Ripp-offs & Abzokerei

Right on time for the next Swiss poll, not on the State of the Union, but on a three items posited to be of national relevance, there comes a little juicy piece from the EU on the matter misused English: Agent Does Guide to EU-Speak. If nothing else, the piece expresses what gives me often great opportunity to scratch my head trying to figure out what on earth these peoples – the EU peoples – are writing about. Still, it is an interesting phenomenon which cannot be prevented: the tumultuous evolution of language in the tower of Babel at the Schuman Plaza. It does make me me wonder how we still manage to communicate.

Back on the ground, here in Switzerland, while the EU is talking to the USA about a free trade agreement, on the Swiss ballots we get to cast votes on family policy, rip-offs, and land-use regulation. In short, family, money and property. The trio ought to be relevant to all Swiss. I find myself apathetic at best, and definitively irritated.

My family is in my heart, not in some silly constitution paragraph that is not going to add any substance to the whole, if only the Swiss would get on with the times and implement more of what they have already signed up for at the international fora (aka international public law). Money in the style that Vasella extorts from Novartis is also something I cannot relate to, and again the Minder initiative is going to do nothing, but nothing, about putting an end to such moral abuses which are perfectly legal under national and contract law. Finally, when it comes to land-use regulation, my gut feeling is that the ‘no’ sayers – the usual suspects on the extreme right of not necessarily just one party, are fear mongers that do not want the new regulation for their very own private reasons.

But…

Frankly, this whole direct democracy exercise is starting to feel like one big ripp-off. The victim here is rationale. I have no expectation that the truth would show up in any argument. At best, people express opinions, expectations and outright lies. I am also tired of being rational in this whole debate. I feel that I am being ripped off by not being given straight information. At the end of the day I am left to reading the actual text of what it is that is being decided, and leaving the analysis for a post-mortem ex post exercise to those who earn their living producing such useless narratives. Dismissive as I may appear about political analysis, nothing fascinates me more because political action is what we – the social we – produce as a group, community, or nation.

The family article which adds no substance, and is not wrong in my view, cannot hurt. If one is to vote for it, it is only to send a signal that child welfare is important. Of course, I would prefer a much more radical revision of the law, and I would write the rights of children, and the rights of women using much different language. In my view, marriage itself is already a discrimination against children and women, but then I may never get a chance to do anything about this one other than in a few essays. Did I write that marriage is a discrimination against children and women? Yes, it is. It discriminates against single mothers, and it discriminates against single fathers. But, what the hell… this is the system that we have.

Vasella is one cool dude. Severance pay like that, that is indeed fantastic. Who would not like such severance pay? It is legal to make such a contract. The only question that remains is one of morals and ethics. Frankly, it reeks greed, but then the pharmaceutical industry is schizophrenic anyhow. Now, pharmaceuticals being a matter of public health, and public health being a public good that the government ought to create and protect, I think the failure is not just a market failure. It is the failure of the government to intervene where it has a mandate to intervene. It is not doing so, but keep posted. The ripp-off initiative may have its heart in the right place, but it would be totally ineffective about curbing the abuses. Cannot a blame a guy (Vasella, Minder) for trying, can you?

Land-use regulation. This is a no brainer. If I were a large land owner, I might have a problem with the proposed regulation. I am not a land owner.


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