Most economic policy making, planning, and forecasting in Sweden devolves onto the various ministries with responsibilities for economic matters, notably the Ministries of Finance and of Commerce and Industry. Yet, with the exception of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish ministries are small. Financial protection frees Swedes to develop their potential, and two basic principles govern social policy. First, social welfare benefits should be available to all citizens as a right, not as charity. Second, welfare benefits should form a protective net that keeps every citizen from falling into poverty. By North American standards and even by those of Western Europe, Sweden is a conformist society, where individual expression is muted. The vast welfare program is part of the underlying social contract that holds Swedish society together, but during the 1990s questions about the size and extent of the system have coincided with budget deficits, that have required some cutbacks.