And the cantons are cool. A part of a canton can leave the canton, join another or make a new one. It rarely happens, but the fact that it can probably helps keep the canton government on its toes. And canton boundaries are probably more organic than many of the US states.
Source: I'm Swiss.
Not sure how it works in Switzerland, though a quick look at Wikipedia suggests plebiscites can be involved. National plebiscites don't really exist in the US.
"Any change in the number of Cantons requires the consent of the citizens and the Cantons concerned together with the consent of the People and the Cantons."
Not sure that is any easier than getting Congress to approve such a change. But such changes have happened in Switzerland and the only one that's happened in the US was due to most of Virginia seceding at the start of the Civil War. Of course, Switzerland is much older.
Exactly ONE new canton got created by a referendum process. It took 30 years to get to a referendum, accompanied by everything from acts of terror to threats of foreign intervention. And today, 40 years later, we're still trying to sort out the exact boundaries.
Surely, it was pretty successful by international separatist standards, but it still was a hard slog.
Is this where Jurassic Park happened :-)
(please read the ninth paragraph or the last one before the section Geography)
As for impact on career, this is again a matter of perspective. If parenting is skilled work then arguably raising children is a second career. We don't normally classify parenting as a career but that's just a matter of terminology.
A woman with kids can choose whether to stay at home or work (full or part time at their discretion) and plenty of women choose to be stay at home mums.
No such choice is given to most fathers.
The fourth was a graduate student in the final year of her studies. She hasn't been able to find a job since, despite having a good background.
Two of the four women are Swiss, and the other two are German citizens. Three of the four have graduate university degrees (two in hard sciences) and all have good to stellar resumes.
Source: Expat currently living in Switzerland.
Our friends are largely university educated and are a mix of expats and Swiss nationals. It is - very - well known among Swiss women in particular that getting pregnant and having a child is a detriment to your career.
I agree that personal observations shouldn't be used to generalize an entire population. However, I've heard enough to believe that what we've seen isn't out of the norm.
It gets difficult - again, from what I've seen - when you run into edge cases that brush up against how things are traditionally done. I don't think that a lot of companies have gotten a handle on how to accommodate women with children. For example, average working hours can easily go past 17:30, but most kinderkrippe close at 18:00. There are also social expectations that are hard to interpret or otherwise navigate, especially if you're not a native citizen and didn't grow up in the culture.
I think that the situation isn't that different from a lot of other European countries, and it also appears to be improving (even in my limited time here, I've noticed that there has been a lot of discussion around the gender pay gap, and a stronger focus on accommodating women with children at work).
The average person is woefully prepared to judge laws on their merits, be it economic laws or otherwise. They're arguably better prepared in Switzerland, but still not great compared to experts in the field. If you look to Africa, you can see what a mess you can make when your average person is not educated well at all. Democracy is often described as the best of a lot of bad options, but there's also a big variance in how well it works.
It's rather elitist to say that more educated (AKA richer) citizens make "better" political decisions than less educated (AKA poorer) citizens. They both make decisions with relatively similar amounts of clarity in their respective class interests.
That's one hypothesis but there are many things it can't explain. We could compare African countries that were colonized to African countries that were not colonized. The hypothesis predicts a big difference but is there?
We could compare non-African countries that were colonized to African countries that were colonized. Hypothesis predicts a small difference, is there?
The kind of everybody is equal mentality that must underlie such a statement boggles my mind. It's an attitude that is shockingly disconnected from the real world. We may as well be talking about Santa Claus.
Typical issues that go to referendum in Switzerland range from the trivial (shall we raise taxes to build a new football stadium/road tunnel/etc), to the constitutional (should international treaties be able to override referendums... that one is running at the moment). In none of these cases is a decision so complex that it can't be understood by everyone in a short time.
Generally, I've found that anyone claiming a government-level decision is too complicated to explain to an average person is trying to cover up major weaknesses in the underlying arguments.
The kind of everybody is equal mentality that must underlie such a statement boggles my mind. It's an attitude that is shockingly disconnected from the real world
The extent to which people differ in their moral and intellectual potential is the defining difference that creates right wing vs left wing politics in basically any democratic society. Read Thomas Sowell's "A Conflict of Visions" to get a very insightful analysis of why this is so. Far from being mind boggling, it's entirely expected that different people have different intuitions about the capability of the average person.
Reality is one way, and we build models of it in our minds to differing degrees of accuracy - the better your models the better you are equipped to make decisions in life. This applies to political decisions, major life choices, what you eat for breakfast.
Politicians are not only not very well versed in the fields they need to understand, they're sometimes purposefully ignoring it in order to do something popular among their voters. Direct democracy makes this a bigger problem - it turns into tyranny of the majority and there is no check on what is popular (in Switzerland there are actually a lot of checks, but I'm talking more in general here about Athenian style direct democracy.)
Imagine a direct democracy in France once they have a majority Muslim population - you could start to watch the freedoms we take for granted in the West being rolled back one at a time. And it's not that their ideas are equally as good as our Western ideas - not all ideas are equal, and I think despite being obviously biased, it's true for me to say that many of our ideas are superior.
If you had a direct democracy in South Africa, they would take all property from the rich and redistribute it. The country would promptly fall apart like Venezuela and Zimbabawe where similar things happened. In Switzerland I think people understand the ramifications of doing, what on the surface, sounds like a good thing.
Representative democracy doesn't save us from this at all (the scenario in South Africa looked like it would come to pass, and they reversed course under international pressure) but it may curb some of the worst excesses of a direct democracy.
If you take two 25 year olds, and one spent 7 years in the university system learning 'book knowledge', and one spent 7 years in industry learning via an apprenticeship (this sort of situation is common in Switzerland), then who is really more knowledgeable? What even is knowledge? Is knowledge obtained only from professors, or from managers and supervisors on the job, or practical experience, or a blend of all of these?
There's a reason the most famous successful tech CEOs in the USA seem to be college dropouts.
Democracy by itself is not necessarily a stable institution. In the absence of a strong social commitment to rule of law and an effective and disciplined state, it doesn't work. The path that some societies took to get to this state did involve education, and in particular literacy, to a fair degree.
Africa is a mess due to western imperialism but failed democracy is a different topic than that: because most societies started off in some kind of mess, either in disarray, or in a state of tyranny. We don't have any examples of states going directly from tribal societies to functioning democracies with rule of law in one, peaceable step. Looking only at the west, it took centuries of violent conflict.
The same is true if social policy -- it's easy to look at the voting decisions of people without college degrees as "stupid" and "uninformed", but I would challenge you to think about how their actions are just as informed and reasoned as people in your demographic, they just come to a different conclusion because of their economic and cultural background. "Education" is often a proxy for race or class in political discussions. I would argue that policy (and engineering) is much more about values than knowledge -- is housing a human right? Is healthcare a human right? Should the United States acknowledge and repair the damages of slavery and systemic racism? Should we accept asylum seekers? Everyone may have compelling, reasoned arguments to these questions, but it is naive to say only college educated specialists have the correct ones.
However (ignoring the ad hominem), I don't agree with your second point that a more education citizen will not necessarily make better decisions than less educated ones. Obviously everyone will make decisions that benefit themselves, but only with Education can someone understand the ramifications of their decisions in a broader context. Many political situations have little-to-no effect on an individual in the short-term, so making a decision (since it's not based on personal gain) must be based on something else. I would argue that something would be an individual's understanding of the impact on society in general - an understanding that a "good education" is supposed to cultivate.
Ideological battle (which the GP comment was also practicing) is also unwelcome.
One of the reason why I think it didn't work out so well in poorest countries. I think they will need 10 to 20 years of Well placed Educational structure before Representative Democracy being used as a political system, and then hopefully moving to Direct Democracy.
One may argue that the very same system allowed for seemingly ‘insensitive’ or ‘misguided’ legislation. In my time there (2009-2014) a referendum allowed the Swiss to preclude minarets from being erected, while another referendum was voted against allowing the Swiss to freely smoke in public areas such as train stations (last I checked you can still smoke in the Zurich Hauptbahnhof platforms right up to entering your train).
Nonetheless, while I don't agree with some of the decisions made, democracy is literally about granting the citizenry the ability to rule themselves and IMHO this is how it should be. Granted, such a system may lead to bigoted decision-making but if that's what the people want it should be what they get.
Just have a look at the latest vote on EU ties.
They want to keep the economic benefits but to restrict foreign workers, except the EU is never going to accept that.
It's like the British, they want the cake and eat it too.
The people can have their dream and vote on whatever they want and express themselves, and that's great, but at some point someone has to go back to reality and make compromises.
I would argue it is the parliament job to transform the people's will into realistic laws.
At this point, the parliament could either water it down or go full Brexit. The latest vote just confirmed it took the "correct" decision by watering it down.
The EU bureaucracy's near-fanatical, unbending approach to what it wants doesn't make anything different "inconsistent", "a dream", "unrealistic" or "not reality". That's the sort of attitude that is inflaming serious anti-EU tensions across all of Europe and will eventually cause either the EU to crush European democracy itself, or the EU to collapse chaotically.
Indeed, the "watering down" you mention was a violation of the Swiss constitution and has led to quite serious political tensions, including a new referendum that's trying again to force the political class to actually implement referendums the EU doesn't like.
knock on wood
Rank Country Ethnic Fractionalization Index Cultural Diversity Index
63 Switzerland 0.575 0.418
85 United States 0.491 0.271
159 North Korea 0.002 0.002
Ethnic, Linguistic and Religious Fractionalization
Switzerland 0.531400 0.544100 0.608300
United States 0.490100 0.564700 0.824100
Korea, North 0.002000 0.002100 0.660400
Even in the supposedly mainstream culture, I have almost nothing in common with "Red Tribe" Americans. Just because we share a language, ethnic identity, and religious category does not mean we are homogenous by any means. I often have much more in common with people of a different ethnicity and religion than those statistics would indicate.
I don't know anything about language families native to Switzerland.
The census in Switzerland counts over 40 main languages spoken in Switzerland. 64% German.
In the US the census only counts 32 languages spoken at home. 70% English only.
Probably these are not comparable and this doesn't really prove anything.
> When's the last time Switzerland had a civil war
1847, but I don't understand how that's relevant.
> Is there a deeply ingrained bias against other Swiss depending only on how they look?
Sadly, yes. Immigrating and becoming Swiss is difficult, but it does happen. Swiss with a migration background suffer a higher rate of racial discrimination.
I don't know how this compares to the US.
A lot of these questions are extremely US-centric in worldview. I'll try and answer them anyway.
Firstly, how do you define 'indigenous group'? Switzerland is in central Europe, it wasn't colonised in recent times. There are a lot of people from all across Europe here, and in particular lots of immigrants from places like Turkey and the Balkans, i.e. Muslim. I don't know if they'd count or not.
Language families is again a vague term, but there are at minimum four: German, Italian, French and Romansch. However the reality is much more complex. German is only used in formal and written settings, the daily spoken language is a mishmash of what are euphemistically called "Swiss German dialects" but in reality are almost entirely different languages to German. German people cannot understand them, for example. Imagine trying to understand medieval English and you're in the right general area but 10x worse. These dialects also vary significantly across different cities. Oh, and of course English is both widely spoken and used in daily life due to the huge foreign population that has never got to grips with the chaotic language situation.
Switzerland had its last civil war in 1847, so roughly in the same time period as the USA did.
With respect to 'deeply ingrained bias based on only how they look', this is exceptionally US centric. There have been ethno-religious conflicts all over the world and throughout history between people who look identical. Just look at the history of the Troubles in Ireland, or the state of Africa. The USA is actually quite unusual in having such serious racial tensions based purely on skin colour. There's nothing special about Switzerland in not having those problems, it certainly doesn't make the society "homogenous".
Less than 60% of people in LA were born in the US. There are less whites (<30%) than hispanics (47%). There are also 10% asians, 10% blacks. On top of that, I can tell you that there are neighborhoods in Los Angeles where specific ethnicities are so concentrated that the street signs are largely or entirely in foreign languages. This is true for the following languages: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Armenian, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish.
Switzerland is like this but turned up a notch -- an hour's travel by train is usually enough to land in areas with mutually incomprehensible spoken languages, even when they are both nominally German.
This is this the reason that the Founders didn't pick it. It is mob rule. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-friedman/the-founding-...
The general concept of the Republic is that it balances the terrors that all other governments impose. Through the representatives, the people trained in statecraft, the passions of the masses should be calmed. It's the hardest to corrupt. It's the most likely to survive deaths. If you had a perfect king, giving him absolute power is a no-brainer. The trouble is a) that's near impossible, and b) when he dies how do prevent a non-perfect king from ruling absolutely?
We see this with budget deficits in California. Direct democracy allows ballot initiatives without the need to secure funding. The masses vote for wonderful, expensive things, but they don't say how to pay. The leaves the general budget scrambling for scraps to cover the cost.
Maybe when you ask people often what they want they become responsible (like in Switzerland) while if you never ask people what they think, the rare times where you'll ask them through referendum, they'll go for the extreme/expensive because they want to express how frustrated of not being listened to they are.
Perhaps experience with being consulted is why the Swiss appear relatively sanguine about a referendum vote to impose quotas on all immigration being creatively reinterpreted by its trade-prioritising government as just introducing job preferences for Swiss nationals in times of high unemployment and tightening residency permit criteria. That's certainly a course of action which would be expected to create much more unease in other parts of Europe; the furore over whether prioritising Single Market alignment in the UK's future relationship with the EU over an assumed preference for immigration restrictions that wasn't even on the relevant referendum ballot paper is a notable contrast. But I'd imagine there were aspects of the Swiss political psyche other than "maturity", "long term vision" or experience with referendums which made them relatively unenthusiastic about an impractically-high UBI proposal, high minimum holiday entitlement and supremacy of Swiss law over international law and relatively enthusiastic about banning minarets, allowing greater surveillance powers and [until remarkably recently in some cantons] restricting the franchise to men. Californians certainly don't have a particular shortage of referendums either.
There are a lot of things that are a problem with the way the US government is set up. 1) The Senate is a questionable insitution born out of a bad compromise with the size of colonies at the time. 2) Our average House Representive is representing 375,000 people. It should be much, much lower than that. 3) There are NO spending limits on political campaigns and that the US considers corporations as “people”. 4) Supreme Court judges have life terms. They should have longer terms than senators but not for life (15 years?). The people of a nation change, yet parties can push through politcally motivated or judges that strike down or uphold laws that maybe the population doesn’t want anymore! 5) It’s become almost impossible to change the constitution with Amendments due to only having two parties and the fall of bi-partisanship.
For a direct democracy you need a small population that is homogeneous in at least outlook if not in race. The countries that come closest to it are largely a single race.
I also think that republican forms of government collapse when you get 100+ million. The US has been straining for sometime to hold itself together. More and more people feel divided. If it wasn't for the inherent weakness to outside attack, I'd prefer to see the US divide into regional countries that are better able to manage themselves.
For example, a $15 hourly wage would bankrupt rural Florida. We hear more and more about that at a Congressional level. The same is true for most of the rural areas of the country. A better answer is for the States to move to minimum wages that fit their territories.
The US needs to change
Enough white votes, maybe, and trying to exclude people from the franchise is still a powerful strain in US politics.
> This is this the reason that the Founders didn't pick it. It is mob rule.
I can think of other reasons why a group of propertied males would think that government by a group of propertied males was optimal...
What I find particularly dumb about the US political system is that the founders consciously patterned many of its elements (mutually blocking institutions, vetoes, senators, indirect representation, unequal representation) directly after the Roman Republic, while being perfectly aware how THAT turned out (Increasing institutional gridlock, increasing reward for violating norms, escalating violence, eventually leading to 1500 years of monarchy).
> We see this with budget deficits in California.
Excellent! Now explain budget deficits in Kansas, or federal deficits in the US, for that matter.
Extremes in ideals. Kansas cut their tax base too much without cutting their spending accordingly. With the US most of its the process of taking on massive amounts of debt under a pseuodo-socialist/capitalist system of welfare programs. 80% of the US budget goes towards paying for welfare programs: medicare/medicaid, social security, and debt payments that came from mostly spending on the welfare programs. The Republicans never slash, or kill the programs. The democrats always expand them without correcting the tax issues. For example, when Obama had the majority of Congress, he did not seek to raise the cap on SS taxes past the existing 120-130k line where it is today. Increasing the line, while also limiting payouts to an income of 120k, would pay for the program. What I mean by this is that there should be no cap, but the system will only pay out a maximum regardless of how much you paid in.
Essentially both parties fail to observe the logical outcome of their philosophies. The Republicans are for a small government and a large military, which isn't really contradictory. The military is a specific power of the US government under the Constitution. The trouble with them is that they don't actually pursue the process of paring down the government. The Democrats are for large government. Their problem is they don't pursue the tax side the way they should. They need to increase taxes on the poor like the Scandinavian countries. In Finland, the average person pays 30-40% of their income to the State. They don't have a progressive tax system like we do. The Democrats don't pursue this. As a result, they go into debt.
A direct democracy doesn't protect against this. Look at recent Florida elections. There is less than a 1% difference between the gubernatorial candidates. Should the 49.9901 get ruled by the other side?
> Enough white votes, maybe, and trying to exclude people from the franchise is still a powerful strain in US politics.
The South didn't have, and knew it would only loose ground, to the Northern votes if it only leaned on its white population. The first industrial revolution was growing the North even in the early days of the Constitutional system. The South needed the white Democrats, at least the precursor, once the cotton gin was invented to support slavery. Before the gin, slave labor didn't help that much. Cotton was too expensive due to manual labor. With the gin, all those bails of cotton that usually rotted in the fields were useful and valuable as long as you had the labor to get them out in time. The northern bankers made the funding available to purchase the slaves and extend the cotton trade.
The founders were more afraid of direct democracy that led to the Athenians getting pushed to the sea when a demagogue rose to power due to sweet words. Again, unless you require a supermajority for all votes, direct democracy is easily swayed by political hacks like Colbert or Catiline.
What? Finland absolutely does have progressive taxation.
I'm not an expert on US taxation, but US is somewhat infamous for favoring wealthy at the expense of the poor. I'm unconvinced that increasing taxes on poor would improve that situation in the slightest.
The US is famous for supposedly favoring the rich. Half of the population pays no federal income. They may pay state taxes if the states collect tax and if the states don’t return based on income. It is possible for people to pay almost nothing, aside from SS and Medicare taxes in the US, while costing hundreds of thousands of dollars over their life. We call them welfare queens. 5 generations of people contributing nothing to the tax rolls, yet wasting fund to maintain them and allow them to procreate.
The bottom 40% of all tax payers cost the US $621. If they paid their cost, the US would take in an extra 48 billion each year. Those people would be contributing to the republic. While 48 billion is not, relative to the national tax a lot, it’s fair. It’s money that could go to paying debt.
To me, having a considerable part of citizenry receiving rather than contributing doesn't sound like a taxation issue, but rather income inequality issue. Having more equal income distribution would automatically mean more equal tax base. It's hard to achieve through legislation though, so the second best option seems to be a heavily progressive taxation. I think it could even be worth it to emphasize that even more -- perhaps to tax capital income like regular wages, and negative tax rates for the lowest income brackets to encourage working?
Finally, lots of Finnish citizens are obviously currently net receivers from the state. Unemployment, health problems, or troubled upbringing combined with strong safety nets do mean that there may be considerable costs to be borne by others. I know I'm one of the luckier ones, and very happy to pay taxes knowing they contribute to a fairer society where everyone has a realistic chance to go as far as their capabilities allow.
Oooh, there's another favorite argument of anti-democrats. Curiously, they have no problem whatsoever with 55% of the population being ruled by 45% under gerrymandered elections, or a winning candidate disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters.
> Again, unless you require a supermajority for all votes, direct democracy is easily swayed by political hacks like Colbert or Catiline.
While presidential democracy leads to the election of sober statesmen like [checks notes...] Trump?