How would you like to live in a country where there’s low unemployment, high wages, excellent schools, free college, free universal health care, low crime, and plenty of natural beauty? Where the average person lives to be 83, speaks at least three languages, and enjoys pure mountain water right from the tap? Where public transportation is everywhere and it’s efficient enough to set your watch by it? Where gun ownership is encouraged and mass shootings are almost unheard of? Where nearly every car is less than three years old, and the roads are engineering marvels? Where, in fact, nearly everything looks clean and new, from the gleaming train stations to the modern airports to the…bomb shelters? Yes, the country I’m talking about even has a nuclear fallout bunker for every single citizen within it. Doesn’t that sound like a nice, safe place to live?
Well, you already know from the title that the country I’m talking about is Switzerland, of course! I just finished a one-month tour of that country, and I can tell you that everything I just wrote about it is true. And, as an additional bonus, the local folks I met erased their cold reputation as icy Germanics by passing my “stupid tourist test.”
But wait, you say. Doesn’t the average Swiss citizen pay a huge amount in taxes to pay for all those goodies? Well, no. Not really. The TOP federal tax rate is 13.2%. What? That’s right, 13.2 %…but that’s also a bit misleading, because that figure doesn’t include mandatory payroll deductions for health insurance and pension benefits or the cantonal and municipal taxes which together can top out at another 36%. So, the top tier earners will be paying about half of their income in taxes. Yes, that’s high, but top earners in the USA pay that much as well once you factor in state and local income taxes and social security deductions.
So, how do they do it? How do the Swiss create a near-perfect society in which the largest cities are regularly voted to be among the world’s most livable while routinely running budget surpluses, yet American cities are crime-ridden cesspools of decay even as we deficit spend our way into hyperinflation?
I would suggest that at least part of the answer lies in the famous Swiss position of staunch neutrality during times of conflict. Switzerland hasn’t declared war on anyone since 1847. That’s a long run. In that period, the USA has almost constantly been at war. I count only 32 years in which we weren’t fighting someone in some corner of the earth during that same period. Often, we were in multiple conflicts at the same time! War is expensive, and the money diverted into that effort means that less is available for infrastructure projects or public works. Plus, the intellectual resources devoted to the design of killing machines could have otherwise been used for peaceful innovations in science, medicine, technology, and manufacturing, all to the benefit of the citizenry as a whole.
If America had listened to George Washington and avoided the foreign entanglements that he advised us against, would we be more like Switzerland today? I think so. Not exactly, of course, because Switzerland is a relatively homogenous high IQ country, whereas the USA is…diverse, to say the least, and diversity, contrary to what .gov always tells us, is not a strength. It brings with it higher crime, lowered education standards, exotic diseases, and a whole lot of conflict borne of class envy. That’s a high price, indeed, to pay for a few ethnic restaurants. That said, it’s hard to imagine how 180 or so years of peace wouldn’t have positively benefited our country. Not only would we have had untold trillions of extra dollars that could have been directed towards things that make life more pleasant for the average Joe, but there would also be a whole lot more average Joes around to enjoy the benefits, since they wouldn’t have died in some foreign hell hole to “make the world safe for democracy” (and, not coincidentally, to fatten the paychecks of the Bankster classes who always finance the fighting).
The Swiss are not pacifists by nature. Historically, they have a fierce reputation as ferocious fighters, which is why they were favored as mercenaries during medieval times (even today, Swiss Guard pikemen are assigned to protect the Pope). The entire country is honeycombed with bunkers and tank traps, and explosive demolitions are readied at key choke points. Every healthy man must serve in the armed forces, most keep their automatic service rifles at home, and, like Minutemen, if the need arises, they can be called into action at a moment’s notice. Even powerful adversaries are daunted by the thought of attempting an offensive in such rugged and well-defended mountainous terrain. They have been able to avoid wars by being ready for them.
Switzerland is a beautiful model country with living standards that are the envy of the world, and one of the main reasons for that is their neutrality. It is a concrete example of how nice life can be when European peoples decide to mind their own business and stick to providing goods and services that people need. Maybe we could learn something from that?
I may have to break down, buy a good coat and move there!
Good read, Jonathan.
Thank you, anonymous one!
So haven’t you moved there? Honest question. (Not that I want you to.)
They take citizenship very seriously. It takes years and lots of money to do it, and I don’t have enough left of either one :)) So I’d be forced to make border runs and live there for a few months at a time. Under that scenario, I’d rather be in nearby Italy, where the food is better and the weather is more moderate.