In light of UBS’s decision to pass on data about secret Swiss bank accounts, I thought I’d post this excerpt from Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, a book about Antigua. I always think of this passage when I think of Switzerland. Cuckoo clocks be damned.
(These offshore banks are popular in the West Indies. Only tourism itself is more important. Every government wants to have these banks, which are modeled on the banks in Switzerland. I have a friend who just came back from Switzerland. What a wonderful time she had. She had never seen cleaner streets anywhere, or more wonderful people anywhere. She was in such a rhapsodic state about the Swiss, and the superior life they lead, that it was hard for me not to bring up how they must pay for this superior life they lead. For almost not a day goes by that I don’t hear about some dictator, some tyrant from somewhere in the world , who has robbed his country’s treasury, stolen the aid from foreign governments, and placed it in his own personal and secret Swiss bank account; not a day goes by that I don’t hear of some criminal kingpin, some investor, who has a secret Swiss bank account. But maybe there is no connection between the wonderful life that the Swiss lead and the ill-gotten money that is resting in Swiss bank vaults; maybe it’s just a coincidence. The Swiss are famous for their banking system and for making superior timepieces. Switzerland is a neutral country, money is a neutral commodity, and time is neutral, too, being neither here nor there, one thing or another.)
The cuckoo clock scene starts at 1:35 from The Third Man.