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Quick foreign language course: how do you translate Eric Blair's book's title 'Animal Farm' into Swedish?

Easy: 'federal government mafia' - a secret informal organisation of crooked politicians going across all party lines and boundaries. How these people managed to embezzle so much money out from under the noses of the taxpayers for such a long time is something not many people are able to appreciate - but they did it.

The way it works today, anyone with a 'statsråd' appointment gets a super duper parachute agreement good until their retirement. As an example, Ulrica Messing (no relation), 38 years old today and called 'minister of infrastructure' (whatever that's supposed to mean) can quit at any time and for no reason and she will automatically receive nearly $2 million in monthly payments for the next twenty some years.

Of course the current 'Napoleon' is the best at this - along with his pig wife. In fact, they're the ones who organised this 'mafia' some ten years ago. Göran Persson and Anitra Steen have taken corruption to a whole new level in the otherwise cleanly governed and classless Sweden where until recently everyone was equal and no one was more equal than others. Many people have long felt Persson is using his post as prime minister to corrupt and implicate as many people as he could - so he himself wouldn't be attacked and exposed later.

The culmination came when Persson made sure his new wife Steen was appointed CEO of the government spirits monopoly Systembolaget, a company currently under indictment for its rampant corruption. Steen promptly laid off thousands of employees, claiming poor finances justified the move, and then went out and organised a super 'overnight' party for her new friends at the company and had the bill sent to the taxpayers. One party, one night only - and the cost? Nearly $2 million.

Steen and her despicable husband have already made sure they can retire from public office any time they please and still bring home $250,000 a year. For doing nothing.

Steen's own parachute agreement is in direct violation of current legislation - yet her husband's government has made it clear they will not investigate the matter. And because their good friend Olof Johansson is chairman of the board of Steen's company, there's no risk anything happens. Steen will get her millions illegally - stolen from the Swedish taxpayers.

Persson's start in political corruption began twelve years ago as minister of finance. He quickly chose the talented Steen as his personal secretary. They made a great team. Persson demanded the government give him an 'open mandate' to cut expenses anywhere he saw fit. He got his 'mandate', and straight away went after the cornerstone of Swedish society: retirement benefits. The pensioners were understandably outraged, but Persson and Steen sat at the controls. The pensioners could do nothing.

On 1 January 1995 Persson/Steen took away the compensation for inflation. This gave Persson/Steen $400 million in money they would start using many years later.

In the summer of 1995 they reduced housing benefits and did this with the help of one Olof Johansson - who coincidentally is today Steen's boss, and the one who ultimately decides whether she keeps her illegal millions or not.

In the fall of 1995 Persson/Steen moved the monthly payment day from the 15th to the end of the month - effectively cheating all the pensioners out of the interest. This gave them another $35 million they could use many years later.

In January 1996 retirement benefits were reduced for people whose spouses were not yet receiving retirement benefits of their own.

Reaction to Persson/Steen was vociferous - but there was nothing anyone could do. Persson/Steen systematically gutted one of the most sacred cornerstones of Swedish society - and did it with shit-eating grins from ear to ear on their faces.

Persson/Steen were so successful at duping the Swedish people that they finally decided to make their criminal joint venture legal: they got married. Not really much to say there: they don't love each other very much, but they're always horny as hell for more money.

And ordinary people in Sweden can't believe what they're reading. They can't believe it is true. They look at the pictures of the pigs in the news articles - from face to face, and from pig to pig, and from face to face again. And already it's impossible to say which is which.

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