5 Laws From Other Countries (The USA Should Totally Steal)
Whenever you're not being shot, mortgaging your house to pay a hospital bill, or visiting Florida, America can be a pretty great place. But a few of the less star-spangled countries also have some decent ideas about running a society, believe it or not. Ideas that our great nation should look into, carefully weigh the pros and cons of, and then steal. By force, if necessary, as is the American way.
Many Countries Make Voting A Duty
The U.S. has a representation problem. Barely half of the voting-eligible populace shows up to vote. That doesn't sound like a terribly healthy democracy. But before we all pop our monocles and blame those lazy poors for not participating, consider that most people don't vote because they're literally too busy.
According to a Pew survey, before 2016, "too busy or having a conflicting schedule" was the main cause for missed votes. And it's easy to see why. There are still 20 states in the U.S. that don't grant time off for people to vote. Ideally, free voting time should be available (and identical) for everyone around the country. You know, the way almost everybody else already does it. In Canada, a business that impedes a person from voting can receive a fine "up to $50,000, five years imprisonment, or both." Quite a strong incentive there!
Of course, getting those busy bees time off doesn't solve all of our problems. There's no guarantee they'd use that time to vote. So why not ... force them? Some argue that compulsory voting can improve voter knowledge and reduce partisanship. Maybe that's why 23 countries have laws requiring citizens to vote. It seems like an effective way to ensure that more people practice their damn freedom ... whether they want to or not.
Related: 7 Surprising Ways Democracy Is Totally Different Overseas
In Asia, Celebrities Get Punished For Endorsing Shitty Products
Most celebrities jump at the chance to sign a lucrative endorsement deal. Why not? If anyone offered us a cool mil to be the "face" of rectal thermometers, we'd hop on that in a heartbeat. But does that mean we have to forgive celebs for peddling bad, irresponsible, or downright unethical products just to make a quick buck? Some governments say "No."
In India, arguably the celebrity endorsement capital of the world, the government tackled this issue in 2016. "We want to tell the celebrities to think wisely before endorsing a product," said the nation's consumer affairs minister, who clearly had never met a reality star in his life. Celebrities now have to independently investigate the products they endorse to see if they have actual merit. Otherwise, they face a very public court summons and a hefty fine. So the next time Hollywood claims that nine out of ten dentists agree on the best toothpaste, they better talk to that rogue dentist first.
Of course, publicly shaming and fining someone for a fraction of what they make in an hour isn't a very effective punishment (looking at you, every CEO in the world). But if you want to up the ante, look no further than China. If a celeb there is found hawking shoddy wares, they can be banned from advertising anything else for up to three years (along with a host of other restrictions). And it's hard to convince Nike to give you that big international ad campaign if you're not allowed to show your face to 20 percent of the entire human population.
Related: 5 Laws Foreign Countries Got Right (That We Need In America)
Lottery Winners Get Total Anonymity In China
For transparency's sake, every government lottery winner has to do a press conference revealing their name and face. And call us paranoid, but it's probably not a great idea for some (statistically likely) poor person to have to declare to God, their moocher friends, and every crackhead kidnapper in a thousand-mile radius that they're suddenly richer than butter. But some countries have a much more nuanced and practical approach to privacy that allows for greater agency on the part of its winners. And others have something even better: costume parties!
Currently, 46 out of 50 states require lottery winners to release their names to the public. There are constant reports of public lottery winners being hounded by strangers for money and being used by so-called friends as personal piggy banks. As a result of this constant harassment and eventual loss of friends, quite a few sudden millionaires become depressed. Meanwhile, in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, the law allows winners to choose whether they want to publicly announce their win or stay completely anonymous. In Australia, the government even encourages winners to stay anonymous. The overwhelming majority of lotto winners opt not to tell a damn soul rather than make it rain outside of city hall.
In China, you can choose to stay anonymous, but you do still have to go and publicly claim your winnings. How does that work? Well, it goes a little something like this:
Any solution that involves people dressing up like an off-brand cartoon character ...
... is OK by us.
Related: 5 Great Ideas That America Should Steal From Other Countries
In Europe, Cashiers Are Allowed To Be Comfortable
Most American store chains refuse to let their employees sit while on the clock. When one woman decided to buy stools for the exhausted-looking Safeway cashiers in her hometown, her generous gift was refused. Safeway claimed that "sitting on a chair could potentially expose employees to injury" because "part of their job requires them to lift heavy objects -- laundry detergent, frozen or fresh turkeys, cat or dog food." Which is fair. We've all lost loved ones who died trying to pick up a bag of kibble while their buttocks weren't flexed.
But this standing-for-safety idea is directly opposed to OSHA's findings on the subject. Thousands of employees are injured every year as a direct result of "standing for most of the shift." One extensive British study officially found that "a seat should be provided enabling operators to have a choice." Which is exactly why in Europe, cashiers are always allowed access to stools or chairs, no questions asked. Not only does this save employers money in healthcare-related costs, but it also probably makes their cashiers more pleasant to be around. When you're well-rested, you're much nicer, right? We will now check the comments to confirm that every single European agrees with that statement.
Related: 5 Foreign School Rules Way Better Than The American Version
Canada Has Ditched Useless Pennies
As long as we continue to believe that $29.99 is cheaper than $30, pennies will keep weighing down our pockets, wallets, and that one weird jar by the door. But if you hate pennies, you're not alone. You've got all of Canada to keep you company.
This all started when Canada made the ill-fated decision to return to the "gold standard," backing every bit of currency with a sliver of gold hidden in the glorified snow castle that is their version of Fort Knox. During this time, the remaining non-gold coins were considered "semi-legal," and could only be utilized in small amounts. It didn't take long for Canada to realize it was impossible to back their entire economy with gold, so they dropped the gold standard once and for all.
But the same could not be said for strict coin laws. To this day, the Canuck Currency Act forbids people spending more than 25 coins (in any combination or worth) in a single transaction. That means if anyone tries to pay for a week's worth of groceries by dumping out a pile of filthy old coins, you can straight up call the cops on them. Truly, it is a wintry paradise land.
But Canada's utter disdain for coins goes even further. They haven't minted a single penny since 2012. That's because pennies aren't just useless; they're downright irresponsible. The metal used to create the damn things cost more than they're worth. Dropping the most disrespected monetary increment immediately saved the government $11 million a year. If the U.S. would adopt the same measures, we would likely save around $46 million each year, never mind all the weird old jars that would be free to store buttons, safety pins, and old keys.
Jordan Breeding also writes for a whole mess of other people, the Twitter, and a weird amount of gas station bathrooms.
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