In other posts I have talked about Switzerland’s penchant for voting. The country tries to practice as close to a direct democracy as possible. It is relatively easy to get an initiative on a nationwide ballot; so there are multiple elections every year. I do find some of the initiatives very strange. For example, in the last election one of the questions on the ballot was “Should the Air Force upgrade their fleet of fighter jets?” I find it very strange that citizens would have this much control over a national issue, but in this case it gets even more strange. The vote did pass but by a very slim margin, and the opponents have already said they will try and stop the purchase once the decision has made over which fighter jet to purchase. This was done successfully about 8 years ago. The government decided to buy fighters from Switzerland, but a group pushed a referendum to not release the money, and it passed; so the purchase was never made.
There are three seemingly big questions on the ballot for next week. The first is to abolish the Federal Governments ability to pass restrictions in regards to a pandemic. This would take away the governments ability to put in place things like lockdowns, mask requirements, or the vaccine passports. Instead all of these functions would go to the individual cantons. The next two questions all concern agriculture.
The first of these two would make Switzerland the first country in the world to outlaw all synthetic pesticides. The law goes even a step further to say no foodstuffs can be imported from countries that allow the use of synthetic pesticides. The second agriculture question concerns “drinking water.” I put quotes around the words, because there is really a whole lot more going on in the second question, but it is worded this way to garner support. One thing you have to know is that agriculture is very heavily subsidized here. How else, could a farmer make a living on less than ten acres of land, and only a handful of cows? This law would not allow any subsidies to be given to a farmer that uses pesticides, herbicides, anti-biotics, or “cannot feed their livestock off of fodder produced by themselves. This law would also stop the practice of spreading manure on the fields.
I will admit, I have not studied any of the questions on the ballot with any real effort. That being said, just on the surface I find these three questions to be very silly. The USA proved that in times of a pandemic there needs to be a federal reaction. Viruses, do not stop magically at borders on a map; so one canton (or state) having a strong response, is negated by the neighboring canton (or state) having a weak response. The pesticide question does seem to make a lot of sense. However, when you throw the part in that no food can be imported unless the trading partner also bans pesticides you are setting the country up for starvation. From what I can see, the only products that Switzerland can be self sufficient with are dairy products. Possibly with meat as well, but I kind of doubt it. The only local grown produce I see regularly in the store is asparagus, but much of that comes across the border from Germany. There is not that much good farmland in Switzerland. The country could never feed itself, and rules that make this even harder seem foolish. Especially when you look at the fourth question on the ballot, which is to reduce C02 emissions to half of the 1990 level in the next 9 years. It will be really hard to reduce C02 if truck traffic has to increase to import food from other countries.
I will be very interested to see how the vote comes out.
The weather this past weekend was once again pretty awful. We were able to get a few hours without rain, and we were able to take a nice long city hike. We toured a park near the neighborhood of Enge. Enge is a small neighborhood that sits right at the corner of the lake. I think the green space around Zürich is one of the things I am most impressed by. There are dozens of parks around the city that are meticulously maintained.
The weather did stop me from meeting some new people. I had arranged to go on a bike ride with some people I have met on TikTok. :). Unfortunately, the rain meant that everyone began to back out, because it did not look like we would even have two hours rain free. I was able to get in a short ride Saturday morning. It is a hard route though, It is uphill for about 15 kilometers, and then I just turn around and head back home. It takes me over an hour to ride the first 15 kilometers, but then it is all downhill the 2nd half; so it only takes about 20 minutes to cover the same distance! I really hope some of my Southern Indiana friends get the chance to come visit me. I want to show them that Southern Indiana is relatively flat compared to here! Oh and unpopular opinion, Popeyes is still better than Chick-Fil-A!
I learned another good culinary lesson last night. Taste the peppers before you cut them up and add them to your dish!! :). Julie bought some pepperoni (You learn very quickly here that you do not order a pepperoni pizza!) in the store on Saturday. I figured since she does not like spicy food, that she knew the peppers were mild. I wanted to add some color to the dish I made last night, so I cut up one of the peppers. OH MY GOD!! Julie and I both had heart burn all last night. The pepper wasn’t much larger than a couple of grapes, but WOW!!!! She is barely speaking to me today, because she thinks I intentionally tried to poison her. I did warn her after I realized how spicy the dish was, but…….
Finally some COVID news. I was reading the paper this morning where the EU has officially launched their COVID passport. Even though Switzerland is not part of the EU the country is going along with the passport. It officially rolled out yesterday, and it is supposed to have full implementation by 1 July. Apparently, the passport will allow full travel between any country in the EU (plus Switzerland) without quarantine. Because Europe also has their vaccine skeptics. The passport is also able to be used with COVID tests. The stink over here is that the people not wishing to get the vaccine are being discriminated against because the tests are not free. In fact, in most countries the tests are pretty pricey if you want them for travel. Every where in Europe the tests are free if they are mandated by a doctor due to symptoms, but if you want one for travel the tests cost well over $100, and you need two tests depending on how long you are traveling. The covid tests are only accepted for about 48 hours. Honestly, I think the discrimination talk is simply crap. The vaccines are being given for free! So you can get the free vaccine, and travel for 9 months, or you can pay for the tests if you want to travel. It seems to me a fair trade off, and I really wish my heimatland would get their act together. Here are the last lines from an article about travel.
“Talks have been under way with the United States, for some sort of mutual recognition of vaccination status.
But have run up against the problem that there is no single federally backed certificated in the US, only a myriad of state and private vaccination cards almost impossible to authenticate abroad.”
I really need someone on that side of the Atlantic to get their act together. The kids are all coming in August, my parents in September, and Julie’s are scheduled for October. I think they will be able to come, but every day that there is no announcement about travel for US residents I get a little more worried!
Talk to you again soon!