Skip to main content

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?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…