Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Self-responsibility increases freedom

The USA is known as the "land of the free," but I believe Switzerland wins here. Yes, it has its laws, and everyone is insured to the max. Yet despite this, the Swiss have a lot of personal freedom. They have the liberty to judge if what they are doing is safe and to do so at their own risk.

Much is left to their personal judgment and responsibility. I believe this is what makes Switzerland more fun--and less expensive--than the USA.

Regarding fun: for one, Switzerland still has diving boards. The powers-that-be at our beach club in Newport, Rhode Island, removed the diving board, a source of amusement during our childhood summers. Perhaps, they did so due to its proximity to the bar. Wait! We were children and certainly not allowed at the bar. Secondly, you can walk a dog off the leash as long as it's voice controlled. This would be unheard of in the USA, where dog owners are treated like second-class citizens. Thirdly, you can ski down a mountain at night after consuming kilos of melted cheese and liters of wine and schnapps. It's up to you to stay sufficiently sober to ski home; and if you get too drunk and break your leg, don't even think about suing the mountain restaurant. You won't get very far. Fourthly, mountaineers, including base jumpers, have fewer restrictions. The onus is on them to exercise judgment, unlike in the USA, where many parks are closed to such adventures.

Now for the cost factor. According to Paul Rubin in a New York Times op-ed: "[US citizens] spend about 2.2 percent of gross domestic product, roughly $310 billion a year, or about $1,000 for each person in the country on tort litigation, much higher than any other country."

“America is known as the land of the free, but it is also the land of unnecessary lawsuits,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.  “As the U.S. experience has shown, excessive litigation creates enormous costs for businesses, workers, consumers, and the overall economy.”

Imagine the added cost of having to put warning stickers on lighters: "Danger: Extremely Flammable." No duh! Anyone dumb enough to not know that the contents of a lighter are flammable is too dumb to read the label.

Self-responsibility lowers the costs overall and contributes to Switzerland's attractiveness as a business location. And thanks to this, people tend to be more responsible and to have more fun.

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