2024 – Spring

Not so fun facts and some hope

Author: William Flores

We’re all used to that typically Swiss tradition, repeating itself every year. At best it annoys us, at worst it fills us with paralyzing anxiety. You know what I’m talking about. No? Why it’s the yearly health insurance premium increase, of course! For real though, Swiss healthcare is a joke. Want to hear some not so fun facts? No? Too bad.

Did you know that in Switzerland 1 in 4 people don’t go to the doctor when they need to, due to financial reasons?[1] That’s because they chose the highest possible deductible in order to pay the lowest possible monthly premium. What kind of twisted, perverted, and cartoonishly evil mind came up with this system, where if you’re poor, you’re encouraged to save a few bucks every month, only to pay up to 2’500 francs out of pocket for medical bills?

And did you know that in Switzerland, health insurance premiums have gone up by 158% since 1997? In the meantime, wages have only gone up by 12%.[2]

Also, did you know that some cantons blacklist people who, for whatever reason, cannot pay their premiums? Those people then only have access to a loosely defined “emergency care.” Because of this, an HIV-positive person in Grisons actually died in 2018.[3] Their salary was too high to apply for healthcare subsidies, but because they were in a lot of debt, they could not pay their premiums either. They ended up being blacklisted, and eventually died from AIDS, because the Canton and the insurance company were too busy fighting over whether or not this person’s case constituted an “emergency,” instead of just treating them.

Furthermore, did you know that only 37% of our country’s total healthcare expenditure is covered via progressive public financing (i.e. taxes and social insurance contributions)? The EU average stands at 76%.[4] This means that mandatory insurance premiums and out-of-pocket contributions finance the brunt of healthcare costs in this country. This is an inherently regressive way of funding healthcare, as someone earning 3’000 francs/month and someone earning 20’000 francs/month basically pay the same premium.

This madness needs to end. It is high time we set up a Swiss equivalent of the National Health Service, providing free care at point of service, funded either through taxation or progressive social insurance contributions. This being a rather conservative country, we might have to wait for this, but, on June 9th, Swiss voters will have a wonderful opportunity to reform our broken healthcare system.

In fact, citizens are called to vote on the Socialist Party proposal to cap premiums at max. 10% of people’s disposable income. If the premium exceeds that amount, the difference would have to be paid for by the joint contribution of the Canton and the Confederation.[5] This would mean relief for many lower- and middle-class households, and would mark a first step towards shifting healthcare expenditure from private to public funding. It’s a small step, but it seems doable, especially given the momentum of the AVS/AHV vote from last February, which marked the first expansion of the welfare state in years. So, talk about healthcare with your friends and family, and don’t forget to vote. Let’s keep the ball rolling!

[1] Pirolt. “Franchises élevées : ces assurés qui renoncent à se faire soigner faute de moyens.” RTS, 24.10.2024.

[2] “Des primes-maladie exorbitantes : la situation se corse.” Union Syndicale Suisse.

[3] Michiels. “Pas de soins pour le mauvais payeur. Il en meurt.” Le Matin, 29.04.2018.

[4] OECD Health Statistics 2023.

[5] “Initiative d’allègement des primes.” PS Suisse.

2023 - Spring

For All Mankind: or, How Switzerland Can Do Its Part in the Climate Crisis

Image: © NASA/Bill Anders, “Earthrise,” Public Domain, via Wikipedia Commons, Source.

Author: William Flores

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the lunar surface in the summer of 1969, they planted a US flag. We all know that. A lesser known fact is that their lunar module carried a metal plaque with the phrase “FOR ALL MANKIND.” So, despite Cold War tensions, the US administration recognised the historical significance of the event. It was not just US citizens landing on the moon for the first time, it was all of humanity.

Today, as we face a human-made climate crisis, we desperately need a similar spirit. We are global citizens with a global responsibility. On June 18th Swiss citizens will have the opportunity to do their part. How so?

We are called to vote in a national referendum on the Climate Law, a counter-proposal to the Glacier Initiative, adopted by parliament last year. The law could have already been enforced if it wasn’t for the far-right UDC triggering a referendum.

What does the law say?

Learning from the criticisms made to the failed 2021 CO2 law, the new law focuses exclusively on encouraging the energy transition away from fossil fuels, rather than betting on punitive measures. Essentially, it enshrines the 2050 goal for net-zero emissions nationwide into law, as well as intermediate goals. To ensure that these goals are met, the law directs the government to create a federal fund that will provide 200 million CHF per year to finance homes and buildings switching their gas and oil burners for climate-friendly heat pumps. This is important, because buildings are the second biggest source of carbon emissions in Switzerland after transportation. The law also provides funding for industries to switch to cleaner production methods.

That’s not very radical…

Indeed, it isn’t. This law is not a “giant leap,” but it is an essential step to slow down our descent towards climate catastrophe.

Why did UDC attack it with a referendum?

Officially to “protect the middle class” against an “extreme and expensive” law.

Is there any merit to UDC’s claim?

No, the law does not create any new taxes. The installation of heat pumps would be covered by the government using existing money and would lead to lower and more stable energy prices. The current energy crisis was, after all, caused by fossil gas shortages. But don’t take my word for it, you can read the full bill here:

Thus, the UDC just seeks attention in an electoral year (parliamentary elections will take place in the fall of 2023). By positioning itself as a “defender of the middle class” and as an “antidote to wokism,” it is clearly riding a populist wave. Furthermore, it seeks to delay on climate action. Let’s not forget that Albert Rösti was, after all, a lobbyist for Swissoil. As the new environment minister, he is now in the awkward position of having to defend the Climate Law, mere months after initiating the referendum against it. Let’s appreciate the irony of that!

Why write this article?

Because as ridiculous as UDC’s arguments and tactics are, the party is known for its successful, populist campaigns. With this article I implore you (yes, you) to vote YES on the climate law on June 18th. If you can’t vote, at least try to encourage others to do so. Talk about the Climate Law and how UDC is blatantly lying. In order to counter the populist narrative, we need all of civil society to stand up and vote and inform others. Think of it not only as the duty of any and all Swiss citizens, but as the duty of any and all human beings in the fight against the climate crisis. As the plaque on the lunar module says: FOR ALL MANKIND.

2021 - Spring

The Future we deserve

Image: “Jewel Changi (II)” © Wikimedia Commons – Licence

Author: William Flores

The Future we deserve

Towards a post-scarcity, solarpunk, Star Trekkian future

It’s been more than a year since our daily lives have been upset by the pandemic. I remember last spring when reports of nature’s supposed healing were on the news almost daily. For a while, the prospect of a green post-pandemic recovery seemed within reach. However, both the European Union’s “Green Deal” and Joe Biden’s “Build back better” infrastructure plan, the most ambitious recovery plans thus far, remain short of what’s needed to avert a climate catastrophe and fix the grotesque levels of inequality that plague our world. Despite the “New Deal” rhetoric, they’re no match for the transformative social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

If anything, governments all over the world are failing to rise to this historic moment. The difficulty of getting a federal 15 USD/hour minimum wage across the finish line in the US only shows the lack of political will for any long-lasting change.

However, perhaps we should not expect state institutions to offer salvation from capitalist dystopia. Indeed, it is up to us as people to resist and disrupt the system wherever and whenever possible. Rights, especially social rights have never been granted, they have always been fought for. Resistance can take many forms. Whether it’s through strikes, squatting empty apartments, setting up mutual aid networks, guerrilla gardening, petitioning for improved rights or even disrupting company efficiency by taking extra long bathroom breaks at work.

While a bit of a long shot, the notion of dual power is promising. Applied by the Black Panthers, the idea is to make capitalist and existing state institutions redundant through community organizing. Community permaculture, local housing cooperatives and community-owned clinics for example, offer ways towards at least a partial emancipation from capitalism. However, I believe that we should not abandon institutional politics completely. Indeed, the continuation of many social programs that protect the most vulnerable people of society depends on the kind of people that are in office. Even if institutional politics alone do not offer revolutionary change, it can be used as a tool for harm reduction and as a way to make things easier for communities trying to organize mutual aid, cooperatives, community gardens, renewable energy micro-grids and so on.

By slowly building a network of semi-autonomous socially and ecologically minded communes, we might just lay the foundations of a post-scarcity society based on Murray Bookchin’s municipal social ecology. The liberatory potential of small-scale community-owned and community-managed technologies such as hydroponic systems, solar panels and additive/subtractive manufacturing techniques (3D printers, CNC machines, Wiki-houses) might just allow such communes to slowly but surely break free of capitalism and authoritarian state structures and usher in a world where the needs of all are met unconditionally, where all unnecessary (and often environmentally destructive) work will be abolished. Over time, these communes might start looking like the vegetal cities imagined by Belgian architect Luc Schuiten or certain parts of contemporary Singapore, whose futuristic architecture is based on the concept of biomimicry. Free from wage slavery, people might spend most of their time building relationships with their fellow humans and the Earth, pursuing art and all kinds of skills and hobbies. Just as Star Trek: TNG’sCaptain Jean-Luc Picard said to a time-traveller from present-day Earth: “The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24thcentury. The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity”. Now that’s the future we should be aiming for, that’s the future we deserve.

2019 - Winter

Women of Colour in Professional Positions of Power

Image: ‘Scales of Justice’ © Michael Coghlan. SourceCC License

Author:  Quynh Trang Do

“It is kind of weird to have a German teacher who, well, is Vietnamese, no?”

I was having a seemingly innocent conversation about my professional ambitions and when I told this middle-aged white man that I aspired to teach German and English, he blurted this to my face. When I asked, “Why so?” I could see that he immediately regretted his words, mumbled something about my appearance, and finally found some excuse to walk away.

This made me question the representation of women of colour in the professional world, especially in professions where they represent an institution. As far as I can remember, there has only been one female teacher of colour in my studies, and that also includes obligatory school. Why is that? Are we prevented from getting these kinds of jobs? Which mechanisms are implemented to prevent women and women of colour (WOC) from filling these positions?

In the wake of the US mid-terms, the election of the first Muslim-American woman, Ilhan Omar, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist of Puerto Rican descent, to Congress is a big win for the representation of women of colour in professional and political positions of power.While the first once described herself as “America’s hope and the president’s nightmare”, the latter claimed that she “[was] running for Congress to create an America that works for all of us, not just a wealthy few”.

This unapologetic tone and, well, their status as WOC, is shaking up the political sphere.

Eddy Scarry, commentary writer for the Washington Examiner, seized the opportunity to speak his mind. He has tweeted about, surprise, surprise, Ocasio-Cortez’ clothing in an attempt to delegitimize her.

Eddie Scarry on Ocasio-Cortez’ outfit. Source

First of all, the rights to a build person’s image and the respect of their private life, have you heard about it? Yes, she is a public servant and having her photo taken against her will is part of the job, but a professional using this kind of source – a shot taken behind her back – is representative of the cowardice of this kind of discourse.

It is, however, this discourse of delegitimizing women and WOC by criticizing their appearance and clothing that tires me: trying to reduce women and their competency performing their job to their outer appearance is an all-too-familiar strategy.

In regard to Ocasio-Cortez’ clothing, she will be criticized however she dresses: the Congress is known to have a strict dress code, so if she does not dress accordingly, she will not be taken seriously. In fact, she has already been mistaken for an intern because of her young age. And if she does dress appropriately, ill-intentioned comments such as Scarry’s surface.

This strategy is one of the many strategies the patriarchal hegemony uses to undermine and delegitimize women and WOC in this institution: the attempt to associate women with what is usually perceived as superficial. This implies an oversimplified and one-dimensional representation of women and WOC.

They are thus trying to take away our agency to present and represent ourselves.

However, Scarry is not only trying to attack her as a woman, he is also trying to undermine her working-class origins by implying that she is a hypocrite. He is ultimately using the convenient discourse of blaming working-class people for their own condition, which claims that if they do not look like they are struggling, they are not.

Furthermore, calling an elected Congresswoman a “girl” just shows how much disdain Scarry carries for Ocasio-Cortez and what she is representing.

In the meantime, Scarry deleted his tweet and posted some poorly phrased apologetic comment about how elegant she looked despite “struggling”, which does not change anything about the underlying accusations of his initial tweet.

It seems that the patriarchal hegemony is scared and is thus using their old lines of attack – but this time we are prepared. Especially now, that a more diverse representation of women of colour has been elected to the American political sphere, some people are actually fearing that the change is real.

And real it is – us women and women of colour are not only gaining visibility and support, we are also making sure that our voices are heard.

It is high time that WOC are represented in professional positions of power in multicultural countries like the US and Switzerland. We not only need them to fight for our rights as women and WOC, but we also need role models that girls and young women can look up to and identify with.



Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria. 2018. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Retrieved December 7, 2018, from

Rabinovitch-Fox, Elinav. 2018. Criticism of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s clothes echoes attacks against early female labor activists.
Retrieved December 7, 2018, from

Rosenberg, Eli. 2018. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore clothing, a journalist tweeted a photo, and the Internet pounced.
Retrieved December 7, 2018, from