Archive for October 25th, 2009

I’m in Switzerland for a couple of speeches in Geneva and one speech in Zurich. I’d like to say I’m also visiting my money, but that would only be true if I had enough money for a Swiss account. Alas.

Switzerland is an admirable nation for many reasons, especially its strong human rights policy in defense of financial privacy. But I also admire its fealty to federalism. Indeed, unlike the United States, it has largely kept the central government from becoming a dominant force in the nation’s fiscal policy. As this study from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity (authored by a Swiss expert) explains, more than two-thirds of taxing and spending takes place at the canton and municipal level. In America, by contrast, the federal government now dominates, with two-thirds of taxing and spending coming from Washington.

One final observation. I’m staying in what might be called the United Nations district of Geneva, and one can’t help but notice all the urbane foreigners – particularly from the developing world – wandering the town and patronizing the tony restaurants. Maybe I’m just a cranky libertarian, but I can’t stop thinking about the tremendous misallocation of human capital this represents (not to mention the huge waste of money). Many of these people are probably the “best and brightest” from their various homelands, and they presumably could contribute to their nations’ prosperity by being back home doing something productive. But thanks to the proliferation of international bureaucracies, few of which can make even an implausible claim of doing anything worthwhile, these people are net liabilities rather than net assets.

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