Sweden

OpenCalais Metadata: Latitude: 
59.2684932684
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
15.7590592807
Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

In a talk at the School of Law on Monday, Laura Carlson, associate professor at Stockholm University School of Law, and Samuel Bagenstos, professor at University of Michigan School of Law, both said a main difference between the Swedish and United States’ approach to employment discrimination is the way the two countries view legislation.

The talk, which focused on approaches to employment discrimination between Sweden and the United States, was part of the Rapport Center’s 2014 Colloquium on Comparing European and North American Approaches to Human Rights.

Carlson said that, in Sweden, legislation is viewed as an extreme measure, and not a solution to solve problems the country may be experiencing.

“Legislation is seen, at least in the Swedish context, as a last ditch effort because society has failed.” Carlson, who has lived in Sweden for 20 years, said.

According to Carlson, Sweden is a society based on social rather than individual justice, and the difference between the two is that social justice lacks legal justice.

“Social justice, in some ways, excludes individual justice,” Carlson said. “What happens with social justice is that it says society as a whole has to have these levels, but the individuals don’t receive the same attention.”

Bagenstos highlighted what he said he believed to be issues in the way the United States approaches discrimination against the disabled. According to Bagenstos, it is hard to find attorneys to fight against employer discrimination.

“The basic problem with finding attorneys is that it is very difficult to prove a case that you have not been hired because of any particular characteristic,” Bagenstos said.

Bagenstos said that it is easier to prove employment discrimination in the United States than in Sweden because statistical evidence is excluded from plaintiffs’ cases in Sweden. In 2011, there were a total of 300 lawsuits filed based on the merit of employment discrimination. 

Tovah Pentelovitch, a graduate student in social work and law, said the political polarization the United States faces slows down the process of creating laws to aid employer discrimination.

“Governments have trouble coming to a common ground where they can create policies that can help the most people,” Pentelovitch said.

According to Pentelovitch, an effective method of preventing employment discrimination is to host more talks like the Rapport Center’s Colloquium, as they give students a global perspective and incite conversation.

Senior Leeds Lathan asks Per Bylund, a Swedish entrepreneurship professor, about economic standards in Sweden during a Mises Circle meeting Monday night.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Students got a realistic view into the supposed prosperity of Sweden’s economy at a talk hosted Monday night by the UT Mises Circle in Waggener Hall. Computer science junior Michael Goldstein, who co-founded the Mises Circle last spring along with former UT students George McHugh and Jose Nino, hosted the talk. 

“Our goal was to create a forum for economics in the tradition of the Austrian school, which focuses on the logic of human action as the basis of economic theory,” Goldstein said. 

The Austrian School of Economics, on which the Mises Circle bases its philosophy, was developed in part by Ludwig von Mises, a 20th century Austrian economist. Mises also developed the theory of praxeology, which seeks to explain the effects of actions by individuals. 

The Mises Circle talk, titled The Myth of Sweden, sought to explain the current economic state of Sweden based on its perceived success as a capitalist country with an expansive welfare system. 

Per Bylund, a Swedish professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Missouri, participated in the talk via live webcast. Bylund said that while there is a myth of Sweden’s economy being among the finest in the world, high income taxes and an unsustainable degree of socialization are the realities. 

“Things are not what they look like,” Bylund said. “Sweden is really a subsidized market with exploited workers.”

Bylund said even though Sweden may have extensive welfare programs, such as free health care, public schooling — students are actually paid to go to school, but also have a legal obligation to do so — and social security, the government uses these programs as an incentive for workers to pay high taxes into the system.

Despite the large amounts of benefits, Bylund said Sweden’s welfare system has caused a devaluation of its currency, known as the krona, and restricted access to healthcare in order to keep treatment costs low. This resulted in patients being placed on waiting lists for as long as 18 months just to be treated.  

“Government presents us with a view of economics that is very different from what most economic professors would say and the opposite of what Austrian Economics would say,” said Daniel Krawisz, software engineering graduate student and a member of the Mises Circle. “Economics is important to make informed choices about politics.”

Krawisz said that the Mises Circle is open to students willing to learn about economics. The Mises Circle meets every Monday at 7 p.m. to discuss economic theory.

“We would like to see people who are informed, but who are ready to disagree,” Krawisz said. “It helps us to refine our ideas.”

Track & Field

Freshman heptathlete Petter Olson sat down and talked about his journey from Sweden to Texas, and breaks down the key ingredients for success during a grueling seven-event competition.

The Daily Texan: How did you get involved with track and field?

Petter Olson: I didn’t start competing in track until I was 12 years old. I was involved in club track through Malmo AI in Sweden because my school did not have sports like we do here. Soccer is the biggest sport in Sweden and most all the kids played. I started when I was seven and could have been decent at it, but I fell in love with track and figured I could have a brighter future there.

DT: At what point in your track career did you find an interest in multi-event competitions like decathlons and heptathlons?

PO: Actually, I got involved with decathlons through one of my biggest idols: former UT decathlete Trey Hardee [2005 NCAA Outdoor Champion, 2008 Olympian and 2009, 2011 World Outdoor gold medalist]. I met him in Sweden two years ago while he was visiting my town Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city, and invited him to come to my place. We developed a close friendship and he also introduced me to a possible future at Texas.

DT: Which of the seven events are your specialties?

PO: I’ve always been a pretty good jumper and I like the distance running events because they’re more of a fight and challenge between the guys running next to me.

DT: What has been both the most enjoyable aspect of your track career as a Longhorn thus far?

PO: I absolutely love the opportunity I have to train as a team with the other guys. It has been such an amazing experience transitioning from competing alone as a one-man team back home, to this. I love the fact that we can all line up together and run the stands of the stadium or run 300s as a team at practice.

DT: What is the most challenging part?

PO: Mental toughness is such a key thing to maintain in the heptathlon since it’s many events over a two day period. I have to try and remember that I won’t be able to do perfectly in all of them, and learn to leave each event behind me and focus on the next one. When it’s going good the competition is easy because I’m on a roll. But my mental attitude plays the biggest part when my body’s tired and I’m hurting.”

DT: How, and at what point do you usually start preparing before a meet?

PO: A good sleep and nutrition pattern intensifies about a week in advance. I just try to eat larger amounts of food so I am stored up with a lot of energy — I usually choose pasta or rice because I know that when the meet comes, I’ll stick to just nutrition bars and Gatorade. Conserving energy is so important for meet days because the heptathlon differs greatly from the structure of other events. Other events require short bursts of energy followed by rest — but I am expected to maintain a continuous level of intensity and rigorous mental focus for long periods of time.

DT: What were some ups and downs during the Big 12 Indoor Championships prior to you being awarded the gold?

PO: On day one of Big 12s I fouled my first two throws in shot put — and we only get three. After that throw I was really discouraged, knowing I had placed myself at a disadvantage going into the next event. It’s the same thing as hitting the cage twice in discus, or failing to clear the entrance height in pole vault — that automatically causes a set back. But the second day I performed very well in hurdles and the pole vault. At first I didn’t think I was going to end up finishing where I wanted in the end, but the second day I PR’d [set a personal record] a lot and compensated for my mess up the day before. When I came back to school, people that had never talked to me before were congratulating me. I was so honored to be No. 1 and represent Texas that way.

DT: What has helped you push through experiences like this, especially at larger meets?

PO: I think the coaches are doing a great job enforcing the positive attitude because they know what it takes to endure the two days. I’ve also learned that I can recover from a bad performance, but it’s very seldom that everything just comes together perfectly all at once in the decathlon or heptathlon.

DT: What do you do during your down time between events?

PO: I usually don’t have much down time, but if I do it’s right before pole vault. I’m able to hold off jumping the first few entrance heights and don’t enter the competition until later. I like to read books, listen to music and text my girlfriend during this time. I think a lot of people — athletes in particular — have one small unique thing that they do to make them feel more at home. John Mayer’s song ‘Gravity’ is one of my favorites. My girlfriend Magdalena is back home in Sweden, but she’s always supporting me by following the results and texting me words of encouragement.

DT: What will be your focus going into the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend?

PO: During this week and the week before I know what I have to do physically when I get there. So mentally I have to go back to a time when a certain event went right for me, and try to remember how that felt. Once competition day comes, I want to bring a lot of excitement into each and every event, knowing that all the small things will come together if I am mentally prepared.

DT: What are your personal goals for the meet, and are there any particular competitors you’re looking to oust?

PO: I am ultimately aiming to beat as many guys possible in order to boost myself into the top five going into the last event. Being in the top gives me something to strive for and push past. University of Arkansas’s Gunnar Nixon will be the man to beat in the competition.

DT: How will you attempt to separate yourself from the other competitors as you approach the final events?

PO: It always comes down to the last event — the 1000-meter run. Most heptathletes are always nervous about this event throughout the whole competition — everyone dreads it. But I’m going to do whatever it takes during that run to give myself an edge and put myself in the greatest possible position to win.