We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I had a friend who worked in Sweden for a while (he was American). He was a socialist when he went over there.
He came back absolutely shocked by the laziness of the Swedes. He told me, "You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning, and you feel kind of under the weather, but you pull yourself together and go to work? Well, in Sweden, you would roll over, call the office to take one of your innumerable sick days, and go back to sleep."
He also told me that there was intense trading going on all the time to avoid the exorbitant sales taxes.
I have a former grad student who spent a year in Sweden as an au pair. It was evidently a dreadful experience.
At any rate, she was totally appalled at how little Swedes of college age [around 20-30 for her] actually work or study and how 'cheap' they all are. She comes from a lower middle class working family in a very rural area and was very unhappy during her stay, mostly due to cultural attitudinal differences I think.
I tried to explain to her that if the GDP per capita is around that of Mississippi and the govt takes 50+% of your earnings you might not throw your money around.
Oh. And she said the underground economy was really big.
Then there were the usual problems of everyone in Sweden believing that all Americans are heavily armed drug users who are in danger of being murdered at any time while they're filing on of their innumerable lawsuits.
Interesting that both of the first two comments reported that Americans living in Sweden had observed that 1) the underground economy was big; 2) Swedes didn't work very hard. We may have a pattern, here.
The problem with comparing large social institutions (including countries) is we usually compare something we more or less know about (our country or our school) with something we only know the popular description of (like Sweden or France that we here about in the media or from comedians). Perhaps any comparison is unfair, even informed comparisons since they would still reflect someones bias or agenda.