So, here’s a bright idea from Sweden designed to cut carbon emissions, resource consumption and garbage production. We think it might be a poverty fighter as well. Basically, Swedes should soon see a worthwhile tax break to fix their stuff. Those with a sense of thrift should get a lift from this policy. Canada needs this.
Waste not want not: Sweden to give tax break for repairs
image: TomD. via Flickr/CC
You know what? The sheer amount of daily flak the unemployed, underemployed and the totally broke get makes us angry.
Swedish discrimination exposed in bus video
thelocal.se – with video 3:10
Criminalizing the unemployed
image: Stockholm bus by Yvonne Larsson via Flickr/CC
Common sense warns us that winter can add an oppressive layer to social difficulty. The design of our communities and their services gives us the opportunity to respond to this danger.
In Stockholm, a proposal to make snow plowing priorities better for women
Extreme cold forces TTC to take streetcars out of service. Toronto will be down 50 streetcars just in time for rush hour
Time for Toronto to embrace winter in the city
Walkable winter cities when the weather is frightful!
image: New City Gas Company in Montreal by Gates of Ale via Wikimedia Commons
Until Canada took that turn toward neoconservative/neoliberal life in the 1980s it wasn’t unusual to be riffling through a large, floppy item of treeware called a daily newspaper and come across a feature article about the socially democratic good life in Sweden. You could discern then a low key discussion of the possibility we could be like them, a socially democratic Canada with a high standard of living. Despite the post 1980s monoculture of market economics and to-the-right politics in North America now, Sweden remains of interest, more usually to those with leftist views, or who at least seek a model of social development that would ease up some of the worst aspects of corporate capitalism and a reduced role for the public sector. We see virtually nothing left of that discussion in 2013 which represents an unfortunate loss of perspective.
It seems that even in Scandinavia the socially democratic model has its challenges. Global coverage of several days of suburban rioting and arson tell us that. The mass media love nothing better than an image of a car on fire of course, in this case a SAAB or Volvo will do, but there is less interest in reporting on much more than superficial developments behind the rioting. Are attempts to reconfigure social democracy and a strong social safety net behind this? Certainly, immigration and law enforcement issues are layered over the master issue of unemployment in what has come to involve several nights of disorder in nine different suburbs around Stockholm. Either way, it looks like a touch of the Spanish flu has arrived in northern Europe along with the spring.
Stockholm riots throw spotlight on Swedish inequality BBC News
Riots grip Stockholm suburbs after police shooting BBC News with video
image: Stomatol toothpaste sign, a fixture in Stockholm for decades, via Wikimedia Commons
The government of Sweden recently announced millions of kronor for suburbs struggling with social exclusion. The money comes with perfomance-based strings attached. If a particular suburb gets better results, it gets more money.
New millions to troubled Swedish suburbs The Local
Swedish researchers have linked marriage stress and failure with long commutes. In sociological enquiry of any kind the underlying idea seems to be to constantly generate new questions. This study does that in droves. Big mortgages for suburban homes require major time investments in commuting. Many now live in one suburb and commute to another suburb. Not easy.
Long commutes bad for marriage
“A long commute to work might further job prospects and put more money in the bank but it could also increase the risk for divorce by 40 percent, a new study from Umeå University in northern Sweden shows”
Towards the tail end of the boom the media in North America coined the term “supercommuter” for people cruising as much as ninety minutes each way between home and workplace. Presumably that was by choice. Now, the Great Recession seems to be incentivizing some long drives.
Recession breeds wave of supercommuters