Nobody talks about this, certainly not the politicians of the Left or the Right.
First of all let me say that the social and political Right-Left, even Centre, are divisions that harm society because, specially Right-Left are dogmatic and rigid, like two opposing religions. Such rigidity does not favour progress or accommodation of different views.
Like religions, Right and Left have the conviction their way of looking at society and its challenges is the right way, that other ways are wrong. Naturally, as each believes its analysis is the right one, it also feels its their solutions are the right ones.
Each side believes it has the ONE “correct” answer, the “true” answer. Not easy to make rational decisions with that frame of mind.
As a result, they spend a lot of time and energy trying to discredit each other.
They disagree on almost anything; education, economics, social policies, taxes, business policies, labour laws, international relations, justice and on and on.
One of the wonderful effects of direct democracy is that it is centered on issues, not on ideology, not on political parties, or their variously ranking “priests”. Direct democracy is issue-centred, fact-centred, it is not centred on general ideologies or beliefs.
It does so because voters vote on issues. They also vote to elect people who represent ideologies, but because the voters also have to vote on specific issues, they have to focus their attention on the practical facts of each issue. This makes ideology less prominent. Less ideological polarization is one of its benefits.
Because in direct democracy voters vote on issues they have to also understand issues. They have to because they know they are responsible, directly responsible, of the effects of their decisions.
In direct democracy voters know that they are responsible, that their vote directly determines they may have to pay more taxes because they said “yes” to building a new road, a new rail network, to have a universal income for citizens or resident, to have single payer health care and so on.
That they are responsible for paying taxes does not mean they do not want government; citizens with sound judgment, rich and not rich, know that to have a stable prosperous society it is necessary to have sound public services, good universal education, good universal health system, good infrastructure and so on, and that all that requires money. This money can come through taxes or by paying directly for the services.
This does not mean that voters will not support any of those measures, the Swiss support them. What direct democracy does is that forces voters to look at every issue in terms of costs-benefits for the majority of voters. They are acutely aware their money is necessary to provide a good quality of life for practically all citizens, including the poor.
In representative democracy it is not like that; people elect the politicians who decide on what to spend the money and how much.
Unfortunately for voters, in representative democracy, for elected politicians, it is not their money. They do not feel the penalty of higher taxes or high insurance premiums because they can also vote for measures that protect them, and they do.
They may exempt themselves and the bureaucrats that help them, from paying taxes, they can increase their salaries, their travel and living allowances, etc.
To make voters temporarily happy, governments in representative democracies can also print more money to “buy” votes. They can also do things many voters love because they are not aware they will pay for them.
They can increase the government deficit, the national debt, mandate or increase minimum salaries, increase the salaries of civil servants, build an economically unsustainable high speed rail network, build more unnecessary universities to have more citizens with college education, even if there are no jobs for them, etc.
In direct democracy, politicians can not do any of that if voters do not agree.
This is why the Swiss government generally makes sounder decisions that its neighbours in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Nordic Countries, the UK and the rest of the countries of the World. This is why Switzerland has rock-solid stability and prosperity.
The Swiss make usually better decisions than anyone else because the voters vote on issues and are responsible for the consequences, and their governments (at all levels) know that.
This realism has made the Swiss better socialists and better capitalists than all other nations. This is so because they have many internationally competitive companies able to pay high wages.
The facts prove it; they have the best universal health system in the World, but it is not paid by taxes, each citizen buys private health insurance.
When the person does not have enough income to pay the premiums the government provides assistance so they can.
The private capitalist insurance providers are tightly regulated by social legislation. For example, they can not make money on the medical services they must provide, but they can make money on secondary items, like having a private room in a hospital.
The end result is the Swiss health care system is considered the best in the World. If you want to know more about the Swiss health system you can check one of my earlier blogs or, better, research the issue in internet; just type “Swiss health care system” in your computer.
Many people point to the Danish, Dutch, German, British, French, Canadian universal health care system and the legislation that makes them possible, as the model for others. The fact is that the Swiss capitalist and socially universal health care system is superior.
The Swiss deliver also more competitive capitalists than those other countries in other areas.
This is why they have higher wages, they are more competitive; in relation to the population of the country, they export twice as many high tech goods and services than Germany, and more than eight times more than the US.
Their public education system is also better, better than what they have in many of those countries, although German, Danish and Dutch have pretty good systems.
To evaluate public education you have to be careful, numbers can be misleading. For example, Belgium, Finland, Australia, Israel, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany the US, Canada have more college graduates than Switzerland, yet Switzerland outranks those countries in practically all facts on the ground.
Another misleading indicator can be the PISA rankings in education. Switzerland ranks behind the “best”; China, Singapore, Finland an eleven others. That China is at the top should make anyone doubt the validity of the PISA rankings. PISA measures are valid for a very narrow area; classroom learning in math, science and language. This is too narrow a way to look at education. Furthermore, PISA only looks at 15 year old students.
No wonder what PISA measures does not correlate with political stability, freedom, economic prosperity, social stability, justice, respect for human life, etc., if it did, China would rank at the top, not the bottom, in many of these facts.
Overall, Switzerland is the best run country in the World, that is more meaningful than any rankings, you only have to visit Switzerland to know that; it jumps at you.
Other countries would do well to understand and learn how the Swiss do it. Direct democracy is perhaps the most important factor. Direct democracy is the factor all Swiss share. As you know, Switzerland is a multicultural and multilingual country; what unites them is direct democracy.
But do not expect the elites in your country to dig the facts about Switzerland, you will have to dig the facts and pressure your elites towards direct democracy, just like the Swiss did many years ago.
One of the results of direct democracy seems to be to produce more efficient capitalists able to deliver more efficient social measures.