During the same week the Constitution Center in Philadelphia opened an exhibit on Bruce Springsteen, the Boss decided to mouth off to the foreign press on the release of his new album, subtly titled Wrecking Ball.
Here’s what Springsteen had to say:
“I have spent my life judging the distance between American reality and the American dream,” Springsteen told the [Paris press] conference, where the album was aired for the first time. It was written, he claimed, not just out of fury but out of patriotism, a patriotism traduced. “What was done to our country was wrong and unpatriotic and un-American and nobody has been held to account,” he later told the Guardian.
So, what exactly does Springsteen mean by all of that angsty nonsense? Essentially, the Occupy Wall Street diatribe, complete with class warfare (this from a guy who claims he’s a farmer on his tax returns to avoid paying higher rates).
“A big promise has been broken. You can’t have a United States if you are telling some folks that they can’t get on the train. There is a cracking point where a society collapses. You can’t have a civilisation where something is factionalised like this.
“The temper has changed. And people on the streets did it. Occupy Wall Street changed the national conversation – the Tea Party had set it for a while. The first three years of Obama were under them.
“Previous to Occupy Wall Street, there was no push back at all saying this was outrageous – a basic theft that struck at the heart of what America was about, a complete disregard for the American sense of history and community … Nobody had talked about income inequality in America for decades – apart from John Edwards – but no one was listening.”
Springsteen, of course, was an ardent advocate for President Obama, whom he says has done a fantastic job – although he didn’t get through a fully socialized medical system, as Springsteen would have wanted (wait until the Boss has a serious medical problem and whips out his checkbook to solve it).
What kind of America does Springsteen want to see? Why, an America that looks more like Sweden, of course – which is yet another odd sentiment from this supposed protector of blue collar values. “Exactly! That’s my dream! It’s written between the lines. But you have to listen very closely,” he told a Swedish newspaper.
The sheer idiocy of this perspective is stunning. Sweden is about to undergo a severe financial crisis. “The Ministry of Finance estimates that the Swedish economy will slacken considerably in 2012,” the ministry said in a statement as Finance Minister Anders Borg delivered his budget plan to parliament. America has significantly higher GDP per hour worked, and a third of the employees in Sweden work for the government. Taxes are sky high. The country spends virtually nothing on its military, since it can always count on the rest of the west to defend it. Sweden’s healthcare system provides disastrously long wait times – as of 2003, 60% of patients in Sweden had to wait at least three months for hip surgery. As for Sweden’s welfare system, it has serious problems of its own.
Sweden is also a tiny country. Its population is 9.3 million and has been stagnant for the better part of fifty years (its population in 1965 was about 7.7 million). It is ethnically and religiously homogenous. It does not face the issues of a multiethnic democracy.
Springsteen, of course, has no idea about any of this. He just sees “free healthcare” and thinks “great!” He sees full-scale redistributionism and thinks “wow!” Or maybe, he just sees faux European sophistication and thinks “that’s for me!”