January 7th, 2016



I had made a comment to Anders some time ago, that my VW Jetta seems to want to go around 140 k/h, and he agreed...his VW feels the same. He said it was because that is approximately the speed you drive on the autobahn and the cars seem to be engineered to that comfort zone. :)

During our road trip through Germany, I got to drive a couple of times on the autobahn, and I'll tell you what: I loved it. Drivers in Germany drive like you're SUPPOSED TO DRIVE. They go fast, they stay to the right except when passing and they pay attention to what they're doing. We never saw any accidents during our two days of driving, though I know they happen, and are often speed-related. According to Wikipedia, between 1970 and 2010, overall German road fatalities decreased by almost 80% from 19,193 to 3,648; over the same time period, autobahn deaths halved from 945 to 430 deaths. Statistics for 2013 show total German traffic deaths had declined to the lowest count ever recorded: 3340.

It got me thinking about things that work right in the country you live in. If you could take the best things about every country and put them together, what would the ideal country look like? Other people and sites on the Internet have, of course, tried to quantify and answer this question. Some of the things I found while Googling included:

Japan: longest life expectancy
Ireland: most globalized country
France: lowest obesity rate
Denmark: least corruption
Ireland: fewest divorces
UK: lowest homicide rate
Estonia: best air quality
Iceland: most peaceful
India: largest democracy
South Korea: lowest long-term unemployment
Canada: highest amount of opportunities
Bahamas: highest degree of economic and personal freedom
Belgium: most recycling
Switzerland: best quality of life
Sweden: most equal income distribution
China: most books published per year
Czech Republic: longest parental leave policy
USA: largest consumer market
Australia: highest voter turnout (because it's mandatory, but still)

I found this, too, which was fascinating: The Good Country
(Sweden was ranked 6th (all 4 Scandinavian countries were in the top 10), the US was ranked 21st, out of 125 countries)

Things that Sweden is good at
recycling, vacation time, Internet access, early adoption of technology, religious freedom, paid parental leave, school subsidies, speaking English, socialized healthcare, equality, free speech and press, inventing things, work/life balance, high standard of living, subtitles, dairy products, environmental consciousness, , consensus, free "mother tongue" language classes for children, making music

Things that America is good at
customer service, convenience, opening hours, work ethics, friendliness, free speech and press, religious freedom, volunteering, consumer choices, organized sports, iced drinks, high standard of living, meat, national parks, clean water, efficient infrastructure, individualism, political stability, inventing things, making movies

According to The Good Country, Ireland is best. According to Lifestyle9, Denmark is the best country to live in. Switzerland, as mentioned above, is ranked as having the best quality of life. Costa Rica placed first in the Happy Planet Index. Finland is the most stable country in the world, according to the Fragile States Index.

I was happy in the US when I lived there, though I suspect it would suffer by comparison now after nearly 20 years in Sweden. When I compare all the different indexes that try to quantify happiness, quality of life, economic and political, Sweden is almost always in the top ten. Despite its flaws and faults, which all countries have, Sweden is, overall, a pretty great place to live. Even if I can't drive 140 on the highway.