'The Daily Show' sings a Swedish song of socialism -- and it's not ABBA

The Daily Show

recently sent a correspondent to Stockholm to lampoon America's fear of socialism. Last week, Comedy Central aired the hilarious result in a two-part series skewering innocuous Swedish stereotypes (hot blondes, ABBA) as a way of skewering our more potent stereotypes of socialist programs.

I happened to be in Stockholm last week, visiting an American friend who'd fallen in love with a Swedish girl and moved there to raise a family. He loves it there. He got paternity leave to take care of each kid -- families get 16 months per kid, to split between the parents -- and his children get free health care and education. He says that you can often even ride the bus for free if you've got a kid with you. Fine, but what about those high taxes? He says he doesn't mind paying for the satisfaction of security in unsure times.

When Americans ask him about his new socialist life, he illustrates it this way: In much of Africa, children can't go to school if their parents can't pay for the tuition; if you're poor, you can't go to school. Americans find that sort of exclusivity uncivilized. And the Swedish, he says, find our system of forcing citizens to pay for our own medical care equally uncivilized, equally contrary to the general condition of the population. We like libraries and fire stations and public education, all government-funded and, therefore, socialist. But some of our commentators borrow from the Red Scare of ages past, railing against "socialism" as if it were inherently dangerous.