Great Governments?
June 10, 2006 11:13 AM   Subscribe

What countries have great governments? You know, little corruption, little oppression, little government waste, safe streets, good education, good foreign relations etc.. No this is not a dig against [insert your government here].
posted by parallax7d to Law & Government (54 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
The United States of America. Seriously, compare it to the rest of the world. Canada's pretty good, too.
posted by Frank Grimes at 11:20 AM on June 10, 2006


Canada is the first country that comes to mind. There's a reason why Canada's been at or close to the top of every "quality of life" list I've ever seen.

I was boundlessly impressed by Germany on a visit there last year, during the Merkel/Schroeder electoral controversy - having lived through Gore/Bush in the US, I was impressed with how civilly it was handled there.

Also, believe it or not, Costa Rica, although outside San Jose, the capital, CR's economy isn't exactly thriving.

Last, I'll say Belgium, although there has been a recent uptick in street crime, especially in Antwerp and Brussels.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:21 AM on June 10, 2006


A friend recently returned from Austria and was blown away by the standard of living there. I guess the general affluence of the people he met was what really impressed him. I don't know about the government or social problems there... but in my friends words, "they really have their shit together over there."

We still have a lot of US nationalism... which manifests itself as "we're the greatest ev-ah!" But I think most people who have traveled abroad realize we're deficient in some serious ways - mainly universal health-care, standard of living, and education. We still have the best TV though - so suck on that Europe! (Although I have a serious crush on Tina Nordström.)
posted by wfrgms at 11:27 AM on June 10, 2006


Canada, Belgium, Switzerland.
posted by Jairus at 11:29 AM on June 10, 2006


I'd mention Norway too - though it's in Europe, it's not a member of the EU and doesn't appear to have been affected by that in the slightest.


If I can recall my geography lessons, I think Norway is one of only a few countries in the world to have no national debt [YMMV] - plus I recall hearing great things about it's healthcare system, ma/paternity leave/benefits, general quality of life, pollution, education.

I don't know much about its government, but from what I remember it's a pretty unique country and actually relies very little on foreign/international trade, which makes it less susceptable to political pressure [whereas somewhere like the UK feels the strain of being a US ally at times, etc.]

Also Norway's neighbors Sweden and Finland are of a similar veign too, worth checking out.
posted by Chorus at 11:29 AM on June 10, 2006


Sweden, Norway, Canada, Denmark and probably Finland or Iceland, but I wouldn't know first-hand about Finland or Iceland.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:30 AM on June 10, 2006


Good, objective sources for this kind of information include:
posted by enrevanche at 11:33 AM on June 10, 2006


From the 2005 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Iceland is perceived as the least corrupt government. Followed by Finland, NZ, Scandinavian countries..etc.
posted by Gyan at 11:33 AM on June 10, 2006


frank grimes: just a comment on your inclusion of the US - The factor that kept the US off my list was it's trainwreck of a public education system. It's simply the worst of any industrialized nation, and for that reason and that reason alone, I couldn't include it.

Other than that huge blemish, I really do think the US has, when compared to other nations, an extremely good government by the criteria laid out above.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:34 AM on June 10, 2006


Canada would definitely be my first choice. It's not perfect, but it's better than any other country I'm familiar with. Less corruption than the U.S., less entrenched politicians, more politically responsive to the population, very little oppression, moderate government waste. I'm not familiar with the Scandinavian countries mentioned above.

A large part of the above effects are due to a fully-non-partisan elections agency. The U.S., with election agencies run in a completely partisan fashion (each state's head elections official is a partisan political appointee, selected solely for their party loyalty) is *incapable* of having truly excellent government. Frankly, if you're in a Republican state, you're lucky that there's even one voting machine in Democratic areas. The U.S. has been asking for trouble for a long time with that system, and I think in recent years, they've gotten it.
posted by jellicle at 11:35 AM on June 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


New Zealand.
posted by toxic at 11:35 AM on June 10, 2006


It would be hard for an objective observer to not put USA at the top of the list. Considering the diverse population and opinions, it's somewhat remarkable our democracy is as stable as it is. Most of the corruption scandals we have are tiny compared to what goes on in the rest of the world.

I guess it's not as good for some places if you can't avoid being at the top-rung of society, but if you're someone who desires success and doesn't mind hard work, it's difficult to find a better place.
posted by b_thinky at 11:38 AM on June 10, 2006


There's a reason why Canada's been at or close to the top of every "quality of life" list I've ever seen.

From the latest Mercer list it's, in order, Switzerland, Canada, Austria, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden...

But of course that's by city, not country, and quality of life is not all based on factors determined by governments.
posted by funambulist at 11:48 AM on June 10, 2006


Just to clarify, I'm not asking about the best countries (we got cable tv) but best governments (we do the will of the people).
posted by parallax7d at 11:53 AM on June 10, 2006


Depends on what you like (and what you count as "waste") and how you rank different factors. Just about everywhere in the OECD has governments that broadly meet all of your standards.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:01 PM on June 10, 2006


How about micro-states like Liechtenstein and Monaco?

And purely on style, I'd vote for Gadaffi. If I was a dictator, I'd also get myself hot female elite bodyguards.
posted by Harry at 12:23 PM on June 10, 2006


Just to clarify, I'm not asking about the best countries (we got cable tv) but best governments (we do the will of the people).

But I think the former is indicative of the latter. A society with many amenities (cable TV, internet, theme parks, strip clubs, etc) is indicative of a strong economy in which citizens have lots of discretionary income. This means the market is more or less allowed to function freely, without being over-taxed or interfered with by the government.

What's the best way to have a great life? The answer is to have money. And what's the best way to earn money? The answer is to start your own business or invest in a small business that aspires to grow large.

By not interfering with the free market, the USA encourages small business growth and competition amongst larger businesses that benefits the consumer (i.e. citizen). If business was super-regulated by the government, it would favor the large guys and discourage startups (think about it... the only companies with the resources to get through all the government hoops would be the big boys). This is the reason American business is so dominant across the world.

But the question of which government serves the will of its people is only answered by a survey of the people. I'd imagine most Americans would prefer our way of life (little social welfare, little business regulation) while most Europeans would prefer theirs (lots of social welfare, lots of regulations on business).
posted by b_thinky at 12:26 PM on June 10, 2006


The best way to determine that is to look at the results: look at lists of the best places to live:
1 Ireland
2 Switzerland
3 Norway
4 Luxembourg
5 Sweden
6 Australia
7 Iceland
8 Italy
9 Denmark
10 Spain
posted by pracowity at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


All of the above...USA, Canada, Denmark, Sweden...I'd probably put Finland at the top.

Also, just to spice up the debate...consider Singapore. They do have a shaky history as far as political participation goes, but they do have an exceptionally well-run country. Safe, clean, financially robust, respected internationally.
posted by Brian James at 12:37 PM on June 10, 2006


It would be hard for an objective observer to not put USA at the top of the list.

Then show us some objective lists that do.

What's the best way to have a great life? The answer is to have money. And what's the best way to earn money? The answer is to start your own business or invest in a small business that aspires to grow large.

By not interfering with the free market, the USA encourages small business growth and competition amongst larger businesses that benefits the consumer (i.e. citizen).


Well, it doesn't surprise me that you would think that was the case, however, many other countries have a higher degree of upwards-social mobility (in other words, the probability that a poor person will be come a rich person is higher in several other countries which are not the US).

It also completely ignores the metrics that parallax laid out. We seem to have tons of corruption at the moment, at least at the federal level, a reasonable amount of oppression, absurd amounts of government waste, terrible foreign relations, and so on.
posted by delmoi at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2006


Switzerland and Norway seem to be the countries that turn up best on all the lists Gyan, funambulist and pracowity link above, but I think ROU-Xenophobe is correct.

I'd be interested to know if there any Swiss or Nowegian people here who could comment, because knowing it all too well I certainly wouldn't buy Ireland as the best place to live.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:52 PM on June 10, 2006


Just to clarify, I'm not asking about the best countries (we got cable tv) but best governments (we do the will of the people).

I think there's a certain degree to which a good government will not necessarily do the will of the people. For instance, Norway has a lot of oil at the moment, and is rather awash in oil income. Norway's reserves are expected to run out much sooner than the rest of the world's, though — within the next decade or two. There is some amount of popular pressure to take the massive oil surplus and give some of it to the people in some sort of huge tax refund or something, but the government has strongly resisted. Instead, the money has been invested in education, health care, and a surplus that will last much longer. The opposition party is trying to capitalize on this and take control by promising tax refunds and such, and there is some reason to think this might work, but the government so far has resisted thinking more short-term.
posted by raf at 12:53 PM on June 10, 2006


Government's a lot more limited in its capacity to do good than it is in doing harm. Terrible governments are obvious: their people are miserable, desperate, powerless, and probably dying at the hands of their rulers on a regular basis. But a good government can't make its people ecstatic, fulfilled, self-actualized & fantastic. It's a lot more debatable. There are no objective metrics. It depends on what the observer values. Which is why this thread's probably headed towards ideological chest-thumping.
posted by furiousthought at 1:00 PM on June 10, 2006


What's the best way to have a great life? The answer is to have money.

At a wider social level, a government's efficiency is measured also by how well it caters to all citizens, not just those with money. Everyone is capable of catering to the rich. Even the most corrupt government of the poorest nation on earth has rich elites that get by perfectly fine. If you have lots of money, you can live well anywhere in the world.

That's why there are lists of countries by income equality or literacy or corruption as well as by GDP and economic freedom, and the quality of life surveys also take into account things like the availability of education, health care, and so on.

Also, those European countries regularly making the top of the quality of life lists have thriving business sectors too, so the idea that unlike the US all of Europe over-regulates and crushes private enterprise is a bit of a straw man.
posted by funambulist at 1:13 PM on June 10, 2006


Then show us some objective lists that do.

How about numbers of immigrants? Do more people try to move to the USA or Iceland? I haven't actually looked this up but I suspect I know the answer.

Also, those European countries regularly making the top of the quality of life lists have thriving business sectors too, so the idea that unlike the US all of Europe over-regulates and crushes private enterprise is a bit of a straw man.
posted by funambulist at 1:13 PM PST on June 10 [+fave] [!]


Yeah, but why does American business dominate the world. How does one of the world's largest companies (Microsoft)headed by the world's richest person suddenly get serious competition by a company that did not exist one decade ago (Google)? This seems to be a recurring theme in the USA. People of varying means start businesses that become huge on a global scale. Google. Microsoft. Apple. Dell. Amazon. Wal-Mart. You could go on forever. According to Forbes, American businesses make up a disproportionate number of the world's top 2000 businesses. I doubt this is a coincidence.
posted by b_thinky at 1:35 PM on June 10, 2006


b_thinky, that comment completely ignores immigration laws. America, for the most part, and for the present, lets people in. Many other countries don't. It's not a question of "Who's the best?" but "Who will let me in?"
posted by occhiblu at 1:44 PM on June 10, 2006


It's a difficult comparison because of relative sizes and diversity of populations. Is Switzerland "better" than the U.S.? Probably. I sure wouldn't mind living there.

But what if we waved a magic wand and suddenly the Swiss system of government was installed on top of a country of 300 million instead of seven million? How would it hold up? Three million square miles instead of 16,000 square miles?

Would the citizens of the United States of Switzerland continue to seamlessly enjoy the same kinds of quality-of-life elements? Maybe. I dunno. But it sure makes 1-to-1 comparisons difficult.

The U.S. of A:
We Work Harder Because We Fucking Well Have To
posted by frogan at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2006


Yeah, but why does American business dominate the world.

That's a big fascinating question, but one which may be a little beyond the scope of this AskMe on "great governments" by these standards: "little corruption, little oppression, little government waste, safe streets, good education, good foreign relations etc".

The kind of stuff measured in those international indexes (such as from enrevanche's links, or the ones listed in toxic's link to the wikipedia entry on New Zealand). Inevitably, those lists tends to favour countries with relatively small and homogenous populations, higher income taxes but not so high for businesses, high quality state education, efficient institutions, etc., because of the factors being considered.

There's great fabulous things about the US, great fabulous things about other countries, but this is not "which country is biggest and more powerful and has the most powerful global corporations". A country doesn't have to produce the biggest global corporations to have a government that is both conducive to thriving business and all those other things the asker listed.
posted by funambulist at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2006


(each state's head elections official is a partisan political appointee, selected solely for their party loyalty)

What states do this? Every one I'm familiar with has a (partisan) election to fill this role. Not that you don't get similarly ill-motivated decisions, but at least the person has to be elected.
posted by jaysus chris at 2:06 PM on June 10, 2006


Katrina disqualifies the US of A.
posted by gmarceau at 2:43 PM on June 10, 2006


each state's head elections official is a partisan political appointee, selected solely for their party loyalty

That's false. In most states, the Secretary of State is the chief elections officer, and is elected independentently of anyone else. Several of the remainder use boards or commissions with guaranteed representation from both major parties.

Katrina disqualifies the US of A.

In the same way that the recent death-dealing heat waves would disqualify France, which is to say not at all.

Once you're talking about the OECD world, the whole thing is a bit like arguing about whether Porsches, Aston-Martins, or Ferraris are better. They're all very nice.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:32 PM on June 10, 2006


I would (as a Brit) point to our relatively very uncorrupt government, plus a good and impartial civil service to bump the UK up the list

I have concerns about the US, which would mean I wouldn't say it had a good system of government. The biggest of those is the pernicious influence of money in public life, but it's run a close second by the gerrymandering of congressional constituencies by parties in the States. There was a piece recently in the NYT saying that gerrymandering had had little effect on the actual outcomes of elections, but to me it is fundamentally and morally wrong. Nemo iudex in causa sua - no-one should be the judge in their own case.
posted by athenian at 4:13 PM on June 10, 2006


Why does American business dominate the world?

Interesting theory - essentially, that government (good or bad) is the primary factor in the success of businesses.

I would have said (a) culture, (b) government restrictions, and (c) immigration. The U.S. has a "cowboy" culture that encourages individuals to go into business for themselves and to look for the next-best thing; there are relatively few restrictions on starting or growing a business (particularly because someone can up and move to another town or state), or mergers and acquisitions; and with large numbers of immigrants, there are a lot of different views and approaches, as well as first and second generation immigrants who are committed to higher education and hard work.

But the lack of government restrictions does NOT equate to good government. A good federal government in as rich a country as ours wouldn't allow 40+ million Americans to have no health insurance and it wouldn't have policies that generate the amount of homelessness (read mental health problems, lack of insurance, expensive housing, low wage rates, etc.) that the U.S. has.

One of the most interesting things to me is that most Americans don't believe that this country has much, if anything, to learn from government policies in Canada or European countries (I include Iceland here). Rather, it's USA #1, USA #1, USA #1 - everyone else in the world should come to US to learn how things should be run.

Bizarre.
posted by WestCoaster at 6:05 PM on June 10, 2006


I think it's more (a) length of peacetime on home soil, (b) available resources, (c) culture, (d) gov't restrictions, (e) immigration.
posted by furiousthought at 6:48 PM on June 10, 2006


I was born in the US, and lived there for 25 years, and have no idea how it could possibly be considered considered a great government. There is a lot more poverty than any other g-7 country (we'll igonore Russian), terrible access to health care, oh, and we invade countries under false pretexts, allow terrible election fraud, and undermind the UN and all efforts to control global warming.

We're not the worst, but the U.S. is not that great a country to live in.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:54 PM on June 10, 2006


If you ask me, a good government consists of (a) responsive politicians, (b) competent and honest civil servants and (c) laws oriented to the production and protection of wealth.

The United States probably has the best government in the world because it has the highest total score on that standard.

Places with better civil servants tend to attract them because the legislation chokes private sector opportunity. Places with even more laissez-faire systems tend to Hobbesian hellholes.

When you consider the legislative and executive, the only way that American politicians fall short on responsiveness is that we tend to have very large legislative districts, especially compared to Europe or Canada, where the ratio of parliamentarian to citizens is often ten times higher. However, America's politician-responsiveness quotient drops meaningfully when you factor in judges, who have an unaccountable power which is nowhere to be found in other democracies.
posted by MattD at 6:57 PM on June 10, 2006


As an American living abroad (in Australia), I would not put the US on the list any longer. I think it was true prior to Bush, but things have seriously eroded to the point of negligence. Since there is not a bigger outcry to change, one might say they are answering the "will of the people". I would argue that a good government sometimes does what is good for the people as opposed to what the people say they want.

The best governments on my list would be those that take care of all of their citizens more or less equally. Wealthy in US makes it a wonderful place. Same could be said of Mainland China.

So, on balance, who treats all of their citizens well equally? My guess is that many of those "socialist" northern European countries will score high. The danger is when people equate "equal" with "equally bad". In an effort to make things more level, some of those countries limit potential of individuals.
posted by qwip at 7:26 PM on June 10, 2006


Not exactly on topic, but IIRC the Nordic countries have some of the highest suicide rates in the world. What happens when you live in Utopia, and you still aren't satisfied with life, eh?
posted by Meatbomb at 8:24 PM on June 10, 2006


I would guess that has more to do with the six months a year without sunlight, actually.
posted by occhiblu at 8:30 PM on June 10, 2006


If you ask me, a good government consists of (a) responsive politicians, (b) competent and honest civil servants and (c) laws oriented to the production and protection of wealth.

[pukes in hat]
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:38 PM on June 10, 2006


Thing is, great government/great country to live in are not necessarily the same thing, also, 'great country to live in' depends a lot on which region and city, and 'great country/city to live in' is a lot more subjective anyway. Depends how much money you have, what job you do, what you value more in life, what kind of lifestyle you lead, what needs and interests you have, how old you are, how healthy you are, and even what extremes of weather you can tolerate.

A good government is something more objectively measurable. Most of the criteria parallax mentioned are factored in international indexes. Well except the 'good foreign relations' maybe. That's a tough one for the home favourite here.
posted by funambulist at 8:42 PM on June 10, 2006


occhiblu: the list of country by suicide rate does read like a list from colder to warmer weather... 0 suicides on Caribbean islands, I'm shocked.
posted by funambulist at 8:56 PM on June 10, 2006


You forgot Poland.
posted by Pacheco at 9:10 PM on June 10, 2006


If you ask me, a good government consists of (a) responsive politicians, (b) competent and honest civil servants and (c) laws oriented to the production and protection of wealth.

I didn't build my railroad with the help of damn bureaucrats!
posted by Pacheco at 9:14 PM on June 10, 2006


I would rank the Netherlands very high in terms of the criteria laid out in the original post. However, your later qualification that those criteria are necessarily related to a government that does "the will of the people" is simply wrong. I'm not even getting into the argument itself; I'm just saying that you're making your question somewhat nonsensical. A king can promote safe streets, education, and good foreign relations, while "the people" do not always give half a shit about any of those things.
posted by bingo at 9:23 PM on June 10, 2006


The factor that kept the US off my list was it's train wreck of a public education system.

To call it train wreck is silly. The U.S. system is wildly uneven, because funding is raised at a local level. Its aggregate scores are driven down by some disastrous urban school districts. But the middle rung of American schools are as good as any in the world, and its best schools are exemplary.
posted by LarryC at 10:29 PM on June 10, 2006


its best schools are exemplary

True 'dat. It's especially true for higher education, as seven of the top 10 universities in the world are in the U.S., along with nearly half of the top 50.
posted by frogan at 11:01 PM on June 10, 2006


Yeah, but why does American business dominate the world. How does one of the world's largest companies (Microsoft)headed by the world's richest person suddenly get serious competition by a company that did not exist one decade ago (Google)?

Did you know that the US has the world's third largest population after India and China? There are only a few other countries that approach our size. There are plenty of international companies from other places as well, such as Nokia, Sony, Michelin, BP, Shell, SAP, Tyco (based in bermuda) and on and on.
posted by delmoi at 11:32 PM on June 10, 2006


"Just to clarify, I'm not asking about the best countries (we got cable tv) but best governments (we do the will of the people).

But I think the former is indicative of the latter."

That's what Rousseau says.

I tend to look to the HDI for evaluating success of government policy, but it's a blunt instrument and represents decades.

I will say, and I say this as a staunch liberal, that those who are looking to Bush and current events to knock the US off the list are partisan fools. One of the great attributes of this country is that even a fucktard like Bush cannot knock us out of the top 10 or so.
And one of the biggest advantages in the US (and one that would affirm both Rousseau's idea of general will being reflected in the wealth of the people, and Mill's utilitarian argument for prosperity from liberty) is the unrestricted nature of the media. Working in journalism, the protections that we have here for the press are pretty much the best in the world, hands down. That we don't take full advantage of those freedoms is shameful, but they exist.
Overall though, ROU_Xeno sums it up well by noting that once you're in the developed West, choosing the best government is like choosing the best sedan— it depends on the options that you want. Belgium has power locks, France has A/C, the US has a leather interior.
posted by klangklangston at 12:56 AM on June 11, 2006


This is a great question.

As an American living in Indonesia and the only American in my office, it's often easy for me to forget how much I could depend on publicly-funded/provided things to actually work in the United States. In my own (brief) life, things like access to diverse media and pretty superb public eduation, as well as getting taxes, driver's licenses and passports and other high-level paperwork sorted out without hassles, I've been satisfied-to-happy over the quality of the job the government's done.

Does that make the current US government great? No. But if we're talking about long-term trends and not the current, um, regime (and I think we are) then the US is right up there.

Other contenders: assorted members of the EU (and friends). Everywhere I've been there (Spain, Italy, France, Poland, and the UK) have functioned incredibly well through my tourist-vision goggles, but not living there everyday it's hard to make that call.

On preview - Brian James: Singapore was an interesting choice, considering that the ruling People's Action Party, which has been in power since independence in the 1960s, likes to shake up the opposition by suing its leaders for libel and trying to bankrupt them. And a not-exactly free media - Singapore is 140th out of 167 in the 2005 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. Just saying.
posted by mdonley at 1:43 AM on June 11, 2006


There is no "best country": everything is a trade-off.

Take Switzerland or Finland for example, because many put them on the top of their lists..
In Switzerland, every male is still obliged to military service. If you don't qualify, you must pay an extra tax all the rest of your life. If you qualify, you get issued a gun and have to continue your military education in (yearly? monthy? I forgot) camps. Switzerland is an expensive place to live in. A friend of mine, both of whose parents were lawyers for the international organisations in Geneva, lived together in a cramped 60 square meters 2-bedroom appartment, and struggled to make ends meet. Food is dear; wineing and dining is rare for the middle-income family. Public schools are cut-throat competition and if you get kicked out of the public system and enter the private one, there's hardly a Swiss university that will accept you because it's a local meme that private school kids are slackers and public school kids are hard-working. Citizenship is a cabaret show: the afore mentionned friend was born in CH but because her parents were immigrants, she could only get swiss citizenship after living 18 years on Swiss territory.
Finland has a state Church, and all Finns must pay taxes to their state Church, point blank. Other religious houses of worship do exist, but they're exclusively funded by their member's pockets and can all go to hell if their members stop paying tithes, while the Finnish Lutheranian Church is entirely state-sponsored. Suicide is a fact of life: I never met a single Finn aged 30 or over untouched by the suicide of some friend, neighbour or family member.

Personally, I find good places to live are those with stability and relative prosperity (no you don't need cable tv to be prosperous, you need the amount you spend on food, housing and utilities to be a marginal fraction of your overall income). Strange that besides western democracies, my list would include places where there are "benevolent tyrant" governments, places like Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, southern India, Hong Kong, etc, etc..
posted by ruelle at 8:40 AM on June 11, 2006


Looks like Norway and the US have very similar suicide rates.

43. Norway 2002 16.1 5.8 10.9
44. India 1998 12.2 9.1 10.7
45. United States of America 2001 17.6 4.1 10.7

Looks like Norway takes it.
posted by parallax7d at 2:01 PM on June 11, 2006


Can I blow the horn for the Isle of Man?

Lots to offer: stable, historic government (oldest continuous Govt.); low taxes (0% Corporate, 10%/18% personal low/high); low unemployment (under 1% generally); low crime (people *still* leave houses and cars unlocked); booming economy...

Yes, they make mistakes, but on the whole they get things done (although the Manx phrase "traa dy liioar" often applies...)

Here's a snippet from a Manx Government publication (pdf):
"Small but highly effective: the Isle of Man is a tiny nation with an astonishing number of superlatives and firsts to its name. Boasting Europe’s best performing economy, it is home to the world’s oldest, continuous parliament, an institution that was founded in 979 AD. The Isle of Man is also the place where Europe’s first operational 3G mobile network was launched, as well as where the famous TT motorcycle race takes place. The Isle of Man and its people have, in under 20 years, transformed what was once described as a sleepy agricultural backwater into a Triple-A rated economy and one of the most advanced and progressive business locations in Europe." (note - my emphasis added)

Downsides? All the people who keep moving over here! :)
posted by Chunder at 3:29 PM on June 11, 2006



switzerland has a huge problem - try living there as a foreigner. their attitude towards legal immigration (even to a german like me) is shameful. but apart from that you are right. luxembourg is a good example, too. very efficient.

I think it's not so much one government being better but parts of it just being a smart idea for me.

to give you an example: I like how the german government is run by coalitions pretty much all the time. we have a ton of parties, the two biggest ones being the social democrats, which function kind of like the democratic party in the US, and the christian democrats, think of a milder GOP here. then there are the smaller parties, the liberals, the greens, the post-communists, the leftists. (there are more, two of them being right-wing parties, but you need 5% of the vote to get into parliament and they don't get that.) I also like socialism in general but that's a different story.

if you want an example of low corruption, look to scandinavia. sweden and denmark go after their politicians that in italy wouldn't get so much as written up in the local papers. but taxes are high - try to buy a car in denmark and they will hit you with a 35% luxury and environmental tax.

or take the good old dutch and their attitude on smaller infractions. chances are a cop in holland will approach you shrugging his shoulders, smiling and asking if you really must make him work. here you'd get thrown in jail for many things and we know how great that works.

another thing the european union is really great at is protecting consumer and privacy laws. we no longer even lay claim to our expectations of privacy.

but at the end of the day, the US still do have a pretty damn good thing going for themselves and I am staying here because I find the smaller imperfections worth working on. which is why I support the ACLU and EFF. that we can have decent this fierce says something great about us.


b thinky: american business is less american than you think but if you want to ask like that, I'd volunteer that people here can get away with more nefarious things.
posted by krautland at 3:42 PM on August 19, 2006


« Older For the last time, I'm not going to buy a @#$@ing...   |   Why do soccer players seem to have such low pain... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.