Swiss to vote on $25/hr minimum wage

Ah, Switzerland. In a nation which at times seems more and more like California, government by referendum is the order of the day. The same country which once planned a vote on giving everyone a minimum rate of “pay” whether they work or not, is now looking into raising the minimum wage to the equivalent of $25 per hour.

The Swiss will vote in a national referendum May 18 on whether to create a minimum wage of 22 francs ($25) per hour, or 4,000 francs a month. While about 90 percent of workers in Switzerland already earn more than that, employers say setting Switzerland’s first national wage floor would push up salaries throughout the economy. When adjusted for currency and purchasing power, it would be the highest minimum in the world.

This report focuses on the story of one small business owner who has already had to let her last full time employee go and won’t be able to afford to replace them at the new rate. That’s a sad story, and one which is repeated everywhere the government arrives “to help” in such matters. But the raw numbers are probably a little more startling than they need to be. Switzerland already has one of the highest minimum wage rates in the world, as well as one of the highest costs of living. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

In a place where all the specials at McDonald’s are already featured on the Ten Dollar Value Menu the effect of a small bump at the bottom won’t be as pronounced, but you can’t drive up costs without making up for them elsewhere or closing up shop. Unfortunately, it’s always so very easy for politicians to vote Yes on feel-good items like this that it’s hard to stem the tide.