Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oh the times – they are a changin . . . Or The Swedes just love Ingvar Kamprad

Ingvar Kamprad, in case you don't live in Sweden, is the founder of Swedish behemoth IKEA. In the forests of Almhult, Sweden, Kamprad build his cheap furniture haven. The IKEA empire is one of the most recognizable Swedish companies in the world and Kamprad's reputation as a 'duktig svensson' or Good Swede, is almost impeccable (although there is that Nazi rumor that just doesn't go away).

There are some really big myths that surround Kamprad and the IKEA Swedish ideal. I don't know how true they are, but here goes: Kamprad drove the same Volvo for a decade, and only bought a new one when the old one died. If you drive a nice car and work at IKEA you have to park it far way from the entrance, so no one thinks it is an employee's car. Kamprad didn't give his children much of the IKEA money because they need to learn the value of the crown.

So as you can see, Kamprad is a model of the good and frugal Swede.

Except according to a news story out this week, good and frugal Kamprad also has a couple billion crowns stuffed away in a secret fund run out of Lichtenstein. In fact according to the report, Kamprad has gone out of his way to avoid and move around money to avoid paying taxes in Sweden.

ACK! This would be a perfect Swedish style scandal – rich man, robbing the poor of their tax money – get out your claws. Someone try to hold those Social Democrats back. It's time for a public lashing of the worst kind.

BUT from what I've been picking up on my radar the opposite has happened. People are asking 'What is the big deal?' and saying things like 'of course, who wouldn't do that?' People are saying things like 'Well, he's worked hard for it, he's given Sweden a great name internationally, he deserves it.'

What? Is the Folkhemmet (The idea of the paternal Swedish government taking care of it's people) losing steam?

Do the Swedes just love IKEA that much?

Or is it the result of 5 years of Moderates in power?  

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