Posted by: Caitlin | May 8, 2008

This strange thing called social inequality

I was talking with a Swedish friend last weekend, who, after having met a Swedish teacher who was a real douche to some Kenyans, mentioned how important it is for the teachers at the Swedish school in Kenya to be culturally sensitive and be able to explain complex social issues like class difference. “Because we don’t have that in Sweden”, she said.  (Yes, there is a Swedish School in Nairobi, as well as a French School, a German School, a few British schools, and probably more.  No wonder Kenya is such a great posting for expat families.)

I had never thought about this before, but in social welfare states like the Scandinavian countries children have to be taught about poverty and wealth and why income gaps exist in other countries. Although I admit it would be hard to surrender 40% of my income to taxes, that seems like a wonderful society to live in.

On a related note, Robert Kuttner has an interesting article in Foreign Affairs about how Denmark has managed to preserve its social welfare system while opening up to free trade and instating flexible labor policies. I bet his new book on globalization and the welfare state will be interesting.

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