14 April 2021

Happy Almost Tax Day for the US. Well, traditionally happy Tax Day, I guess that has moved back until May this year. I don’t understand the rationale for this move. Last year it made sense. The whole world was discombobulated with the virus and the lockdowns. This year, we are are now adjusted, and based what everyone is telling me about life in the US… everything is back to normal with the exception of international travel.

I know I have told you before that one benefit that Julie’s company provides is a company that does our taxes. We just have to provide the info, and they take it from there. Swiss taxes were actually due last month, but the accountants filed an extension for us. This kind of irritates me. I have always been a person that liked to file early. What irritates me the most is that the SWISS taxes should be really easy. The only thing that really has to be figured out is the amount of the “wealth tax”. Unfortunately, we cannot go forward with the US taxes until the SWISS taxes are completed. We don’t have to pay double, but taxes are higher in the US than here, so we pay the difference between the US total, and what we already paid in Switzerland. The only savings by living overseas come from not having to pay State Taxes.

The only thing going on this week is anxiously waiting to find out if the Government is going to lift the work from home orders. I don’t see how they can the order. The COVID numbers keep going up. The numbers are not spiking, but it is just a consistent rise every week. Part of me thinks they should just go ahead and open everything back up. Keep the mask mandates in place, but go ahead and open. The problem is that hospitals are still overwhelmed, and opening back up will cause that situation to be worse.

The advertisements have started for the June referendum. From what I can tell there is only one thing on the ballot, taking away the emergency powers from the federal government in regards to COVID. Honestly I do not have any clue which way the people will vote. My gut tells me the powers will be taken away but that is just a wild guess. There is a significant minority that thinks the government should never have put any restrictions in place. The feeling is that individual liberties outweighs the risk. This argument should sound really familiar to my friends back home in the US. It is the exact same argument. I think there is also a significant minority that believes the government should be able to make rules in a pandemic, but also feel the government has bungled the response to this emergency.

Bungled might be strong, but we had our strongest lockdown in March and April 2019 when the country was getting about 1100 – 1500 new cases per day. Since October, the numbers have been higher than back then, yet the lockdowns have not been as strict. I think the one decision that caused most people to question the government was to allow the ski resorts to stay open all winter. I think the slow vaccine rollout will also cause people to think the federal government should have some of the powers taken away.

Last week I posted that our vaccine rollout was comparable to the US in regards to percentage vaccinated, well it turns out I was looking at a poorly worded website, or (and probably the most likely) I translated the web site incorrectly. I had seen a site that reported over 1.6 million “Vaccinations” had already taken place. It turns out, that was the number of doses that had been administered, so the total number of vaccinations is not even half that. Switzerland has never used the J and J vaccine, so it takes two doses to be vaccinated. So I thought we had vaccinated about 20% of the population. It turns out that we have only fully vaccinated about 7% of the population. That is a big difference!!

Julie is anxiously awaiting news about returning to work. Honestly, I think she would rather work from home right now, though. She likes going into the office, but until she can get a vaccine, she doesn’t want to ride the train. I can’t say I blame her. Being on the train is probably the most risky thing (in regards to covid) that we ever do. Being this close to the end, it would be a huge bummer if one of us caught the bug now.

It looks like she will be working from home a while longer, though. The Government just announced they are loosening restrictions, but they did not mention the work from home requirement. Starting Monday restaurants will be able to serve outside, and everything else will open. I do find it funny that there was no announcement regarding the work rules, though. What I find the most funny is this was the one restriction, that studies have shown to not be effective, yet, it is still one of only two restrictions left in place. I am not counting international travel, when I talk restrictions. Each country has their own travel rules, and actually the rules coming back into Switzerland are less onerous than the rules if we went somewhere else!

I do not know the right word to describe my emotion after reading the announcement. Amusement is not quite the right word. It wasn’t like I laughed, but I did chuckle a little when I read the line, “The risks associated with the easing are acceptable…” I read that as “We know everyone will start acting like idiots on Monday, but we think there is enough room in the hospitals to account for the increased cases of the virus.” The announcement did go on to say:

Berset cautioned that the easing of restrictions should not be seen as a signal that the danger is over and the population can let down its guard. “That is not at all the case,” he said. “We need to continue being careful.

Virtually all the activities again permitted from Monday should be practiced only while wearing a face mask and with appropriate physical distancing, the government said.

And as far as possible, activities should take place outdoors, where the risk of infection is far lower.

I am glad to see the restrictions easing. I do find it crazy that more strict restrictions were put in place when the numbers were lower and now that the numbers are starting to trend up again the restrictions are loosened. If the vaccines were being given with a greater pace maybe it would make more sense.

Anyway, that is enough rambling for today. I hope this finds you well. Talk to you next week.

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