Does Big Government Prevent Volunteering and a Vibrant Society?

Here in America, people (or at least Republicans and Libertarians) are conditioned to think that Big Government = Bad Goverment. One of the argument against Big Government is that a nanny state prevents a strong and vibrant society that takes care of itself through volunteerism.

But is that necessarily true? Consider the case of Sweden:

Sweden's vibrant civil society exists in a country with one of the world's most interventionist welfare states. Swedes' personal income tax can be as little as 29% of pay, but anyone earning over £32,000 will pay between 49% and 60% through a combination of local government and state income tax. The country's tax burden, at 47.1% of GDP, is the world's second largest, after Denmark.

In exchange, Swedes enjoy the benefits of arguably the world's most generous welfare state. Parents get universal nursery coverage capped at £130 a month, free schools, free health and dental care for under-18s, as well as generous personal benefits such as a child allowance of £1,070 a year per child. Most jobseekers can expect to receive 80% of their previous salary for the first 200 days of inactivity (dropping to 70% for the next 100 days). Couples can have joint parental leave lasting 480 days, which they can divide as they want, most of the time paid at 80% of their income. By and large, people are well taken care of.

Sweden's expansive welfare state helps to explain the vitality of the volunteer organisations in the country, says Svedberg. "The welfare state plays a very important part by giving people the practical and mental space necessary to be able to be active. It creates possibilities for citizens." Strikingly, the people who volunteer the most are those you might think have the least time available. "Most volunteers are working full time and have one or two children," he says. "They tend to be well educated and well connected. If you are connected to different social arenas, you are more likely to be recruited into volunteering activities."


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"That means small government." - since the mid-late 1980s, sure, but when was government small in the US small in the 20th century before that? In fact, you might easily correlate the eras of growth and prosperity in the US with the upper tax rate (which was in the 70% range for most of the century).

Now we have a country dominated by financial institutions with ever decreasing social mobility. What I'd call 'stagnation', that's where capitalism always leads.

Unlike Sweden who with their small 9-10 million population dominate the world with such innovative companies as some of the worlds largest drug and pharmaceutical companies (e.g. AstraZeneca, 3H Biomedical), telecommunications (e.g. Ericsson), and other household brands (Electrolux, ) and industrial giants (Saab, Volvo, even Tetra Pak).

Sure, the US has had the luxury of being bigger and better than everyone else for a while, those wide open spaces and limitless resources have helped, but they do comparatively little compared to what they put in to doing it. They're way down in league tables for income per capita and even number of millionaires per capita, as for access to healthcare ...

As for restrictions on your lifestyle, just try getting in to debt with serious health problems.

And which country holds the most prisoners per capita in it's Jails? China? Russia? Chechenia? Nope, the good old USA! So much for land of the free!
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Look guys, its as simple as this. I don't WANT to live in Sweden, I want to live in the USA! So lets keep it the USA, with traditional American ideals. That means small government.
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This isn't Sweden this is America
Just because something works for some small country does not mean it will work here.
A society that coddles the weak breeds the weak!
If the government is doing everything for me why would I want to get up and do anything? I know too many damn lazy people who collect welfare and disability (note not all disabled, just saying a FEW here I know personally) who COULD work but do not contribute anything to society, while I have to break my back just to scrape by. This is obviously a leftist blog judging by the first page of posts. Don't you guys get it, theres a reason we're conditioned to think big goverment is bad government, the founding fathers warn of it. And we can see with our own eyes what it does. The goverment needs to get the hell out of my business. Period. Aron makes a good point, you're simply pointing out it's not perfect, of course it's not perfect but what would you perfer? If you like the way another country operates nothing is stopping you from hoping on a plane.
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