By Scott Sumner
Over at TheMoneyIllusion I recently did a post discussing the public policy issues that I thought were most important. These were the top 4:
Most important issues (no particular order):
1. US Military intervention (I’m mostly against it)
2. Immigration (more, more, more)
3. War on Drugs (end it, let out 400,000 prisoners)
4. Right to Die (I’m for it, read Scott Alexander if you don’t think it’s important.)
Because I’m a big fan of Swiss-style direct democracy, I thought I’d check out how my favorite political system did in terms of this list:
On immigration (from Wikipedia):
Switzerland and Australia, with about a quarter of their population born outside the country, are the two countries with the highest proportion of immigrants in the western world.
The world’s most comprehensive legalized heroin program became permanent Sunday with overwhelming approval from Swiss voters who simultaneously rejected the decriminalization of marijuana.
On right to die:
It’s a tourism boom, but not one to crow about: The number of people traveling to Switzerland to end their lives is growing. And it seems that more and more people with a nonfatal disease are making the trip.
Switzerland is the oldest neutral country in the world; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.
And a few other issues I mentioned as being important:
On health care, I favor the sort of market system that no country has fully embraced. However:
In the book, Herzlinger describes the health care system of Switzerland as a case study in consumer-driven health care, one that has things for both liberals and conservatives to like (and dislike).
Swiss consumers pay more out of pocket than in any other country, which leads to wiser decisions
Abortion was legalized by popular referendum in 2002, after its criminal prohibition had ceased to be observed in practice for some time.
Zurich’s drive-thru brothels have been hailed a success by Swiss social services, a year after they first opened.
I should point out that obviously there are lots of ways Switzerland differs from my ideal, such as the vote against pot decriminalization and their recent vote against more immigration. No country is perfect.
Switzerland is the world’s happiest nation thanks to healthy GDP figures, strong social bonds and an increasing life expectancy, a new study of global wellbeing has revealed.
Some pundits say that only Westerners hold these values, and that in other parts of the world people are driven by religious fanaticism. I presume they mean places like Syria. Maybe, but there seem to be a lot of Syrians trying to get in to Europe right now.
PS. I’m not interested in discussing my views on these policy questions; I have a comment thread over at TheMoneyIllusion on that issue. Here I’m interested in two other questions. Are Swiss policies more utilitarian than most other countries? And if so, does direct democracy plus decentralization tend to lead to utilitarian policies?