Dags för konkreta förslag

Möt vår nye finansminister, samma som den förra. Även om Pär Nuders presentation i Riksdagen av sin första budget var betydligt mer livkraftig än det entoniga upprabblande som hans föregångare hade att erbjuda så kändes det hela ändå väldigt bekant. Finansministern är ny men politiken är densamma. Blockerade av sina tillväxtfientliga samarbetspartier erbjöds mest åtgärder mot inför valet obehaglig statistik, medan de strukturella förändringar som skulle krävas för att sätta fler människor i arbete lyste med sin frånvaro. Precis som vanligt, alltså.

Regeringens passiva politik ger de borgliga goda möjligheter att åstadkomma maktskifte, och opinionsundersökningarna antyder att väljarna inte är nöjda. För att de borgliga skall vinna valet krävs dock att man visar att man kan regera tillsammans, och att man har konkreta saker man vill genomföra snabbt. Därför är det viktigt att Alliansen senast till hösten lägger fram en gemensam budget. Än så länge kan Pär Nuder klara sig genom att peka på att det socialistiska blocket i alla fall kan komma överrens om en politik – något de borgliga ännu inte bevisat att de klarar.

Min uppmaning till Alliansen blir alltså att arbeta fram ett budgetförslag. Ett bra drag kan vara att presentera den samtidigt som regeringen lägger fram sin höstbudget. På detta vis kan väljarna tydligt se vilka som står för en aktiv politik för företagande och arbete, och vilka som blott skyfflar siffror. Med konkreta borgliga förslag på bordet kan 2006 bli ett trevligt år.

Election time in Britain

The general election in the United Kingdom is drawing closer and it looks like the outcome might be more tight than one would have expected. Anything but a third consecutive victory for Tony Blair and Labour would be surprising but Michael Howard’s Conservatives have mounted a stronger charge than most people (me included) expected.

To me it’s a tough choice. I like Mr Blair. He has shown true leadership qualities that are much lacking on the European scene, and seems like a man who truly believes in what he advocates. He has taken some brave stances, both on Iraq and on Europe, because he beliefs that they are the right position, despite the fact that British opinion has been against him. At the same time there are things in their time at power that has gone in the wrong direction. Under the lead of the chancellor Gordon Brown the labour government has increased spending on welfare services by quite a bit and closed the gap to the too-high European tax pressure average (though there’s still quite a distance to go, fortunatly). For every passing month the New Labour government looks more and more like an Old Labour government, with a careless tax-and-spend policy. It’s an easy trap to fall into as the country is getting richer, and it takes courage to stand against pressure for more public services. Still it’s a long term service to the country to avoid going there. And with Mr Brown poised to take over the helm at some time things aren’t likely to get better.

On the other hand their main rivals, the Conservatives, aren’t as attractive as they should be either. Their tough-on-immigration profiling isn’t at all to my taste, for one thing. Looking at the economy bit they aren’t the small government supporters they were during Thatcher’s time at Number 10. Instead, the more you look at their promises the more they appear to adhere to the same tax-and-spend policies as Labour, only at a slower rate.

Indeed it is true that Mr Howard has promised to cut taxes and Mr Brown has said that he would freeze them. Considering that the Conservatives still wants to increase public spending and reduce borrowing one might wonder whether they can really cover everything with cutting bureaucracy. The same thing goes for Mr Brown and Labour. And worth noting is that Mr Brown has only promised to freeze direct taxes like income tax and VAT. This does not mean that he can’t raise other taxes.

Hopefully the debate will sharpen the arguments and provide some answers. Neither choice would be disastrous in any way. But things could be better.

Att skaffa jobb

PM Nilsson berättar i Expressen om den från Irak hitflyttade Saleh Kabel som till slut skaffat sig ett kvalificerat jobb efter att ha hållits sysslolös av den statliga byråkratin i tre år. Hur? Genom ett samarbete mellan hans hemkommun Sollentuna och den lokala Rotaryklubben, vars medlemmar fungerat som mentorer åt några högutbildade invandrare.

Trots alla miljarder som plöjs ned i AMS, och trots alla projekt och utbildningar som invandrare som kommit till Sverige får genomgå så lyckas de väldigt sällan komma in på arbetsmarknaden. Skälet är förstås att det som krävs inte primärt är utbildningar, utan kontakter. En arbetsgivare kommer alltid att lita mer på omdömet från en bekant, än på AMS rekommendationer – ju snabbare socialdemokratin når denna insikt desto bättre skulle det vara för alla de som befinner sig utanför arbetsmarknaden.

Artikeln belyser också det som gör det svårt för socialdemokraterna att hitta en bra politik i detta område: stora centrala lösningar fungerar inte. Istället är det lokala initiativ och mindre projekt som ger utdelning. Den statliga politiken borde inrikta sig mindre på att skapa stora stödsystem och mer på att underlätta för andra att skapa små.

A step in the right direction?

When Swedish prime minister, the Social Democrat Göran Persson, telephoned opposition leader and Conservative Fredrik Reinfeldt from Brussels last December and asked him to lend his support for dropping the EU ban on arms sales he got it. I’ve written several times on this blog arguing against such a decision.

Now, the Conservative Party seems to retract their support. According to Sveriges Radio the party spokesman for foreign policy says (my translation): “We don’t think that it’s time to drop the ban, since the criteria aren’t fulfilled”. Right so.

Many European leaders – led by president Jaques Chirac – wants to drop the ban in June, and if no one’s prepared to oppose it that could well happen. Ms Carlsson now wants to work together with the British and the Czechs to prevent such a decision. That would be most welcome. However she is not prepared to explicitly demand that Sweden should use it’s veto if it comes down to it. Perhaps one should not expect that from a party who earlier supported the decision.

Meanwhile the Swedish foreign minister, Laila Freivalds, is reluctant to say anything at all on the matter, probably meaning that she doesn’t want to be associated with dropping the ban, but she doesn’t want to oppose it either.

Worth pointing out is that all the Conservatives say is that they don’t want the decision to be made as early as June. Considering the fact that it’s highly unlikely that China will change in a relevant way anytime soon that’s not a very impressive opinion. The EU shouldn’t even consider dropping the ban until China has changed dramatically.

On Pope John Paul II

Hundreds of thousands of people have come to Rome to mourn the loss of Pope John Paul II and millions and millions around the world miss him deeply.

I am not a religious man, and the words and deeds of the pope didn’t interest me that much during his time in the Vatican. Now that he is gone my feelings towards him are mixed.

John Paul II did a lot of great things. Born in Poland he saw the terrors of both nazism and communism – the two great evils of the 20th century. His role in the fall of the Soviet Empire was important; his visit to Poland in 1979 set the wheels in motion and is one of the finest moments in the history of the Catholic Church.

He also condemned the anti semitism that the Church had previously always embraced and did a lot to reach out to people of the other large religions in the world. Hopefully something the next pope will continue to do.

His traditional views on homosexuality and the use of contraceptives does not go down quite as well, on the other hand – especially not in a time when the HIV virus seems likely to bring down a thunderous strike on the poor people in Southern Africa (and in other places too).

His view on abortions is unmodern but consequent, and in this particular issue one should perhaps remember that the pope devoted himself to the realm of ethics, not legislation. Though there is a connection, these two things are not the same.

All in all the world at large benefits from a thinking pope, and John Paul II seems to have been that. Not because his opinions were always agreeable – often they were not – but because a thinking pope forces people to personally consider the ethics of different issues and make up their own minds. And that is always a good thing.

johaneriksson.se is back

johaneriksson.se is back. As you can tell I’ve made some changes to the look and feel of this blog and I hope you like them. Feel free to let me know what you think – after all since it’s you I want to make think about what I write, it’s important that the presentation doesn’t get in the way.

There’ll be changes to the content as well, the main one being that this blog will be bi-lingual from now on. In the future some of the posts will be in Swedish, the reason being that I want to be able to take a more active role in the Swedish domestic political debate. However this does not mean that the amount of articles in English will become fewer – I know many of you don’t speak Swedish (after all, it isn’t the biggest of languages) and anything that isn’t of a purely domestic interest will be written in English.

Also, for those of you who reads the blog through an RSS reader the technical solution I’ve chosen prevents me from naming the rss-file myself. This means that you will have to change this information in your readers. The feed will now be found at http://johaneriksson.se/wp-rss2.php. I’m sorry for the inconvinience.

If you have any opinions on either the new look or the content itself – feel free to contact me. I’ll try to answer every mail I get as fast as I can.