Is it American “exceptionalism” to take exception to these ideas? If so, I’m happy to admit my guilt.
The author, HuffPo writer Maxwell Strachan, implores his readers thusly in his opening:
You may think the U.S. is the greatest nation in the world, but let’s all admit it would be a whole lot greatester (sic) if we adopted some of these genius ideas, many of which are already law in other countries:
Here are some of the “best and brightest” of those ideas.
1. The minimum wage should be much, much higher. Here he mawkishly bemoans the fact that the federal minimum wage in America is $7.25, while it is $14.50 in Australia; he then hyperlinks this article to show that Australia’s unemployment rate is lower when the piece actually raises concerns over job creation, participation rates, youth unemployment, part-time job increases and full-time job decreases, and that the “overall economy is growing at a pace below the long-term average.”
2. There should be a maximum pay rate, too. Although Switzerland shot down a proposal to limit executive pay according to how much the company’s lowest-paid worker makes, the author praises the idea because “the issue of a widening income gap remains a priority in the country.” Yet another argument grounded in perceived inequality. Cap my pay? No way. This only reduces a worker’s incentive to work hard.
3. Every person should earn an income. He’s right: Everyone should earn an income. But the idea should read: “Every working person should earn an income.” Period. The idea of giving “a monthly income to every citizen, no strings attached” is the welfare state on steroids.
4. Vacation should be a basic human right. “Come on guys, if we’re being honest with ourselves we must affirm that it’s a basic human right to go on a cruise.”
5. Assault weapons should be banned. The author writes: “After 35 people were murdered by a single man in Australia in the mid-1990s, the government banned shotguns and assault weapons, enacted stricter licensing rules and launched a number of gun buyback programs. Within roughly a decade, gun-related murders were down nearly 60 percent.” It’s true, gun-related murders have gone down. Why? Because there are fewer guns. DUH! The stat he should be looking at is the violent crime rate in Australia since 1996. Since then assaults have steadily increased (see also). Murder-by-knife percentage has also increased—as has been the case in Britain.
6. Public universities should be free. In a “shocking” turn of events, the author offers no real solution for the funding of said universities, teachers, etc., other than to say Argentinians have free college so we should too.
7. The government should support [struggling] artists. Government-funded art sounds utterly inspired.
8. Big corporate boards should be diverse. “A new proposal in Germany would require companies listed on DAX, the country’s stock exchange, to fill nearly one-third of 'supervisory' board seats with women” translates to: “If necessary, to meet a diversity quota that will promote the illusion that discrimination has ended, we must ignore qualifications and discriminate.”
9. No one should work in the dark. This is a funny—and potentially misleading—blanket statement if taken in the abstract. That aside, in Germany, it’s true: “It is illegal to build an office without a view of the sky.” Still, I think we have bigger fish to fry than to coerce owners of office establishments to modify their property to fit government decree.
10. Parents should get time off to watch their kids grow up. That’s what they do in Sweden anyways—“Over a child’s first eight years of life, Swedish parents receive 480 potential days off from work, in which they're still paid a significant share of their wages.” How about: “Parents should make time outside of work to watch their kids grow up,” not be incentivized by laws to do so.
The lessons to be learned from these genius ideas? If it seems good, do it, and pay no mind to the unintended consequences and the costs. Oh, and also, whatever Europe is doing is awesome.