Sweden and Covid-19: Social Democrats Hesitate

Jens Johansson

Summary: How the coronavirus has hit Sweden – Editors

According to the latest numbers I heard, around 110 persons have died due to the virus and approximately 3 500 have tested positive for it. In the beginning, when less than 30 had died, it came out that there was an overrepresentation of older Swedish-Somalian men from a poverty-ridden suburb of Stockholm among the victims. If that was because they lived in poorer conditions, had jobs where they were exposed to more people, or didn’t understood Swedish well enough to catch the recommendations from the authorities, is still unknown. That will have to be investigated further when things calm down.

Sweden is a small country were the economy very much depends on exports and imports. Now that international trade has been disrupted, the big companies like Volvo and Scania have had to lay off tens of thousands of people. H&M, the clothing store, has also fired thousands. But most affected are all the young people who work in the so called gig-economy, especially at lunch-hour restaurants were they saw the demand almost completely disappear in some places. These are folks who aren’t part of the unions and thus don’t have access to the unemployment funds, and most of them work for small privately owned restaurants, which will, because of their small size, face difficulties in accessing the money that the government is currently pouring over the economy.

In some ways the virus exposes an absolute contradiction, or at least the ugly but true essence of the liberals and the conservatives, and even of the Social Democrats. On the news a few days ago a young woman from the union told the minister of enterprise of the Social Democratic party that they must lower the requirements to access the unemployment funds immediately so that all these precarious workers who might lose their jobs soon won’t be without income. But the minister from the so called worker’s party refused to even discuss the question. In addition, it was quite embarrassing when it later became known that at the same time as the government was giving out billions to save the big corporations, several of the big ones have during the last weeks decided to go ahead and give their executives and board members enormous bonuses due to last year’s successful production results. Thus, it is a straight and simple transfer of tax money to the pockets of the superrich, all of it suggested and approved of by the Social Democrats.

But the prize for the most absurd and perverse idea has to be given to a few liberal and conservative journalists last week (who have been in complete shock since the stock market started going crazy). Like good rational Swedes they started to calculate how much this will all cost. And they actually came up with a number for how much a human life is worth. One year of healthy life is apparently worth one million kronor, that is about 100 000 US dollars. Thus, they calculated how much it is worth spending on saving the lives of all those at risk of losing it in Sweden during this crisis.

Can’t report much at this time of how the Left in Sweden is responding and reorganizing to all this; right now, it is a little bit too early. Hopefully I can say something more on that in not too long time.


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