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Swiss fat-cat law AFTER

by on March 5, 2013


Thomas Minder(pic from

Thomas Minder
(pic from


Disclaimer: Yes, this did a lot to dampen one symptom. But limiting salaries puts the cart before the horse! We need to wonder why there even is a cart, and who should be sitting in it.
Nonetheless…inspiring success!

Spectacular direct-democratic success in favour of an addition to the Swiss constitution, affording investors better control over executive pay!!

In the one corner is Thomas Minder’s “fat-cat initiative to prevent money-grabbing” (US-English: money grubbing), aka “Volksinitiative gegen die Abzockerei” or “Abzocker-Initiative”.

In the other: the business association economiesuisse, and present laws passed to hinder Minder.

Thomas Minder won!

In the run-up to the vote, the standard scaremongering game-plan was trotted out: “Loss of workplaces!” and “Harmful to local business!” and of course “We hate fat cats, too!” After the initiative’s triumphant success last Sunday, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga (seeming rather pleased herself!) announced: „Business doesn’t have that much to worry about. It’s proven to be pretty resilient.“

The initiator Thomas Minder, member of no political party, gained notoriety when he spoke out at UBS’s 2008 general shareholders’ meeting, calling management “losers of the century,” making a run for the podium to give the president a Swiss law, and being carried off by security guards.

His initiative lists 24 common-sense principles enhancing transparency and giving more power to shareholders. My favourite is “via [pension funds] all Swiss are shareholders.” Shareholders must vote at general meetings, placeholders must vote in the interest of the people they represent. It even mentions jail sentences! Opponents’ usual mantra: “cost!” But how expensive can voting be?

A surreal twist was added to the campaign when consumer watchdog K-TIPP ran a comparative test designed to harm Mister Minder’s family business Trybol. When you run out of of rational arguments, you shift the debate and try to kill the messenger. What happens when you compare the price of a Swiss-made toothpaste to gels by Procter & Gamble? What, if you rate abrasion, and one of the products contains chalk?

K-TIPP called the accusations absurd. But failed to comment on the real-world context.

What is influencing the result, compared to influencing the set-up!
“There are three types of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
And “Don’t believe a statistic you didn’t forge yourself.”

Other dirty tricks:
– Calling it “Minder-Initiative”, which suggests inferiority/minority.
– Hiring mercenary online activists (standard practice these days).
– Comparing apples and oranges: formulated present laws vs. the initiative’s general principles.

The advocators of present laws left no stone unturned in delaying democracy, and will continue along these lines despite the clear mandate. Consistent with The Art of War, deception is the basis, and the best deception is to pretend there is no war. Without missing a beat, economiesuisse switched from battling the initiative tooth and nail, to professing a solemn commitment on behalf the spirit behind it. It wouldn’t surprise me if shooting down new loophole-schemes became a full-time job in parliament this year, as the initiative is developed into new laws.

According to Mister Minder, the present laws left loopholes worthy of a Swiss cheese. A company could outsource management to a company that isn’t publicly listed. Thanks to recent scandals around outsourcing, the public understands this quite well. Please spare a thought for the poor workers who had to suffer for this (Swiss Indoors stand construction, and parcel delivery services).

The vote of March 3rd showed 67.9% in favour of stringent rules to curb money-grabbing, added to our constitution. Eight million francs’ worth of elite propaganda confirmed: The public mind is not for sale!

Although the initiative only tackles a side-issue, the fact that it was so successful can be a beacon of hope for anyone, anywhere, doing anything that business pundits say is out of the question.

To my knowledge, Switzerland is now the first country worldwide to address corporate power structures in its constitution.


From → Side issues

  1. There has since been another initiative, limiting the ratio of wages within one enterprise to 1:12.
    It was rejected at the ballot
    However, it is worth noting, that not one of the opponents said the ratio was bad!
    (And I say “enterprise” because that was how the initiative was phrased – obviously to include outsourcing.)
    The arguments that killed it were (a) “Prevent wage-dictation by the state”, and (b) “We’re tired of all this jealousy.”
    Regarding a: the state wouldn’t have dictated wages…only the ratio.
    And for b: who is “we”?
    It’s the same old strategy, used again and again by corporations: “We are people just like you, in fact, we’re a big harmonious family. If you hurt us, we’ll all suffer.”
    What’s missing in this picture:
    i) As usual when defending the current power system, the first lie is to deny it is one.
    ii) what happens when you combine the ideals of free markets with human rights, and say “Everyone should have an income, so he or she can afford food, clothes and housing.”? You get a situation in which lowest-paid workers have an edge in negotiating their wages.* No fat-cat law OR 1:12 needed!

    * Because they can say no. Wages would go up – or they’d do the same work, but spend less time at it, like my cleaning lady, who has two part-time jobs, and cleans for the exercise.

  2. None of this is quite up to snuff, because it’s such a huge topic, and we do all this in our spare time. In fact, we considered omitting this info altogether, because people may see a connection where there is none. In capital letters: SOVEREIGN MONEY CREATION HAS ZERO DIRECT BEARING ON EXECUTIVE PAY! On the contrary, there are many ways in which Sovereign Money is fat-cat friendly! (Fewer crises, less antagonism to be expected down the road, existing cash loot more durable…)
    Please remember: it’s a side issue, i.e. no link to ‘Banks need Boundaries!’ (Petition). The main reason to include articles such as these is to educate ourselves on the on class-warfare background. See Chomsky’s Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind if you have two hours’ time. But heed: you might need two more hours (decades?) to digest it.

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