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March 18, 2009


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Swedes, even upper class, do not see charitable giving as an individual responsibility. They view it as a collective obiligation for which they pay taxes to the government which in turn prevents the Swedish people from going hungry and homeless. Swedes also pay church donations through the annual tax bill. Most agnostically-leaning Swedes pay the church tax and say aloud, Well, the Church does charity work. And to themselves they say, I have done MY charity work by paying this tax.

If by some fluke, they give a little extra for tsunami victims or to prevent deforestation or even to advance medical research, then they think of themselves as wonderful as Alfred Nobel himself.

In seven years of residence in Stockholm (and I lived in the best neighborhood) I never once saw anyone attend a benefit ball or organize a fundraiser. It does not help that charitable contributions are not tax-deductible. Although I did read that this may change in the near future.


I just saw you blogged on the Role of the the Nanny in Supplanting Bleeding Heart Charities. You have a perfect exemplification the attitude bred by this model in the person of Countess Douglas-David.

I am on the Board of a Foundation for a rare disease. In every appeal to my Swedish friends and relatives, I recieve many admiring compliments for my fundraising work and no donation. My American acquaintances usually make no comment, but usually some donation.

Phil Cubeta

Interesting background, thanks, Catherine. Social goods provided by - taxes, giving through national intermedaries, or by a farmer's market? I can bet which you would prefer.

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