I don’t write as much about politics as I used to, mostly because I decided that my passion really is Entrepreneurship (and the different aspects to that, which always have a political side to it though), and this is were I would like to keep my focus. But I had a discussion last week with a Swedish ex-colleague, and it was almost a bit of falling out;

We had a casual discussion over food and some wine about things, and started to discuss some politics, and I am as always when politics are involved quite direct and perhaps a bit provoking (I like to question things and inspire discussions); and my ex-colleague touted me as being bitter at Sweden, and could not understand why I would feel that way, and started turning the discussion into well, it’s better than other places, why are you so bitter, the system gives you so much and so on… Which is really not the point!

And after giving this some thought, although politics always stir up emotions, I think for Swedes the tax-system or rather criticism of it or any part the Swedish system or “model” is unethical and taboo, and deemed as an attack on the weak, if you think that there are other ways to achieve a fair society, different views on government involvement in peoples lives, or if you do not agree with the rosy picture of Sweden you will be looked upon with suspicion, and stirring so much emotion, and often be caught up in a discussion going “but it is better than elsewhere”. Even if I have facts that tell another story than the “common view”, people will not believe it, one good example is the misconception of health care, both on micro and macro scale (I personally would need to pay for health-care in Sweden, but not in the UK, even if I am a Swedish citizen, Sweden spends about around 8% of the GDP on health care, most of Western Europe spends 10%, even the US spends more tax dollars per capita on Health care than Sweden, the US system is not working though, but that is fairly complex and whole other story), I like facts, I like to make decisions based on facts (combined with ideals, visions and “gut-feeling”!).

One big question is what is better? It is just different elsewhere, Swedes view of Sweden being “the best in the world” might not be true, and would it be so terrible if it is not? Is it a competition? And why is it not OK to question things? To think about if it can be done differently? Or is it only worth while if you think are worse then somewhere else?

Questioning things, discussing it, turning it around, is what promotes change, and progress, and is also where a lot of Entrepreneurship starts; why is it like this? Does it have to be this way? Can we do things in another manner with a better result? A different result? (There is no one-size fits all, diversity is always better in my opinion) Do you have to be ranked low with your peers to strive to better yourself?

In my world, questioning things is healthy, and not a sign of being bitter. And when questions are not allowed, well that is the first step of a down-fall of a any civilization or society. I think the Roman Empire started falling apart the same day, that supremacy of Rome was taken for granted.

And think about it, it’s not the yeah-sayers that go down in history, it is the ones that just didn’t accept everything, but asked the hard questions, made the hard decisions and created history, to name a few examples; Einstein, Eisenhower, Churchill and Edison.

So I say; get the facts, don’t be lazy just because your did a top score last year, ask the hard questions, find new opportunities and new ways to approach things and go out and improve yourself, and the world around you!

In Sweden there is a big confusion in terminology surrounding different types of Investment companies, the Swedish journalists of the leading papers and even the politicians can’t tell Venture Capital companies apart from private equity firms and other types of corporate finances business’, they are all grouped under the term “Riskkapital” (“Risk Capital”, which is the Swedish expression for Venture Capital).

For the past year there have been a debate in Sweden about “Riskkapital bolag” (Venture Capital companies) and their moral. The first thing I think about how investing in startups could be that amoral? Are they all funding startups that will pollute the world, borderline criminal business, or something else terrible?

The debate is really not about VC firms, but about investments companies such as private equity firms that do take-overs of well established companies and break them up. Most people I know i the UK or US would not think of these types of investment companies when I say VC (which is the closest translation to “Riskkapital”), and most Swedish entrepreneurs or people in the Swedish corporate finance sector wouldn’t either. Take a look at the one the larger private equity firms in Sweden, EQT, mentioned in DN today, the describe themselves correctly in English as a private equity group on their website, and they are an investment fund / company not a Venture Capital firm. Why can’t the Swedish journalists get the terminology right?

So why does this matter? Well when I tell my mom that there is a need for more VC’s in Sweden and a climate more like the one I see in London, she says, isn’t that those companies that buy up Volvo to break it apart? And I have to explain it and say “No, it’s the companies that will fund a future Skype or the like (which all of the Swedish “VC’s” where to risk averse to invest in by the way, so Skype have never had even a part of it’s corporate structure in Sweden, but in Luxembourg, where the investors were willing to take a risk).”

Google speaks out about the the proposed wiretap legislation:

“Search engine giant Google has slammed Sweden’s proposed wiretapping legislation as illiberal and incompatible with Western democracy.”

More information here.

Fortunately the legislation was postponed, even though the former Swedish government’s major party (Social Democrates) are pro the wiretap proposal, the smaller parties in the parliament managed to post-pone the legislation of it for at least a year. Hopefully the opposition will gain some momentum by then. I wonder what RFA (Swedish NSA eq.) will use their new super computer for if the proposal is not passed to legislation.

According to IDG, the Swedish government have ordered one of the worlds fastest computer to be put to use by FRA (Swedish military surveillance section, Swedish version NSA), this news comes at the same time as the government propose new laws to allow FRA to monitor all Internet traffic int and out of Sweden.

The new supercomputer would yield a computing capacity of 180 TFlops (or 184 320 GFlops), powered by 17024 cores on 4256 processors. The officialy most powerful computer on the Top 500 list has a performance of 358 TFlops, the second 124 TFlops, so this new supercomputer would be the second most powerful supercomputer in the world. Admittedly many governments around the world do keep their military supercomputer installations secret. Sweden have never had a supercomputer of that capacity for civil use.
Such as supercomputer has a few usages, research, cracking encryption codes, or sipping through and indexing huge amounts of information (such as the search engines, Google, Ask.com etc), so if it’s not being used for research it’s very likely to be used for information espionage as the new laws will allow FRA to do.

Links

The Swedish equalivent of NSA (called FRA), is proposed to be allowed to do monitoring of all Internet traffic to and from Sweden. This has raised some criticism and hopefully the proposed law will not pass. However the head of the FRA has publicity in media announced that this is widely misunderstood, because they only want to listen in on the “suspicious foreign types” (translated quote), not the good old honest Swedes.

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I think that most of us in the western world take democracy for granted, but can we really just rely on democracy being self-evident part of our society?

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Today and tomorrow I am attending reboot 8.0 to get some new input and inspiration. So far it has been interesting, nothing really new under the sun, but lifting focus from all of the todos and what’s happening right now, and step back to get a view of the bigger picture while listening some of the bright and possionate minds here gives some food for thought.

Some brief comments for the day:

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One of the good things with the Internet, is that you can read the local online papers quite easily from whereever you are, I read this on the DN website today:

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