The Presidential candidates have been sounding off for almost two years now, pointing out (or in many cases manufacturing) all of America’s problems, and offering solutions they believe will make them the next President. The candidates, especially to the right of the political spectrum, extoll America as being exceptional, and they score empty points with voters by talking about how the rest of the planet looks to the United States to solve the world’s woes. It is surprising, then, to see how many of these seemingly intractable problems are being far more effectively tackled by the countries we are supposed to be “leading”. Maybe it’s time for America to start looking elsewhere for innovative solutions.
Here are 10 examples of problems being solved everywhere but in America.
Yes, I know that all these places have their own problems, and no, none of them is utopia. That’s not the point. The point is that at the very least, other places in the world are actively attempting to deal with serious problems, and trying to come up with solutions. Some of them are quite simple, like prosecuting criminals, something the U.S. is increasingly reluctant to do, unless you’re poor and some shade of brown. I’m only going to include a few here, click over for the full list.
1. Peru: free solar-powered electricity for the poor.
In 2013, in Peru, only about two-thirds of the 25 million people had access to electricity. The Peruvian government decided to do something about it, and instituted a program to provide free solar energy to the underprivileged. With the goal of providing at least 95% of Peruvians with electricity, Peru began the National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program, installing free solar panels in impoverished communities. The program, which is expected to be completed by next year, has so far installed almost 15,000 photovoltaic systems.
2. Iceland: white-collar criminals go to jail.
In the wake of the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008, it was not only the United States that almost fell into a deep economic depression. The same criminal activity our banks engaged in, inflating the housing market and gambling away our money while saddling crippling debt on untold millions, was also occurring around the world. One country in particular, Iceland, almost imploded. It had a far different response to the crisis, however.
At the same time that the United States was bailing out our “too-big-to-fail” banks, Iceland was letting them suffer the consequences of their greed, namely bankruptcy and failure. Instead of bailing banks out, the Icelandic government bailed out homeowners by forgiving mortgages that were overvalued. While it is arguable whether a similar course of action would have been advisable in the far-larger United States, it may be more important to note that Iceland began prosecuting actual people who propagated the illegal activity. Unlike the U.S., where exactly zero bank executives have answered for their crimes, and prosecutions for white-collar crime are at a 20-year low, 26 bankers in Iceland have gone to prison for their misdeeds.
3. France: stop throwing away food.
While the United States may be the richest nation on the planet, more than 15 million children go to bed hungry. Digest this fact while also noting that 133 billion pounds of food, fully a third of the available supply, goes uneaten, eventually ending up in a landfill. France, facing a similar problem, made a very simple decision: stop throwing the food away. As of early this month, it became illegal in France for large grocery stores (4300 square feet or more) to throw out unsold food. Instead, French groceries must contract with charitable organizations, which will be responsible for collecting and redistributing the food to the needy. The law also mandates educational programs in schools to raise awareness among children about the problem of food waste.