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The Well-Armed Swiss remain Peaceful and Wealthy

How Switzerland nurtures Prosperity, Security, and Ethnic Harmony

The Swiss enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Switzerland's citizens run the country, not the politicians, and the resultant freedom along with free trade and the rule of law ensure widespread prosperity. Despite virtually no natural resources, it's one of the richest countries in the world.

Its four ethnic groups, German, French, Italian, and Romansh all have their own official language. Foreigners make up some 20% of the population and English is widely spoken. The Swiss system guarantees people of different languages, cultures, religions, and traditions live together in peace and harmony.

Switzerland's constitution (modified from the USA) ensures harmony, everyone keeps their military issued weapons forever. The automatic guns over every fireplace mean criminals avoid the well-armed Swiss, so violence and crime are low. The end result: one of the most successful federations in the world. A constitutional model for the changes many countries need to implement.

1. How to Rein In the US Federal Government

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74% of Americans support the goal of a Balanced Budget. Americans are fed up with runaway Federal spending and Washington's flagrant disregard for the US Constitution. Yet the 10th Amendment explicitly empowers both States and the people to run their own affairs and recognizes the very limited powers granted to the Federal Government. The US Tenth Amendment reads:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Each state enjoys constitutional protection from federal interference in almost all areas, the commerce clause and its egregious expansion into a farmer's personal crops notwithstanding. The USA needs a Constitutional Amendment to rein in the Feds. Indiana Senator David Long has started the process which has been signed into Indiana law by Governor Mike Pence.

If you believe in limiting the power of the US Federal government, then support the Balanced Budget Amendment at
Nazi Dictator Adolf Hitler passed gun control laws

2. Nazi Dictator Adolf Hitler

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German dictator Adolf Hitler and his Nazi (National Socialist) party passed more gun control laws to disarm the Jews and confiscate firearms from his political opponents. He then invaded most of Europe and murdered millions of people, not just Jews and Romanies. All the betrayed innocents had no means to oppose his thuggish goons. Many Allied Forces personnel also died in World War II (1939-1945).

Yet the death toll could have been even higher. Historians say that the automatic guns in every Swiss home deterred Hitler from invading heavily armed Switzerland. Swiss voters understand this, they declined to self sabotage by rejecting the latest attempt at gun control in 2011.

3. Record Low Levels of Violence

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According to, the USA has 4.8 deaths per 100,000 people while Britain and France have just 1.2 and 1.1 deaths per 100,000. So Europe with a four times lower homicide rate is far more peaceful than USA. But is this the result of stringent gun control laws? Do gun laws disarming the law-abiding result in less deaths?

No. Switzerland proves that extremely high levels of gun ownership result in an even safer society. Every household has automatic rifles kept from their army training. Yet the homicide rate in Switzerland is now 0.3 per 100,000, well over ten times lower than the USA and a quarter the rate experienced in gun-free Britain.
Some say that the Swiss have guns to protect themselves from enemy invasion, similar to the reason why the US Constitution guaranteed firearms against the British Colonial power. Both are a variation on your inalienable right to protect yourself, the most important aspect in the USA today.

Gun control fanatics insist that high numbers of guns result in high levels of violence which, without checking the actual results of guns bans, seems plausible. But the facts show otherwise. The empirical evidence they ignore proves that most guns don't kill people, they're used to protect you instead.

From Switzerland to countries such as Jamaica, states such as Washington DC, and universities in Colorado, incontrovertible evidence demonstrates the enormous error in their thinking. Far more often than not, firearms don't kill you, people use guns as a defense against criminals and the mentally deranged!

4. Switzerland's Central Government has Limited Power

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Switzerland is a small country, yet one of the wealthiest in the world. Four ethnic groups are represented in the Swiss Confederation: French, German, Italian and Rhaeto-Romansch live in enviable harmony.

The Swiss Federal Constitution was heavily influenced by the US Constitution, but improved its now very evident flaws, ensuring the different cantons (states) have the right to govern themselves on local issues. Citizens are empowered with the constitutional right to hold a referendum on any strongly felt issue, which guarantees that politicians gain the consent of the governed before passing any law.

The President of the Swiss Confederation is elected by the seven Assembly members for a one-year term; he or she heads the government and assumes representative functions. However, the President has no extra power, being primus inter pares (first among equals), and continues to head a department within the administration.

The federal government links the cantons into one unified country, but controls only those affairs of mutual interest to all the cantons. These matters of common interest include very little but foreign policy, national defense, federal railways and the mint.

Federal jurisdiction is limited to those areas specified in the constitution. avoiding Federal encroachment by US politicians who regularly misuse the US Commerce Clause and ignore the Constitution. The protections of the US Constitution, especially the 2nd and 10th Amendments, are strictly observed.

5. Switzerland's Civil War

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Before becoming a federal state in 1848, Switzerland were invaded by France, and civil war broke out in 1847. This persuaded the Swiss to combine their diverse economic, religious, and ethnic interests in a way that accepted their differences, yet prevented any interest group unduly benefiting at the expense of another.

The word "democracy" is derived from the Greek words for people (demos) and power (kratos). Inherent in the concept is the idea that ordinary people should keep control of the decisions that effect their lives. In an ideal democracy, the power of those who govern is limited by safeguards that ensure that citizens can prevent their elected leaders from abusing their powers.

All legislation, once approved by both houses, is subject to approval by the people in an optional referendum. The citizens have a six-month period during which a referendum can be called by any individual or group able to obtain 50,000 signatures on a petition. If the proposed legislation is rejected by a simple majority vote, it falls away, while constitutional changes need far more than a simple majority. Switzerland's stance on gun ownership and its genesis  is brilliantly explained here.

6. Decentralized Power

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Most issues – education, labor, economic, welfare policies and so on – are determined by each canton's government. Each canton, like US States, has its own parliament and constitution which can differ substantially. Their 3,000 communes, which vary in size from a few hundred to more than a million people, also have their own legislative and executive councils. The cantonal and communal governments are elected by their local citizens.

Differences between groups have resulted in single cantons being divided into half-cantons, new cantons have been formed and border communes have opted to leave one canton to join another. In this way the Swiss have developed a system which permits people of different languages, cultures, religions and traditions to live together in peace and harmony. This makes the Swiss system particularly well suited to ethnically-divided countries.

7. Competition Shows the Policies which Work Best

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Competition between each canton's different strategies show which policies work best. For example, one canton might have high taxes and expensive welfare programs, while another might opt for low taxes and private charity. Each Swiss citizen can then decide which policy suits him best and "vote with his feet" by moving to the canton which he finds most attractive. The result? Good policies tend to drive out the bad.

Public-interest groups play an important role at the national level because they can launch referenda to block legislation they oppose. Consequently politicians lobby the interest groups instead of interest groups lobbying the government, as happens in most countries. This is one important way in which the people rather than their politicians enjoy the power to control government.

8. Taxation and Spending

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Switzerland's federal government, cantons and communities all levy their own taxes. Most taxes are direct and low. Maximum taxes are constitutionally limited, and rates can only be changed by a double-majority referendum, which means a majority of voters in a majority of cantons would have to agree.
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In 2001, 85% of Swiss voters approved an initiative that effectively requires central government spending to grow no faster than its revenue. Before the "debt brake" went into effect in 2003, central government spending was expanding by an average of 4.3% per year. Since then the annual increase is just 2.6%.

Annual central government spending today is less than 20% of gross domestic product, and total spending by all levels of government is about 34% of GDP, down from 36% when the debt brake went into effect. Considering the uncontrolled expenditure explosion in the USA as well as other European countries, this reform has proved very successful.

Education and welfare expenditures per capita are high compared to most nations although total spending for all levels of government is low. Switzerland's national debt and inflation rate are low because government revenues and expenditures are controlled by citizens rather than wasted by politicians and a bloated bureaucracy.

Food for Thought

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"Guns are our friends because in a country without guns, I'm what's known as "prey." All females are."

- Ann Coulter

"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

- Jeff Cooper

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

- Thomas Jefferson – 3rd President of the United States


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This article gratefully draws on much research by Frances Kendall published at ISIL, who was formally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988, 1989, and 1991 along with her husband, Leon Louw. With Leon, she is co-author of South Africa: The Solution and Let the People Govern, which proposed a Swiss style Confederation to end apartheid and defuse racial conflict in South Africa.

It also gathers information on the Swiss Debt Brake from Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute. Thank you both.
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