(Original post by meow444)
Hi MTR, don't worry about the questions
I have a penchant for writing long posts anyway it seems!
- as far as I know, housing is pretty much available to all. It doesn't matter what kind of background you have, even if you have been unemployed most of your life. There aren't really council estates. I'm not sure what kind of housing the government supplies. I suspect most people just get their rent paid for them by the government if they are unemployed. The grand majority of people in Switzerland rent. Very few people buy houses because mortgages take a very long time to pay off (like a lifetime, I'm not kidding! it's just the way the banks work there, you aren't allowed to pay off early). A lot of people live in apartments, especially poorer people in the cities, but they are really nice, well kept and safe. The standard of housing for poor people in England is much lower. The sort of houses I've lived since I've been a student in the UK just don't exist in Switzerland, people would be outraged and landlords would not get away with it.
- nope there isn't really a class system in Switzerland at all. Some people are richer than others, but they tend to mix a lot more. My mum (who is quite poor) is good friends with a millionaire, and they do a lot of the same things, they shop in the same supermarkets, etc. People who haven't gone to uni, blue collar workers, poorer people - they are not looked down on by richer people. Being a plumber in Switzerland is a very respected profession and people usually take pride in their work, whatever level they work at.
- the banking industry is very differently regulated. For a start the banks are allowed 'banking secrecy' - basically people can have anonymous savings accounts, which means a lot of foreign rich people have bank accounts and other kinds of investment in Switzerland. This brings a lot of money into the country. Personally, I think this is where Switzerland gets a lot of it's wealth from, and imho it's a bit immoral since a lot of money laundering goes on. This is all changing now though, and pressure is being put on the banks to change their policies. Apart from the secrecy though I think the banks are more carefully regulated, and they are more cautious with their investment - long term, low risk investment is popular in Switzerland, and I think this is why they didn't suffer much in the credit crunch. I think the big reason that bankers and rich people don't 'threaten to up and leave' Switzerland is because their incomes aren't questioned, and because of the high standard of living, and also because Switzerland has some of the lowest tax rates for the rich in the world. My old boss was very rich and he was Irish. He moved to Switzerland for the investment opportunities and the tax breaks. While I don't like the idea of tax breaks for the rich, it does seem to bring a lot of wealth into Switzerland. (I know, this isn't left-wing at all, so it's opposing my original post).
- Finally, most public services are run by the government. Public transport is AWESOME there. All the public services are. The swimming pools are lush too.
Phew. OK. End of post. You would think I like Switzerland a lot more than the UK, but I don't really. There are great things about the UK too.
Edit: to answer about the redistribution of wealth, well there isn't anyone who really 'does' it, things have just developed that way because of the equal opportunities that come with socialism, like decent education for all. But I think the higher level of regulation in the job market helps. Like the government has policies like a high minimum wage, which varies depending on which job you do.