People living in directly democratically organised states are, according to surveys, more satisfied than others. For they feel less exposed to the power of the state, because they can co-decide on important issues.
But direct democracy involves much more than the right to vote on issues and take initiatives or referendums. To the “satisfied citizen” is also the awareness that every single one of us is important. By considering the whole at community, canton and federal level with our fellow citizens and feeling responsible for it, we become satisfied citizens. For example, it must be a matter of all of us which school we demand for our next generations of citizens. Whoever thinks the school is no longer important to him, because his children are already through with it, is not aware of the commitment of the citizen in the directly democratic state.
In the following, two areas alert citizens are today in particularly necessary. Two current examples from the municipal vote on 12 February 2017 in the city of Zurich show this; in other large Swiss cities it will not be much different.
While in smaller municipalities the citizens still have an eye on the fact that the state rate do not shoot through the roof, in a large city like Zurich the majority of the voters seems to have lost any measure. For years, they have granted the most generous loans for all kinds of projects, which could certainly be realised at much lower cost. Perhaps even with a renovation instead of a new building? Throughout the country, the primary school has become well known, for which the Zurich citizens granted a credit of 90 million (!) Francs on 9 June 2013 (for just 5 nursery classes and 15 primary school classes).
It goes without saying that the majority of them are socially thinking and do not want to take the Red Pen in schools or social institutions. The education of youth for direct-democratic participation implies that they are not only striving for their own interests, but also learning to look for fellow human beings. Citizenship to ensure a good education of our children and grandchildren cannot be done with the construction of overpriced luxury schools. In a village, such an exorbitant expenditure would be inconceivable, even after deducting the higher land charges and building costs in the city.
On 12 February 2017, the citizens of Zurich had to decide on three municipal votes, in addition to three federal votes. One of them again contained a credit for the construction of a school house, which this time amounted to “just” 30 million francs. Whoever now believes that the city administration has come to reason is wrong. The planned school house
Pfingstweid is a lot smaller than the school house Blumenfeld from 2013: It has only nine primary school classes (1st to 6th grade), i.e., CHF 30 million for 180 children! With catering space plus sports hall plus multipurpose hall – for nine classes! And with galleries all along the window fronts, so that schoolchildren can “learn independently”. According to Curriculum 21, they can stroll there or in the adjacent park: “At the same time valuable connections between the park and the school are created,” according to the commentary in the voting newspaper.
Most of the Zurich voters seemed to have no hesitation in agreeing to the 30 million school house. More than 88 percent said yes on 12 February.
We do not do good to our school children, when we teach them in Curriculum 21-compatible luxury buildings. What they need are not individual boxes, galleries and “learning” on a greenfield, but a school room for each class and a class teacher who works with them to develop the learning material. In addition to all the other advantages of class teaching, a much lower cost is a further advantage.
Another area, which we as citizens need address, is the almost sinister growing administrative bubbles at the federal level, the cantons and cities. Not only because the strong increase in the number of clerks and the “projects” they initiate which cause an increasingly taxation. But in addition to that there is a creeping takeover of state power by democratically unauthorised administrative departments that is particularly disturbing. For example, at federal level, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) or for the Environment (FOEN), which have been discussed more frequently in Current Concerns.
In the cities, administrative bubbles are growing particularly strongly in the social sector. It must, of course, be taken into account that large cities have a far higher share of people depending on social welfare than in rural areas in proportion to the population. Nevertheless, there would be plenty of opportunities to be more economical in this area as well. The Social Department of the City of Zurich spent around CHF 1.4 billion in 2015. This is roughly a sixth of the urban budget. A staggering sum!
Another example from the Zurich municipal vote of 12 February: The voters decided on the future of sip züri. The sip züri (security, intervention, prevention) is a group in the Social Department, which was introduced by the municipal council (parliament) in 1990 with a limited duration and has been extended several times since then. Their employees are to communicate in the public space in case of dispute and noise, intervene with harassment and provide information and direct help on the spot. In addition, sip züri has to supervise so-called “exposed institutions of the social department”; The four urban centers for drug use and the publicly funded prostitution facility – with 15.900 hours of service in 2015.
You have read correctly: The Social Department of the City of Zurich operates four drug delivery centers at the expense of taxpayers and the publicly funded prostitution area which you find only in Switzerland (see box)
On 12 February, the voters now had to decide whether the “Conflict and Help in the Public Access Area” program should be permanently installed and, in particular, whether to allow the annual approval of the necessary financial resources to the municipal council (parliament). 79.4% of respondents said yes, although a strong minority in the parliament (49 no – against 69 yes votes) had argued against it from two far-flung political corners.
The SVP criticized the fact that sip züri is not a real security service because it has no enforcement powers, i.e., for example, it cannot impose space or house bans, but in case needs the police to intervene so that finally two institutions are concerned with the same problem. Hence sip züri, which costs the taxpayers every year 4 million francs, is only a further expansion of mobile social work.
The leftist AL (alternative list), on the other hand, came to grips with the
“gentle repression” which sip züri exercises with its “social control in public space.” This patronizing and overprotection of the population by the state in today’s well-fare society is even for the progressives too much.
Particularly noteworthy is the second argument of the AL. Here are the concrete numbers:
“Over the years sip züri has been steadily expanded. It started with 6.4 full time positions eqivalents (FTE) and a budget of CHF 1.267.000 and has now reached 33.9 FTEs, with a budget of 4.179.700 francs.
The sip assignment was formulated so openly that new tasks could be added almost without restrictions. At first, drug and alcohol consumption as well as punks were the focus. Later, drunken teenagers were a problem, in 2008 the publicly visible red light milieu, 2014 asylum seekers in the center Juch. Today’s disruptive factors are mainly drug users, socially marginalized, adolescents and partygoers.”
The fact that this resistance to the extensive public administration of citizens by the state is coming from the far left, shows that really a drastic reversal is needed. It is astonishing that only about 20 per cent of the Zurich voters followed this warning voice.
We as citizens, especially in the cantons and cities, are becoming increasingly aware of our control task to ensure that the public sector deals with the tax money in a more economical and prudent way. We have our voting right not only to “have something to say”. In no association, in no cooperative, the members’ assemblies would approve so lightly to spend money, just as the assemblies in smaller communities. •
mw.Remember: In the nineties the Zurich electorates with the help of misleading propaganda were brought to accept the distribution of heroin and other drugs to addicts. It was argued by doing this they would be able “to live and work normally” and not bother the public. Vitally important institutions for drug withdrawal and the following therapy were then closed.
The result: Many stay drug dependent all their life and often become criminal, too. Instead of helping the addicts out of their misery, today the urban social workers manage the so called “drop-ins”, where addicts use their dope and make their injections round the clock. By the way, in Switzerland there are already built nursing homes where the ageing drug consumers – after their addiction has been paid by the state together with the health insurance funds over decades – can be dropped off.
One thing is clear anyhow: this requires many, many jobs in the social department of the municipality of Zurich…. and the administration bubble can continue growing.
On 11.3.2012 the electorates of Zurich-city approved a 2.4 million credit for a publicly funded prostitution facility with 46,545 yes to 41,883 no-votes, a narrow result with a rejecting majority in some districts, especially massive in Zurich Altstetten (64% no-votes), where the facility then was built.
The prostitution facility “Depotweg” first of all shall enable «better working conditions» for prostitutes. It consists of ten garage-like, open boxes, where the punters drive in with the car and can “purchase the sexual service” (cf “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, 11.3.2012). – “better working conditions” during sex in the garage? Even in this domain the wraparound-care by Zurich-City becomes more and more grotesque: Not only patrols of sip züri take care of the adherence to the facility standards, but there is also an advisory pavillon of the «womens counselling service Flora Dora» for sex workers on the facility ground which is open daily from 7 p.m. to midnight. Besides the lease costs of 92 000 SFr. annual personnel expenses in the amount of 270,000 SFr.- have to be reflected in the budget.
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