Swiss Apartheid?

Alpine real estate


Looking for a low-tax environment to build your dream home? The Swiss canton of Obwalden has a deal for you. How does "a sunny location, with low noise emissions [and] good amenities," sound? They'll even throw in "an unrestricted view that cannot be built on." One catch: You have to be extremely wealthy.

Three years ago, Obwalden voted itself a 1.8 percent local income tax rate and a 6.6 percent corporate tax rate. Although the move attracted many businesses, virtually all merely acquired a mailing address in the canton and failed to bolster the local economy.

In Switzerland, known worldwide as a tax haven, cantons compete to create the friendliest tax environment, so raising taxes isn't a viable option. Instead, town fathers have decided to make previously restricted agricultural land available for construction. These "special living zones," which boast lake and mountain views, will be available only to the tax-paying rich or to people who can promise to create jobs in the region. Not surprisingly, the plan has attracted criticism. "These special living zones are nothing less than a form of apartheid," Moritz Leuenberger, Switzerland's environment and transport minister, complained to the U.K. Guardian.

Obwalden Finance Director Hans Wallimann offered this defense: "Swiss Railways offers a first class with more comfort and more space. There's also the second class where I have less space, but I pay half the amount. Is that so unfair?" 

NEXT: Regulating Chakras

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  1. Not that I agree with this idea but the rich probably would not be able to afford living there anyway.

    What is with the new format? I think I prefer the old format frankly.

  2. I like Swiss cheese ..and the new format.

    Who wants to live around a bunch of rich people. I have nothing against the rich, I value them, just not their company or as neighbors generally speaking. What my neighbors do with, in, and around their homes does not interest me in the least and I expect the same consideration.

    The wealthier the neighborhood the more the neighbors seem to have and/or assume they have right to dictate what you do with or on yours.

    The Swiss can do whatever they please with heir’s just keep that cheese coming this way.

  3. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke

  4. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane.

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