Jonas Vesterberg: The buck stops here
Sweden is one of the world’s most advanced nations – in every imaginable way. We have one of the world’s most highly educated populations. We pay some of the world’s highest taxes. We have a right to rely on the government to meet its obligations under the social contract. We have a right to have our norms, ethics and morals reflected in the country’s legislation. We have a right to be secure in our homes and on the streets. At any place, at any time.
But we’re not. Every day, we are met by headlines telling us that Sweden is falling into the abyss – in particular when it comes to law and order. Law enforcement seems to have lost control of the territory, not to mention the ability to prosecute. The health care system is on its knees. Hospitals are running at capacity. People are dying before they get access to vital surgeries.
Both in the city as well as in the countryside, ruthless criminals are operating. They have zero respect for society, for they know that it’s toothless. They steal, rob, beat, rape and murder. And we let them do it. In addition, we let them – seemingly without consequences – attack those who have made the great sacrifice to protect our country and our citizens – at insultingly low compensation rates.
The situation is beyond absurd. And it’s a situation which never would have had to occur if common sense had not been completely turned upside down. Because we have the knowledge, the skills, the money and the resources to remedy it all. To care for our population. Sweden could be the world’s best country to live in. It’s completely within reach. But perhaps the problem is that some don’t want us to be just that?
We’ve seen that there are forces in Sweden – especially among so-called intellectuals – who want to completely disassemble society into some level of primordial anarchism. Who want to kill the welfare state, just because of the fact that it doesn’t cover the entire world population. Perhaps they are romantics, driven by beautiful, great ideas. Dreams of open borders, a farewell to arms and everyone sharing in hymns of peace and love around the campfire. Our politicians often talk about the “international community.” But does such a thing really exist, except for in empty documents?
Tragically, these benevolent individuals – for I’m quite convinced they mean no harm – have failed to grasp human nature. For human beings are greedy animals, constantly attempting to gain in on their brothers and sisters. To be honest, man is one hell of a vile and awful creature. There’s a reason why most societies have laws and law enforcement. Had man been consistently and inherently good, these wouldn’t have been necessary. But they are. They are even more necessary in countries where the population don’t share fundamental norms and values.
Due to the fact that Sweden has been a very homogeneous society with elements of strong social control, an alternative ontology bordering on hubris has emerged – the delusion that inside every human being, a little Swede is ready to peek out. Naturally, this is not the case. Cultural differences are real. Otherwise, the world would’ve looked about the same everywhere. And the fact is that most countries in the world, even in the West, for various reasons, have failed to build societies that are as peaceful, prosperous and fair as Sweden. That’s actually something that we should be proud of.
But we cannot merely, through positive thinking and goodwill protect what previous generations have created. From having been a homogeneous anomaly, the age-old rules of the game are back in effect in Sweden. Eat or be eaten. Win or lose. Stand up or lie down, bleeding on the ground – an opponent looming over you; someone who may not be ready to show you the so once-familiar mercy.
If norms, ethics and morals are displaced, this will have effects on the social fabric of a nation. And that’s where we are now. So what can be done to get Sweden back on track?
First of all, we need to replace our romantic ideas about man’s inherent goodness to a perception that’s more characterized by healthy skepticism. Moreover, there are some concrete actions to take, all of which to some degree are related to strengthening society’s institutions:
The territory that’s been lost to criminal gangs must be retaken by force. We must show those who hate and lack respect for our society that we love each other and that we love our country – naturally, regardless of our origin or ethnicity.
The number of police officers must be doubled – and we need real police officers who won’t back down – not defeatist pacifists in uniform. It’s time for pragmatism in this area. Cops don’t need fancy university degrees or three-year training programs. As far as I know, that’s not what it looks like in other countries around the world. One year of basic training should be enough. After that, those officers who so desire can add on courses specializing in investigation and similar.
Twenty-four hour courts must be established and prisons expanded. Criminal penalties must be redesigned to meet the people’s current ethics and morals – without this taking years of parliamentary inquiries. Inquiries relating to national security and safety should be carried out over a maximum of six months. They may take the resources they require. And they should be carried out by scientists and experts – not by lazy, corrupt political stooges.
When it comes to penalties, most will probably have to be doubled or tripled. Mandatory minimum sentences that courts must follow should be introduced. Life must be life. Crimes of robbery, assault and rape should perhaps carry a minimum of ten years in prison. Release after two thirds of time served, work release and similar programs should be used restrictively and only for very good behavior.
It’s sad, but some people shouldn’t be allowed out on our streets. Never ever. But some can be rehabilitated, and those efforts should continue. But during that time, they should be separated from the law-abiding population. And the cost for committing a crime should be steep – in particular when it comes to violent ones.
Sweden suffers from an excessive reliance on education. The fact is that most people can learn on the job. There must be an end to name discrimination and similar in the labor market. The HR field has been allowed to run amok, building barriers around regular jobs with batteries of psychological evaluations and personality tests just to operate a machine. We must put an end to private companies milking the government budget through pointless programs and useless training.
We should be able to defend our country, not only from internal, but also from external enemies. Our military must be expanded. Despite Gustav Fridolin’s wishes, the world is unfortunately not a very nice place. And we’re not going to be victims or let ourselves be trampled by anyone. We must invest heavily in high-tech weaponry that could deter a potential aggressor. One example is mobile and underground missile systems along our entire coastline, and future weapons such as lasers and the like. We should build something similar to Israel’s Iron Dome around our country. Significant resources should also be dedicated to research and development in the field of electronic warfare. The technology and know-how already exists in the country, but we should continue working with our partners around the world – especially the United States and NATO.
We must also establish permanent border protection that keeps track of what kind of people and goods enter the country. The problem with criminals’ access to weapons in Sweden could easily be reduced by giving customs and border police more resources and broader mandates. One may complain that this is inconvenient, such as some Öresund commuters have done, but national security actually takes precedence over whether daddy Petter can get home in time to read a goodnight story for little Lotta. Private undertakings and complaints must always come second – whether this whining originates from companies or individuals.
When it comes to healthcare, the entire system must be scaled up to correspond to population levels and patient pressure. Just like for police officers, the salaries of nurses and paramedics must be raised. Budget cuts and downsizing must be stopped. Staffing levels must be increased and stress levels reduced. Supervisors shouldn’t be appointed based on how much money they can save, but how well they can look after the interests of patients and employees. Healthcare should be equally accessible across the country. Attacks on paramedics and first responders should carry mandatory prison time.
These are just some suggestions based on common sense. But most important of all. We must also modify our “typical Swedish” behavior and stop being so quiet and cowardly. We need to speak honestly and straightforwardly with each other. We must fight the Jante Law that resides within us. We must dare to look people we meet in the eye. We have to stop and speak up when we see that something is wrong.
If we reflect for a second, deep down we all know that this is our current predicament. Even our politicians and bureaucrats know. But still, they keep on running the country in the wrong direction. Still, they’re not even close to solving the problems – despite having the world’s best resources at their disposal. In a small country like Sweden, they couldn’t even manage to maintain our military or reorganize the police force. Why? That’s what we have to find out. We must undress them and force the truth from their lips. Is it just pure incompetence, or is there some sort of plan to run Sweden into the ground? Since I despise conspiracy theories, I’m hoping for the former.
Then we must proceed with the necessary steps. And it’s urgent. But now. Now, it’s enough. The buck stops here.
Jonas Vesterberg is an author, translator and journalist.