Swiss voters reject proposal for world’s highest minimum wage

Very interesting news from Switzerland:

GENEVA (AP) — Worried about upsetting Switzerland’s strong economy or driving its high costs even higher, more than three-quarters of Swiss voters rejected a plan Sunday to create the world’s highest minimum wage and slightly more than half spurned a request to outfit the Swiss Air Force with 22 new fighter jets.

A tally by Swiss TV showed that with votes counted in all 26 of the Alpine nation’s cantons (states), the Swiss trade union’s idea of making the minimum wage 22 Swiss francs ($24.70) per hour fell flat by a vote of 76.3 percent opposed and 23.7 percent in favor.

… At a news conference in the Swiss capital Bern, members of the Federal Council of seven ministers, which includes the president, confirmed the vote results. They welcomed the decision on the minimum wage proposal. Trade unions had proposed it as a way of fighting poverty in a country that, by some measures, features the world’s highest prices and most expensive cities.

But opinion polls had indicated that most voters sided with the council and business leaders, who argued it would cost jobs and erode economic competitiveness, driving Switzerland’s high costs even higher.

“A fixed salary has never been a good way to fight the problem,” Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said in Bern.

“If the initiative had been accepted, it would have led to workplace losses, especially in rural areas where less qualified people have a harder time finding jobs,” he said. “The best remedy against poverty is work.”

The proposal would have eclipsed the existing highest minimum wages in force elsewhere in Europe. Switzerland has no minimum wage, but the median hourly wage is about 33 francs ($37) an hour.

And this past November, Swiss voters rejected, by a 66/33 margin, a proposal to limit the salaries of chief executives to 12x what their lowest employees make.  So much for “equality.”

Are the Swiss people really some kind of dangerous combination of stupid and greedy, or do they have a bit more understanding about economics than garden-variety American progressives?



Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™
Clinton In-Law Loses Election BIG
  • jim_m

    Proof that not every country is full of idiots.

  • Paul Hooson

    I also thought that this a very interesting election. Normally, a minimum wage hike would be very popular, but apparently most voters felt they were compensated fairly and live comfortable enough to reject this inflationary proposal. – But, the standard of living is far different in other parts of the world, for example you can survive and live, but not very well, on $20 a month in Cuba. And in China, where many workers earn a little over $2.00 a hour and living expenses are generally much cheaper than in the U.S., many Chinese are better off than American minimum wage workers who are saddled with high rent, high energy prices, high food prices, etc.

    • jim_m

      Or maybe everyone figured out that massive across the board wage increases meant increased inflation, loss of jobs, and no real benefit to anyone except the unions and politicians.

      Maybe they also figured out that the goal is not to make the minimum wage something that everyone gets paid, but to create incentives for people to work and advance in their careers. Minimum wage is to prevent employers from exploiting workers not to be the wage that everyone can live the middle class dream on.

      I don’t understand the left and their fascination with increasing the min wage. Economically it is a loser. People should not be satisfied with the min wage. Increasing it to the equivalent of a middle class income is counter productive.

      • Paul Hooson

        It had to be evidence that most Swiss don’t struggle to pay their rent, pay bills, pay for child care. etc,, like many American workers do. Swiss voters wages must have been high enough to provide a comfortable existence rather than struggle like many Americans, who’s salaries fall so short they seek public services like Food Stamps, Housing Assistance, etc.

        • jim_m

          Poverty is not nonexistent in Switzerland, but they deal with it locally rather than at the federal level.

          SWITZERLAND is not often thought of when we discuss the welfare state. In many respects it is not a welfare state. There is, for example, no national health service and most of the population is covered by voluntary health insurance. There is also no central program to provide a minimum guaranteed income for all of the population (other than for the aged and infirm) as found in England, Norway, and Sweden. Unlike the major European welfare states, the Swiss federal government defers in much greater measure to local autonomy. But in one critical respect it has achieved what the United States and European nations traditionally defined as welfare states have not: It has all but eliminated “welfare dependency,” or intergenerational poverty, and it has done this in a strikingly different manner than other developed societies.

          Take a look at this article from the Spectator, UK. Employment is better beause you can fire unproductive workers. Welfare is handled locally and fathers are made to pay for child support and families are made to help their members. Rather than ignore your own responsibility the local government makes you take responsibility.

          This is the opposite of the leftist model where people are not responsible for anything and the central government provides a one size fits all, wasteful program that traps people in poverty.

          The Swiss voted down the min wage hike, not because they are rich but because they are responsible for their own lives. Something the left finds completely alien to their thinking. I doubt most leftists could comprehend people being responsible for their own lives.

          • Paul Hooson

            The responsible thing about Switzerland is that the business community appears to pay living wages to the workers, which reduces the tax burden on the public to support the poor with social services. In the U.S., many companies like WalMart operate by paying wages below what it costs the average worker to live, passing their own costs of doing business off on the average taxpayer to make up for their short wages by paying for Food Stamp, public health care, public housing or other costs that their wage structure does not cover. Companies like this fight higher minimum wage legislation claiming that they cannot make a profit, meaning that some companies only exist like this if they can make the taxpayer pick up much of their own costs of doing business. How to remedy this is difficult. But, many American workers work for wages much lower than their counterparts in Europe who are paid much more for doing the same sort of work. Some companies like BMW pay their South Carolina assemply plant workers in this right to work state 1/3 to 1/2 what any German worker would be paid for the same assembly work for example.

          • jim_m

            Wrong again idiot. The government forces the family to take responsibility for their members. You are making an assumption for which you have provided no support. You are assuming that everyone in Switzerland is rich and that there is no poverty or need in that country. I am telling you and providing you links that say that there is hardship but that they deal with it by putting the responsibility on the individual rather than creating parasites like we do.

          • Paul Hooson

            There’s many reasons for poverty, and some American companies that pay wages below the cost of doing business contribute to the high taxes we pay. The Republican Party seems to promote a contradictory platform of opposing living wage hikes as well wanting to lower business taxes, plus doesn’t offer any realistic plans to elevate the working poor other than proposing benefit cuts. – I’m in favor of reducing business taxes, but the workers also need to earn enough money that they are active consumers in the marketplace as well, and a working class living below the poverty line might benefit WalMart when it comes to wages, but hurts the same company when it comes to consumer spending at their business. – Capitalism is the best economic system, but there needs to be a number of moving parts working in the same direction to make it successful.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            And how much do you pay your strippers? Oh, that’s right, they’re independent contractors. No wages, etc.
            [EDIT] If fact, didn’t you once comment here that your strippers pay you? Don’t they “rent” the space on the stage and the pole from you?

          • jim_m

            like prostitutes paying a pimp.

          • jim_m

            Are you really that fucking stupid? Are you really suggesting that OTHER people are so stupid that they are content to remain in some low paying job and NEVER look to advance themselves?

            min wage jobs are low skill, entry level positions that are not meant as lifetime careers. You and idiots like CHico and Bruce want to turn these positions into lifetime careers.

            How many people do you know that aspire to a career as restaurant bus boys? (I mean apart from you and Bruce?)

            What an incredible dumbass you are to propose that people be able to live and support a family off of a job that rightly should be going to some high school kid. The reason that teenagers can’t get jobs anymore is because we keep raising the min wage and kids with no experience and no skills can’t compete to get the few jobs remaining.

            And you’re right, capitalism is the best system, quit screwing it up with your commie social engineering.

  • Walter_Cronanty

    A potted plant has “a bit more understanding about economics than garden-variety American progressives.”

    Any prognostication on the outcome of Illinois’ non-binding referendum on the extra 3% income tax on those making more than $1m? With Illinois’ sterling record of tax and spend prosperity, I don’t see how it can lose. So, I guess the real question is: what state will the businessmen/women move their businesses to?,0,4079619.story

    • jim_m

      It’s non-binding so Madigan and his corrupt friends in the Illinois General Assembly will do whatever they please and tell the public to F off.

      • Walter_Cronanty

        I think it’s just cover for the Ds to raise the taxes when their class envy propaganda begins burning the successful at the stake. They can just say: “The people have spoken.”

  • LiberalNightmare

    The unions made a huge mistake on this one. They allowed too many taxpayers to vote.

  • Commander_Chico

    I don’t know about the economy of Switzerland, the voters made a judgment that the added value of labor for producing goods and services could not sustain a minimum wage of $25 per hour. Sure seemed high to me.

    Ron Unz has made the conservative case for raising the minimum wage:

    There is not much question that falling wages for the middle class and below are a problem. The question is, what kind of society do you want to have? There are not many jobs for below average people anymore that pay much more than minimum wage. These are the service jobs, cleaning and restaurant work. High wage, high value added repetitive factory work for stupid people has moved outside the USA, where corporations can pay 5 cents an hour. If half the people can’t earn a living wage, what happens?

    • Paul Hooson

      A living wage is certainly required to be paid by businesses to maintain a strong consumer market in the economy as well to provide taxpayers some relief from excessive taxation from corporations like WalMart that pay workers wages below their cost of doing business and unfairly shift their business costs onto taxpayers to provide a basic living to these underpaid WalMart employees.

      • Walter_Cronanty

        The idea of a “living wage” for WalMart clerks is idiocy. If the unskilled worker doing work that customers could literally do themselves make a “living wage”, then prices go up to cover the cost. Then guess what happens. The “living wage” is no longer a “living wage” because the cost of goods has gone up.

        • Commander_Chico

          In many cases, companies are forcing customers to do work they used to do, example self-checkout lanes. I never use them.

          • Vagabond661

            Do you pump your own gas?

          • jim_m

            There you go. Idiots should all move to New Jersey where it is illegal to pump your own gas. That way there is always some job available.

          • Commander_Chico

            Only when I have to, I’ll go full service when I can. Good example of a lot of jobs eliminated.

    • jim_m

      Wow. I guess I never expected to be in the same bus boy job I had as a summer job when I was a teen. I never realized how atypical I was that I aspired to have something more than a no skill position and that I expected to advance in a career.

      I never realized how atypical I was when I worked two jobs for years to make ends meet. I suppose that I should have been expecting a hand out like our parasite friend above.

      Min wage jobs are entry level positions and not careers. You may have had a different experience, Chico, being a no skill moron seeking a government handout, but the rest of the nation aspires to something more. The American dream that you and your lefty friends loathe so much is about people working hard and climbing the career ladder. No one but you expects or plans to be in the same low skill job that they ad during summer vacation as a kid.

      But getting to your graph: I will first note that inflation has been at historically low levels for most of that graph timeline so the need for wages to grow has been historically low. Wage growth is a trailing indicator of inflation. I would further note that the graph is still in the positive side for the most part meaning that wages are growing and when it does go negative that correlates to the housing collapse and the recession.

      So your graph doesn’t really show the disaster you think it does. You’re still a moron.

      • Commander_Chico

        I give you full credit for being above average and able to rise into the levels of management.

        So there are good jobs for people with 110 IQs, yes.

        I stipulate that IQ is an inadequate measurement of a person’s talents, but it does correlate to successful performance in the kind of analytical skills needed in the managerial/ technical/ bureaucratic workplace.

        So, what about the 90 IQ guy? What’s he going to do? He’s not going to be an engineer, or a MBA, or a lawyer. I’ve met too many ad-hoc “tradesmen” who can’t wire a circuit or repair a drainpipe to say that you don’t need brains to do that. A good mechanic / electrician / plumber /carpenter has to be a really smart dude.

        These guys used to have factory jobs, full time jobs as janitors, street cleaners. All those jobs are shipped overseas or cut up into part time jobs with no benefits at minimum wage.

        There are only a few government and union construction jobs left for the below average.

        • jim_m

          Below average people get below average jobs. Not everyone can be a CEO. The jobs you list are still available, Some carpentry jobs require intelligence. Not all. I know some that are smart and they end up being the guys who do the more complex or sensitive work, (stairs, finish carpentry, etc).

          There will always be people that are below average. That does not mean that we need to compensate them for their insufficiency.

          • Commander_Chico

            “That dies not mean that we need to compensate them for their insufficiency.” How Christian of you.

            I did not know you were a Social Darwinist.

            People that are willing to work hard in any station should be able to earn a living wage – e.g. rent an apartment and have food and the minimum amenities.

          • jim_m

            I’m a realist. And yes, God did not declare that all outcomes should be equal. Obviously, if some people are going to Hell and some are going to Heaven the outcomes are not equal.

            I agree that people that are willing to work hard deserve to earn a living wage. I just don’t think that we need to artificially make that happen. What raising the min wage does is provide the excuse for lazy asses like you to freeload off of people who actually produce.

            Again your argument is full of bogus assumptions like the idea that people cannot change jobs or that they will never advance in a position (even stupid people can advance if they apply themselves). Jobs will pay what it takes to get people to take them. If people can find better paying jobs then they will do so. Not everyone is a lazy parasite like you, seeking some freeloading position where they don’t ever have to do anything.

  • ackwired

    Interesting that they have a referendum to approve military spending. Meanwhile our congress passes a military budget forcing the military to spend more than they requested on programs that they don’t want.

    • jim_m

      The House was initially meant to be in a proportion to the population where people could actually know their congressman. One of the biggest mistakes ever made was capping the House at 435 members (essentially done so they didn’t have to build a new building). Now the federal government is far removed form the people and congressman are unknown to the people.

      Make the government responsive to the people and you don’t have the problems we have today,

      • Vagabond661

        And term limits.

      • ackwired

        Yes, it is obviously broken. Of course, they are put there by our votes. So the ultimate responsibility is ours. They just do what needs to be done to get votes in their district. We have to change before we can expect them to.