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 Is there a Good Government Anywhere?

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PostSubject: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Thu Jan 01, 2009 10:44 pm

Expat Girl said

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Perhaps this is a topic for another thread; but point me to any country right now that does NOT have an inept government?? I suppose Sarkosy is in the good books right now for handling the EU presidency well, but France has its own legion of economic problems...

Suddenly, when bull changes to bear, all the geniuses suddenly become dunces, I remember Galbraith writing that in relation to the 1929 crash. There is a systemic failure going on right across the world. Good, bad or indifferent, any government would flounder. They simply don't have solutions, and there is no precedent. The Indians managed their property boom well, and the Scandinavians seem to have learned from previous banking crises, but apart from some very undeveloped States, does anyone expect to avoid recession?

Most governments are trying the same old recipes of printing money on the one hand and tooling up the riot police on the other.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:13 am

To paraphrase Napoleon I'd rather have a "lucky government than a good one".

I think what he might of meant though was that the "lucky" general was blessed with better tactical units. Strategic vision plays a lessor role than how the troops fight the ground. Its the same with government and the economy

We need to rely on ourselves rather than any individuals on top.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:29 am

Respvblica wrote:
To paraphrase Napoleon I'd rather have a "lucky government than a good one".

I think what he might of meant though was that the "lucky" general was blessed with better tactical units. Strategic vision plays a lessor role than how the troops fight the ground. Its the same with government and the economy

We need to rely on ourselves rather than any individuals on top.

A lucky general might come up against even less competent enemies. In reading accounts of battles, it often seem the case that the opposing military commands both make appalling errors, and the winner is the one who makes the less appalling ones, or, as you say, hits a run of luck.

I think you are right that a lot of well executed tactical moves can add up to a good result. A good long term strategy is always a good thing though.

Also agree about reliance on selves.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:42 am

cactus flower wrote:
Respvblica wrote:
To paraphrase Napoleon I'd rather have a "lucky government than a good one".

I think what he might of meant though was that the "lucky" general was blessed with better tactical units. Strategic vision plays a lessor role than how the troops fight the ground. Its the same with government and the economy

We need to rely on ourselves rather than any individuals on top.

A lucky general might come up against even less competent enemies. In reading accounts of battles, it often seem the case that the opposing military commands both make appalling errors, and the winner is the one who makes the less appalling ones, or, as you say, hits a run of luck.

I think you are right that a lot of well executed tactical moves can add up to a good result. A good long term strategy is always a good thing though.

Also agree about reliance on selves.

But you are an authentic democrat at heart. It bothers me though that there are so many out there looking for an Obama/messaianic/fuhrer type figure. There was an article in todays IT expressing just that wish. Of course if you are stuck in pseudo-democratic system as we are, which allocates so much power to a single individual or group of individuals, you really do need competant, just and wise rulers, so from that point of view it is understandable. Me - I'd like to move on.

Back to military ref - the best armies were the ones with the best NCOs. Lower management in other words. They are the ones who actually get things doen, but are also the first to get the chop (militarily and economically)
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:55 am

Respvblica wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Respvblica wrote:
To paraphrase Napoleon I'd rather have a "lucky government than a good one".

I think what he might of meant though was that the "lucky" general was blessed with better tactical units. Strategic vision plays a lessor role than how the troops fight the ground. Its the same with government and the economy

We need to rely on ourselves rather than any individuals on top.

A lucky general might come up against even less competent enemies. In reading accounts of battles, it often seem the case that the opposing military commands both make appalling errors, and the winner is the one who makes the less appalling ones, or, as you say, hits a run of luck.

I think you are right that a lot of well executed tactical moves can add up to a good result. A good long term strategy is always a good thing though.

Also agree about reliance on selves.

But you are an authentic democrat at heart. It bothers me though that there are so many out there looking for an Obama/messaianic/fuhrer type figure. There was an article in todays IT expressing just that wish. Of course if you are stuck in pseudo-democratic system as we are, which allocates so much power to a single individual or group of individuals, you really do need competant, just and wise rulers, so from that point of view it is understandable. Me - I'd like to move on.

Back to military ref - the best armies were the ones with the best NCOs. Lower management in other words. They are the ones who actually get things doen, but are also the first to get the chop (militarily and economically)

Interesting - http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0102/1230842349998.html

I guess that is the one. The writer, Manchan Morgan, wants a strong and wise leader (not, he says, Libertas, but more like Obama) to take all our troubles away.
The problem with strong leaders is that they bring a whole set of problems with them that you didn't have before.

The funny thing is, I was thinking about Obama today - came from nowhere - set of incomprehesible demagogic generalisations that hardly anyone could disagree with, very short on explicit policy and principles - backed by big money - and the thought of Ganley came to me. I heard the expression neoDem today - would that be to describe the likes of Obama ?

A bad General can throw away even the best NCOs. Perhaps the concept of a "Good Enough Leader" would be OK.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:07 am

Was thinking about Venezuela. The problem with a charismatic figure like Chavez is that he overshadows the others in his cabinet. It's hard to know who would be best after him.

Enda Kenny has the same problem. He's so great that (apart from Bruton) the rest of the FG front bench become a blur in his presence.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:11 am

905 wrote:
Was thinking about Venezuela. The problem with a charismatic figure like Chavez is that he overshadows the others in his cabinet. It's hard to know who would be best after him.

Enda Kenny has the same problem. He's so great that (apart from Bruton) the rest of the FG front bench become a blur in his presence.

I expect you saw the documentary of the time when Chavez was almost ousted. I seem to remember a very steady bunch of colleagues/NCOs who held the line when he was taken out of circulation.

At the same time, a leader like Chavez is dependent on personal charisma to some extent. It is not healthy.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 5:19 am

You know I still haven't watched it. On the to-do list.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 9:14 am

Good government? It's ok here. I have no complaints about how the seven people charged with running the Swiss Federal government perform generally. At the end of the day, they don't really have to do much as much of my daily life is dealt with at canton level. They are ok too.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:53 pm

Slim Buddha wrote:
Good government? It's ok here. I have no complaints about how the seven people charged with running the Swiss Federal government perform generally. At the end of the day, they don't really have to do much as much of my daily life is dealt with at canton level. They are ok too.

Long may it continue. However I can't understand in a globalised economy how any state could remain immune from impacts of a global crisis - and doesn't Switzerland have the highest lending ratio of any State, per person ? (excuse me if I'm wrong about this) Confidentiality and self-policing seem is a values: how well does that sit with regulation?
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:30 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Slim Buddha wrote:
Good government? It's ok here. I have no complaints about how the seven people charged with running the Swiss Federal government perform generally. At the end of the day, they don't really have to do much as much of my daily life is dealt with at canton level. They are ok too.

Long may it continue. However I can't understand in a globalised economy how any state could remain immune from impacts of a global crisis - and doesn't Switzerland have the highest lending ratio of any State, per person ? (excuse me if I'm wrong about this) Confidentiality and self-policing seem is a values: how well does that sit with regulation?
In fairness, you’d have to say that from their own point of view the Swiss always seem to an handle international crisis quite well, they appear to be quite focused on the fundamentals and that, added to the non judgemental nature of their financial set up would seem to have served them reasonably well over the years.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 8:28 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Slim Buddha wrote:
Good government? It's ok here. I have no complaints about how the seven people charged with running the Swiss Federal government perform generally. At the end of the day, they don't really have to do much as much of my daily life is dealt with at canton level. They are ok too.

Long may it continue. However I can't understand in a globalised economy how any state could remain immune from impacts of a global crisis - and doesn't Switzerland have the highest lending ratio of any State, per person ? (excuse me if I'm wrong about this) Confidentiality and self-policing seem is a values: how well does that sit with regulation?

A lot is made about the contribution of Swiss banks to the economic well-being of Switzerland but I believe it is somewhat overstated. While it is important, it is used by others, particularly Germany, as a stick to beat the Swiss with.

The Swiss economy is much more multi-faceted than one might think. One of the worlds biggest engineering firms is Swiss (ABB) and the worlds biggest food company is based in Canton Vaud (Nestlé). Basel is, among other things, an agglomoration of pharmaceutical companies, the biggest of which are Novartis and Hoffman La Roche. The Swiss have a large watch-making industry and earn big money in luxury goods. So while banks are important, they are not the only global outfits in the Swiss economy. Even in something as mundane as cement, Holcim fly the flag on a world level for Switzerland.

Much of the economic success the Swiss have enjoyed in recent times is down to the system of government. A confederation of 26 cantons, each with its own tax-raising powers, Switzerland is a place where everything is devolved down to the lowest level possible. The best way to describe it is that power flows from the community to the canton and from the canton to the "Bund" or federal authority. For example, if I qualify for Swiss citizenship after 10 years residency, it is not the federal government nor the canton who decide whether I get it or not, but my community.

The taxes I pay are paid to the canton. Some of this goes on to the federal government and some back to the community, but the canton decides how much I pay after the federal government fixed sum is allowed for. Corporation taxes are decided by the cantons. I must pay 8% to the federal government but the canton adds its % on to that. In Zurich it is 5% In Canton Zug it is 0.5%. As it is in Canton Schwyz. In these two cantons the total corporation tax is levied at 8.5%. This annoys the German government who have seen large companies like Metro Ag and Kuehne & Nagel relocate from Germany to Switzerland. When you have to pay corporation tax on turnover of €83 billion, as Metro Ag had to in 2005, it adds up.

You said cactus, that you had questions for me on this unusual but successful model. I will try to answer them as honestly and as comprehensively as I can.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:46 pm

Very interesting Slim.

I also heard that Switzerland has one of teh highest rates of successfull start up companies in Europe. Isnt Red Bull another Swiss success story?
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 12:36 am

Swiss Railway Journeys is my all-time favourite TV programme.
I watch it religiously. I love you

Swiss government is an advertisement for good, federal government.
Brussels take note.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 12:48 am

Johnny Keogh wrote:
Swiss Railway Journeys is my all-time favourite TV programme.
I watch it religiously. I love you

Swiss government is an advertisement for good, federal government.
Brussels take note.
Women not allowed to vote? Utterly ruthless attitude to immigrants? Were these not issues at one point or other?
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 12:58 am

905 wrote:
Johnny Keogh wrote:
Swiss Railway Journeys is my all-time favourite TV programme.
I watch it religiously. I love you

Swiss government is an advertisement for good, federal government.
Brussels take note.
Women not allowed to vote? Utterly ruthless attitude to immigrants? Were these not issues at one point or other?

Point taken. The last of the canton allowed women to vote in 1990.
Since then woman have risen fast. Two have already been President.
The attitude to foreigners is hardly ruthless. The Swiss are conservative. They follow conservative laws. This has little to do with federalism.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:05 am

Respvblica wrote:
Very interesting Slim.

I also heard that Switzerland has one of teh highest rates of successfull start up companies in Europe. Isnt Red Bull another Swiss success story?

The success rate for start-ups is indeed high. Red Bull, however, is an Austrian success story.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:09 am

905 wrote:
Johnny Keogh wrote:
Swiss Railway Journeys is my all-time favourite TV programme.
I watch it religiously. I love you

Swiss government is an advertisement for good, federal government.
Brussels take note.
Women not allowed to vote? Utterly ruthless attitude to immigrants? Were these not issues at one point or other?

The last canton to allow women to vote was Appenzell Innerroden in 1991, actually after the women of East Germany could vote in democratic elections.

Regarding immigration, I would hardly call a country with a non-Swiss national population of 21% "ruthless". You may be confusing this with the immigration policy of the SVP which is loud and stroppy in articulating its views on this issue.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:20 am

Sorry to upset y'all re Switzerland, but there are a few itsy bitsy teensy weensy thunderclouds on the horizon

1) Swiss franc; supposedly a strong reserve type currency, but not behaving like one right now, which is worrying a financial type of my acquaintance. Don't ask me to explain (don't know the answer!)

2) UBS deserves to go to the wall, the remaining banks aren't much better. Huge liabilities, apparently

3) I have heard, although this may be untrue, that there is trouble brewing; many credit crunched nations such as, for example, the Germans, and the incoming US prez, are VERY unhappy about tax evasion of their nationals, and Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg, I gather, are not as good as everyone else about sharing cross border taxation info. (we are much more compliant, and the Brits, no doubt smelling the wind, are trying to pull up ye socks). Places such as the Isle of Man etc have been somewhat weakened by the revelation that their deposit guarantees were somewhat lacking apres collapse of icelandic subsidiaries. Wouldn't be surprised if this one is big news after Obama gets in.....
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:25 am

Slim Buddha wrote:
Respvblica wrote:
Very interesting Slim.

I also heard that Switzerland has one of teh highest rates of successfull start up companies in Europe. Isnt Red Bull another Swiss success story?

The success rate for start-ups is indeed high. Red Bull, however, is an Austrian success story.

As my beautiful german wife is often fond of saying, "Austrian, Swiss, German? Pfff, all the same..." Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:59 am

expat girl wrote:
Sorry to upset y'all re Switzerland, but there are a few itsy bitsy teensy weensy thunderclouds on the horizon

1) Swiss franc; supposedly a strong reserve type currency, but not behaving like one right now, which is worrying a financial type of my acquaintance. Don't ask me to explain (don't know the answer!)

2) UBS deserves to go to the wall, the remaining banks aren't much better. Huge liabilities, apparently

3) I have heard, although this may be untrue, that there is trouble brewing; many credit crunched nations such as, for example, the Germans, and the incoming US prez, are VERY unhappy about tax evasion of their nationals, and Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg, I gather, are not as good as everyone else about sharing cross border taxation info. (we are much more compliant, and the Brits, no doubt smelling the wind, are trying to pull up ye socks). Places such as the Isle of Man etc have been somewhat weakened by the revelation that their deposit guarantees were somewhat lacking apres collapse of icelandic subsidiaries. Wouldn't be surprised if this one is big news after Obama gets in.....

Thanks for the warning, ex-pat girl, but we know there are problems on the horizon.

However,

1. The Swiss Franc is at 1.0800 v the dollar, 1.5000 v the Euro and 1.5705 v Sterling. All economists who concern themselves with the Swiss franc call it too high since people have piled into it since October. The SNB say it needs to come down by 10-15% to maintain equilibrium in the Swiss economy.

2. The UBS crisis has had the effect of effecting a serious debate on the regulation of banks. The bonus system, whereby a bankers bonus came around every year like a timely-ordered taxi, is gone and a bonus/malus system is now the favoured model. This is still in development. Exposures are higher than the SNB would like, but I think that will change too. The SNB will ensure it does.

3. Ah, yes, taxes. In the row between the EU and Switzerland on taxes, it really id Germany who are pissed off. And my attitude to that is: "Sod them". If Germany has a horrendous taxation system, that is their problem. They have a bureaucracy from hell which is too bloody big and unwieldy. In Germany a public servant cannot be fired no matter how bloody incompetent he/she is. On corporation tax, the Swiss can point to the EU and say that each member state has a different rate, so why can't each canton do similar. No, sod the bloody Germans and the US and Britain for that matter. Let them get their own house in order first before coming the heavy on Switzerland.

And this is the majority view in Switzerland. There are many reasons why Switzerland is not in the EU and taking orders from the German Finance Ministry is high on the list of them.
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 3:02 am

Johnny Keogh wrote:
Slim Buddha wrote:
Respvblica wrote:
Very interesting Slim.

I also heard that Switzerland has one of teh highest rates of successfull start up companies in Europe. Isnt Red Bull another Swiss success story?

The success rate for start-ups is indeed high. Red Bull, however, is an Austrian success story.

As my beautiful german wife is often fond of saying, "Austrian, Swiss, German? Pfff, all the same..." Laughing

She may be a bit bashful about actually saying that to a Swiss, particularly in Ticino or the Suisse Romande, Johnny. Very Happy


Last edited by Slim Buddha on Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Is there a Good Government Anywhere?   Sat Jan 03, 2009 3:11 am

Ya but the EU and US want Switzerland to suit their own system of parasites. Sod them is exactly the correct reply
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