« Supporting The Troops, Take N, For N Large | Main | The Information War »

August 29, 2006

Comments

If you have any tips as to how to emigrate I'd be interested.

Parts of this article are missing.

(08-26) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- The federal government has barred two relatives of a Lodi man convicted of supporting terrorists from returning to the country after a lengthy stay in Pakistan, placing the U.S. citizens in an extraordinary legal limbo.

Muhammad Ismail, a 45-year-old naturalized citizen born in Pakistan, and his 18-year-old son, Jaber Ismail, who was born in the United States, have not been charged with a crime. However, they are the uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat, a 23-year-old Lodi cherry packer who was convicted in April of supporting terrorists by attending a Pakistani training camp.

It makes more sense if the all of the circumstances are explained.

I'm not sure that being related to a terrorist is sufficient cause to strip two citizens of their rights.

Actually, I'm pretty sure it's not. If the FBI has some evidence, then they should bring it forward. If not, then they can feel free to keep an eye on these two, but they've no right at all to keep them out of the country; their country.

Hej Hilzoy, loved your post.

I must be silent on the topic of Sweden, as I only visited that country thirty or forty times, but your observations are true in spades about Danmark - where I lived and worked for eight years.

Your typical dane is wealthier, happier, healthier, and better educated than your typical american.

Hilsen, The

Hayat himself had just returned from a two-year trip to Pakistan. His flight, too, had been diverted because Hayat was on the no-fly list as a result of conversations he had with an informant who had infiltrated the mosque in Lodi that Hayat attended.

So, Hayat is interrogated AFTER he talks to the informant. Then he fingers Jaber to the FBI interrogators.

It makes more sense if the all of the circumstances are explained.

Only if one believes in hereditary guilt or blood libel or somesuch. I'm sure I can find some ne'er-do-well in your family tree, Dave. You wanna go down that road with me? Let's ride.

Stirring speech by Donald Rumsfeld, in which I learn that he was made a distinguished Eagle Scout in 1975, and I am an apologist for and appeaser of fascists.

Hilzoy,
as a matter of fact this came up in the Dissatisfieds thread, courtesy of Phil. It ought to be pointed out that DaveC is being a little disingenuous here, considering that the retired and highly decorated FBI agent who investigated this for the defense thought Hayat's interrogation was the lamest he had ever seen, as can be read here.

So, Hayat is interrogated AFTER he talks to the informant. Then he fingers Jaber to the FBI interrogators.

And all informant info is reliable, eh?

Sorry, you're still not getting to any meat. Why is this person being barred from the country?

I pretty much have nothing but fondness and affection for everyone in my family tree, but fingered by your nephew or your cousin? And you fail to acknowledge that a decorated FBI veteran said "It's the sorriest Interrogation, the sorriest confession, I've ever seen"

Yes, it does help to know (and acknowledge) all of the circumstances.

Whoops, xposted with JakeB

Only if one believes in hereditary guilt or blood libel or somesuch. I'm sure I can find some ne'er-do-well in your family tree, Dave. You wanna go down that road with me

Been there, done that. WW II and Japanese Americans.

Rats. dropped an ital.

I was going to say something about how the Ismails are American citizens, and therefore have certain rights, among them the right not to be exiled without due process.

But then I remembered that we live in a very different country than we did a mere 6 years ago.

I remembered that the country we live in now doesn't have due process for all citizens; or rather, citizens only have as much due process as George Bush allows.

It esp. doesn't have due process for American citizens who might know someone who might have spoken to someone who might be a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer. We now live in a country where American citizens can be imprisoned indefinitely without charges brought against them, without counsel. We now live in a country where they can be tortured, too; for any reason, or none at all.

In light of which, it's quite possible the Ismails got off lightly. "All" that's happened to them so far is involuntary exile. No imprisonment or interrogation. Yet.

It's really quite odd to have to remember to think within this new American template. I have to start thinking like a citizen of the Soviet Union in order to understand the New America I now live in.

Re: Sweden: It's one of the most difficult countries to emigrate to. I don't know what the standards are now, but when I looked into it about 30 years ago, you had to be fluent in the language and have a skill they wanted. I doubt it's gotten any easier since then.

LJ, I think you're missing the larger point here: These guys are male Muslims. Therefore, anything goes. There's no amount of liberty we shouldn't give up to protect ourselves from these two.


Keeping America outside the door of the little yellow wooden house proved a monumental task. Because the public schools didn't segregate boys from girls and there were no classrooms at the mosque to send his daughters, he insisted they drop out at 13. He fretted most about his oldest boy, Hamid, and wanted badly for him to become a Muslim scholar like his father-in-law. Toward that goal, he yanked him out of school in the sixth grade and sent him to Pakistan to live with his grandparents. The boy was there for more than a decade and memorized the entire Koran. But once he returned home, he was too lazy to secure a job as a cleric-in-training at the Lodi mosque.

Interesting article, Hamid looks mainly confused, yet it is troubling that these guys are sent back for training for 4 years or 10 years at a time.

Even if the FBI had solid evidence that these two men were terrorists, they wouldn't have the right to do what they're doing now. I don't know of any law that allows the US government to bar any of its citizens from re-entering the country, no matter what they've done.

If there is evidence that these two men are criminals or terrorists, then they should be taken into custody. But even in that case, they should be returned to the US for incarceration and trial.

Too bad if it looks troubling, Dave. The way it works in the US is that a court has to decide whether there's a charge. The intelligence bureaus can keep tabs on these citizens to their hearts' content.

However, if you want to argue in favor of militantly secularized, enforced public education, I might be interested.

I don't know of any law that allows the US government to bar any of its citizens from re-entering the country, no matter what they've done.

That, I suppose, is true. That's part of a vexing problem, I must say.

Hell, if we're going to start making lists of American citizens we want kept out of the country next time they travel, I've got a rather lengthy one.

And DaveC: your link to the Guardian piece about a Muslim "revivalist" movement in the U.K. is relevant to the discussion just how?

They're Muslims, Jay. Does he have to spell it out for you?

Young men sometimes do crazy things. And some of them are confused, disaffected young Muslim men. I would worry if there were a lot of Matthew Hales, or Erik Rudolphs or Tim McVeighs causing mayhem right now. And I would expect the FBI to interrogate their friends. But that's just me.

So, bearing in mind that I don't agree what so ever with what's happening, I'm not aware of any "right of return" that a citizen of the US enjoys. Sadly, at least to my limited knowledge in this area, it appears that they don't really have the "right" to return.

Anyone out there know the real answer? Or at least the pre-9/11 answer?

Young men sometimes do crazy things

Funny that the young man in question will get a trial, get to face his accusers and afforded all the other trappings of our once free society.

Sad that you apparently seem to think we can throw these trappings out the window at will - or at least you're doing a darn good job at giving that impression. You're skirting the edges without actually coming out and saying it.

Now that I think about it, that's actually probably more despicable. If one is in favor of trashing the constitution, one should simply just say so instead of weaseling about the edges in an effort to maintain plausible deniability...

It's just unseemly.

DaveC, you keep quoting facts about the convicted man, rather than about his relatives currently barred from the country. Why? Even if the convicted man is in fact guilty -- and the case looks kind of shaky -- that doesn't tell us anything at all about the two people in exile.

Hal, let's start with the right to exclude. What's the source of that?

DaveC:

"I would worry if there were a lot of Matthew Hales, or Erik Rudolphs or Tim McVeighs causing mayhem right now. And I would expect the FBI to interrogate their friends. But that's just me."

You seem to be missing the point: it's not the fact the FBI is keen to interrogate that folks are finding disturbing; it's the fact that their citizenship has, in effect, been revoked.

Would you expect the FBI to bar these hypothetical 'friends of Hale/Rudolph/McVeigh' from reentering the US in a similar fashion(assuming said friends are American citizens, as the two individuals in question are)?

And no more dodging by putting forth further irrelevant examples, DaveC. I would appreciate a simple yes or no: do you believe that citizenship should be denied at the whim of the State?

Changed 'denied' to 'revoked' in that last sentence.

I really need to hire my own personal copy editor.

Arg - change 'changed' to...

ah, you get the idea.

Phil,
I agree with your point of view 100%, but I think it might be best to let the words come out of DaveC's keyboard, if only that he won't feel assailed by strawmen.

I would also point out that because the two in question do not have Pakistani citizenship, refusing to allow them to return renders them stateless. This step was taken by the German state, with the argument that a stateless person, because they are not under the protection of any nation, can be dealt with as desired. Slippery slopes.

Matthew Hales, or Erik Rudolphs or Tim McVeighs

they've caused mayhem in the past. i suggest the govt prevent all 30-ish white males from re-entering the country.

CharlyCarp: Well, I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that "that which is not forbidden is allowed". So, unless there's an affirmative right or an affirmative exclusion, they would seem to be exploiting the grey area.

It would be interesting to know how precisely the FBI agents relayed this threat and precisely what would happen if the two did try to come into the country.

"yet it is troubling that these guys are sent back for training for 4 years or 10 years at a time."

Why Dave? He could not find a school here that would give the type of religious education he wanted his son to have. To get that education he sent him back to Pakistan.

There are many Christians in this country that do the same thing, the only difference being that they have the schools they want here and don't have to send them overseas.

Is this a situation where:

(1) they're on the no-fly list but would be able to enter through other means

(2) they won't let them in at the border no matter how they get here

or

(3) they're on the no-fly list, and because we coordinate with Canada and Mexico they can't fly there either, and they basically have no real way of getting to the border but we do not what would happen if they magically showed up.

I'm getting the vague impression from news reports that it's 3, but it's really not clear.

How does the no-fly list work, anyway? I just learned today that it means that not only can you cross U.S. territory but you can't travel through U.S. airspace. What happens if you combine a complete airspace ban with governments coordinating their no-fly lists?

CaseyL: "I have to start thinking like a citizen of the Soviet Union in order to understand the New America I now live in. "

Got to be careful. How dare you compare this country to the Soviet Union. Are you saying Bush is like Stalin, you pinko commie.

Oh, I forget, that phrase isn't used much any more.

Pretty soon you may be using the N word.

What happens if you combine a complete airspace ban with governments coordinating their no-fly lists?

A plot for a Kafka novel. I'm thinking "The Trial".

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected Colon’s [Colon v. U.S. Department of State , 2 F.Supp.2d 43 (1998)] petition [requesting certification of his renunciation of citizenship]... The Court described the plaintiff as a person, "claiming to renounce all rights and privileges of United States citizenship, [while] Plaintiff wants to continue to exercise one of the fundamental rights of citizenship[emphasis mine], namely to travel freely throughout the world and when he wants to, return and reside in the United States."

http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_776.html>via

But then I remembered that we live in a very different country than we did a mere 6 years ago.

I remembered that the country we live in now doesn't have due process for all citizens; or rather, citizens only have as much due process as George Bush allows.

It esp. doesn't have due process for American citizens who might know someone who might have spoken to someone who might be a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer. We now live in a country where American citizens can be imprisoned indefinitely without charges brought against them, without counsel. We now live in a country where they can be tortured, too; for any reason, or none at all.

I don't think things are that different. Back in the olden days, there was a gang with ties to terrorism known as El Rukn.

They were dealt with quite harshly.

I'm not saying either that Darrell Cannon's allegations were true, or that I approve of torture, or that the Chicago Police Department is squeaky-clean, but I do know that President Bush had nothing to do with these incidents.

And Phil, I'm not picking on El Rukn because they were Muslims. They were pretty bad guys as far as I can tell.

Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116 (1958) discusses the question in connection with restriction on travels of people thought to be Communists, and gives us yet another of those Hamdan jumping off points:

The right to travel is a part of the "liberty" of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment. So much is conceded by the Solicitor General. In Anglo-Saxon law, that right was emerging at least as early as the Magna Carta. [n12] Chafee, Three Human Rights in the Constitution of 1787 (1956), 171-181, 187 et seq., shows how deeply engrained in our history this freedom of movement is. Freedom of movement across frontiers in either direction, and inside frontiers as well, was a part of our heritage. Travel abroad, like travel within the country, may be necessary for a livelihood. It may be as close to the heart of the individual as the choice of what he eats, or wears, or reads. Freedom of movement is basic in our scheme of values. See Crandall v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 35, 44; Williams v. Fears, 179 U.S. 270, 274; Edwards v. California, 314 U.S. 160. "Our nation," wrote Chafee,
has thrived on the principle that, outside areas of plainly harmful conduct, every American is left to shape his own life as he thinks best, do what he pleases, go where he pleases.
Id. at 197.

Freedom of movement also has large social values. As Chafee put it:

Foreign correspondents and lecturers on public affairs need first-hand information. Scientists and scholars gain greatly from consultations with colleagues in other countries. Students equip themselves for more fruitful careers in the United States by instruction in foreign universities. [n13] Then there are reasons close to the core of personal life -- marriage, reuniting families, spending hours with old friends. Finally, travel abroad enables American citizens to understand that people like themselves live in Europe, and helps them to be well informed on public issues. An American who has crossed the ocean is not obliged to form his opinions about our foreign policy merely from what he is told by officials of our government or by a few correspondents of American newspapers. Moreover, his views on domestic questions are enriched by seeing how foreigners are trying to solve similar problems. In many different ways, direct contact with other countries contributes to sounder decisions at home.

Id. at 195-196. And see Vestal, Freedom of Movement, 41 Iowa L.Rev. 6, 13-14.

Freedom to travel is, indeed, an important aspect of the citizen's "liberty." We need not decide the extent to which it can be curtailed. We are first concerned with the extent, if any, to which Congress has authorized its curtailment.
. . . .

We deal with beliefs, with associations, with ideological matters. We must remember that we are dealing here with citizens who have neither been accused of crimes nor found guilty. They are being denied their freedom of movement solely because of their refusal to be subjected to inquiry into their beliefs and associations. They do not seek to escape the law, nor to violate it. They may or may not be Communists. But, assuming they are, the only law which Congress has passed expressly curtailing the movement of Communists across our borders has not yet become effective. [n14] It would therefore be strange to infer that, pending the effectiveness of that law, the Secretary has been silently granted by Congress the larger, the more pervasive, power to curtail in his discretion the free movement of citizens in order to satisfy himself about their beliefs or associations.

To repeat, we deal here with a constitutional right of the citizen, a right which we must assume Congress will be faithful to respect. We would be faced with important constitutional questions were we to hold that Congress, by § 1185 and § 211a, had given the Secretary authority to withhold passports to citizens because of their beliefs or associations. Congress has made no such provision in explicit terms, and, absent one, the Secretary may not employ that standard to restrict the citizens' right of free movement.

To be fair, Justice Douglas left open the question of war powers. It seems clear enough to me, though, that strict scrutiny applies to this action, and that the exclusion will therefore fail.

DaveC, I have no idea why you think that the description, or existence, of El Rukn has anything whatsoever to do with the barring of entry of two American citizens. Are there bad people in the world, even in Chicago? Yes. Does the state get to deprive them of their constitutional rights without due process? Well, nothing about how El Rukn was dealt with suggests that the answer is yes.

This has the makings of a wicked thread.

If I'm not mistaken, I think I read the tone of McManus coming out of Katherine's mouth.

And Jackmormon went real sharp.

Phil goes and gets it.

I agree with them, but I have a little soft spot in my heart for DaveC.

Anyway, the funny thing about Sweden, which is relevant (not that I am) is that the Swedish stock market, despite all of the horrific burdens of universal healthcare and egalitarian pinko you-know-what, is one of the best-performing bourses in the world, for a real long time.

Ask Larry Kudlow why that is. He'll sputter through his lousy privately-cared-for teeth about, I don't know, how HE is the stock market and Hilzoy's eyes lie.

The American public is mesmerized by very low, very dim people.

It's going to get worse.

No specifically related to El Rukn or Hamdan, the Latin Kings used to be all over the neighborhood where I work. I don't know what the cops did to get rid of them, but they are gone now and I am happy about that.

Here's the Magna Charta version:

It shall be lawful to any person, for the future, to go out of our kingdom, and to return, safely and securely, by land or by water, saving his allegiance to us, unless it be in time of war, for some short space, for the common good of the kingdom: excepting prisoners and outlaws, according to the laws of the land, and of the people of the nation at war against us, and Merchants who shall be treated as it is said above.

So at most even in a time of war there's only a right to distrain entry for a short time when the common good so requires. I think the Fifth Amendment goes beyond the MC, and the government can't justify its policy based on this.

As I've been saying for years now, Cheney isn't just trying to reverse the 'encroachments' on executive power he witnessed during the Ford Administration, he wants to get back what John gave up at Runnymede.

I've left my copy of Lord Coke's commentaries on the Magna Charta at my office -- I shouldn't go anywhere without it, I know -- and so will give some of what he cites regarding article 42 tomorrow.

Charley, I was addressing CaseyL's perceptions about "how things have changed" with the El Rukn stuff.

I don't want to leave any ethnic group uninvestigated. Come to think of it, I don't care much for The Outlaws MC.

I know, I know, they're only a motorcycle club, for goodness sakes. There ain't no law agin BIKES, right!

I'm off line now, I think my neighbors are doing something suspicious and I have to peek out the window.

"...I have to peek out the window"

Yeah, well, let me put on a robe.

Good grief, the spammers are tricky.

OT: This looks like something that bears watching.

DaveC, so you have completely abandoned the project you mentioned in a previous thread, of creating a "freer and more open society"? In the space of a few days, that's no longer worth while: instead you want a society where citizens can be made stateless without due process because of who they are related to?

Or is this in fact your notion of a "freer and more open society"?

Young men sometimes do crazy things. And some of them are confused, disaffected young Muslim men.

And so, by implication, the surest way to ease their confusion and disaffection, and help keep them from falling under the sway of religious leaders with despicable motives, is to betray their civil liberties repeatedly and cast them under the widest possible net of suspicion because of their ethnic heritage and religious persuasion. Is that about right?

I would worry if there were a lot of Matthew Hales, or Erik Rudolphs or Tim McVeighs causing mayhem right now.

And, by implication, you'd support keeping their white male Christian citizen relatives out of the US, of course.

I don't know what the cops did to get rid of them, but they are gone now and I am happy about that.

You're a good German, Dave. A good, good German.

DaveC's "freer, more open society" ideals just cost my employers a fair bit of money.

We'd asked a speaker to travel to us to take part in a training day. The speaker works for an NGO, partially government-funded, that does useful work on public health issues that my employers want to know more about. The speaker had also flown to the US more than once in the past five years.

Our usual practice is for people to book their own flights and we reimburse them. Our admin worker had contacted the speaker to let him know that a convenient flight there-and-back could be found at this website at such-and-such a price, please book now.

Two weeks passed. The speaker got back in touch with us, very embarrassed: he wasn't ALLOWED to book flights without clearance from the Home Office - the airline company wouldn't accept his booking. (The cheap flight had now gone, and what was left was more expensive and less convenient.)

Reason: He's a Muslim. A Muslim who has flown to the US in the past five years. Therefore, a respectable British citizen is not allowed to book an internal flight within the UK without clearance from the government.

So we booked the flight ourselves, and I hope he makes it through the security gates.

What enrages me particularly is that we've been down this road before - suspect all the Irish! Shoot people with Glaswegian accents carrying chair legs because to an untrained ear they sound vaguely Irish! Lock up people for twenty years on police evidence and uncorroborated confessions! and we already know it effin' doesn't work.

(It would be disgusting even if it did work. But it's criminalizing drugs: we did it, we know it doesn't work, why keep doing it?)

And it is offensive right down to the last drop to have someone be suspect as a terrorist because of his religion. I can't say how offensive it is without violating the posting rules.

I am still pondering the first half of hilzoys's post:wondering why we are not Sweden, and wondering how to get there. Notice to those to the right of me, all 287 million of you.
...
The second half of the post is just heartbreaking.

DaveL, I saw that earlier in the day yesterday. An interesting contrast to the stories in recent days about how few servicemembers involved in shooting unarmed Iraqis have been charged.

I love the line at the end about how Lt. Cmdr. Diaz never represented any prisoners. Yeah, and in his most recent job, Mr. Spitzer never represented any companies charged with defrauding the stock market.

DaveC

In your world view should suspicious white Christian Americans be treated differently than suspicious brown Muslim Americans?

Bob, we Swedes are also wondering. Sweden is probably one of the most Americanized countries in the world, partly because we exported 25% of our population to the US between 1880-1914 an re-imported some, and partly because Germany, which used to be our cultural beacon, screwed up so monumentaly during the 20th century. We actually think of ourselves as the 51st state (together with UK, Ireland and Canada, natch). Policywise, it's like you're on another planet. The irony is that the Swedish welfare state basically is modeled on the New Deal. Our version is juiced up, but still. And the support for the welfare state transcends the left-right divide. Hilzoy is correct, it's political suicide to advocate anything that can be constructed as a threat against the welfare state (and yes, that includes tax-cuts. Deficits are completely demonized here, almost beyond rational thought). Hilzoy is also correct that the discussion is very much about implementation, which makes Swedish politics a wonks-only affair.

Don't get me wrong, it's not Paradise over here: our problems include the creeping authoritarianism of having a political party with almost hegemonic control, a tendency to favor social engineering over self-government, and a lack of faith in the democratic maturity of the people. But hey, we are pragmatists, which means that we have universal health care, school vouchers, add-on private pension plans, free higher education, strong unions, private enterprise, 5 weeks mandatory vacations, subsidized child care, balanced budgets, decent GDP growth and strong social support for the less fortunate. It's called facilitating opportunity. We used to have a state church but we got rid of that 5 years ago or so. When we look at the US today, we see a mess, not a model. And we don't like it because the US used to be the leader of the free world.

In fact, one of the striking things about Sweden, to any American, is how very far to what we think of as the left its political discourse is. The basics of the social welfare state are absolutely taken for granted. Proposing the abolition of state funding for health care or education would be political suicide.
It's not just Sweden. Even in the UK, which is usually held up as the most free-market capitalist country in Western Europe, to propose the abolition of state funded healthcare or education would be political suicide. These days the Tories are scared to even call for cuts in funding for those services.

I'm wondering, since the talk is about Sweden, what is the standard view of the assassination of Olaf Palme is. Wikipedia has several of the theories, and I'm wondering which one is the one taken as the standard.

Re the first half of Hilzoy's post: This is a weak replay of a ridiculous blog-clash back in 2002, in which Instapundit and others on the right were insisting that the Swedish are as poor as the people of Mississippi. Max and Matt had replies at the ready because they've been through the nonsense before. Right about then I quit reading the tendentious professer for good.

Re the second half: is there an organization acting to oppose this latest effort to peel away all our rights, one at a time? Who can actually compel the administration to allow the two citizens back into the country or to arrest and charge them (or, possibly, hold them on material witness grounds)?

CharleyCarp: Thanks for the pointers.

Do you realize, Nell, that some of us simply don't know everything and therefore make errors? I found Worstall's essay interesting in part because those other factors simply didn't occur to me until pointed out by Yglesias. But had I not seen Matt's note, I might have noted Worstall's essay myself as an interesting data point.

If you only trod ground you're certain of, you'll never learn anything new.

I didn't think Nell was busting anyone for not knowing about the previous blog spat, just giving some history. And some Insty ridicule, which I am always up for.

I found Worstall's essay interesting in part because those other factors simply didn't occur to me until pointed out by Yglesias. But had I not seen Matt's note, I might have noted Worstall's essay myself as an interesting data point.

I'm not saying that this applies here, but there's a certain degree to which it's incumbent upon the reader to not just read but think about what they've read. [This goes up by several gajillion orders of magnitude for some texts, naturally, but I'd like to think there's a relatively hard floor below which it never falls.] This has nothing to do with "trod[ding] ground you're certain of"; it has to do with engaging the material you're reading or, if you prefer, not being an empty vessel for other people's expostulations.

there's a certain degree to which it's incumbent upon the reader to not just read but think about what they've read

There are so many ways to respond to that, but I think I'll stick with an old favorite.

Indeed.

In your world view should suspicious white Christian Americans be treated differently than suspicious brown Muslim Americans?
SomeOtherDude, having talked to a few friends who favor not just profiling but actual internment, the issue is that being Muslim is what makes someone suspicious.

I should also say what a pleasure it is to travel in a country with an extensive and very good public transportation system. I just got off the bus I took back from one of Europe's best birding spots about half an hour ago. But the time it really came in handy was back in Umeå, when I was walking in a nature reserve that was just off the very end of my map. I could emerge at a completely different place than I entered, which was completely unknown to me (though I did know it was in one of the more far-flung bits of the city and/or its suburbs), and be completely, utterly confident that if I just walked in what looked like the general direction of a main road, a bus stop would appear. And it did.

And while we're praising Sweden, note that until the 90s, it did really, really well at handling both unemployment and inflation. During the 70s (stagflation), if memory serves, it consistently outperformed the US.

(But then, I'm biassed, since my Mom's family has several Swedish economists, the first of whom had something to do with the policies that helped lead to this. Sweden has generally been strong on economists, which I think helped it formulate good policies.)

You know what I'm suspicious of? Kittens. Kittens kittens kittens. They're very shifty, don't ya know? Nothing that soft, cute and purry can be up to any good whatsoever. Arrest them, I say, arrest them now before they turn into the true menace to society: cats.

Sweden has generally been strong on economists

and short on Confederates.

Personally, I thank God that us United Statesers have poor people with the dignity to be miserable.

partly because we exported 25% of our population to the US between 1880-1914

Among them my grandfather, who I curse to this day for leaving. All right, curse may be a little strong, given the conditions at the time. I just wish he had a crystal ball...

Re Palme's murder: most think that Christer Petersson did it. He was identified by Palme's wife (she was present when he was killed) and was convicted in the lower court but cleared, mainly on technical grounds, in the appelations court. It's our JFK trauma, so there is a lot of grassy knoll theories.

Hilzoy, is it the Rehn-Meidner model you're referring to?

Dan K: do you mean when I said that Sweden's economists had helped it formulate good policies? If so, I meant policies throughout the Social Democratic period, though the Rehn-Meidner model would have been more important for the '70s than the earlier ones (which were the ones my grandfather played a part in.)

What is crime like among the poor of Sweden?

First thoughts are that Sweden has a population of 9 million people and the U.S. has around 300 million. For some reason, this reminded me of the baggage handling system in Denver. It worked well for smaller systems, but when they scaled it for more baggage it failed. Now they don't even use it.

From his article:

"We've provided -- both through the structure of the economy and the various forms of taxation and benefits precisely what we should be -- an acceptable baseline income for the poor."

To me his point is that the poor is the U.S. have about the same income as they do in Sweden. I think that is great for the U.S. given how many poor people there are to actually manage in the U.S.

One of my good friends who is below poverty level gets free health care for herself and child. Her delivery cost her $0. My child that was born 2 months after hers cost me $3000. When my child goes to the doctor I have a $35 copay. She has none. It's free. Also, all immunizations for her child are free.

The point being that our poor do have free services provided to them that Hilzoy doesn't mention just as Tim didn't mention them in his article. It's not like the poor in Sweden get free health care and our poor get none.

I would also add that if you are poor in this country and you want to go to college you can go for free also.

I think that if we look at the additional services that Hilzoy mentions and ones available in the U.S. for the poor it still looks fairly even.

Some programs for the poor in the US:

Community Services Block Grant, Head Start, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance, Children's Health Insurance Program, Food Stamps, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, Weatherization Assistance, Job Corps, Senior Community Service Employment Program, National Farmworker Jobs Program, Legal services for the poor and of course Medicaid.

Any thoughts on why immigrating to Sweden is so difficult?

Also, I have another friend who just moved back from Sweden to the U.S. She said it was too expensive.

bril, how many of those programs are fully funded, and can actually do what they're meant to do?

Legal aid for the poor, for example, is under constant assault. The attorneys who work for legal aid societies have enormous caseloads, very few resources, and no encouragement.

And Head Start? The GOP's been trying to kill that one for years.

Just listing the programs isn't really a good indicator. The issue isn't whether a program exists; the issue is how well it fulfills its charter.

That's why studies looking at comparitive results - such as literacy rates, infant and mother mortality rates, percentage of children who drop out of school, general health and health outcomes - are important. They tell us how well the programs work. In the US, the answer is "not so good."

Try applying for aid (welfare, general assistance) in the United States.

Try acquiring medical assistance if you are poor, in the United States.

I suspect Sweden really gets programs to those who need them, while in the United States they are designed to discourage access.

Having to take a few days off work, that's paying min. wage anyway, to take care of diabetes can brake you for a few months.

Blimey Hilzoy,
That was a shock. Myrdal. I'm not worthy. Well, your family - I think Alva was as influential - has done more than anyone to create the Swedish welfare state, together with Gustav Möller and Ernst Wigforss. We are grateful - you should know that.

Dan K: thanks -- what you say would mean a lot to them, though until we explained about Wayne's World, the thought that anything they did caused you to question your own worth would have horrified them :)

This was the first time I'd been to Sweden since my grandfather's funeral. I miss them terribly.

Yeah, the notion of not being worthy would surely horrify them. We come a long way.

We all miss them. I'm not all too keen about the greatest generation stuff, but as a product of their vision (the first to go to university in my family, ending up with a doctorate) I think I'm entitled to say that they simply don't make them like that anymore.

I didn't make th claim that our system was "so" much better. I only said that we do offer similar services. When Hilzoy mentioned the ones in place in Sweden it is only logical to calculate the similar services for the poor that we have to make a valid comparison. They may not be perfect, but aren't we just trying to keep the comparison logical?

"Try acquiring medical assistance if you are poor, in the United States."

Well I don't actually have that experience. I can only share an experience that a friend of my has been having for the last few years. She seems happy with the system so far. Maybe, she's just lucky.

But the real point is trying to make sure the comparison is valid. And it seems that we can reach a logical conclusion that the poor are treated about the same in Sweden as in the US based on available data.

bril: I don't think so. First of all, note that not all the services in Sweden are, in fact, provided in the US. I believe that childcare is provided for everyone from age 1, for example. Having myself tried, in a previous job, to set up women who had fled abusive relationships with childcare, I can assure you that this is not universally available. And for the women I worked with, it was crucial: they had often fled with nothing, and without childcare, no job.

Second, it's easy for the poor here to fall through the cracks here. Not there, because -- third point -- a lot of them are available to everyone, regardless of means. That means no proving your eligibility by presenting, if you have it, all your income documentation for the last several years, etc., etc., etc. No running around from one place to another, trying to make sure all your dots are in a row. No worrying about whether, if you take a job, you'll lose Medicaid eligibility.

There's another thing, too: the public transportation system. If you work with poor people, you know that one of the things that makes an enormous difference to them, here, is having a car. Without it, the number of jobs that is available to you shrinks dramatically, and the number of jobs you can get to by public transportation without spending hours changing lines, and waiting for a bus that only comes once an hour, is even smaller. When poor people have cars, they tend (not surprisingly) to be cheap and unreliable. And when they break, goodbye employment. Not so in Sweden.

I just don't think it's possible to argue that the social safety net in Sweden is comparable to that in the US. It just isn't. Again, whether it's worth the higher taxes is a debatable point -- I think yes, others would surely disagree -- but that it's better is not.

Dan K: They were the first in their families to go to university as well. (Actually, I only think this is true of my grandfather, but I know it's true of my grandmother.) The story of my grandmother's struggle to get an education is a perpetual reminder to me of exactly how far we've come, and how much talent was needlessly squandered before. (Hers would surely have been as well, had she not been incredibly determined, more determined than anyone should have to be to achieve something so basic.)

Hilzoy,

You don't think they are even comparable? You couldn't even make a guess and say that our services for the poor as a nation are 50% as good as Sweden? Is there really just no comparison that you can come up with? Are you only compare gov't programs? Do private sector services not count?

Even in the small town I live in if I need a free meal there are 3 different locations I can go to and get a free meal and bed.

To me the point of the article and now your post is about making a valid comparison between the 2 models. It appears that we aren't going to compare apples to apples so that we can draw a logical conclusion.

bril: my dictionary gives, as one definition of comparable, "of equivalent quality; worthy of comparison". That's the one I was using. Of course it's possible to compare them. One can, for instance, note, as I did, that everyone is eligible for free medical care in Sweden, and so there's no need to establish eligibility, visit the Medicaid offices, etc.; that by the same token there are no cracks in the medical services safety net to fall through; that the poor in sweden, unlike their counterparts in the US (outside a few cities like Boston, NY, and SF), generally have access to extensive public transportation and thus do not need to spend their income on a car in order to get a job; etc.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad