I don’t pretend to be an expert on Swiss public policy. I have enough trouble keeping up with New Mexico, much less Washington. I had no idea before today that Switzerland had no legal minimum wage. So, a labor union attempted to have a referendum passed that would raise the nation’s minimum wage to $24.70 an hour. The move was widely-rejected by Swiss voters who defeated the mandated wage with an astonishing 76% of the vote.
According to the Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann who would undoubtedly not be welcome in the Obama Administration, “A fixed salary has never been a good way to fight the problem.”
Minister Schneider continued, “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.”
Interestingly enough, despite having NO minimum wage, the article notes that the Swiss median income is a robust $37 an hour. This compares rather favorably to the US where minimum wages are rampant and the median wage is $16.71 an hour.
What’s the secret to Switzerland’s success? For starters, I’m sure they have a highly-skilled population which makes their GDP quite high. The country is also among the most economically-free in the world.
The notably non-interventionist Swiss also, in the same election, rejected the government’s proposed purchase of 22 new jet fighters, so there is clearly an impulse among the Swiss for fiscal restraint and limited government. Unfortunately, in the US, we spend massive amounts on incredibly-costly fighter jets of questionable benefit while the economically-illiterate promote a $15 an hour minimum wage.
One might call these tandem Swiss votes (rejecting both voodoo economics and military spending) rather “libertarian” in nature.