Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thoughts on Sweden

I accompanied 20 of our (fantastic) business students on a trip to Sweden.  These students are all juniors and part of the schools London program.  Overall it was a great trip.  Some brief thoughts:

The Good:

1. Stockholm feels incredibly safe.  Some locals told me it is a bit less safe now relative to a few years ago with the increased immigration.  Compared to US cities, however, it seems fantastically safe.

2. The people are friendly, although if I would stereotype them, I'd say there are a lot of "hipsters".

3. I've been impressed by their pizza.  It is more "Italian style" and is very tasty.

4. Their beers are good - really good, in fact.  We had a tour of a great place called Stockholm Brewing Company.

5. I also saw the Vasa Museum, Old Town, and History of Money Museum.

6.  I also visited Uppsala - a city about 30 minutes north of Stockholm.  It was a fun little city with a great town square, a prestigious university, and some historic sites.  (Including King Vasa's tomb.)

The bad:

Most of the bad boils down to socialism.

7. It snowed, and they don't know how to clear snow from city streets or sidewalks.  Given it snows a reasonable amount there, it seems crazy that they wouldn't do a better job with this.

8. Their casinos are run by the government.  I guess in the states we see governments running the lottery, but governments running the casino still seems really odd to me.  They also charge an admission fee - 6 Euros for one entry of 15 Euros for an annual pass.  The casino was clean and and the blackjack rules were not awful, but they don't give you free drinks (of any sort - not even a soda) when you're playing.

Where this really looked like socialism was in the poker room, where there were very long lines to get into a game.  I had never, before Sweden, put my name on a list to get into a poker game and not played poker that day.  That happened here.  In the states, the profit-maximizing casinos have an incentive to serve customers - but in Sweden they do not.

Given the government runs the casinos, this shouldn't be surprising.  They do exactly what you'd expect from a socialist entity - they run it OK, but would be forced out of business fast if there was any competition by not serving their customers in a better way.

9.  The state runs the liquor stores like Pennsylvania.  To "protect" their citizens they close at 3:00 PM on Saturday and are not open at all on Sunday.

10. It is an expensive city.  I used to think London was expensive.  But it is not compared to Stockholm.