"We have the biggest GDP, the finest universities, the highest ownership of color TVs, and the greatest number of Nobel Prize winners. So how come the Danes are the happiest people in the world? Living in the dark, no less. Schoolchildren in New Zealand are cleaning our clocks in math and science. Teachers are better paid and more respected in Japan. Our highways are choked with traffic, but we can't manage to build a train that goes more than 150 mph.
Our eating habits? Please. Just compare our average portion with a meal in Japan, and you'll understand why our adult obesity rate is 32 percent, compared with only 3.6 percent for the Japanese. The French, likewise, are slim and well fed-and they offer world-class dinner conversation to boot. Their secret: They don't want to know what you did yesterday; they want to engage you in a lively discussion of ideas."
It's certainly a thought-provoking premise: after decades of watching the rest of the world follow our lead, is it time for Americans to start importing ideas and lessons from abroad? U.S. News & World Report rounded up a list of 30 "best practices" from around the world, focusing on what Americans might learn from other countries:
"The list is admittedly unscientific and decidedly incomplete. We're not even saying that all of these practices would work here; if Americans wanted free day care and government-funded maternity leave, after all, they'd have to pay Norway-size taxes. What follow are simply practices that intrigued us: the Germans retraining prostitutes to care for the elderly, the Brazilian buses that are so clean and efficient that even the rich people ride them, and the Japanese toilets that deodorize the room and put the seat down when you're done."
[image: U.S. News & World Report]