Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

Switzerland: Will Happiness Survive Lack of Boredom?

Switzerland's boredom may not survive a financial crisis. As the rest of the world is being sucked into what may be a global recession, Switzerland is also getting worried. One of the reasons, according to Weiner, that the Swiss can afford to be bored is because of low unemployment. People have jobs. However, there are signs that this may be changing:

One of the major Swisss banks, UBS, became involved in the subprime morgage melt-down. The bank had a public meeting which generated a crowd of 6000 people who were expecting the total loss of their lifetime savings. One annoyed elderly shareholder had enough:

"Well, those responsible were plain to see - a phalanx of UBS chief executives in expensive suits, on a raised dais, bathed in spotlights. It was not the best public relations image.
The Swiss know that UBS bosses earned among the highest salaries in Europe. Added to that were huge bonuses which they continued to award themselves even as the financial crisis unfolded.
It was all too much for one indignant shareholder. Leaping to the podium he turned to UBS chairman Marcel Ospel and told him "give back your fat bonus, now. "Here, just in case you go hungry, I've brought you something to eat," he continued.
And reaching into his pocket he produced a string of traditional Swiss sausages and waved them under Mr Ospel's trembling nose. " (see above link)

This is the action of a calm, bored, happy Swiss citizen? Many Americans may share this man's anger as they listen to the news or read papers online or in print form. However, with the exception of those factory workers in Chicago, the average American is not publicly protesting the current financial crisis. I am impressed but not optimistic for much happiness in Switzerland in the near future.

Next post - Thailand: Happiness is Not Thinking.

1 comment:

Mr. M said...

This reminds me of the old Chinese blessing/curse: "May you live in interesting times!"

The Age of Ennui has been over since 9/11, at least in the U.S. It sounds like 2008 has put an end to it all around the world.