Goodbye to the Land of Cockaigne

Some days ago, I stumbled upon an article on a Swiss newspaper website outlining the macroeconomic reasons why Switzerland – the country I am leaving in two days for an unspecified period of time – will be the ultimate paradise for its citizens in 2012: Welcome to the Land of Cockaigne! The main insights: the national currency remains strong, lower import prices are being passed to the consumers, consumption grows, wages increase, inflation becomes negative, interest rates remain low, and the wealth on real estate property increases due to higher prices that, in turn, are driven by ridiculously low interest rates. Moreover, unemployment is expected to remain relatively low, which leads to the result that the Swiss total income stays high. The article came with an illustration of Scrooge McDuck taking a header into gold coins – obviously the allegorical portrayal of a typical Swiss.

Sure, the drawn analogy is oversimplified and brazenly exaggerated. No, the vast majority in Switzerland does not own a Maserati, and horses don’t belong to the category of usual birthday gifts, and yes, there is a poverty line, and all the nasty spin-offs of a regular society do exist indeed. And yet these obvious generalizations have to be adjusted drastically with regards to a global perspective. I have been to many places all around the world and must say – and this is not a major insight anymore – that many Swiss complain at a very high level. The economic circumstances make a very bearable living available, even for weaker social classes. And Mr. and Mrs. McDuck…well, they get themselves those thoroughbreds on a regular basis, just like everywhere else. It is safe to say though that the average citizen’s living standard ranges somewhere between the temporary bottleneck and a freaking amazing decadence.

So people keep asking me – particularly my relatives in Croatia – why I would want to leave such an environment and instead take the risk of staying unemployed for several months, put up with all the administrative drama, and use up my very modest savings for some affordable hovel down in Brooklyn or Queens. First of all, I was lucky enough to have found myself among the 50,000 winners out of 14,768,658 Green Card lottery entrants. However, this is a basic prerequisite, not an actual reason to go. I have outlined the reason in my previous post. In an economic system that is becoming increasingly global, it is getting proportionally important to develop a global mindset. Going out there and trying to manage the usual challenges in a different cultural framework can only be rewarding. Recent graduates do not really have much to lose: a few months of a lifetime and some money, if the worst comes to the worst.

So one question remains: Why New York? Basically because it is New York. Shanghai radiates an equally strong magic in my opinion, but in a clearly different way. With regards to the Big Apple, there was an amazing video published online last year: A Year in New York by Andrew Clancy, which I consider one of the realest city reflections ever. Everybody who has ever been there will understand:

A Year in New York from Andrew Clancy on Vimeo.

The pictures speak for themselves. So why wouldn’t I be determined to say goodbye to the Land of Cockaigne at least for a while? Special regards to all its residents!

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7 thoughts on “Goodbye to the Land of Cockaigne

  1. Pingback: Gone Till November… | matejtomic.com

  2. A Hovel,..lol
    Let’s hope it’s more than a hovel you shall find 🙂

    Where I am from, Ireland was like that for a while also, land of Milk & Honey (USA was that also one time many years ago!) we/they had the “Celtic Tiger” and money was everywhere, but so also was the huge debts that people got. And now all that Honey is gone 😦 and all is left is spilled milk!

    • True, the conditions can change quickly. People in many countries have been living beyond their means for many years, that’s how it ends. Switzerland is very stable, no gov debt, good budget discipline, but sure, circumstances can change (lots of talk about the banking sector lately).

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