Switzerland has almost no 'standing army'. But as you say, virtually
all adult males are part of their reserve forces.
Of course Switzerland has a distinct geographical advantage IRT
enforcing their neutrality.
BTW, there are three official languages in Switzerland...
Yes there are three official languages in switzerland and several more that
are not official (Romanche for one). Most swiss are conversant in all their
I trained with their citizen army one time ago. You airborn pukes, think
you can run? Think again.
In many respects you are correct. In Switzerland, every male (18 to 65)
is part of the armed forces. They take their weapons and equipment home
with them.That doesn't insure their neutrality. What insures their
neutrality is their not aligning with other countries, their banking
system and why would any other country want to invade them. The Germans
loved them. The Jews on the other hand (the ones who survived) are not so
happy with the Swiss (bankers not the farmers).
Sheesh, I said I wouldn't do this again.
I retired from SS about five years, ago.
We had procedures to call beneficiaries directly, but they were few and
always about specific claims.
We did mail out questionnaires from time to time, but they were always sent
on official letterhead paper, in officially franked envelopes.
The administration maintains a list of certified translators, (especially
for foreign documents like birth certificates and marriage licenses), but
they have to be officially tested by the Administration before they can be
certified as translators, and it's an expensive and time consuming process.
I have personally talked on the phone to Administration employees(!) in
which I required a translator just to understand them. (South Texas
District Offices). Luckily, the guy at the next desk was of Latin
extraction, and I'd just hand the phone to him and let him chatter away in
Spanish, and then he'd translate to English. (Romero also was kind enough
to demonstrate to me that I would never be a chess master, since he
regularly kicked my butt in our matches)
Far northeastern accents, were sometimes difficult, too, especially Maine,
but we could usually manage.
Keep in mind the quality of telephone equipment, which could easily make a
bad language situation, almost impossible.
Consider the situation where the beneficiary calls into the Administration
with a question. (Those infamous 800 number help lines.) A good many
times, not only does the answering employee not understand the language, a
fair amount of time, the employee doesn't even know which language is being
spoken. They might guess at Spanish, French or German, just from the sound,
but how about Polish, Rumanian, or Portuguese? Not to mention Bantu, Farsi
Newt Gingrich is campaigning that all people wishing to be US citizens
should be required to take a comprehensive history test, administered
completely and solely in English. Among other things. I happen to agree.
While I do not want to adopt an official language, (with all the silly
bureaucracy that the French have, to keep foreign words out of the French
language), I see no problem with declaring standard English as the official
language of choice, and abandoning all the special considerations that are
in place, today.
I've been to Mexico. I liked the people. I liked the food. I can even
appreciate many elements of the culture (love of family, honesty, fidelity,
honor). But I don't want to live in Mexico.
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