Sweden is too generous for its own good as the country most beloved by Bernie Sanders is pressured by huge migrant flows. As Bloomberg reports, when it comes to wealth, health and hospitality, Sweden has few rivals. But the same qualities that make the country a beacon of hope for the world’s huddled masses are straining it at the seams.
To see how close to the limit a record inflow of refugees is pushing Swedish generosity, visit Halmstad, a 14th century gateway to the North Sea known for its pristine beaches and golf courses. With no vacant apartments, the welcome wagon here is a double row of shabby, stifling trailers hauled in to house the overflow from the nearby Arena Hotel. There, almost 400 asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and beyond live four to a room, all but forbidden from working until their claims are adjudicated. The process can take years.
Men with little to do but sleep and smoke crowd the lobby as kids careen down corridors on bikes. The sports bar, once busy with locals, is now a halal dining hall, the outdoor pool fenced-off and abandoned. It’s a scene increasingly common across Sweden, which welcomed 163,000 refugees last year alone, or about 1.6 percent of its population, a ratio equivalent to 5.1 million in the U.S.
Few know the perils and promise of Scandinavian welfare better than Aida Hadzialic. She fled Yugoslavia with her family at the age of five and settled in Halmstad, where she served as deputy mayor before being named Sweden’s minister for secondary education in 2014. And what worries her most is the viability of a model that literally saved her life.
“If we don’t make the changes needed to maintain trust that our tax money goes to the right thing, people may start wondering if it’s worth paying,” said Hadzialic, 29. “Then we’d create a new gap between people. That’s not the Swedish model, that’s not the Sweden we know.”
Building new housing for immigrants at a time when half a million Swedes are waiting eight years on average for rent-controlled apartments around Stockholm is becoming a flash point, said Joakim Ruist, an economist at Gothenburg University. The only “logical” way to stimulate new construction is to lift price controls so developers have more incentive to build, a move that won’t be popular with voters, he said.
“No modern welfare state has had an inflow of refugees per capita that’s equivalent to Sweden’s,” Ruist said. “We’ve gone past the breaking point for the housing situation.”
Fearing a public backlash over housing and handouts, which can be worth $28,000 a year for a single mother of two, almost what the average American worker earns, Sweden is trying to walk back its open-door policy. Citing an “unsustainable” pace of arrivals, Prime Minister Stefan Loefven has re-imposed border controls and pledged to step up deportations of rejected asylees. Family reunifications are also being drastically curtailed.
Full article: Sweden’s Refugee ‘Crisis’ Has “Gone Past The Breaking Point” (Zero Hedge)