I’ll tell you about the noise in Switzerland about well-being and multinationals

I'll tell you about the noise in Switzerland about well-being and multinationals

The eventual success of the referendum proposal in Switzerland on the responsibility of multinationals would be significant because it would testify to the serene unawareness of the Swiss public opinion on the origin of the level of economic well-being enjoyed by the country. Italics by Teodoro Dalavecuras

On November 29, the people of the Swiss confederation pronounce themselves in a referendum on the global responsibility of multinationals. The goal is for all the multinationals domiciled in Switzerland, from Nestlé – Swiss by definition – to Glencore, the global commodity giant that has its headquarters in the canton of Zug, but little else is Swiss in both shareholding and corporate culture. in procurement markets as well as in outlet markets. Without neglecting the plethora of mini-multinationals to which the new rules which the promoters of the referendum are asking for inclusion in the Swiss legal system apply as for the global giants.

The proponents demand that all Swiss companies be required to respect internationally recognized human rights and environmental standards everywhere in the world and also be required to verify that their suppliers and business partners abide by the same rules, which effectively means they risk also respond to the violations of the latter technically "third parties".

Some polls assign the victory, with a more than comfortable margin, to the supporters of the initiative, called "responsible multinationals", which pursues the political objective of forcing companies to engage "proactively" – as they say today – in promoting, in any corner of the planet, of the observance of human rights and environmental regulations.

This is just the most recent example of the effects of the moralizing wind that has swept the valleys, plateaus and peaks of the Confederation for years. Months ago in Neuchatel a popular petition had asked for and obtained the removal of the monument erected in honor of David de Pury, a skilled and fortunate eighteenth-century merchant from Neuchatel who had returned, in the form of works of public utility in the town of western Switzerland , part of the wealth accumulated with the business conducted between Europe, Africa and South America based – according to the business model widespread in the eighteenth century, on the exchange of African slaves for precious raw materials of Central and South America; and all the neocastellans (as the inhabitants of Neuchatel in Canton Ticino are called), at least those with average education, were always aware of this provenance of the money and therefore of de Pury's good works, but the unrest following the murder of George Floyd evidently triggered an emulative psychosis.

Not later than last year a rather tense debate had developed in the media between those who denounced the malpractice of free tickets and – horror – of the nights paid to political exponents in the opening evenings of festivals or other similar events and those who, quietly, suggested not to completely lose the sense of proportion.

Of course, the eventual success of the referendum proposal on the responsibility of multinationals would be particularly significant, because it would testify to the serene unawareness of the Swiss public opinion on the origin of the level of economic well-being, well above the European average, enjoyed by the country, which with all the good will of this world can hardly be traced back only to the milk of the cows and goats of the alpine pastures and to the miraculous stability (at least until a couple of decades ago) of the political system of direct democracy and federalism, both of which are well tempered.

This consideration can also be repeated with regard to the intentions recently announced by the red-green administration of Zurich, the coveted goal of the CEOs of large multinationals. The urban planning guidelines announced in recent days by the municipal administration of Zurich provide that all external spaces of private buildings, including flowerbeds under the external views, roof terraces and internal courtyards are freely accessible to the public. This, in the declared intent to "depreciate" the private real estate property. Singular approach to urban planning problems in a metropolis where, a few decades ago, the following gag was circulating. Question: Why was a large flowerbed set up in front of the Crédit Suisse headquarters? Answer: to make sure that the money thrown from the windows does not make too much noise when it falls to the ground (for objectivity it must be remembered that several years later, at the time of the American subprime crisis, the same joke could have been made about the other Swiss banking giant, UBS). To say that neither Franciscanism, nor the ethics of Mormons, live in those parts.

It can be understood that the Neue Zürcher Zeitung , one of the most serious newspapers in the Western world, has exclaimed that, obviously, Zurich is determined to honor its reputation as "Havana" (obviously understood as the capital of Fidel Castro's Cuba) of the Swiss Confederation. The fear that the newspaper interprets is that of penalizing Zurich's international projection to which the city owes a considerable part of its prosperity.

After all, we can say about well-being what we say about freedom: we easily get used to taking it for granted, until we lose it.

Traditionally, Switzerland is able to operate mechanisms that, without clamor and without haste, defuse these mines that sometimes the "beautiful souls" that prolonged well-being inevitably produces, place in some strategic point of the socio-economic map, but it cannot be not even exclude that in the long run the tears operated in the delicate fabric of the Swiss system leave some ugly scars.

On the other hand, we must not forget the words attributed to Voltaire who recommended: “if you see a Swiss banker throwing himself out of the window, follow him”. The history of the following two centuries proved him right, and then it can never be ruled out that under the windows there is a soft welcoming flower bed.


This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/mondo/perche-la-svizzera-vuole-mettere-alle-strette-le-multinazionali/ on Sat, 28 Nov 2020 07:08:04 +0000.