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News from Switzerland

Swiss paper money Banque Nationale Suisse






























Hmmmm.  Swiss voters, by referendum resoundingly rejected a minimum wage proposal.


They rejected a proposal, specifically, that would have set the minimum wage at 22 Swiss francs per hour, which is roughly US$25. If I understand this rightly, that would have been the highest minimum wage anywhere.


So some Swiss, at any rate, wanted to go from the back to the front of the pack in terms of the minimum wage, in one big bound. (They have no such minimum now, this would have created such an institution, not merely increased an existing number.)


It was so soundly defeated that none of Switzerland's cantons voted in its favor.


This raises a lot of questions. Unfortunately, I'm feeling too indolent these days to do my own research. Maybe one of my readers will oblige by addressing these questions.


Such as: how easy or difficult is it to get such a proposal on the ballot in Switzerland?


Also, who were the intended beneficiaries of the passage of such a law? Two possibilities come to mind: a class of able-bodied indigent people on the one hand, and organized labor on the other.


Organized labor generally supports as high a minimum as can be legislated, because they see it as a floor from whence their own efforts can work upward. In less metaphorical terms, the ale-bodied indigent, employed or not are the hardest to organize and, as long as they remain unorganized, they constitute competitive pressure against non-indigent organized folk.


So by legislating a minimum wage, organized labor generally calculates that they create a new class of the organizable, and reduce competitive pressure on the already organized.


So, third question: does no-minimum Switzerland have a larger class of able-bodied indigent people than its neighbors?


If not (fourth and final question): what was the problem to which this reform proposed a solution?

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