I am not a US citizen but I lived in the US for 18 years. I now live in Spain. As CEO of Fon, the largest WiFi network in the world, I frequently travel around Europe, Asia, and America. In my travels I have had a chance to compare countries along a lot of different categories. Indeed during long international flights I started a comparison chart between Europe and USA along around 50 different categories that were meant to define which part of the world had better quality of life. These included issues such as access to education, quality of health care, criminality, unemployment, level of red tape, income per capita, job opportunities, innovation rates, tolerance and other random categories. Interestingly the result was pretty even between Europe and USA: there were around 25 categories that USA scored better and a similar number for the EU. My conclusion was not that the EU was better than USA or viceversa but depending on what is important to you you would choose one over the other. And I chose Europe. Now having said this there was one issue in which Europe had the upper hand and that was the quality of the Police Forces and the justice system in general. For reasons that are not clear to me USA has much higher incarceration rates than Europe. Indeed USA has more people behind bars than Madrid has inhabitants, about 4.4 million vs 5.7 million. But not only USA has abnormally crowded prisons (if incarcerated people were included in unemployment statistics USA would lose its advantage in employment vis a vis Europe), but USA has a Police Force that is particularly rude in the treatment of its citizens. During a visit to Southampton, Long Island I was shouted at by a policeman for a minor traffic violation (driving at 42 miles an hour in a 30 mile zone). When I got off the car to apologize I was almost handcuffed. The “hands on the wheel” diatribe was so bad that it made me wonder how US citizens put up with Police Forces that so frequently abuse individuals. I don´t mind getting a fine but I do mind being treated like a dangerous suspect when any security officer with common sense would not consider me in a bathing suit a real threat. Moreover not only are US Police Forces rude but they are corrupt as well. When I was telling a friend how I was shouted at in Southampton she metioned that there is a well know way to be treated well by US Police Forces and that is to pay them off. But as opposed to giving them cash on the spot the system, and it seems to be a very well accepted system nationwide, consists in making significant payments to the Police Charities and obtaining badges that say that one is a contributor to the Police Forces. Indeed so interested are US citizens in trying to get a better treatment from their police forces that many fall into various scams. My take as a frequent visitor to the States is that this system is shameful and that Police should both stop being rude to average citizens and certainly stop taking what in other countries would clearly be called a bribe in the form of charitable donations.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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