecology, Argonne National Laboratory
  • David Ewing Duncan, Author and Independent Correspondent; and CEO, Arc Programs
  • The Pattern Computer Team (

And more to come ---

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Publisher's Note: We now live in a time, in the US at least, when one political party cannot decide whether to bet on youth vs. age or diversity vs. experience, while the leader of the other party just makes things up daily for the Twitter feed. In the midst of this confused setting, we now have a renewed conversation about Medicaid for All or cutting off insurance for the poor - about addressing climate change or giving more government support to the oil, gas, and coal industries.

Sweden has weathered many economic and political challenges since WWII, generally settling its differences through rational discussion. For the most part, it has, until recently, been true that Sweden (and the other Nordic countries) is more racially homogenous, and less economically volatile, than most other nations.

In this wide-ranging interview between BBC senior reporter Ed Butler and past New York Swedish Consul Leif Pagrotsky, SNS members will learn that the Swedish system isn't quite as simple, nor as highly tax-dependent, as rumors might suggest. As Leif is careful to note, the success of the Nordic model comes from a variety of sources, but in the end, the most likely answer might be a plenitude of common sense. Perhaps by reading this and discussing it, a bit more of the same will leak into the US system at a time when it most desperately needs it. - mra


The Scandinavian Model

A Conversation with Leif Pagrotsky,
(fmr.) Consul General of Sweden in New York

Hosted by Ed Butler, Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC

FiRe 2018 Conference
Thursday, October 11, 2018 - Stein Eriksen Deer Valley - Park City, Utah

Photos © 2018 Kris Krüg and Future in Review


Ed Butler: Right - the Scandinavian model. This is something that gets talked about quite a lot, particularly by progressive people on the left. I think that Bernie Sanders is a big fan of what he describes as the "Scandinavian model," or the "Nordic model," or the "Danish model," or the "Swedish model," depending on which particular model you're going for. They tend to be collected together as a concept of a style of progressive government, of - well, we're going to get into what actually it is, in a second.

But also, it's an idea that apparently has shown the test of time, for those on the left who fear that many of the other models that they've looked at have kind of disintegrated over the decades - the Marxist model - that they can look at this as something that actually worked. And obviously Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland are all countries that sit very high on international rankings of GDP performance and all the other metrics that people use to establish whether a country's doing a good job.

And I'm delighted to welcome Leif Pagrotsky, who is the outgoing - am I right in saying?

Leif Pagrotsky: Yes.

Butler: The outgoing consul general for Sweden in the USA.

Pagrotsky: In New York.

Butler: In New York. I beg your pardon. Also a former trade minister. So, a guy who knows a fair amount about the Scandinavian / Nordic model.

Leif, can you just start us off ... Exactly what is it we are talking about - I mean, this is a concept that goes back to the '70s probably, doesn't it? At least, it's something that people talked about. It started with a very high tax-and-spend concept, but it's been modified over the decades.


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