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Sanity and InsanityThe all-powerful Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB - about 385000 members) has come up with a brilliant idea: minimum wages. They are proposing (actually, managed to force a referendum) that the minimum Swiss wage should be 22 SFR/hour or about 4000 SFR per month (approximately 4500 USD/month). If this referendum is approved, Switzerland will become the proud owner of the highest minimum wage in the world.

We have showed before why minimum wages are a terrible idea (The Nonsense Of Minimum Wages) but obviously the SGB does not read our website.

This, in itself, is not news. Trade Unions are always about implementing and raising minimum wages because they always believe the money grows in trees and the evil, evil capitalists are exploiting workers.

What is news is the general reaction of the Swiss government. The multi-party federal government is… gasp…against the measure!!! That's right, the negative effect of creating minimum wages are so obvious that even politicians smell a rat.

Of course, Swiss politicians are just like any other politician; they need to purchase votes. But this is one of the few occasions where the normal vote maximization process does not apply. According to polls, the result of the referendum will be very close indeed. It would seem that there is a difference of only about 2% between YES and NO answers. Furthermore, there is a clear wave of negative opinion to minimum wages from Swiss people throughout the Internet. One such example can be found in the newspaper 20 Minuten - Switzerland in their article "Who would benefit from the minimum wage" where the commentary section had to shut-down temporarily due to an avalanche of opinions. Not something that happens regularly with those well-mannered and restrained Swiss people.

Comments, from regular Swiss people, include statements such as:

  • This initiative has the wrong approach
  • Why should an un-skilled worker earn 4000 SFT? Get an education, become a professional and this will rise your wage
  • No minimum!
  • This 1.6% [of widespread rises] won't be accepted by companies and… will roll the costs to consumers. The logical conclusion is that the general public must pay for it in the end.
  • I will vote no because I do not see any improvement in the economy but a deterioration.
  • Caution!
  • This initiative is absolutely dangerous and misleading! It would be fatal to our apprenticeships! Who would continue to support apprenticeships? Apart from that, many prices would rise.
  • What happens to those who lose the job? They will need RAV [Swiss unemployment]. You will have to choose between more pay for fewer employees or fewer pay for more workers. I would like to see the latter because… it deals with the unemployment problem.
  • …unemployment benefits would rise…
  • And the prices will go up even more!
  • Does anyone believe that higher wages are free?
  • I do not see why I should pay an unskilled [worker] so much
  • If you have to pay higher wages, the services are more expensive
  • Minimum wages is bad. Life is not a bed of roses… Nothing comes from nothing. It seems as though today's culture is so that everything should be free… Educate yourself and do something for your minimum wage.
  • Nothing hast to be harmonized! Everyone can decide for themselves whether they qualify for a job and what the reward is worth it!
  • Many… professions cannot just raise wages. These provide a service directly to the customer and every increase in franc [payments] is passed directly to the customer.… At the end, everyone will have little less in the bag since the goods of daily life will be more expensive through this initiative.
  • Completely meaningless initiative!

And many more comments such as these ones. What is amazing is not only the share volume of the outcry, but the fact that it is happening in Switzerland; furthermore, the fact that most posters get it. They may not understand the origins of the problem, but they can clearly see the consequences.

Of course, most people would not be astonished by such a response. Why should they be? After all Switzerland is the bastion of capitalism and as we all know full well, all its citizens have been thoroughly brainwashed by those evil, evil corporations, right? Well, think again.

The old Switzerland is long gone. Since the 60's Switzerland is socialist paradise… so to speak. Actually, Switzerland is one of the most socialist countries in the world… and yet, their population is wise enough to understand what's at stake. This is truly amazing.

We can only conclude that miracles do happen… yet not very often.

Keep up the good fight, or not. Your choice.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.


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