The United States is about to go Sweden, and that trend has nothing to do with blondes and spas.
"We will be where Sweden is today -- a country that went from democracy to fiscal fascism," said economist and native Swede Sven Larson.
His parents' generation set in motion a system of health care and other entitlements that has drained the country of revenue and responsibility, Larson told about 50 participants - including state legislators Kit Jennings of Casper, Pat Childers of Cody, Allen Jaggi of Lyman and Amy Edmonds of Cheyenne - at a conference sponsored by the Wyoming Liberty Group at the Ramkota-Best Western Hotel in Casper on Saturday.
While similar trends have been happening in America, President Obama's health care reform has locked our country on the same track, he said.
"It takes a generation before the government can no longer pay for this," Larson said.
In Sweden, the entitlements -- and the inevitable cutback in services -- have fostered culture-wide resentment among youth as evidenced by rising crime and dwindling resources for education, he said. "The kids born in the 1980s and 1990s are treated as costs, annoyances and nuisances."
Larson, constitutional lawyer Benjamin Barr, gun rights advocate Gary Marbut and Wyoming Liberty Group organizers spoke about "Commonsense Sovereignty: Economic, Legal and Political Effectiveness."
Barr wrote a friend of the court brief cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in its reasoning in the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision January that overturned government bans on independent political spending by corporations and labor unions.
A half-dozen University of Wyoming students -- the Wyoming Liberty Group's "Power Point Theater" -- presented a skit about entitlements, health care reform, eminent domain, public education and other government actions that they say limit human freedom.
The Wyoming Liberty Group began two years ago when Susan Gore -- whose multibillion dollar family company W.L. Gore & Associates Inc. developed the high performance fabric Gore-Tex -- decided to do something about what she called "the urgency of the times."
Her brother, David Gore, co-founded a similar think tank organization in Oregon called the Cascade Policy Institute in 1991, she said.
Wyoming's low population and western traditions can be an incubator of libertarian ideas, Gore said. "Wyoming offers a real opportunity to became a real center of liberty where we can treat another person as a human being and we're 'not too busy.' "
But the state's leaders need to better align themselves with Wyoming citizens who favor freedom of choice in health care, Gore said.
Although the Legislature decided not to hold a special summer session to demand Wyoming join a multi-state lawsuit challenging the Obama health care reform bill, Wyoming could take other action on federal health care programs, including turning down the federal match for Medicaid, Gore said.
Medicaid is the federal-state program that helps pay for health care fro the needy, aged, blind, disabled, and low-income families with children. About 80,000 Wyoming residents receive some form of help from Medicaid.
The federal government has paid between 50 and 60 percent of Medicaid, while the state pays the rest.
Wyoming should reject the federal funding, Gore said. "The state could take a 60 percent cut."
Of course, the state would need a transition period to handle that cut, she said.
Gore didn't have specific talking points on other issues, such as whether government has a role to regulate industries, including their impacts on the environment, she said.
But larger government invariably hinders development, Gore said. "Government is unproductive; government hogs resources."
Private action is nearly always better than government action, which tends to make people -- "sheeple" -- less responsible, she said.
"People lose their ability to choose responsibly," Gore said. "That's very scary for the culture."
Reach Tom Morton at (307) 266-0592, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.