Friday, 28 June 2013


"Systembolaget" is not a computer virus, but instead the chain of Swedish state owned booze shops. There are many industries such as rail, utilities and post that we'd all like to see nationalised, but in Sweden they've gone for the slightly unorthodox route of having flogging booze as a nationalised industry.

From what I've read, not so many years ago they resembled austere Soviet type places where you'd fill in a form which you handed to someone with an expression like you'd just condemned his Granny to 80 years in a gulag, but if that's the case they aren't like that any more. The ones I've been in actually have much more cheery staff that you'd find in your average Thresher.
Although I didn't try out my Swedish apparently they'll advise you as much as you want, without actively trying to flog you any booze.

That's actually the idea - it's supposed to be a way of allowing booze to be sold without actually promoting it. The only stuff that's allowed to be sold in a regular supermarket is stuff at 3.5% or below, which pretty much rules out everything other than low strength beer.

I'm not quite sure how many alcoholics there are out there whose path into the dark side was initiated by some bird in "Cheapest cigs'n'booze" flashing her eyelids at them whilst waving a can of special brew, but clearly Sweden thinks that's part of the problem.
Every single academic study has found that countries which integrate alcohol into normal society are the ones who have the least problems associated with it, but just because that's true doesn't mean it shouldn't be totally ignored when deciding your national policy on the subject. And if your policy isn't working, that doesn't mean you should adapt it to be more like your neighbours which have a more liberal and more successful approach - no, instead you should be more different. It's obvious isn't it?
Their opening hours are specially designed to make it as inconvenient as possible to use them. If you suddenly decide you want some wine or proper beer on a Sunday, a Saturday after 4pm, or a weekday after 7pm (and this is in cosmopolitan Stockholm mind) then you can just bugger off to the nearest pub, because you're not going to be getting it from a Systembolaget. That will teach you won't it.

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