Remember how our politicians used to brag that the average American was better off than any citizen of any other country in the world? It was all part of that “Were Number One” thing we had going that has, in the past thirty wears, gone from being a statement of national pride to just another jingoistic (and untrue) statement.
Other than making weapons to kill people with and then actually going out and killing people in large numbers to create a market for them, I have a hard time finding anything of any real worth that we’re truly number one at anymore and now we find that our citizens decidedly not even richer than anywhere else. One country has already surpassed us in terms of personal wealth per average citizen and others will, if present trends continue, do so within the next few years as we continue our metamorphosis into a third world slum country ruled over by a corporate oligarchy. I’m sure Canadians are too polite to make an issue of it but it may not be long until they look at us the way many of our citizens… cough:: Tea Party::cough… look at Mexico… you know, as a kind of rally low-class ghetto and a blight on the neighborhood, whose citizens ought to stay on their own side of the tracks.
On July 1, Canada Day, Canadians awoke to a startling, if pleasant, piece of news: For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American.
According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in the Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household’s net worth was $319,970.
A few days later, Canada and the U.S. both released the latest job figures. Canada’s unemployment rate fell, again, to 7.2 percent, and America’s was a stagnant 8.2 percent. Canada continues to thrive while the U.S. struggles to find its way out of an intractable economic crisis and a political sine curve of hope and despair.
The difference grows starker by the month: The Canadian system is working; the American system is not. And it’s not just Canadians who are noticing. As Iceland considers switching to a currency other than the krona, its leaders’ primary focus of interest is the loonie — the Canadian dollar.
Now Canada cannot really be called a Socialist country in the dictionary sense of the word and I’m sure the American left didn’t consider them the epitome of socialist thought when they were imposing draconian reforms in regard to many of their social programs not too many years back. But that won’t stop the uninformed and misinformed among the American right-wing from squealing the word every time you mention any country that seeks an even break for everyone instead of the little knot of families at the top of the food chain . If you need proof of that, just mention healthcare in front of one of them.
Production and the means of distribution are not solely functions of the government or any kind of collective and capitalism thrives there much as it does here within the limits of a just society. The difference is in the regulation… the mere mention of which can get you flogged as a socialist or worse by certain factions of the American right… of those primary factors in that Canada has not sought to abandon it’s lower and middle classes the way the US has and that therefore, the wealth is not so concentrated in the upper tiers of their society that there is nothing left for the rest of the people.
Good politics do not account entirely for recent economic triumphs. Luck has played a major part. The Alberta tar sands — an environmental catastrophe in waiting — are the third-largest oil reserves in the world, and if America is too squeamish to buy our filthy energy, there’s always China. We also have softwood lumber, potash and other natural resources in abundance.
Policy has played a significant part as well, though. Both liberals and conservatives in the U.S. have tried to use the Canadian example to promote their arguments: The left says Canada shows the rewards of financial regulation and socialism, while the right likes to vaunt the brutal cuts made to Canadian social programs in the 1990s, which set the stage for economic recovery.
The truth is that both sides are right. Since the 1990s, Canada has pursued a hardheaded (even ruthless), fiscally conservative form of socialism. Its originator was Paul Martin, who was finance minister for most of the ’90s, and served a stint as prime minister from 2003 to 2006. Alone among finance ministers in the Group of Eight nations, he “resisted the siren call of deregulation,” in his words, and insisted that the banks tighten their loan-loss and reserve requirements. He also made a courageous decision not to allow Canadian banks to merge, even though their chief executives claimed they would never be globally competitive unless they did. The stability of Canadian banks and the concomitant stability in the housing market provide the clearest explanation for why Canadians are richer than Americans today.
In other words, Canadians are a whole lot better at resisting the Wall Street bullshit than a large segment of our own society seems to be. Their banks aren’t allowed to get “too big to fail” and it’s doubtful that in the future you’ll ever see the average Canadian taxpayer called upon to assume the responsibility for financial losses incurred through greed and/or stupidity of their financial sector.
Of course I’m not any kind of an expert on financial affairs or Canada or anything else really. I’m sure that lots of folks, Canadians AND Americans, would take exception to many of the things in this post. Canada has its right wing too and I have no reason to doubt that some of its leaders have the same ultimate goal in mind for their people as most of ours seem to have.
I just look at the glaring headline… Hardheaded Socialism Makes Canada Richer Than U.S… and it sure does look to me like they’re doing something right for their average citizens… or at least righter than we are… and that we’re doing something wrong and that their “brutal” form of Socialism is working better for their 99% than our even more brutal form of Fascism is for our own. For now, that’s good enough for me.