Swiss travel notes

Switzerland has taken in a high portion of foreign-borns, yet without losing its identity or sense of order.  Over 24 percent of the population is foreign-born, noting that almost half come from France, Germany, Italy, or Portugal.  The country recently imposed restrictions on migrants from Romania and Bulgaria.

German as a second language in Switzerland is declining, as the migrant workers in the service sector do not command it with much fluency if at all.  In Lugano, for instance, English now seems to be of more value.

In so many parts of the country unemployment is below two percent, with a national average of 3.3 percent.  And the Swiss manage this with an “overvalued” exchange rate, at least by purchasing power parity standards.  It is worth pondering how this is possible.

Probably the Swiss have never seen a better time.  Their countryside is gorgeous and intact, and their major cities are creative and flourishing, yet many Swiss remain deeply unhappy about inward migration.

The Swiss are no “snowflakes;” they impose and enforce stiff penalties on those who don’t meet the insurance mandate, and they are on the verge of deporting an ethnically Spanish man who was born and raised in Switzerland, and who never has lived in Spain, for his repeated criminal offenses.  Furthermore “Voters in Bern on Sunday rejected a proposed 105 million franc funding boost to help asylum seekers in the canton, primarily unaccompanied minors.”

It is striking how much the theory of comparative advantage has operated on Switzerland over the last thirty years, as the country has moved to a true economic integration with the EU.

I see Swiss cuisine as declining in relative value, as quality ingredients have spread to many other countries, including the United States (and Ireland!), but Swiss cooking has grown only marginally more imaginative.  And food prices here can be 2x or more typical developed country levels.

Bern feels much freer and less provincial than it did thirty years ago, the last time I visited.  Living here now seems imaginable.  And in Bern you still can see a working public phone booth.  Nor, from casual observation, do people here seem as cell-phone obsessed as their American demographic contemporaries.

As for Lugano, nothing seems to happen there.

Switzerland, an extreme country, and an extremely successful country, is always worth pondering.  And visiting, even at 2x prices for the food.


Switzerland vs. Sweden would seem to be a natural comparison.

Why? These are two extremely different countries with extremely different histories.

They both start with SW so it's a natural comparison. Swaziland and Switzerland would also be an enlightening comparison.

So acceptable comparison, or not? One wonders about the guidelines involved.

According to this article, not only do Sweden and Switzerland find that foreigners get them confused, but so do the Danes and the Dutch. Slovenia and Slovakia have it the worst, and recently hosted an event to help people tell the difference.

There's also those countries whose names I can never keep straight, Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo or whatever their names are.

Both Sweden and Switzerland are long-standing neutral nations.

The Swiss are fully armed and fully free. Sweden not.

If reported (it's not), we would learn that the incidences of hajji gang-rapes are higher in Sweden than Switzerland. What Is the limiting factor in the low rate of hajji gang-rapes of Swiss women?

If you knew about the jihad what intel professionals know, you wouldn't leave home unarmed.

"If you knew about the jihad what intel professionals know, you wouldn’t leave home unarmed."

OK, then.

In 33 of America's 57 states (Obama's count), it is legal to concealed carry. In the other 17, only criminals, hajjis, and the dysfunctional political class' bodyguards and secret police are armed.

Which has nothing to do with jihad. An American is much more likely to be killed by a mere mugger or his wife (the hypotetical American's wife, not the mugger's) or a work colleague than by a jihadist. America is the most violent rich country.

You need some Noah.

Noah starts nice then gets predictably shitty. "Much of the left fears that Republicans secretly identify with guys like the Portland stabber"

He thinks they identify with a Bernie/Stein follower? Liberals always project.

What he is trying to say in points 6 and 7 is that polarized people see things in a polarized way. Obviously.

But if I were to pull one thread out of the whole tweet stream, it would be that each of us, in forums like this should stand for decency, and not craziness.

A little "light craziness" on the internet to annoy "the other side" is not helpful. And in the worst case there is an actual crazy out there listening, empowered by it.

You prove Noah's point. I don't know how the suspect in this murder voted but there is footage of him draped in an American flag and giving the Nazi salute (a rather bizarre and foolish combination of gestures, to be sure) at a protest of some sort. Noah isn't endorsing the theory he ascribes to "the left" and I suspect we will simply have wait a while to learn what combination of factors such as mental illness, substance abuse and ideology led to this crime.

In general I think immigrants should learn the language of their new country (if only for their own benefit), but Schweizerdeutsch is a step too far.

It is a beautiful language. Imagine how much better every Northern band not called Abba would be if Perry Como were the vocalist.

"Switzerland, an extreme country, and an extremely successful country, is always worth pondering."

At some point can economists and political scientists stop calling tiny Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc "countries" for comparisons? Wisconsin and Minnesota are also extremely successful "countries" with a combined population equal to Sweden and Switzerland with the exact same GDP per capita. What a shock...

About half of all sovereign countries in the world have populations smaller than that of Sweden. The idea that it doesn't qualify as a real country worthy of analysis is just silly. The United States is the outlier, not Switzerland or Sweden.

I know, it's so unfair. Americas problems are all because she's so big. Not because, for instance, she's got a dysfunctional Constitution and an amazingly corrupt ruling class.

Agree on the disastrous ruling class. America dodged a yuge bullet in November when the madwoman of Chappaqua lost her rigged election.

Not so much on the "dysfunctional" Constitution. It's not perfect, but the totalitarian/SJW elites and their fake judges have substituted Big Brother, "feelings" and the "progressive narrative" for the Constitution.

Ageed. The Constitution is fine, if we'd try to follow it.

Agreed. The Constitution is fine, if we'd try to follow it.

Not so much on the “dysfunctional” Constitution. It’s not perfect, but the totalitarian/SJW elites and their fake judges have substituted Big Brother, “feelings” and the “progressive narrative” for the Constitution.

Was this "light craziness" to annoy the "other side," or are you actually that far gone?

The U.S. Constitution is a well-oiled machine compared to the EU, which is a more apt comparison and is as dysfunctional as the old Articles of Confederation.

Perhaps Sweden and Switzerland are the gold standards which makes a believe in the survival of the EU an overvalued socialist - globalist dream.
Shouldn't then the EU disassemble into nothing more than a free market and travel zone?

The EU is a free market/free movement zone. That is what is has been assembled to be and therefore cannot be disasembled into. Switzerland, thanks to the so-called bilateral agreements, is very much a part of that free market/free movement zone. Also, too: Switzerland has universal health care and free access to tertiary education. The two top technical universities at Zurich and Lausanne are in the top ten and top twenty of the Shanghai rankings, for whatever that is worth. The number per capita of world-class universities in Switzerland, as per those rankings, is about eight times higher than in the US. Switzerland also has the densest and most efficient public transportation system in the world, safe perhaps for Japan. And all of this is paid for with taxpayer money, with middle-class tax rates consistently lower than in the US, partly because communities have the authority to set tax rates and compete for taxpayers by lowering rates as much as possible. This leads, among other things, to highly efficient public administration and public services. Setting tax rates at the community level and devolving tax authority to communities is the essence of democracy, as Tocqueville noted. That said, few countries in the world illustrate the profound evils of big government and rampant socialism better than Switzerland.

Switzerland's "universal healthcare" is not free, is not single payer is not tied to employment. Premiums are not cheap and subsidies are only given to those that really need them. I hear this and other claims all the time, people comfusing Switzerland with other countries I guess. It is the most libertarian country at this point and most people that bring it up to push for socialist agendas have no clue.

They may be countries, but using them for the basis of comparisons to the U.S. is highly problematic.

You are so right. Visited Prague. 10 million (approximate!) Czech people who support Czech TV, movies, culture. They are more of an economy in many ways than any US state. There is so much that is only there plus dealing with the rest of the world/EU.
Small countries matter. If the world became US/China/EURussia/Aussieland/SA/Africa it would be less creative, interesting and less diverse. The Czechs and Hungarians, Slovaks and Croats have unique historic and cultural factors that may lead them to develop the Next Big Thing, or not. Those Danes rock, too. The cultural diversity of Europe is a strength that I hope the EU does not diminish.

The per-capita income of Switzerland, as per 2016, is roughly double that of Wisconsin.

Legal a materia, concreto usinado aqui em são paulo.

"In so many parts of the country unemployment is below two percent, with a national average of 3.3 percent. And the Swiss manage this with an 'overvalued' exchange rate, at least by purchasing power parity standards. It is worth pondering how this is possible."

How much labor flexibility do Swiss labor laws allow?

A lot. Anyone can be fired at anytime without reason.

I'm somewhat surprised - Arbeitsverträge aren't used? Being fired for cause is one thing (stealing at work, for a good example), but I am surprised that a normal Swiss worker has no contract with at least a Kundigungsfrist. Switzerland isn't Germany obviously, and it is not in the EU either, but I find it difficult to believe that American at will style employment is common. Here is a link - - 'At-will employment is a term used in U.S. labor law for contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason (that is, without having to establish "just cause" for termination), and without warning.' In other words, losing their job in the time it says the employer to say they no longer work there.

Kündigungsfrist is typically 3 months but individual contracts can differ quite a bit.

But you can lay off people without much limitations if you account for Kündigungsfrist.

In the U.S., in the at will states, the Kündigungsfrist is essentially long enough for your employer to say you don't worj there any longer.

At the same time employees are guaranteed at least four weeks paid vacation (and five weeks for people under 20!) Women may not work for at least 8 weeks after childbirth (by law), and they are entitled to at least 14 weeks off for maternity, typically paid, but it does depend on how long they were in the job. No minimum wage, but the country is heavily unionized, with lots of collective bargaining.

'And food prices here can be 2x or more typical developed country levels.'

And yet just a few lines above, you write 'an “overvalued” exchange rate, at least by purchasing power parity standards'. Almost as if there could be a connection. And it is not just by purchasing parity terms, as this web site should know in terms of economic discussion - and for example.

Food prices are relative, say to room rates, fuel, the things Tyler pays for when traveling.

What Tyler does not understand is this is what makes Switzerland more homogeneous even though it's immigrant population is so high. Immigrants are not the underclass providing cheap food like they are in the US, struggling to move into the middle class by "taking jobs away from" middle class native born.

Tyler believes everyone must be paid less, except himself. After all, making food cost twice as much requires workers get paid half as much. Tyler is not going to buy three times as much food in Switzerland if food prices there are cut in half on his next visit.

It is very rare to find any good or service where the producers benefit from lower prices. What is the benefit of the drastically lower prices of clothes? People buying clothes to wear for a week, then to sit in closets for several months or years, then to be dumped in goodwill, salvation army, or donated clothes profiteers?? Cheap clothes only marginally increases the number of clothes sold, while cutting the payment of labor costs far more, so the net effect of cheap clothing is impoverished workers. Cheap food, impoverished workers. Cheap clothing, impoverished workers, cheap electronics, impoverished workers, ...

Tyler can't understand why there is so much "complacency" and not more innovation to create even more impoverished workers.

Why doesn't Tyler impoverish academics and intellectuals so his income is cut to $40,000 a year, and he needs to pack a tent when traveling to speak because it is way too wasteful for a $40,000 a year income worker to have $50,000 in travel expenses simply because he's on the road 300 days a year.

"Tyler believes everyone must be paid less, except himself."

I know, right? He's always saying just that.

It is an impressive country, one that has been able to maintain its high civilisation and extraordinary economic success through troubled times. I have visited Basel and Zurich at leat once a year during the last six years and enjoyed both, especially Zurich where the modern art musueum is an outstanding example of what can be achieved in terms of renovating an existing structure. The food is extraordinary, both in the sense of the quality of the local cuisine, and the high prices for a simple bowl of noodles. You don't get value for money for th Asian food, unless it's haute cuisine, but I am not complaining. I saw a large number of Asian immigrants, many from Thailand, none could speak English but many were conversing in German. For a business traveller the trouble comes if you arrive at the weekend and need a suit to be pressed, but even this is improving.

Basel ain't much, but Lugano rocks as a pleasant place, but the real estate is beyond Silicon Valley or Manhattan. Where do "average" Swiss live? Is everyone rich off of Nazi loot? (half joking)
Seems to be a crazy place, not rational, unless the residents have wealth already and let successful Italians buy in at inflated price?

'Low-IQ migrants from the Middle East and Africa.'

Really? Here is some German analysis from 2014 about the Swiss attempt to limit immigration - from the EU, that is. 'How is this possible? One important reason is the contradictory self-image of the Swiss. Switzerland views itself as a nation forged by the will of the people -- a community that decided to come together and create a state. The truth is precisely the opposite -- the Swiss state wasn't forged by will. Switzerland's regions haven't come together because it is their inner-most wish to do so. The reasoning is more profane. The German-language areas don't want to belong to Germany, the Suisse romande don't want to be a part of France and the Ticinesi don't want to become part of Italy. Instead, they are Swiss.

But an identity built on the rejection of an alternative has its weaknesses. Ever since the charisma associated with William Tell and the Old Swiss Confederacy faded, the mythological underpinnings of oft-evoked Swiss exceptionalism have vanished. The only thing remaining to substitute for a national identify is prosperity. Being richer than those surrounding you -- it's still something.

But there's a flipside: Those who have a lot also have a lot to lose. And the prospect of having to share the francs that have piled up with immigrants can quickly spiral into existential angst. To exaggerate just a little: There wouldn't be much left in being Swiss if the country's standard of living were to regress to that of the Germans or, God forbid, the French or the Italians.

Of course, no one would dare to say that openly. Instead they use what they allege to be rational arguments, like trains that are too full, urban sprawl or congested motorways. Even liberal voters are susceptible to these kinds of the-boat-is-full slogans. The Swiss have even come up with their own politically correct term for the apparent woes caused by mass migration: Dichtestress, or "crowding stress" -- a term used in biology to describe the stress effects on animals of overcrowding. What the Swiss really mean is that they are afraid of change.

Ironically, the rural areas where many of the "yes" voters on the SVP initiative originated -- particularly in the German-speaking part of the country -- are the least effected by immigration. Residents of the large cities, by contrast, where local trains and trams might actually get a little full sometimes, largely rejected the initiative.'

It's weird how the above is considered intellectually sophisticated.

Maybe if you read it in the original German, it would help. Likely it would help even more if you actually knew any Germans working in Switzerland currently, or any Swiss working in Germany.

Of course, the fact he is Swiss just lends to his lack of intellectual credibility in American eyes, undoubtedly - 'David Nauer (geb. 1977) hat an der Universität Zürich Geschichte und Russische Literatur studiert. Er arbeitete als Lokaljournalist und für eine Presseagentur. Von 2006 - 2009 berichtete er für den Tages-Anzeiger aus Moskau sowie zeitweise aus Afghanistan. Im Herbst 2009 wechselte er nach Berlin, wo er seither über deutsche Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft schreibt.'

However, if you wish to claim that some Swiss reporter knows too little about his country, being so much less 'intellectually sophisticated.' than Steve Sailer, I doubt that Nauer would consider that an insult.

I believe Sailer has Swiss ancestry.

Isn't Steve Sailer adopted? If so is his "ancestry" the ethnicity of his bio-parents or is it his adoptive parents?

It sounds just as fatuous in the original German to me. Why do you think otherwise?

The job of the German government is protecting the German people. Making sure German girls are not raped for instance. That Merkel wants to abandon this because of her feelings is facile.

It's hard to see any rationale behind Merkel's folly except the foolish notion that all immigrants are interchangeable. Short of (say) Hong Kong Chinese? Good, admit some Afghans and Libyans. Be sure to call them "Syrians" and make no comment on the fact that these "refugees" are overwhelmingly men of military age. Has Merkel never seen photographs of what genuine columns of refugees look like? You'd think 20th century European history provided lots of examples.

You do know that the article was written by a Swiss person concerning Swiss policy, right?

Now whether one considers the Swiss capable of being scintillating to the exacting terms of someone like Sailer is an interesting question. And since the comment I was responding to is no longer available, the point is that the Swiss were responding to EU immigrants, such as German, French, and Italian citizens, not those out of the Middle East.

'That Merkel wants to abandon this because of her feelings is facile.'

Merkel has no desire to abandon the principles of free movement for EU citizens within the EU, which is what that Swiss vote was about. Some Swiss feel themselves being overrun by people almost, but not precisely, the same as themselves. Especially in those areas with the least experience of foreigners - you know, like those that speak German or French or Italian.

'You’d think 20th century European history provided lots of examples.'

It most certainly does. Let us take the Ukraine, roughly 1942. There, a young Ukrainian interested in freeing the Ukraine from the yoke of a totalitarian oppressor had the (non)choice of fighting for either Hitler or Stalin. Somehow, history looks a bit different when one could think that ISIS and Assad are (very roughly, though still adequately) comparable to those two mentioned historical figures. Of course, in this modern chapter, the Kurds are opposed to each side, and each side is happy to hunt down the Kurds.

Prior, you realize Switzerland isn't part of the EU, right?

You mean where I wrote above, regarding employment contracts - 'Switzerland isn’t Germany obviously, and it is not in the EU either.'

However, Switzerland has to follow EU many rules to access the Common Market, and that most definitely includes the freedom of movement.

As noted, I live in Baden, which just happens to border Switzerland. The 2014 referendum was also regional news, so to speak, here. Lots of people that work in Basel live in Germany or France, after all.

I don't see you adding anything to the conversation.

Sorry, but this is anti-Swiss garbage. Basically any successful nation-building began with a rejection of some powerful other. Americans are those very diverse people in North America who didn't want to be British any more, and the Roman republic was born when the Roman didn't accept to be under Etruscan rules anymore, etc. Switzerland is one of the most democratic nation on the earth and this has always provoked hate from people like you.

I hate Switzerland? Really? From quoting an article written by a Swiss journalist concerning the Swiss vote to stop immigration by EU citizens, which was the main point of what was actually a response to a long removed comment.

And just as note, I live in Baden, and it isn't as if Switzerland is some distant exotic country. Admittedly, how Swiss Basel might be considered is not the sort of question I can answer.

So the Swiss don't want immigration because they don't want their standard of living to regress, but they need to couch it in "rational" language. What's irrational about not wanting your standard of living to regress?

Actually, you might have missed that whole 'Dichtestress' point. Basically, the Swiss living in places without many foreigners - you know, people who speak Germans like Germans or French like the French - find that they are being overrun. Oddly, though, in places where lots of non-Swiss Europeans live, Dichtestress does not seem to play a role. To use a German term (and yes, Switzerland is neither Germany nor in the EU), the Swiss are saying the boat is full, and that it is time to get rid of all those EU citizens clogging up Switzerland's purity of essence.

Too many read American style political debates into everywhere else (and apparently think Merkel runs all of Europe). The Swiss were mainly voting in 2014 against EU citizens living and working in Switzerland. You may also notice that it turns out access to the Common Market was more important than restricting EU workers - 'Switzerland has rejected imposing quotas on EU workers in a bid to preserve its close economic ties with the bloc, opting instead to try to curb immigration by giving residents priority in new job vacancies.

Parliament voted to pass a compromise immigration law, marking a significant climbdown which the country hopes will allow it continued enhanced access to the EU’s single market following a 2014 referendum vote to cap EU immigration.

In a standoff with close parallels to Britain’s situation after the Brexit vote, Brussels had refused to budge from its stance that any attempt to restrict free movement by caps or quotas would automatically exclude Switzerland from the single market.

A quarter of Switzerland’s population – about 2 million people – are foreigners, including 1.4 million EU citizens, with 365,000 more commuting in daily from neighbouring EU countries France, Germany and Italy.'

"Basically, the Swiss living in places without many foreigners – you know, people who speak Germans like Germans or French like the French – find that they are being overrun."

Or maybe the places with lots of foreigners have foreigners who vote for more foreigners. In any case, Canton-level analysis is pretty meaningless. If it's anything like America, there will be many who congratulate themselves for living in "diverse" areas when in fact the "diversity" is twenty miles away, close enough to be part of the same county but not close enough to affect the property values or schooling.

'Or maybe the places with lots of foreigners have foreigners who vote for more foreigners.'

I'm confident that the Swiss are just like the U.S. in this area - essentially zero of the ca. 1.4 million EU citizens living in Switzerland then voted in the 2014 Swiss referendum.

'In any case, Canton-level analysis is pretty meaningless.'

Except that Switzerland, broadly speaking, is actually run at the canton level. For example, it is the canton/municipality that decides whether to grant Swiss citizenship -
'The State Secretariat for Migration will then “green light” an applicant’s request to begin the naturalisation process but that does not mean citizenship is certain. Rather, cantons and municipalities have their own requirements that must be met.


Naturalisation procedures vary considerably from one commune or canton to another: some communes, for instance, require applicants to take a verbal or written naturalisation test while others leave the naturalisation decision up to the communal assembly. The duration of the procedure also varies considerably from one canton to another.' That's right, Swiss citizenship is a local affair, in the end.

'If it’s anything like America'

Switzerland is not like America. It really isn't all that much like anywhere else in a number of ways, actually. And some of the 'diverse' Swiss cities are diverse because of the banking industry. You do know where the BIS is located, right? It just happens to be the same city that headquarters Hoffmann-La Roche..

'when in fact the “diversity” is twenty miles away, close enough to be part of the same county'

Visit Switzerland, they you can discover for yourself how much distance 32 km means there. This link might help - Do note that the five countries above Switzerland in size are Slovakia, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Denmark, and the Netherlands. There are at least 40 American counties with a larger area than Switzerland - The rest of the world should not be viewed through an American lens. For example, San Bernardino County is 3 times larger than Switzerland.

Brazil's Altamira City is about four times bigger than Switzerland.

"‘Low-IQ migrants from the Middle East and Africa.’"

Are you quoting someone or did that just slip out?

I'm quoting someone else, as the quotes indicate, though very few people were able to read that comment, undoubtedly leading to some of the following confusion. Just another one of those loyal MR commenters whose appearances are becoming ever briefer these days.

Man, touchy this morning. Might have something to do with that Swiss need to always be in control of one's public face rubbing off. Particularly in light of the fact that many Swiss consider Germans (!) spontaneous and full of humor and lightheartedness in comparison to themselves.

Also from other EU states. Sample data from 2010 census

Host CH immigrants with primary or less education

PctLow10 NLow10 NTot10 Source

17.59 33526 190641 Germany

28.04 27450 97890 France

63.12 152046 240878 Italy

83.61 68570 82013 Portugal


83.64 15565 18610 SriLanka

78.21 1213 1551 Somalia

72.65 34967 48131 Turkey

64.08 38668 60341 Spain

62.00 20028 32301 BosniaHerzegovina

62.00 23459 37838 Croatia

61.93 10815 17464 Slovenia

61.88 55888 90315 Serbia

61.82 10977 17755 Macedonia

59.70 1292 2164 Ethiopia

53.31 1016 1906 Pakistan

52.21 1322 2532 Iraq

45.29 2839 6269 Greece

42.31 4819 11389 Brazil

35.87 2082 5805 China

33.52 19308 57609 Austria

22.96 1448 6307 India

17.01 4059 23861 UnitedKingdom

14.28 1535 10748 Poland

Switzerland has significant scientific outputs despite its small population.

Rank WFC15 Country

1 17203.82 "USA"

2 6478.34 "China"

3 4078.09 "Germany"

4 3365.63 "UK"

5 3053.48 "Japan"

6 2127.91 "France"

7 1478.29 "Canada"

8 1135.4 "Switzerland"

9 1112.49 "South Korea"

10 1061.43 "Italy"

It really helps to have two of the world's largest pharma companies headquartered there - number 2 Hoffmann-La Roche AG and number 4 Novartis AG.

Though I guess that cannot possibly be the explanation, as ever so many American commenters here consistently point out that no drugs are ever developed anywhere but in the U.S.

No, prior. The point is that if the US stops paying less than its current 2x OECD average for drugs, the pharmaceutical industry will crash, simultaneously halting development of lifesaving drugs and throwing the US economy into a depression that will make the Great Recession look like an off afternoon at the track. These subsidies are require to ensure that drugs, like the $750,000 Spinraza, can get to patients who need them. And don't forget that these dire outcomes are absolutely certain despite the fact that pharmaceuticals have consistently been one of the most profitable industries in this country for decades. You wouldn't want people to die, would ya?

Should read: if the US *starts* paying less...

The stock prices will crash, but the drug industry will be just as productive as ever.

Less than half the drugs developed come from the rentier sector of pharma, and the pipeline of government inventions that are turned over to the rent seekers has fallen to the point the rent seekers are resorting to government sanctioned monopolies of generic drugs where they can hike the prices to increase returns on capital by 1000 times to generate monopoly profits of 98% of the list price.

They never actually charge that inflated price, but offer secret discounts to many different payers. For individuals paying out of pocket, they randomly offer the drugs at cost if you file an application that convincing the drug makers marketing that not doing so would be bad press, or giving the drugs for free will be good for marketing.

Epipen is a generic product with a real barrier to entry, not a fake one. Setting up a sterile manufacturing line is hard, but once done, is easy to maintain with ongoing payment of qualified workers. The FDA requires the manufacturer proves the hardwork has been done, with the processes in place to ensure qualified workers remain in place. Moving manufacturing overseas increases the cost of FDA approval, because the US agencies do not have FDA regulators in Europe like European regulators are present in Europe and in other clusters of the European/British empire. India is still integrated with the UK and Europe more than the US is. (India feared the US as much as China and the USSR, while maintaining ties with UK and Europe.)

Alex especially likes the idea of cheap startup of drug manufacturing like is common in Asia with the customer deciding which ones are the good quality drugs on the shelf, even as manufacturers invest far more in counterfeiting hologram trademark seals than on ensuring the production lines are sterile, especially when they don't even buy the active drug ingredient that is sold in bulk from multiple FDA approved chemical suppliers. After all, the patient can figure out the antibiotic in the perfect manufacturing packaging is fake when their infection is not getting better and they have their pills chemically analyzed.

I've lived in both the evil highly regulated world pre Reagan, as did my dad, and in the virtuous government is the problem post Reagan era. Medical breakthroughs were as common before when drug prices were much lower even as branded products. The push to force "generics" came at a time when generics got FDA approval as we're sold for 80% or maybe 60% of the brand list price. It's only been since Reagan and the promise that longer government protection by patent, etc, would produce new and CHEAPER drug treatments that the price ratio of brand to generics started exceeding 2 times, running to 3, 5, 10, 50 times.

I grew up when the only vaccination was small pox, until suddenly I was getting a polio vaccination in public school, along with a TB test, and then additional vaccinations. 80% of the universal vaccinations today came to market in my teens in the 60s. My childhood vaccinations were either done in school, or were done to register for public school, prices effectively set by government. Since Reagan, the private sector has exited vaccination in research and production, except under government or public funding. None of the big names with huge Wall Street market caps are involved in vaccines.

If you see government as the cause, the government is that of Reagan, Newt, Ryan, Cruz, not the government of big government liberal central planned tax and spend.

I grew up fearing disease. I knew classmates with polio, kids on crutches and braces. I got measles and mumps. Knew people with kids who died from some disease. By the 70s, that fear was largely gone. Even STDs weren't a big fear as antibiotics were 100% effective.

AIDS was a minor fear compared to the tropical diseases which were a justification to not travel globally, Europe being too common because "everyone" traveled Europe. But today, in NH, I fear Lyme, triple E, which get vaccine research in the private sector only for animals, even though the FDA must approve them just like for humans. Of course, government forces farmers to buy drugs and vaccines, either by requiring them, or by forced destruction of stock if any disease is reported on a farm.

In short, every conservative policy to generate more "innovation" in drugs and vaccines put into law since Reagan has failed to deliver anything but ever higher prices, higher profits on me-too drugs and old generic drugs, with no private sector invention or innovation increase. Only government and public institutions fund and drive innovation, whether Bono, Bill and Melinda, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and hundreds more.

The biggest medical needs require free capital and zero profit marginal cost vaccine and drug delivery to billions of people.

The benefit in productivity of healthier people results in such great benefits, public investment results in huge public returns on capital.

Big pharma survives on massive government welfare, not innovation.

And as is continually pointed out to you, the head quarters is a different issue. Those companies continue to do a large amount of work in America - and it is the American health care consumer who pays a disproportionate amount of those costs. Toyota has a headquarters in Japan but it still builds cars in the US.

'Those companies continue to do a large amount of work in America'

Of course they are global companies, just like Pfizer and Merck, who do a large amount of work in places like Germany and Switzerland. As has been constantly pointed out to you and others. The U.S. is where pharma companies have found a group of suckers who will believe anything they have been repeatedly told from birth, and pay through the nose for the privilege of believing they are helping the rest of the world..The fact that much of American 'innovation' is little more than an IP shell game to help extract even more money from Americans is seemingly in the realm of doublethink - applauded on the one hand as a sign of innovation, and ignored on the other hand as merely another method to reap huge profits at the expense of customers receiving no real benefit for fiddling the patent granting process.

Things change over time, of course, but here is some information from 2008 -

'Global Drug Discovery: Europe Is Ahead

Donald W. Light, Lorry Lokey Visiting Professor at Stanford University, in Stanford, California

t is widely believed that the United States has eclipsed Europe in pharmaceutical research productivity. Some leading analysts claim that although fewer drugs have been discovered worldwide over the past decade, most are therapeutically important. Yet a comprehensive data set of all new chemical entities approved between 1982 and 2003 shows that the United States never overtook Europe in research productivity, and that Europe in fact is pulling ahead of U.S. productivity. Other large studies show that most new drugs add few if any clinical benefits over previously discovered drugs. I discuss ways in which Congress, employers, and insurers can increase the value of drugs and revitalize the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.

A reanalysis of data from 1982–2003 contradicts the claim that U.S. drug firms overtook European firms in pharmaceutical innovation.


This paper offers a new perspective based on a reanalysis of Grabowski and Wang’s key findings and large studies of clinical quality over many years. It thus poses important challenges to widely held American beliefs about U.S. dominance in pharmaceutical research productivity and about the superior quality of those new drugs. The findings suggest that Congress and large purchasers are motivating companies to develop and market drugs that add little value, instead of rewarding true added value. This is not good for the long-term vitality of the industry or for those paying too much for too little.'

I bet big pharma profits are a fraction of the US Federal government payment of excessively high drug prices in the US. US government drug contract buying of drugs just like the government contracts to buy vaccines would eliminate both the high profits, and the high CEO compensation, without having any impact on the drugs offered that provide real benefits to patients.

Name the high profit Big Pharma producer of vaccines.

Those in the animal sector price them according to microeconomics theory of fixed plus marginal costs because farmers will not pay more, and they will get any government mandate to buy them at high profit quashed. Certain animal care can be sold at high prices to a limited customer base, like horse breeders and trainers, but only produces with low production costs and modest returns on capital can be sold by the billions to treat the billions of animals raised to be quickly killed and eaten, with the alternative being some fraction killed and burned.

Note the treatment of animal patients is always paid for by a third party while uses non-creative destruction to control costs - sick animals that cost too much to treat are killed and burned, not even killed and turned into clothing, rugs, blankets. When people die because keeping them "alive" costs too much, even diseased organs get transplanted these days if the disease can be treated.

Lugano is in Ticino, the region people speaks Italian. No wonder they prefer English over German.

Crminal foreigners being deported is common. The only developed country with birthright citizenship is the USA, then who's the "weird" one?

Nothing seems to happen here.......that applies for the whole country. If you're not at the right place at the right time, you wonder if the zombie apocalypse occurred. Thus, actively looking for events, fairs or any gathering. You'll never get there by serendipity. I think it's part of the culture, they make big parties but don't disturb neighbors, not much.

Wine is part of food. It would be interesting how you can rate food without a critical component.

+1 The fact that Tyler doesn't drink and hence does not drink wine with his meals must certainly color his judgement on food particularly European cuisines. I can't imagine going to a restaurant for dinner and ordering....water?

"Tyler doesn’t drink and hence does not drink wine with his meals must certainly color his judgement on food particularly European cuisines"

Okay, if this is true then he loses all credibility as a foodie, how can you properly enjoy European cuisines without the beer, wine or other spirits that have come to be paired with them over many centuries?

Listening to his food advice would be like listening to a color blind art critic talking about the impressionists....

It's true Tyler doesn't drink. This may be why he has a strong preference for South and East Asian cuisine where alcohol has been historically less integral to the food experience. Tyler also prefers to eat meals in strip mall venues. He doesn't like drinking and he doesn't "get it" so his overall food philosophy needs to be seen through this lens.

'The only developed country with birthright citizenship is the USA'

Careful on that - several nations have no problem considering people to be citizens regardless of where they are born. Israel comes to mind, though paperwork is involved of course.

Do other Anglosphere countries not have birthright citizenship?

My impression is that most Anglosphere countries changed their citizenship laws so that at least one parent must have permanent resident status or citizenship in the host country for a child born there to be considered a citizen. I think Canada still follows the same jus soli rule that the U.S. does, though.

Duh!, I always forget Canada :/

The rest of countries need that at least parent has citizenship there.

Yes, America id's the only Anglosphere country with birthright citizenship.

As does Germany and the entire Anglo-phone world except the US.

Do you have a point?

He never does, it's always a disingenuous attempt to ignore the point being made.

The point being that birthright citizenship is a slippery term. The Germans recently reformed their Kaiser era blood ties citizenship laws, for example, but Israel still accepts anyone with Jewish parentage as a citizen.

"but Israel still accepts anyone with Jewish parentage as a citizen."

You have to apply for citizenship under the Law of Return, though. Conversely -- and this is the relevant point -- children of non-Jewish, non-Israeli nationals born in Israel are not typically granted Israeli citizenship at birth. This is unlike the U.S. where anyone born in U.S. territory other than the child of a foreign ambassador is automatically entitled to U.S. citizenship.

prior_test2 May 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm

The point being that birthright citizenship is a slippery term. The Germans recently reformed their Kaiser era blood ties citizenship laws, for example, but Israel still accepts anyone with Jewish parentage as a citizen.

No it isn't. You are blathering for the sake of blathering. The Germans do have a blood-type citizenship law. So what?

Israel does not, as it happens, accept anyone with Jewish parentage. The Law of Return does not cover anyone who actively practices another religion. That is, Christianity. This goes back to 1962 when a Carmelite monk, of perfectly Jewish origin, was denied citizenship. It is applied to the Jews-for-Jesus people these days. Madeline Albright would not be entitled to an Israeli passport.

But I take it you are just trying to work Israel in here so you can make some point about perfidious Je^H^HZionists?

The preamble of the Constitution of Argentina says that the country exists for the benefit of anyone who wants to dwell there rather than for the Argentines. It was written by an individual, Juan Bautista Alberdi, after visiting the USA. He thought that countries prosper by attracting immigrants and that open borders made the USA rich. Argentina rarely deports people who are in the country illegally because doing so requires an expensive judicial proceeding. If you haven't committed a crime and aren't collecting welfare, how does anyone profit from deporting you?

That mentality was common among Latin American countries in that period, racial whitening, not libertardianism, was the reason.

Sadly, Swiss wine is fantastically bad value (much worse than the food which mostly at least is fairly good quality). Saying this as a Swiss.

I am looking forward to more western countries making violent criminals stateless. It will really swell the ranks of our disposable operatives who can blend in... I mean, it will keep crime down in the west. Which is something I totally favor.

Anti-Russia paranoia hasn't seen levels this high since... it was warranted.

There is no other country the joke comes close to working for. Is obvious United States faces no realistic threats apart from itself. Or at least it is obvious to us foreigners. Glorious leader has to make do with menacing US with troll armies when in past real armies with guns did job.

Always interesting to see an outside perspective on our country from someone who's only spent a short time here. Thanks Tyler! With Bern and Lugano, you chose a couple of very quiet and homogeneous places :) Maybe next time travel to some of more dynamic cities like Geneva or come visit us in Zurich!

Couple of clarifications:
- Our immigration rate is not 24%, but was 29% at the end of 2015, probably about 30% by now. The link you posted is about foreigners, i.e. it excludes people who were naturalized. Here are the full statistics:
- What is 2x more expensive here is not food, but eating out in a restaurant. One of the key reasons for this is that wait staff (and service staff in general) is paid much better than in the US, as we have much lower wage inequality. You will find similarly that taxis, haircuts, and cleaning services are relatively more expensive, while prices for housing, supermarket food, or electronics are not so different from major US cities.

Wow! you sound like you don't have anything interesting to say

Are you roaring, or are you Norwegian?

Do you know off the top of your head how much of the 30% is non-European?

As someone who believes people should be cooking at eating at home more, I say you guys are doing it the right way. :) Though if you are all pretty wealthy, high restaurant prices may not be a deterrent?

I found this on flows of immigration for 2015:
Return of Swiss: 13.8%
Europe (including EU as well as Eastern Europe): 64.5%
Asia, Australia: 11%
Africa: 5.6%
Americas (including North & South): 5.1%

I found this on flows of immigration for 2015:

Return of Swiss: 13.8%

Europe (including EU as well as Eastern Europe): 64.5%

Asia, Australia: 11%

Africa: 5.6%

Americas (including North & South): 5.1%

Thanks. It looks like 80-90% of immigrants are European, based on these numbers. Probably explains why there isn't too much of a backlash there of the kinds seen in France, Germany, or the US?

According to this 75% of the foreign born are Europeans, which includes Russia, Romania, Balkans, etc.

Stop applying American definitions of "white" to other countries.

For the British, Polish plumbers were a problem. People wanted to leave the EU to keep out the hordes of low wage Eastern Europeans.

In America, nobody would bat an eyelash at a Polish person moving into their neighborhood.

Well no. In Britain anyone who made any comment about immigration and the plan to reduce the British to a minority in their own homeland (the British government estimates Britain's population will surpass Russia's by 2040 with a total of 90 million in each country), was shouted down as a racist.

So people who objected to immigration finally figured out they had to object to the Poles. Because they are White so no one could accuse them of racism. In reality no one in Britain objects to the Poles. Everyone likes them. No one would mind if they moved in next door. What they do not want is any more daughter-killing, genital-mutilating, sheep-slaughtering, child-raping people from more, ummm, "vibrant" communities. Not all racism is irrational.

'was shouted down as a racist. '

Except that the people opposed to a Pole as a neighbor won the Brexit vote. Does not seem like they were shouted down at all, actually.

Further, they were not shouted down as racists, but called opponents of the UK belonging to the EU - which they there.

'So people who objected to immigration finally figured out they had to object to the Poles.'

People opposed to the EU finally figured out that could they object to Poles, and rode that to victory.

'In reality no one in Britain objects to the Poles.'

The Daily Mail demonstrates just how uninformed that statement is.

'No one would mind if they moved in next door.'

Well, except for the people involved in the following - '"Go home" were the words written on the Polish Social and Cultural Association's building in West London. Meanwhile in Cambridgeshire, laminated cards were distributed with the message “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin,” written in not only English but also Polish. These two instances of anti-Polish sentiment have prompted a high-level official response from British authorities, with Prime Minister David Cameron suggesting that such behavior "must be stamped out" during a speech at Parliament on Monday. The Polish embassy in London also responded, releasing a statement that said it was "shocked and deeply concerned" by the reports.

Anti-Polish sentiment is far from new to Britain. According to figures obtained by the Guardian, in 2013, British police officers arrested at least 585 people for hate crimes against Polish people – a figure that may be a large understatement, as the newspaper was only able to get numbers from 26 of the country's 46 police forces. A survey from 2014 found that 81 percent of Polish people living in Britain had been subjected to verbal or physical abuse or knew another Polish person who had who had.'

To clarify, the returning Swiss of course don't count as part of the 30% foreign born :)

Tabarrok visits India and Cowen visits Switzerland. Do they learn the same lessons from their very different experiences? The contrast between the two countries couldn't be starker. Oddly, reader reactions to this post by Cowen from Switzerland and the posts by Tabarrok from India are much the same.

What lessons are you talking about? I don't recall Prof. Tabarrok write anything about immigration and India, which is unsurprising because India hardly has any immigration.

According to this 75% of the foreign born are Europeans, which includes Russia, Romania, Balkans, etc.

Well, the "illegals" that offend conservatives are either European, aka Spanish descent, or native American, or both. The native Americans were natives of the entirity of America until European immigrants and distant aliens started to carve it up over the objections of the Americans, often with the Europeans killing Americans just to take their land and property.

And given the history of immigration, the US Constitution has zero provisions to prohibit free migration into, out, around the United States and territories.

I say that the Scalia test of US immigration law must judge everything related to restricting immigration as unconstitutional.

Citizenship in the Constitution is based on Roman citizenship of elevated status allowing a role in governance and expanded rights. It had nothing to do with birth, residency, but on earned status.

Original intent and interpretation of citizenship implies only 10% of the US population would be citizens. Jackson was part of a populist movement that expanded citizenship to perhaps 20-25% of US population.

The 14th Amendment was totally incoherent in its wording, and intent. The plain meaning of the 14th clear did not grant Constitional textual citizenship to more than 30-35% of the US population. Women were clearly still excluded from citizenship. As were children. And tribal members who were citizens of their tribe in governance.

Neither the Constitution nor the 14th Amendment implied any restrictions on immigration.

Only an expansionist interpretation of the authority of Congress that embraces Obamacare and Social Security as the clear intent of providing the general welfare can justify restricting immigration or building border walls.

Citizenship had no connection to living and working in the US until Congress started trying to make citizenship a requirement for residency, instead of residency being a requirement for citizenship, mostly since the Federal government ran out of land to take by force to give away to immigrants to increase consumption and production.

>The country recently imposed restrictions on migrants from Romania and Bulgaria.


In the US, our enlightened judges would never allow such open bigotry.

Which is a real plus for the U.S., by the way.

From the scientific outputs WFC scores from, Swiss top the WFC per million population ratio,

Rank WFC15/M CRank WFC15 Pop Country

1 135.75 8 1135.4 8364100 Switzerland

2 86.57 17 485.45 5607300 Singapore

3 61.8 15 531.83 8605080 Israel

4 54.54 46 18.33 336060 Iceland

5 53.78 21 307.84 5724456 Denmark

6 52.99 16 526.67 9938648 Sweden

7 52.96 1 17203.82 324846000 United States of America (USA)

8 51.69 4 3365.63 65110000 United Kingdom (UK)

9 49.63 3 4078.09 82175700 Germany

10 41.81 14 713.37 17060700 Netherlands

With respect to GDP in billion USD,


1 1.82 15 531.83 291.567 Israel

2 1.66 8 1135.4 685.434 Switzerland

3 1.64 17 485.45 295.744 Singapore

4 1.26 4 3365.63 2678.455 United Kingdom (UK)

5 1.2 46 18.33 15.33 Iceland

6 1.09 3 4078.09 3730.261 Germany

7 1.03 1 17203.82 16768.05 United States of America (USA)

8 0.91 21 307.84 336.701 Denmark

9 0.91 16 526.67 579.68 Sweden

10 0.84 14 713.37 853.539 Netherlands

Something you would not expect from WFC/MPop

Rank WFC15/M CRank WFC15 Pop Country

34 3.06 31 98.8 32248000 Saudi Arabia

36 2.52 19 370.39 146691020 Russia

Got anymore fairy tales? Sweden imports people. Lately thugs. Read the papaer.

"The country recently imposed restrictions on migrants from Romania and Bulgaria." -> no it did not. it was a proposal by a far right party (there are many of those in switzerland) and it eventually never happened.

"Switzerland, an extreme country, and an extremely successful country, is always worth pondering. And visiting, even at 2x prices for the food."

switzerland became successful by laundering the money of mobsters, terrorists and dictators. let's not forget that.

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