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I've been several times for brief visits to Geneva and Switzerland (visiting CERN, touring the italian lakes, a trade fair ...)

There are two things that rebute me in this country:
1) Cost: when in Geneva 13 years ago, all items in a boulangerie where the same price tag as in Paris, except it was Swiss Franc instead of French Franc (four times increase over Paris).

Also, an ad board in CERN for house rentals-swaps between physicists on distant assignments, listed houses on the french side of the border (Pays de Gex) which where basically the same price/rent as Neuilly (Sarkoland near Paris).

I don't think any of these has changed much since.

2) Ambient Fascism: Switzerland is a teaser show of what is to come in America, and it has been for decades, people just pretend not to pay attention because it is a tax haven. Yet a country of widescale autistic paranoia. Foreigners are traced, littering is punished like murder, denunciation are the expected social norm.

When crossing the border by car going to a trade fair a couple of year ago with a pack of commercial leaflets (wow, subversive materials !), the customs officer wanted to tax us on the leaflets arguing that is was inconceivable that we could hand them out for free at a trade fair ("gracieusement ? ça n'existe pas ça Monsieur").

A colleague with a Swiss girlfriend explained me that he once got in trouble, because he dumped opened mail envelopes in a trash can in the street, that was about to get taken away (but it was from another building as his). Well the concierge had seen him, got his name from the envelopes, and he later had a visit from police and a fine (it turned out this is because the waste truck measure the weight of waste for every building for billing-on-weight scheme, and there are fines for cheating this, but this was 20 grams of paper !).

And of course, you know about all the polls and the mainstream opinion of the Swiss on all major social issues.

Pierre

by Pierre on Fri Nov 9th, 2007 at 07:45:35 AM EST

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