By Nordstjernan columnist Ulf Nilson, December 2009

All Swedes are equal, right? In Sweden everybody is well fed, well clad and well taken care of whether he's a child or an old geezer ... right?
A majority of the Swedes would, I think, answer the questions with a resounding yes. We tend to do that. A smaller group says that well, everything is perhaps not perfect, but we are probably better off than most or all the others (i.e., people like you, among others).
But, of course the glossy picture of the perfect (or next to it) society is quite misleading. This has been illustrated in recent weeks in reports of the coming wedding between Crown Princess Victoria and commoner (soon to be prince) Daniel Westling.
The wedding next year, it turns out, will cost some 25 million SEK.
That does not include another few million for extra police work (overtime is a specialty with the Swedish police).
Neither does one count the many, many millions spent on rebuilding Haga Castle were the couple is going to live, on the outskirts of a beautiful park (where I once resided, though not in a castle).
It should be noted, before I switch to the not so equal people of Sweden, that the King, father of the bride if not ruler of the country, is worth something in the neighborhood of SEK 300 million and receives a yearly salary of 57.4 million. Plus, of course, expense money. And free housing.
In spite of this, it is not—repeat not—the father of the bride who pays for his daughter's wedding. It's the taxpayers.
At the same time, thousands of pupils in Swedish schools do not get books to read—they get copied sheets, sometimes notebooks where they are to write down what the teachers say.
Some are told to find the answers to their questions on the Web, in spite of the fact that they have no computers at home.
At the same time, the media reports day after day that the doctors, not the least at the flagship hospital, Karolinska, make horrendous mistakes when prescribing medicines.
At the same time, thousands of elderly people living alone in their homes get to know that they will not get help cleaning up, because the municipality (which is responsible for their care) has used up this year's money.
At the same time, one of the “Home Samaritans” (yes, they are called that) comes to a client's home and says, "Let me make your bed now." When the client replies that it was already done, the “samaritan” says coldly that she has no right to do anything else. She sits there for 15 minutes (the allotted time) and does nothing.
At the same time, some 800,000 pensioners, mostly women, receive a pension of just under 8,000 SEK a month, before taxes. Maybe paradoxically, many, probably most, of these women would gladly pay taxes for the royal wedding and so would many of the oldsters that are routinely put to bed at three o'clock in the afternoon because there is not enough money for personnel.
At the same time, 4—5 minors, not accompanied by parents or other grown ups, show up for asylum every day. They are known as “anchors,” since they are sent to Sweden to later justify the arrival of elderly relatives, who will then be supported by the Swedish tax payers. (Some of the male minors have beards.)
At the same time ….
But I have already written enough. In spite of all the bragging and in spite of the fact that there are indeed heaps of countries that are far worse off than Sweden, in spite of all this, equality there is not and brotherhood is still a far out dream ….