Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sweden returns from the Nanny State Brink

Sweden has come to the collective conclusion that too many laws and too many self-righteous bureaucrats are stifling and suffocating to individual freedom and economic prosperity.


Sweden has some catching up to do. "Boxing did not fit into the Social Democratic self-image of the Swedes in the 1960s," says ├ůse Sandell, a towering flaxen-haired middleweight, who has risen to the top of women's boxing only by moving to the United States.

Boxing is booming again and Sandell has become the idol of a new generation. The smack of leather on leather, the grunt of young boxers who are no longer confined to heavily regulated amateur bouts: this is the sound and the fury of a cultural revolution in the making. Not the whiff of cordite, but of embrocation and sweat.

Sweden's social welfare model, so admired by Gordon Brown, was ripe for overhaul. Indeed, so ripe that the Social Democrats grudgingly started their own reforms, cutting down, for example, on Europe's most generous sick-leave arrangements, which were blamed for turning a healthy nation into a society of work-dodgers.