Archive for the ‘Switzerland’ Tag

Swiss Cheesy Smile

On sooner had Barack Obama and Gordon Brown said they would work to end the shadow banking system then many of the countries that have profited from hiding money from the tax man or providing a home for ill-gotten gains started to change their ways. Their commitment to be more open has less conviction than a cheesy smile. The Swiss said it will abide by international banking rules on data sharing but would only respond to “concrete and justified” requests. Seems like a statement to ensure those with something to hide can be assured of a warm welcome.

Switzerland has always been proud of its neutrality and well organised society. However there is a darker side to the country. Over the years it has provided succour to corrupt politicians and criminal gangs by ensuring their banking services remain anonymous. There have been some moves in the past to cooperate with investigations into illegal deposits but progress has been slow. Its a bit ironic that it has taken a downturn in the world’s economies to get the country to change. Perhaps their banks are suffering as well and the villains are having a hard time.

Money can supposedly buy you anything, in particular it can buy you the ability to avoid paying your way in the world by reducing or avoiding any tax commitments. Its one of the big injustices in Britain that those who pay the largest proportion of their income as tax are those with the least to loose. Many big corporations make large profits but organise their enterprises to ensure the profits only arise in those countries with the most favourable tax regimes. Its time the Government also tackled this equally unjust situation.

A Time To Live And A Time To Die

We live in a society that is generally unwilling to talk about death or to consider it something over which it is appropriate to exercise any control. No matter how hopeless, disabled or helpless a person is, they must wait for death to occur naturally. They cannot take the decision, while they have the ability to do so, to choose the point at which their life should end. Voluntary Euthanasia and suicide are against the law although, for the former, some doctors do perhaps stray very close and might even cross over the line on occasions. Like the Irish traveling to England for abortions, we have to travel to Switzerland to access the services of Dignitas who will help those who have decided their time has come.

In 2003 we watched Reginald Crew make the journey and witnessed a dignified and peaceful end to his life. Then Robert and Jennifer Stokes made the journey having chosen to end their pain and suffering. Now a British couple Peter and Penelope Duff chose to end their lives at the Dignitas clinic. Both were reported to be suffering from a terminal illness, Peter was 80 and his wife 70. It is sad that anyone’s life should lack sufficient quality for them to wish to live, but what greater expression of love can there be than to choose to share not just their lives but also their deaths together.

Its thought around 100 people from Britain have used the services of Dignitas to end their lives at the time of their choosing. The law remains unclear on whether the involvement of a third person, however cursory, is illegal. No cases have come to court and Debbie Purdy who has multiple sclerosis did try to get clarification on the matter to be assured her husband would not risk prosecution if he took her to the clinic in Switzerland. If the courts cannot help then Parliament needs to step in and clear up the uncertainty.