Bernie Says Volvos Aren't Boxy

Sweden’s poor pay high taxes
By Steve Hirsch

free cheese mousetrap

Universal healthcare and college tuition. Universal. It’s an okay word, but not thrilling. That’s why, bless their leftist hearts, Democratic Presidential candidates imply a better word. A magic word. A word that Americans love.


Free healthcare and college tuition. That would be cool, huh? But Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttegeig, and Kamala Harris are smart political operatives. They know that promising free stuff in a sales pitch is tricky. Americans get suspicious. We know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The leftist candidates needed a foil to make it believable, and, bless their leftist hearts again, they found the perfect foil.

Take the survey: Is Bernie Sanders trying to pull a bait-and-switch? Does he know how Sweden taxes?

The richest one percent of America.

You’ll get unlimited free stuff because progressives will to force the rich, especially the one percent, to pay for almost everything. Yeah baby, 70% or more tax on high-income earners, more taxes on estates, and for those bad people worth $50 million or more, a two percent annual tax against their net worths. Oh, and three percent for the worst of the worst. You know who I’m talking about. Those Dr. Evil low-lifes who are worth a billion or more.

Oh, and just in case that isn’t good enough, fifteen bucks minimum wage per hour, guaranteed jobs for everyone, no more cars with combustible engines, no more energy inefficient buildings, and death to all cows. Yeah, baby, the end of beef as we know it. All this stuff is in the Green New Deal, and the leftist Presidential candidates have come out in support of it.

It’s all free because the one percent will pay.

Never mind that Medicare for seniors is running out of funds. Medicare For All is the catchphrase and Americans can have it without having to pay. And you know why? Because Bernie says that’s what they do in Scandinavia. Listen when he says America should be more like Scandinavia, with a high minimum wage, and other progressive ideals.

All this talk of Scandinavia reminds me of a Volvo ad from a terrible movie back in the nineties called Crazy People. Dudley Moore is an ad executive who starts telling the truth. One of his ads uses the catchy and honest catchphrase: Volvos, they’re boxy, but they’re good. Since it’s insane for an ad executive to tell the truth, he’s committed to a mental hospital.

Bernie Sanders and the other leftist candidates aren’t telling the truth about Scandinavia. Their dishonest ad copy: Volvos – they drive fast like Corvettes, but they’re free and safe. And not only that. It’s your right to own one.

The Scandinavia narrative is false.

Here’s a little truth, courtesy of and Wikepedia. Middle-class and poor Scandinavians pay substantially higher taxes than their American counterparts. In the Land Of Boxy Volvos, otherwise known as Sweden, the poor pay 32% income tax on earnings over $2,100 per year. And their rich pay only slightly higher income tax rates than their middle class. Of the three Scandinavian nations, none have a minimum wage. Sweden and Norway have no estate tax, while Denmark charges 15% to offspring and nothing to the surviving spouse. Two of the three nations have similar capital-gains tax rates to ours. Sweden gives out school vouchers and as a result, over half of its students go to private schools.

But those Scandinavians don’t have to pay sales tax. Bernie and company like to complain that sales tax is regressive because the richer you are, the less you consume as a percentage of your income. So, okay, the Scandinavians have us beat in that respect, because we charge sales tax in most places.

I’m kidding.

boxy volvo

All three Scandinavian nations charge Value Added Tax, which is a fancy way of charging sales tax. Oh, and at 25%, it’s a whole lot more than what Americans pay.

Isn’t it strange, that leftists say they want to model us after Scandinavia, but lie to us about Scandinavia’s model? Also, isn’t it strange that so many Americans think Scandinavia soaks its rich while giving its middle class and poor a free ride?

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Yeah, back in the sixties and seventies, the Scandinavians did try funding generous social programs with onerous taxes on the rich. I won’t go into the details of why, but their economies tanked, big employers and rich people got creative to avoid taxes, others emigrated, and socialism didn’t work. If we were to tax our top-earners and employers too much, they would find ways not to pay. And, just like rich Swedes did back in the day, many of our well-off would emigrate.

Scandinavians learned from trial and error that if the poor and middle class want universal healthcare and college tuition, it isn’t going to be free. That’s why their poor and middle-class pay a lot.

Here’s another way to look at it. America’s top one percent earners made $1.46 trillion after tax in 2016. According to the left-leaning Urban Institute, Medicare For All would cost an average of $3.2 trillion per year in its first ten years. Even if leftists are unrealistic enough to think they can seize the one percent’s entire $1.46 trillion, that’s less than half of the $3.2 trillion that Medicare For All needs per year.

And that’s just the cost of Medicare For All. There’s also the costs of free college tuition, guaranteed jobs, and all those other flimflammer promises being made by Bernie and other Democratic candidates.

If America were to pinch the one percent too hard, we’d fall into a depression. The Scandinavians learned this the hard way. That’s why they tax their middle class and poor so much. That’s why they pay 25% VAT and heavy income taxes. We shouldn’t have to learn the hard way. We should learn from Scandinavia’s recent history.

An honest and knowledgeable leftist Presidential candidate would tell his constituents that free college and free healthcare aren’t free. He’d tell the middle class and poor that they can have universal healthcare and college tuition, but only if they agree to fund all this universalness with much higher taxes.

Take the survey: Is Bernie Sanders trying to pull a bait-and-switch? Does he know how Sweden taxes?

Come on, Bernie and company, channel your inner Crazy People and try selling the truth like Dudley Moore. Volvos are boxy. Universal healthcare and college tuition do mean high taxes on the middle class and even poor.

If Bernie and company were honest enough to campaign for high taxes on the middle class and poor in return for their promises, they’d earn my respect. Not my vote. I mean, I’m not crazy. They’d also lose about 90% of their followers.

The Bernie plan is classic bait and switch: bait Americans with free stuff while promising that the rich will pay. Then, once we figure out that we can’t squeeze the rich for the cost, it’ll be too late. We’ll already be dependent on the free stuff. That’s when Bernie plans to pull the switch. Way higher taxes on the poor and middle class.

Steve Hirsch

Steve Hirsch
I'm a businessman who is fast approaching retirement age.