Free Maternity Box To All New Mothers
Whenever a Finnish woman is expecting a child, the state provides them with a free 'maternity box.' Equipped with a mattress, sheets, sleeping bag, jump suits, socks, diapers and more, it's pretty much everything a mom needs. The box even doubles as a cot. This clever invention is designed to give all babies an equal start in life, regardless of the wealth they are born into, and has helped Finland achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
Free Subway Rides In Return For Squats
In an attempt to tackle obesity and to get people in the mood for the Sochi Winter Olympics, Vystavochaya Metro Station in Moscow accepted squats as payment for a month. If people could manage 30 in two minutes, and the camera on the machine actually counted them, you could ride free.
Speeding Ticket Lottery
In Stockholm, Sweden, a portion of the fines collected from speeding drivers is put into a lottery. Drivers who don't have any offences are automatically entered in the lottery and have the chance of winning some cash for driving safely. Motorists have received checks of up to $3,000 and the scheme has encouraged road safety.
No Criminal Penalties For Drug Possession
In 2010 alone, the ‘war on drugs’ cost the federal Government $500 every second, or $15 billion total. In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. While distribution is still illegal, those caught for personal possession and use are dealt with in a court made up of psychologists and social workers. Instead of locking kids away for a spliff, addicts are referred to clinics. Since these moves, drug addiction has dropped 50% and drug use in Portugal is among the lowest in Europe.
Rainy Day National Oil Fund
All the money earned from oil and petrol taxes in Norway are added to the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund. As of January 2014, that piggy bank was full to the brim with 5.11 trillion crowns or $828 billion. The fund is being saved for a rainy day and to aid future generations once the oil is depleted. It currently owns 1% of all the world's stocks and makes every single one of the 5 million citizens of Norway a millionaire.
Income Based Criminal Fines
Dagsböter roughly translates to 'daily fine' and is a form of punishment for non-violent crimes in Finland and Sweden. If you were fined 30 dagsböter, then all of your income for 30 days would be collected as a fine. This type of punishment is seen as 'financial jail' and deters people from crime no matter their wealth. Thois system led to one Finnish man who earned $11 million a year being fined the equivalent of $200,000 for speeding.
Pay-As-You-Go Garbage Collection
In an effort to combat landfills, German cities weigh the stuff you throw away and charge as much as $2 per pound of trash. As a result, people recycle or compost nearly everything, which is far cheaper and kinder for the environment.
When it comes time for an election in Australia, everyone is required to have their say. If you don't turn up then you get fined, meaning that 95% of Aussie voters attend polling. That's compared to 36.6% in the 2014 US midterms. Those who don't wish to vote but also don't want to get fined usually void their paper by drawing phallic objects on it.
Anonymous Drug Analysis So You Know You're Getting The Good Stuff
The Netherlands has an anonymous service that offers illicit drug analysis for free of charge and without fear of arrest. The results list all of the ingredients, side effects and the actions needed in the event of an overdose. The move has reduced drug related deaths and detects potentially deadly lacing.
Free Museum Passes For All New Citizens
When immigrants to Canada officially become citizens, they are given a free one-year pass to thousands of museums and cultural centers across Canada. The ticket helps Canada's newest citizens to discover the vast cultural history, artworks and parks of the country.
Free Rides From Government Vehicles
Since there are so few cars in Cuba, hitchhiking is common place. In fact, Government vehicles, including police, are legally required to pick up hitchhikers and ensure they get where they're going safely.
Paid Maternity and Parental Leave
The US is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid maternity leave for workers. The Czech Republic is by far the most generous in this respect, with parents getting a minimum of 14 weeks to a maximum of 28 weeks maternity leave. What's more, new mothers and fathers can take up to 48 months of paid parental leave, paid by the state.
State Sponsored Sex For The Disabled
In the Netherlands, citizens with disabilities receive money from the Government to pay for sexual services up to 12 times a year. This move has drastically reduced depression among the disabled, many of whom have never had a chance to explore their sexuality.
Citizen Run Social Media Accounts
Every week, the official Twitter account of Sweden is given to a random citizen to manage. The idea is to highlight Sweden's diversity and progressiveness through the personality and views of her citizens. This week, the curator is Pernilla, a self-described "mum, geek, girl, sports nerd, cat lady, birdwatcher, and tree lover."
1/3 Less Commercials
For every 10 hours of TV that Americans watch, three hours are taken by commercials. In the UK and much of Europe, there's a limit on the amount of adverts shown of 8 minutes per hour of television during prime times. Instead of seeing 3 minutes of commercials every 8 minutes, UK viewers see 4 minutes every half hour.
Treating Bikes Like Cars
In the Netherlands, children are required to take a written and riding test in cycling at the age of around 10. It means that by the time they become adults, over 30% will use bikes as their main mode of transport, compared to 1% in the US. The central train station in Groningen has parking for 10,000 bikes and this focus has resulted in a dramatic drop in the use of cars and levels of congestion and pollution.
Mandatory Paid Sick Leave
Ever wonder why Mary doesn't stay home when she's coughing up slime? The US is one of the only developed countries that does not guarantee paid sick leave for short or long term illnesses. In Europe, paid sick leave is enshrined in law to reduce the spread of contamination. Research showed that during the swine flu pandemic, 8 million Americans went to work sick, many with 'flu like' symptoms.
Giving 50% Tax Breaks During The Christmas Season
We all know that Christmas costs a fortune, and so do the Norwegian Government. In the month of November, income tax in the country is halved - giving tax payers extra money to spend in December and January.
Reduced Prison Sentences For Readers
Prisoners in Brazil can reduce their sentence by reading books and producing reports on them. If deemed adequate, each report will take four days off a convicts time, with a maximum of 48 days reduction every year. The idea is to help people leave prison more enlightened, educated and less likely to commit crimes. And it seems to be working, with a 30% reduction in criminal relapse amongst those who take part.
Pay Kids To Attend School
Sweden pays high school students the equivalent of $187 a month to have a 100% attendance rate. The program helps pay for school supplies and discourages kids from skipping class.