“As societies battened down the hatches and imposed quarantines, one European country appeared to take a different approach. In Sweden, there have been no invasive lockdowns to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Restaurants and even nightclubs are operating, though under guidelines to enforce social distancing. Schools for students under the age of 16 remain open. Large gatherings are restricted to a maximum of 50 people, a far cry from the enforced confinement imposed on entire cities in other parts of Europe.
These seemingly lax measures attracted the attention of lockdown skeptics elsewhere, who hailed the “Swedish model” as an example of how a Western democracy ought to deal with the pandemic. It became a cause celebre among American conservatives, who resent the economic toll exacted by social distancing restrictions. Even for nonconservatives, the Swedish approach is now being invoked as an obvious “alternative” to what prevails. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman suggested this weekend that President Trump may hope to “follow Sweden” as he seeks to “reopen” the American economy”
And then in November
“The Swedish government announced strict upcoming coronavirus-related restrictions amid rising case numbers, even though the Scandinavian nation didn’t lock down earlier during the pandemic.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced the new restrictions on Monday during a press conference, according to Business Insider. The restrictions include limiting the size of public gatherings and halting fans from attending concerts, performances, and sports matches. Schools, workplaces, and private gatherings are not included in the ban.
In-person gatherings, which were allowed as long as they were less than 50 people, will now be cut to a maximum of eight people.”
“It is a clear and sharp signal to every person in our country as to what applies in the future. Don’t go to the gym. Don’t go to the library. Don’t have dinner out. Don’t have parties — cancel!” Lofven explained. “It’s going to get worse.”
The health of a country is often judged by life expectancy. How does the USA compare to comparable countries?
Life expectancy at birth in years, 2017
Japan 84.2 Switzerland 83.6 Australia 82.6 France 82.6 Sweden 82.5 Comparable Country Average 82.38 Canada 82.0 Netherlands 81.8 Austria 81.7 Belgium 81.6 United Kingdom 81.3 Germany 81.1 United States 78.6 (Ranks 37th among all countries and has been declining for the past five years)
What we do know is that for many people life expectancy is not as important as Quality life expectancy. What good is it to live to be 90 if the last 20 years are life without joy? HALE, or healthy life expectancy is a much better measure. What this means is the number of years we expect to lead a life with full mobility and free of pain without prescription life support. Using this criteria life expectancy in our country is only 66! Why is it so low? There are several; factors. Obesity rates, quality of healthcare (the USA only ranks 37th (same as life expectancy), immune system maintenance among others.
I believe that most of us will agree that drug addiction is a serious problem. There are those that think that building walls will solve the import of illegal drugs. I do not agree. My experience tells me that when we have a problem, we need to paddle upstream to examine the root cause. In our case it’s that we have created, by far, the largest market in the world for illegal drugs. Regardless of what precautions we take or defenses we construct our system of Free Market Capitalism will create alternative methods to satisfy the insatiable demand. All countries have this same issue to some extent. How do we stack up compared to other countries?
Country Drug related deaths per 100,000 population
Why are our drug related deaths so much higher that other countries? Does our rate at three times the average of the EU countries make sense to you? In addition to wasted lives there is another factor to consider. Well over half of all incarcerations are a result of drug related crimes, most of which are relatively minor infractions by addicts. Many of these inmates are eventually released without any support and they end up back through the revolving prison door. At an average of $40,000 per year per incarcerated prisoner our inability to reduce the problem ends being a very heavy burden on the tax payer.
How do we get better at managing this problem? I honestly do not know, but I do know how to find out. My approach is called “base-lining”. I would research at least five countries that have a drug related mortality rate at least 1/3 of ours and determine why they are doing a better job. By implementing some of the best practices established by other countries I am convinced that we could cut our death rate in half, if not even more.
A few countries worth investigating, in my opinion, are: Canada, Austria, France, Greece, Italy & New Zealand. Our best hope to reduce drug addiction and incarcerations may be by learning from others.