”In Sweden, Men Can Have It All” except their freedom (NY Times)

New York Times runs an article headed ”THE FEMALE FACTOR. In Sweden, Men Can Have It All” (here) by KATRIN BENNHOLD, Published: June 9, 2010

Extracts:

Swedish mothers still take more time off with children — almost four times as much. And some who thought they wanted their men to help raise baby now find themselves coveting more time at home.

But laws reserving at least two months of the generously paid, 13-month parental leave exclusively for fathers — a quota that could well double after the September election — have set off profound social change.

…In perhaps the most striking example of social engineering, a new definition of masculinity is emerging.

… No father was forced to stay home, but the family lost one month of subsidies if he did not. Soon more than eight in 10 men took leave. The addition of a second nontransferable father month in 2002 only marginally increased the number of men taking leave, but it more than doubled the amount of time they take.

Clearly, state money proved an incentive — and a strong argument with reluctant bosses.

…While Sweden, with nine million people, made a strategic decision to get more women into the work force in the booming 1960s, other countries imported more immigrant men. As populations in Europe decline and new labor shortages loom, countries have studied the Swedish model, said Peter Moss an expert on leave policies at the University of London’s Institute of Education.

If the Social Democrats win Sweden’s election on Sept. 19, as opinion polls predict, they will double the nontransferable leave for each parent to four months, said Mona Sahlin, the party leader who would become Sweden’s first female prime minister.

“Sometimes politicians have to be ahead of public opinion,” she said, noting how controversial the initial daddy month was and how broadly it is now simply expected.
… “Manhood is being squeezed” by the sameness, argued Ingemar Gens, an author and self-described gender consultant.

So is the Swedish taxpayer. Taxes account for 47 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 27 percent in the United States and 40 percent in the European Union overall. The public sector, famous for family-friendly perks, employs one in three workers, including half of all working women. Family benefits cost 3.3 percent of G.D.P., the highest in the world along with Denmark and France, said Willem Adema, senior economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“There are remarkably few complaints,” said Linda Haas, a professor of sociology at Indiana University currently at the University of Goteborg. With full-time preschool guaranteed at a maximum of about $150 a month and leave paid at 80 percent of salary up to $3,330 a month, “people feel that they are getting their money’s worth.”

Companies, facing high payroll taxes and women and men taking leave in unpredictable installments, can be less sure.

COMMENT:
This article is rather shallow – as compared to British Sociologist Patricia Morgan, who writes about Swedish family policy in her book Family policy, family changes. Sweden, Italy and Britain compared. In her book she compares the situation in Sweden with the Soviet Union.

Yes, men – and women – in Sweden can have it all. Except much freedom. An average tax payer leaves more than 60% of his work´s value to the politicians, and there is no ease in the tax burden for parents with kids to support, forcing the empoverished families to obey the heavy political steering in our country. A steering which discriminates families with 2-3 kids that do not leave the upbringing of their kids to subsidized- almost free – public daycare, after the described daddy months, as compared to the family that does, with some 3-4 million Swedish kronor – or 400-500 000 USD. The discrimination is made up of lost subsidies for the children´s care and a lost full time salary. And that for one of the two families which both contributes the same to work and society according to official state report SOU79:89 (Petra Lantz). This discrimination is one due to a family´s opinion on what is good child-care, and is of course in heavy conflict with human rights.

There are remarkably few complaints,” said Linda Haas. Yes, because the complaints are not allowed to be seen in the Swedish media that count, radio, television and the large newspapers. Although often labeled ”liberal”, these medias are heavily populated by socialists working towards the socialist Utopia and thus opressing complaints or voices not supporting the official, heavy and decade long, propaganda.

There are a number of protest organizations made up of extremely impoverished, discriminated parents, though. Visit some of them on their web-sites: http://www.barnensratt.se, http://www.hemmaforaldrar.se, http://www.haro.se.

Krister Pettersson

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