There's nothing the Federal government can't do.
Well, to me as an "outsider" it seems they do very little. That would be just fine if it were not for taking up 35% of GDP in taxes and even so run up a deficit of 10% of GDP. That sums up to 45% of GDP.
That is exactly the proportion swedes pay in taxes to a government that keeps figures in the black. So, tax + deficit we pay the same.
What I get (part of it):
- Free helathcare (grown ups pay $34 fee per visit, max $128 per year, kids free), even at private hospitals. There is no cost restriction, if you are unlucky (get sick for real) you can run a tab for millions - no problem.
- Dental care is free for "kids" up to the year they turn 20.
- Free school, from six years old up to doctorate at good universities. You pay for litterature, but can borrow some for free at public library. Everyone learns english, most study a third language as well.
- "Student grant" of something like $360 per month and governent student loan of up too $930 per month during semesters. Interest rate is now 1,5%. This is for living expences.
- Kindergarden for my two kids is $225 per month. That is great service with educated personal - our kids love it. We can both work full time if we fancy it. I you don´t want this when the kids are 1-3 years old you can stay at home and get $430 per month per child instead.
- Parental leave; about 14 months per child with 80% of salary up too something like $3.500 per month. And yes, you do get parental leave from work, and are welcome back after a year or so.
- A monthly tax free grant of about $160 per child (a bit more the more kids you have).
- Public pension. An automaticly balanced system that will give my generation 45-55% of life salary from age 65, up to a salary of about $4.300 per month. 2/3 of all employers pay centrally bartered "service pension", most often a defined benefit of 3-5% of salary up to $4.600 per month and 20-30% on higher salary. The need to save more is at best none, and at worst "not that great". Many people save $70-140 a month (tax deductible) from 30-40 years of age and I guess they will have a bit softer cushion.
- Sick leave; 65-80% of salary after one day away from work, up to maximum salary of something like $3.000-3.500 per month. If you need it the rest of your life, you will get it the rest of your life (pretty hard control though).
- Unemplyment incuranse. I pay a premium of $13 per month to get 80% of salary (maximum $2.150 per month) from day one unemployment. This is a system organized by private association but partly funded by the government. Many unions have private incuranse that backs this up further; I pay $34 per month to my union and get 80% up to a salary of $14.300 a month during six months of unemployment.
- Great, and cheap public tranportation. There is no problem getting from one side of town to the other, or between citys fast, safe and pretty cheap.
- Even though I have traditional life insurance (pay some $20 per month for $285.000) my kids (or spouse) would get hundreds of dollars a month from the "governemnt insurance" if I die before they are grown up.
- By law five weeks of payed vacation per year. I get six weeks from my employer, my fiancé who is a teacher is looking at 10-11 even though she work longer days.I am not that political about this, I don´t want to force this on someone. I am simply saying I would be kind of pissed off paying for all this without getting anything for it. Seriously, what are americans getting for 35% tax and 10% deficit (45% of GDP)?