From time to time, journalists turn up in Zug tasked to write stories of affluence and privilege for the UK media.
They search fruitlessly for the spoors and watering holes of the rich, the exclusive bar, or shop or restaurant. They trudge the streets – and this doesn’t take very long in compact Zug – in pursuit of evidence of extravagant consumption and signifiers of affluent life. Invariably, the only icon to consumption they find is the single Ferrari dealer on Baarerstrasse. There they construct a story around the long waiting list for the most expensive model –dishonestly making no comparative reference to the long waiting lists common to all Ferrari dealers worldwide.
The really interesting story in Zug is that there are millionaires and billionaires living here, but they are non-practising. Few of the icons of wealth are visible here. There is a marina on the Zugersee, and a waiting list of 200 for the mooring slots, but in the main, the boats are just practical cruising and sailing tubs, no Ferrari equivalents, Monaco it is not.
A cup of coffee costs much the same anywhere in the city. You cannot buy an expensive cup of coffee if you try. This is not a problem in London. But you can’t find a cheap cup of coffee in Zug either, and for me that sums it all up. There is a flattening up of differentials here. No special provision for the rich or the poor. It just isn’t possible to be poor in Zug the way it everywhere else. To be poor, you need to be provided for. The provision of inferior facilities and amenities is lacking here.
But also lacking are the private health clubs, exclusive bars and stretched limos, the private schools (the only ones are those set up by the ex-pats, and they offer inferior services compared to the Cantonal version). There is no special access via money to private medicine as in the UK, because all medicine is private and all citizens have equal access to it.
For example the public swimming pools here are of superior quality to the private clubs I used in London. Even if there were private pools, I wouldn’t need to use them. In London if you haven’t got enough money for a car or taxi, you must use expensive and unreliable public transport. In Zug, everyone (i.e. including billionaires) uses the public transport system in preference to the auto, because it is faster, more efficient, high quality as well as being inexpensive.
In London if you are poor you can find inferior accommodation, transport services, food, and clothes. In Zug there is a basic level below which there is simply no supply. You can’t be poor in Zug because there is no provision for it. The most inferior housing is still vastly better than the worst housing in London.
To be a practising millionaire you need places of worship, and they don’t exist in Zug