Sweden

The most refreshing political speech ever

Last week we reported the surprise parade given to South Dakota (SD) Governor Kristi Noem for her handling of the coronavirus crisis. It is so refreshing to see Noem on the straight and level with her constituents. Talking at them, not down to them. Noem took office in January 2019. 

If she keeps up this attitude of respecting the personal freedoms of her residents rather than tie them up in red tape they may end up chiselling her face into the state’s most famous monument, Mt. Rushmore.

South Dakota took a similar approach to Sweden. Both put powers in the hands of the people to exercise common sense.

While infection rates place SD at 17th among US states per head of state population, at 0.1482% it is still 28% below the national average. Sweden has an infection rate of 0.2182%, broadly in line with the US national average.

When it comes to death rates, South Dakota ranks 44th out of  the 50 states. The death rate is at 0.0008%, which is 93% below the national average on a population basis. Sweden’s death rate is 0.0262%, or 33x higher than South Dakota.

A bit of history.

During the worst part of GFC, SD’s unemployment rate peaked at 5.1%, half the national average. Continuing unemployment claims in SD have surged from 2,800 to 19,664. Before the coronavirus, the SD unemployment rate was at 3.3%. May 2000 holds the record low of 2.4%.

Since the GFC, those with a bachelor degree or higher in SD has grown from 25.1% to 29.2%. Seems that even Trump-supporting hillbillies saw the value in further education. High School graduation has risen from 89.9% to 92.3%.

Gross State Product under Noem’s governorship rose 3.1% in 2019 which was below the national average of 4.1% in 2019.

It will be interesting to see net migration figures in the coming years as Americans address their experiences during this crisis.

 

Experts inside YouTube ride roughshod over medical opinion

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The video of Bakersfield-based microbiology experts, Drs Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, discussing a contrarian view on COVID19 that YouTube took down is still available on this link.

In what world are we living where a video channel prioritises a groupthink generated political opinion that overrides medical experts who have based their findings on available hard data, not wildly inaccurate models? The video was taken down for a ‘violation of community standards.’ You can read the YouTube statement here.

We would understand this if the doctors had no medical training and were pushing wild conspiracy theories. They simply weren’t. All that happened was a sensible presentation of data coupled with opinions based on their background as microbiologists. They think the fears have been overblown.

If you listen to the dialogue, the hard data confirms what we had been saying about the statistics of the pandemic. The doctors compared the data of an open Sweden vs a closed Norway and concluded the data discrepancies of COVID19 were statistically insignificant.

Many of our readers know we are contrarians by nature. We are more curious about what we might be missing rather than just accepting what is commonly reported. When opinions support the data, it isn’t an exercise in confirmation bias. We are genuinely interested as to whether the arguments sound convincing enough to validate them. We are even more concerned when the other side of the debate seek to shut it down rather than expose the flaws in Erickson and Massihi’s thinking.

Is the dissenting view more widespread than the media given credit for? After all the data is a moving feast. We are learning about COVID19 on a daily basis so sticking to the thinking of 2 months ago may not be relevant if the course shifts. Why are governments setting fixed future dates? Why not open up when the data supports it? Hardly any science in politically driven decision making.

An ER doctor in Wisconsin confirmed Drs Erickson and Massihi’s view that it isn’t about science. He wondered why someone in a hazmat suit was taking his temperature when there were next to no patients inside, something that is borne out by the data with so many beds available. Should we fear politics more than the pandemic?

Are governments following a herd mentality which uses poorly interpreted data as opposed to considering herd immunity based on medical science? The economic fallout will likely be way worse than any impacts of the virus itself. As we wrote earlier this week, governments carry zero responsibility for their actions because they can hide behind telling us it was for our own good. We bear the lot in terms of consequences. A terrible equation.

We believe that groupthink is the more dangerous pathogen in society. Whether financial crises or topics such as climate change, dissenting voices have repeatedly been terminated, especially by media outlets. Surely if the data sits with the prevailing sentiment, why not pick the bones out of Erickson and Massihi’s statement and debunk it with more prescient facts? In what world does it help to suppress information? Defeat data with data. This is why we remain contrarians.

The medical discussion surrounding the live clinical data of Erickson and Massihi makes plausible sense. We have all grown up learning that a baby gnawing a dog lead helps its body work out how to fight future infections. The doctors argue that keeping people locked down decreases one’s immunity to fight against COVID19.

The Bakersfield doctors believe that preventing the body from being able to combat coronavirus by not being exposed to it could have the opposite of the intended effect when people start to mingle again. Many people may not even know they have it. So when those people who caught it in a supermarket could restart the process. Does the government return to lockdown again and restart the negative loop?

These doctors claimed to have done the majority of testing for Kern County, California. The data backs up what is being experienced around the world positive test rates for infection are far higher than what is being reported but the death rates are way lower. Having said that, these two owners of seven clinics noted (some might argue somewhat selfishly) that the amount of people getting tested is way lower than their installed capacity. Irrational fear has been keeping people away. Then we are surprised when the natives get restless?

The two doctors recommend putting kids back into school. Slowly reopen other businesses and eventually sporting venues. The doctors questioned how it is OK to go to Costco but not a small cafe. It is reverse logic. There is a far higher exposure in a large business than a local cafe.

The adverse economic impacts don’t match the behaviour of the coronavirus in their opinion. Until a vaccine is found, the human body has the best chance of defeating it. Erickson and Massihi argued that 94% of the people recorded as dying from coronavirus had comorbidities – heart failure, immunodeficiencies, HIV etc. The death toll related to COVID19 alone is a speck.

The doctors added that there has been a sharp rise in domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, depression or mental health issues during the stay home orders. The campaign of fear exacerbated by the media is viewed as a far bigger problem than the coronavirus itself. Massihi suggested that people are becoming afraid to see the doctor for completely non-virus related reasons for fear of catching COVID19 by going to seek medical help. He argued that someone with symptoms of appendicitis avoiding the doctor for fear of contracting coronavirus may die of sepsis.

We don’t pretend to be doctors for a second. We offer no medical opinions here. We merely question why a social media channel decides it knows better than medical experts?

We understand a private business has the freedom to act in ways it sees as best for shareholders, but this seems far more sinister –  using its power to shut down free speech. Perhaps the doctors should sue YouTube for violating their first amendment rights. If there was ever a need for control over media censorship, this makes a great test case.

Här är årets värsta slöseri 2019!

It seems the Swedes don’t share Greta Thunberg’s enthusiasm for forking over taxes to save the planet. In 2014, the Swedish national government spent 5.2 billion Swedish krona (US$547mn), It will double to 12.6 billion krona (US$1.3bn) for the upcoming 2020 budget.

The Swedish Taxpayers Alliance wrote,

The government has more than doubled the appropriations for climate policy, but despite this, emissions no longer decrease. In 2018, emissions even increased. That is why climate policy has been voted the worst waste of the year.

Brain dead award the brainwashed

GQ Magazine has awarded Greta Thunberg with its Game Changer Of The Year award. Can we cynically argue that GQ is hijacking the stardom of the 16yo for their own commercial success?

CM has said for the longest time that she is indeed brave to do what she does and absolutely no criticism lies at her feet. What a shame she is the product of brainwashing from activist teachers and parents. The way political leaders fawn over her. Probably speaks volumes that so many of today’s world leaders have no progeny (France’s Macron – no kids. Former UK PM Theresa May – no kids. The Netherlands PM Mark Rutte – no kids. Swedish PM Kjell Stefan Löfven- no biological kids. Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel – no kids. Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon – no kids. Former EC President Jean-Claude Juncker – no kids, Japan’s PM Abe also has no children) meaning they don’t share the feelings experienced by an overwhelming majority of parents who eye roll whenever their 16yo pretend to be experts on any subject.

At least she channelled Melania Trump for her photoshoot. The ultimate form of irony.

As she sails across the Atlantic to the Americas in a boat part-owned by someone who owns a large chunk of a private helicopter transport fleet, we already knew her impact on a scheduled flight would have given her more face time. Note CM calculated her footprint would amount to 0.0000000000007314% of CO2.

Will organizers be waiting at the docks with a fleet of fossil fuel charged Teslas to whisk her away? As long as she uses the Aland Index to calculate the carbon footprint of her hotel stay to minimize her impact on the environment. If the hotel comps her bill the Aland Index will output zero emissions. For the sake of the planet let’s hope they do.

Fail

Interesting article on Bloomberg discussing the obvious outcome of Sweden’s plan to get more EVs on the grid. As most hair-brained climate alarmist governments have a desire to outdo each other on the virtue signaling scale it often leads to poorly thought out decisions which end up costing tax payers a fortune.

Bloomberg’s Jesper Starn wrote,

Demand for electricity in Stockholm and other cities is outgrowing capacity in local grids, forcing new charging networks to compete with other projects from housing to subway lines to get hooked up.”

We’ve been here so many times before. Take Germany in bio-fuels.

The German authorities went big for bio-fuels in 2008 forcing gas stands to install E-10 pumps to cut CO2. However as many as 3 million cars at the time weren’t equipped to run on it and as a result consumers abandoned it leaving many gas stands with shortages of the petrol and gluts of E-10 which left the petrol companies liable to huge fines (around $630mn) for not hitting government targets.

Claude Termes, a member of European Parliament from the Green Party in Luxembourg said in 2008 that “legally mandated biofuels were a dead end…the sooner It disappears, the better…my preference is zero…policymakers cannot close their eyes in front of the facts. The European Parliament is increasingly skeptical of biofuels.” Even ADAC told German drivers to avoid using E10 when traveling in other parts of continental Europe.

Spain perhaps provides the strongest evidence of poorly planned subsidy execution. In 2004 the Spanish government wanted to get 1GW of solar under its feed in tariff over 4 years. Instead it got 4GW in 1 year meaning its budget exploded 16x and it had €120bn in tax liabilities over the course of the promise. In the end, the government reneged on the promises it made because it couldn’t afford it. So much for the assurance of government run programs.

Not to mention the overproduction that has often been created by subsidies. When the subsidies are withdrawn, we see fierce cost cutting which buries prices and sends many producers to the wall which was the experience of the last cycle. Take a look at India’s once largest wind power producer Suzlon. At the peak $425 a share. Now $4.35. 90% up in smoke.

To think Bill Shorten wanted 50% EVs by 2030. Clearly Australian voters disagreed.

If governments can’t sustainably raise living wages without regulation, cheaper energy prices act like a tax cut so sticking with coal, gas and nuclear make far more sense than the life experience of sharp price increases thanks to green madness.

Here is betting Sweden doubles down on green madness to remain “woke”

Swedish study on EV CO2 footprint will surprise

The IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute was commissioned by the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Energy Agency to investigate lithium-ion batteries climate impact from a life cycle perspective. Let’s not forget the left leaning pro-climate change Swedish government promoted the study.

The 2017 report showed that battery manufacturing leads to high emissions. For every kilowatt hour of storage capacity in the battery generated extra emissions of 150 to 200 kilos of carbon dioxide already in the factory. Regular EV batteries with 25–30 kWh of capacity will result in 5 metric tonnes CO2, which is equivalent to 50,000 km driving in a regular, fuel-efficient diesel vehicle.

If we use those IVL metrics on the Tesla Type S 100D battery pack of 100kWh, the car has done 167,000km worth of CO2 before its left the factory. So that would mean 20 metric tons of CO2 per car without taking into account any charging from the grid which is largely fossil fuel derived in most countries.

A 2019 model year BMW 530d diesel emits 138g of C02/km. So it can travel 145,000km just to match a car with a 100kWh battery pack before it leaves the dealership floor.

Does Australia really want 50% sales in EVs if the metrics are this bad?

The irony is that despite the evidence provided by the study, PM Stefan Löfven wrote on a Swedish Government website, “No new petrol and diesel powered cars will be sold after 2030. So we reduce the large climate emissions from the transport sector.

So in order to stay aligned with the Paris Accord, promoted by a U.N. body that has been caught out in numerous climate data manipulation scandals and climb downs from countless hysterical claims, Sweden’s left-leaning government skips over reality.

Where have we heard this before? Martin Kinnunen, climate policy spokesperson for the Swedish Democrats said,

It is a very radical proposal and I think you should be careful about predicting technology development in this way. It is simply unrealistic to have a ban in place already in eleven yearsIt can be difficult for many people who live in some parts of the country to have a car, and it can be very costly for those who must have a car

Only goes to prove that virtue signaling ignores facts. Never mind that the industry can’t adapt that fast. Never mind the environmental footprint on a life cycle basis. Just change the starting point then promote themselves as one of the good guys saving the planet when all that is happened is to set in motion actions that will damage her more than they would have otherwise by allowing the industry to set the technological benchmarks instead.

Not what you think

In the age of identity politics this hiring advert from McDonalds Sweden is on the money.

The fine print says “We hire individuals. We don’t care what your surname is. Because ambition and determination have nothing to do with your nationality.”

Good on McDonalds for bucking the insidious virtue signaling that pervades so many corporates today.

EU – 1.3m abortions, 5m births p.a.

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Eurostat statistics on abortion reveal that Germany, France, UK, Spain and Italy alone terminate a combined 760,000 fetuses per annum. Across the EU-28 there are 1.25mn terminations. Without getting into a debate on abortion rights, the pure statistical number points to 20.4% of fetuses never make it out of the womb alive. Every. Single. Year. At that rate over 10 years that is 12.5 mn children that could have added to EU population sustainability do not occur but the EU seems to think embarking on mass migration is the only solution to plug the gap. Is it? Ironically child support is one area the EU is happy to cede control to individual Member States.

The fertility rate across the EU-28 is now 1.58 children per woman, flat for the last decade and down from 2.9 in 1964. Demographers suggest that a fertility rate of 2.1 is required in developed world economies to maintain a constant population (in the absence of any migration). The number of live births in the EU-28 peaked in 1964 at 7.8 million. In 2017 this had fallen to 5 million. There was a brief period (2003-2008) when live births in the EU-28 started to rise again, returning to 5.5 million by 2008 but the GFC sent it down again – as economic hardship tends to cause a decrease in births. So are economic incentives too low to cause a rebound?

France has the best incentives for children and the highest birth rate inside the EU at 2.0 up from 1.7 in the 1990s. Germany is around 1.4 drifting from 1.6 in the 1990s. The lives for child rearing French are eased by cheap health care, inexpensive preschools – for infants as young as 6 months old – subsidized at-home care and generous maternity leave. Mothers with three children can take a year off of work – and receive a monthly paycheck of up to €1,000 from the government to stay home. Families get subsidized public transportation and rail travel and holiday vouchers.

In order to stop the declining working population over time, imagine if Europe hypothetically put the onus back on consenting couples to take responsibility for their actions and makes abortions harder to access without compulsory consultation over options? Why not graphically show the entire process to get some sense of reality for both parties? You can gross yourself on this link.

Perhaps, in today’s electronic world, automatically deducting child support from fathers that run from responsibility might make sense? Why should the state pay for others’ lack of accountability? Even if the child is placed in foster care, why not wire child support to foster parents indirectly via the Ministry in charge of its administration? The population crisis is not going away in Europe. Why not provide more incentives to married/same-household couples?

Mathematically speaking the numbers are huge. Imagine if the million-plus fetuses every year had a vote to be raised with foster parents as opposed to being terminated, what they would choose? Consider the €23bn Merkel has spent on mainly economic migrants in the last 2 years being put toward preventing 200,000 abortions in Germany over that period? €115,000 to avert each one might have been better spent. That is a huge sum of money period.

CM is not advocating control over the womb but surely transparency in policy over individual responsibility is not a bad thing with respect to many issues, not just abortion. What level of economic incentives are required to prevent some couples/women choosing to terminate? Surely that plays a part in deciding to terminate. Consultation services with respect to the subject don’t seem too commonplace or at least structured in such a way as to prevent them.

According to Eurostat, since 1964 the divorce rate in EU-28 equivalents has doubled and the marriage rate has halved. For every eight marriages in 1964 there was one divorce, now there is one divorce for every two marriages.

The proportion of births outside of marriage now stands at 40%, from 27% in 2000 to less than 7% in 1964. 8.8 % of the EU-28 population aged 20+ lived in a consensual union (de-facto). In Japan the number of births out of wedlock is 25% according to the MHLW. The dynamics of the traditional nuclear family are fading.

51% of the Swedish population is now single household. 51%! While some is attributed to an aging population, 19 of the EU-28 members has a single household ratio of over 30%. 12 over 35%. By way of comparison, Japan’s single household ratio stands at 34.6% from 27.6% in 2000.

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To further analyse the new ways of living together and to complement the legal aspect, statistics on consensual unions, which take into account those with a ‘marriage-like’ relationship with each other, and are not married to or in a registered partnership with each other, can also be analysed.  Sweden (18.3 %) has the highest rate followed by Estonia (16.4 %), France (14.3 %) and the lowest in Greece (1.7 %), Poland (2.1 %), Malta (2.5 %) and Croatia (2.9 %).

Is employment a factor?  It is mixed. Eurostat reported in Germany, the fertility of non-employed women has increased and that of employed women decreased, while in Spain, the opposite occurred; in Greece, the total fertility rate (TFR) of non employed women fell below that of employed women, changing from a positive differential of about 0.2 average live births.

Is education a factor? Apart from Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland and Norway), Portugal and Malta, in general, women with lower education had higher TFR between 2007 and 2011. Eurostat state the fertility of women across the EU over the same period with a medium level of education dropped by about 9%, while the decrease for women with high or low education was less significant.

Eurostat argues that economic recessions have correlation to falling child birth rates. Apart from the direct impact of economic crises at an individual level, the economic uncertainty that spreads during periods of hardship seem to influence fertility. From this point of view Eurostat believes the duration of a crisis may play an important role and, the duration and the depth of the current recession are unprecedented in some countries. The agency states,

The expected relationship is that negative changes in GDP correspond to negative changes in the TFR, possibly with some delay, thus showing a high positive correlation at particular lags. The correlation with the TFR is relevant in Spain and Latvia without any lag; in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania with one year of lag; and in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Croatia with two years of lag. Taking the overall average across countries, a change in GDP is mostly positively correlated with a change in the TFR within about 19 months.”

Do we cynically argue that stagnant child birth rates aren’t just a factor of societal changes? Perhaps a truer reflection on the higher levels of poverty in the EU since GFC and the harsh realities for a growing number of people behind the growing levels of populism who are suffering greater economic hardship than statisticians are presenting to the political class? Hard decisions must be made before they are made by external factors.

Sweden brings back conscription

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It seems the Swedes are reintroducing conscription after ending it in 2010. After the Cold War ended Swedish defence spending fell from 2.5% of GDP in 1991 to a little over 1% today. At the same time the number of active soldiers has declined. The Defence Minister has called for 4,000 conscripts per annum for 2018 and 2019.

The Swedes see that Russia’s annexation of Crimea l, involvement in Ukraine and one would imagine other Baltic states in time, means they need to insure against potential threats. NATO’s future form is indeed looking uncertain with a Trump administration (whether one believes collusion with Russia or not) so such a scenario means that countries like Sweden may indeed look at individual insurance too. I won’t be surprised to see other European countries follow suit.

Afterall if the US indeed pulls back on a global policeman role, expect the likes of Russia and China to fill the vacuum. I don’t see it as a likelihood anytime soon but the geopolitical landscape in 2017 throws many curve balls. Starting with the French, Dutch, German and possibly Italian elections.

Anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats now leading the polls. 26.9% (+4.6% in one month)…One Nation, FN, AfD and the list goes on

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It seems that a recent News Today/Sentio poll (conducted on Feb 16-20 with a sample of 1,000 people) put the conservative anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats at 26.9% (+4.6%), ahead of the ruling Social Democrats were an election to be held today. Trump’s comments about migrant crime in Sweden were made on Saturday Feb 18th in Florida. Here is how the poll came out.

February 2017 (January 2017)

Sweden Democrats 26,9 (22,3)

Conservatives  16,7 (18,4)
Liberals 4,6 (5,5)
Center Party  10,7 (8,9)
Christian Democrats  3,0 (3,9)

Social Democrats  23,2 (21,8)
Vänster Party 8,2 (9,1)
Miljö Party 3,6 (5,4)

Fi 1,7 (3,0)
Pirate Party 0,7 (1,0)

So regardless of the political jaw boning, the deniers and the Trump-haters it seems a growing number of Swedes agree with him. Notice anything? One Nation in Australia surging, AfD in Germany surging, Front Nationale in France surging…the list goes on and incumbent politicians remain out of touch as ever.