Category Archives: Perspectives

History, belief systems and more

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden, often referred to as a Socialist Country has a high degree of economic freedom. While they are a small country of just over 10 million (3% the size of the USA) you will recognize many of their leading corporations: IKEA, Volvo, Saab, Spotify, and Ericsson.

The following from “Bored Panda” in the words of a Middle-Class Citizen.

‘I Don’t Mean To Rub Salt In Your Wounds’: Swede Tells Americans What It’s Like To Live In Sweden And It’s Eye-Opening

“GDP per capita rose by 50 percent in Sweden between 1995–2016. In 2018, researchers at Oxfam and Development Finance International named it the most committed country to reducing inequality, and according to the World Happiness Report 2020, it’s the 7th happiest place on Earth. So I guess it’s safe to say the Swedes have it good. But what exactly is their secret?

Well, this Swedish citizen thinks it’s purposeful internal politics. In a recent Facebook post, they used their own life as an example to explain taxes, healthcare, and other vital parts of their country. The post soon went viral, making its way into personal feeds abroad, too. Foreigners — especially Americans — even got jealous.

   Image  credits: Fredrik Rubensson

As Elke Asen, a Policy Analyst with the Tax Foundation’s Center for Global Tax Policy, pointed out, Scandinavian countries are well-known for their broad social safety net and their public funding of services such as universal healthcare, higher education, parental leave, and child and elderly care.

Of course, high levels of public spending require high levels of taxation. In 2018, Denmark’s tax-to-GDP ratio was at 44.9 percent, Norway’s at 39.0 percent, and Sweden’s at 43.9 percent. For comparison, the same in the US was 24.3 percent.

In 2018, these three Northern European countries raised a high amount of tax revenue as a percent of GDP from individual taxes, almost exclusively through personal income taxes and social security contributions.

One way to analyze the level of taxation on wage income is to look at what experts call the “tax wedge,” a figure that shows the difference between an employer’s cost of an employee and the employee’s net disposable income.

In 2018, the tax wedge for a single worker with no children earning a nation’s average wage was 35.8 percent in Denmark, 35.9 percent in Norway, and a whopping 43.0 percent in Sweden. Although Denmark and Norway are below the OECD average of 36.1 percent, their tax wedges—and Sweden’s—are higher than the U.S. tax wedge of 29.6 percent.

By international comparison, Sweden is a prosperous country that evenly distributes wealth between its citizens. Its sociopolitical model consists of three fundamental pillars: a labor market that facilitates adjustment to change, a universal welfare policy, and an economic policy that promotes openness and stability. “

Dave here again. The primary factor that that the preceding commentary does not take into account is the excessive cost of healthcare in our country. The “extra” cost that we bare is, in fact, a tax. The average per capita cost for this service in the USA is over $11,000. The typical premium for an individual under the Affordable Healthcare Act is about $750 per month ($9,000 per year) not including co-pays and deductibles. The average per capita cost in Sweden is almost exactly ½ of what it runs here. That means that our country needs to fund an extra $5,500 for each man woman & child each year. For a young middle-class couple earning the average family income of $68,000 a year the “extra” cost of healthcare amounts to an additional 16% tax.

Who actually funds our healthcare system will be the subject of a future post.

Unusual Belief Systems (con’t)

Unusual Belief Systems (con’t)

I have saved Scientology for last, and it deserves an individual posting. The “official”core belief of this alleged religion is the belief that human beings are immortal, that a person’s life experience transcends a single lifetime, and that human beings possess infinite capabilities.                            

According to L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s fundamental creation myth goes something like this: Xenu (also referred to as Xemu) was once ruler of the Galactic Confederacy, an ancient organization of 76 planets. Having existed for 20 million years, the planets were struggling from extreme overpopulation.

Fearing he’d be thrown out of power, Xenu gathered billions of his people, froze them to capture their souls (“thetans”), and transported them to Earth (then called Teegeeack) for elimination. He dumped them at the bottom of volcanoes and then destroyed them in a series of nuclear explosions, killing all but a few and sending their souls into the air.

Once in the air, the souls were captured by Xenu, who then implanted into them misleading information, including concepts related to all of the world’s religions.

After all this evil was carried out, Xenu was eventually imprisoned, and Earth was left to be a mere prison planet by the Galactic Confederacy.

The frozen thetans of the Xenu story go on to play a huge role in Scientology beliefs. Each human has their own thetan and Scientologists strive to purify these spirits through “auditing” sessions until they reach a state of “clear.”

Auditing is one of the central practices of Scientology, in which practitioners are cleared of negative influences, called engrams, to heighten spiritual awareness and access untapped potential. The Church of Scientology has stated the procedure is 100% effective as long as it is done properly and the recipient is truly seeking change.

Happily for the Church of Scientology, auditing is also wildly expensive. It is estimated that reaching Clear costs about $128,000.

After becoming Clear and learning how to fully embrace and control the capabilities inherent in all thetans, the practitioner is now known as an Operating Thetan (OT). According to Scientology, OTs are not limited by physical form or the physical universe. According to the church itself:” “OT is a state of spiritual awareness in which an individual is able to control themselves and their environment.”

From there, many OT levels exist, all of which promise increasingly awe-inspiring knowledge and powers, and which, of course, cost more and more money to attain. At OT level three, for example, practitioners are able to hear the Xenu story above.

According to official Scientology doctrine, reading and reacting to other people is key to being successful. While that’s not an outlandish statement, Scientology holds that most people are simply no good at connecting an apparent, outward emotion to its true inner emotion.

Created to “take the mystery out of human behavior,” the tone scale teaches Scientologists how to read people and provide the appropriate emotional response.

The tone scale runs from -40 to 40. The higher on the scale you are, the better. A score of 40 is described as “Serenity of Beingness.” A 1.1 is considered covert hostility (smiling on the outside while plotting inside) and describes someone who can’t be trusted. If you don’t believe in Scientology, you are a 1.1.

And because Scientology — like many other religions supposedly built on love and acceptance — employs homophobic doctrine, the tone scale also aligns with sexual orientation. If someone is gay, they automatically fall into the Covert Hostility category and can only move up into heterosexuality and spiritual elevation through auditing.

In L. Ron Hubbard’s book, Scientology: The History of Man, he goes into deep descriptions of incidents in our past lives. Because thetans are eternal entities, they have past lives that have experienced traumas throughout time. As a result, people today have subconscious memories of past lives as everything including clams, atoms, cells in the process of mitosis, early photosynthetic organisms, and sloths, just to name a few.

The clam, in particular, provides a great example. Hubbard argues that the hinges of the clam eventually became the hinges of the human jaw and that by invoking your clam past, you can have a very real effect on a human today. As Hubbard writes in Scientology: The History of Man.

GMT Worldwide

GMT Worldwide

I recently heard an argument for using GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) as the clock time in all time zones, thus eliminating the zones. At first blush my reaction was: “This guy must be crazy”. However, his view has percolated in my meager brain for a while and I have started to come around to this way of thinking. Once I got past my traditional hang-ups like Lunch has to be at noon, dinner at 6 pm, work starts at 8 am and prime time TV starts at 7pm.

I am in the Central time zone and we are 6 hours behind GMT when both are on Standard time. The new time would mean that Lunch is now at 6 am, dinner at noon, work starts at 2 am and prime time TV now starts at 1 pm. The actual amount of day and night hors would not change. In terms of coordinating schedules in a Global Economy I can see a tremendous advantage to the change. What it would amount to is a temporary emotional discomfort leading to a new paradigm.

Food for thought?