Sanity in Switzerland

November 26th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

TVNZ reports:

Swiss voters have rejected a proposal to cap the salaries of top executives at 12 times that of a company’s lowest wage, heeding warnings from industry leaders that the measure could harm the country’s economy.

The wealthy nation, which is home to some of the world’s biggest companies including food group Nestle and commodities giant Glencore Xstrata, voted 66% against imposing the limit, according to a projection from Swiss television.

The so-called “1:12 initiative for fair pay,” was brought about by the youth wing of the Social Democrats (JUSO). The idea behind the proposal was that nobody should earn more in a month than others earn in a year.

Possibly he most economically stupid idea since the 50 year trial of communism.

In a way it is a pity the referendum failed. It would have been hilarious watching the impact on Switzerland if the referendum had passed. Imagine the chaos as companies flee overseas as billion dollar companies can’t pay their chief executives more than say 200,000 euros a year.

Opponents to the proposal had warned it would harm Switzerland by restricting the ability of firms to hire skilled staff, forcing firms to decamp abroad, resulting in a shortfall in social security contributions and higher taxes.

It would have been such a disaster, it would have killed the idea ever being implemented anywhere else. Their tax base would get decimated or worse.

 

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No animal lawyers in Switzerland

March 8th, 2010 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

I saw this article in the Telegraph:

All of the 26 Swiss cantons on Sunday voted against the proposal by animal rights activists to extend nationwide a system already in place in Zurich.

Overall, just 29.5 per cent of voters were in favour. In seven cantons the “No” vote was more than 80 per cent. …

If citizens had voted for the initiative, each canton would have appointed a lawyer to act on behalf of animals at taxpayers’ expense.

The canton of Zurich has had its own animal lawyer since 1992. Antoine Goetschel’s clients include dogs, cats, guinea pigs, farm animals and, recently, a large pike.

“It took 10 minutes of struggle to reel the pike in before killing it. I regard that as cruelty. If someone had done that to a puppy, there would have been outrage,” he said.

“People accused of animal cruelty very often hire lawyers to defend themselves. Why shouldn’t someone speak for the animal as well? It’s about fairness and defending a minority.”

I await the Green Party proposal here. It turns out Switzerland has extremely detailed laws on animals:

Under a new Swiss law enshrining rights for animals, dog owners will require a qualification, anglers will take lessons in compassion and horses will go only in twos.

From guinea-pigs to budgerigars, any animal classified as a “social species” will be a victim of abuse if it does not cohabit, or at least have contact, with others of its own kind.

The new regulation stipulates that aquariums for pet fish should not be transparent on all sides and that owners must make sure that the natural cycle of day and night is maintained in terms of light. Goldfish are considered social animals, or Gruppentiere in German.

So if you don’t turn out the lights at night for your goldfish, you might be in court!

Anglers will also be required to complete a course on catching fish humanely, with the Government citing studies indicating that fish can suffer too.

The regulations will affect farmers, who will no longer be allowed to tether horses, sheep and goats, nor keep pigs and cows in areas with hard floors.

The legislation even mentions the appropriate keeping of rhinoceroses, although it was not clear immediately how many, if any, were being kept as pets in Switzerland.

If you have a rhinoceros, I suspect you go to some lengths to keep it happy!

It gets even better. Switzerland even has a law to protect the dignity of plants:

Over a decade ago, an amendment was added to the Swiss constitution in order to defend the dignity of all creatures — including vegetation — against unwanted repercussions of genetic engineering. The amendment was turned into law and is known as the Gene Technology Act. However the law itself didn’t say anything specific about plants, until recently, when the law was amended to include them. …

Recently, the Swiss Parliament asked a panel of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians to determine the meaning of dignity when it pertains to plants.

Lo and Behold, the team published a treatise on “the moral consideration of plants for their own sake.” The treatise established that vegetation has innate value and that it is morally wrong to partake in activities such as the “decapitation of wildflowers at the roadside without rational reason.”

Okay everyone you have been warned. Any more decapitation of flowers, and you’ll be prosecuted.

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Direct Democracy

December 1st, 2009 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

This story from Switzerland is a prime example of why direct democracy, rather than representative democracy, can be a bad idea.

Switzerland became the first country in Europe today to vote to curb the religious practices of Muslims when a referendum banning the construction of minarets on mosques was backed by a solid majority.

The surprise result, banning minarets in a country that has only four mosques with minarets and no major problems with Islamist militancy, stunned the Swiss establishment …

This is simply a horrendous decision. Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right, and should not be at the whim of referenda.

The campaign to ban minarets was described by the country’s justice minister as a “proxy war” for drumming up conflict between ethnic Swiss and Muslim immigrants. But the ban was supported by a majority of 57.5%, 20 percentage points more than predicted in opinion polls in the run-up to the vote.

This is interesting in that many back the ban, but did not want to admit to it. The advantage of parliamentary votes is they are public and people have to stand by their vote.

There are problems in Europe with Islamic extremism and non-integration. But the solution is not to ban minarets on mosques, targeting an entire religion.

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