Can We Learn Anything From Canada?

A developed, North American First World nation is in an existential crisis. Its government debt and deficit are at gray hair-inducing levels. Its currency is the laughing-stock of the world, its onetime strength sapped by unbearable levels of spendthrift habits. Leadership appears utterly absent, and there is a general tone of disenfranchisement and hopelessness.

Sound familiar? It should , to us.

In the early 1990's, this was your country--if you were a Canadian.

I recently saw these comparisons in separate pieces in both the Wall Street Journal and the National Review, drawing similarities between these two situations.

In 1993 (incidentally, the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup), Jean Chritien and his Liberal Party (yes folks, the Liberal Party), capitalized on voter anger over government debt at 70% of GDP. By 1998, the country had a $3 billion surplus thanks to a 40% cut in unemployment benefits and a 7:1 ratio of cuts to tax increases.

Fast forward to 2010. Canada's trillion-dollar-plus economy grew at 3.3%, faster than the US at 2.9%. It has a 7.2% unemployment rate (compared to 9.2% for the US). And its lowly dollar eclipsed ours in the strength department (although it recently slipped back below parity).

Quite frankly, I find this humiliating.

Is a similar turnaround possible here? Is the leadership present to make it happen? At the risk of seeming like those people (you know the type) who are always threatening to move to Canada, but wouldn't be caught dead actually living there...does an extended trip up north look more appealing than ever right now?

Comments (25)

Jul 25, 2011

What are you talking aboot?

Jul 25, 2011

I live in Buffalo, New York, which borders Canada and go over frequently. Although Canada seems to be more well-off than the U.S. right now, the living expenses (at least in the Ontario Province) are ridiculous.

Gas believe it or not, is almost twice as expensive as it is in the States, which we all know is a ridiculous price. Groceries are comparatively pricey compared to the U.S.

Lastly and most importantly, beer and alcohol is outrageously ridiculously overpriced. First of all, you can only buy alcohol at a designated beer or liquor store and these stores are only oped till 9 pm at the VERY LATEST. They also dont even sell 30 racks. The average price for an 18 is about 20-25 dollars Canadian!

It may look like Canada is in a better financial condition on the whole as a country, but the shitty living costs definitely even out if not outweigh the hardships we have here in the U.S. right now.

Jul 25, 2011
Derek.Garner:

I live in Buffalo, New York, which borders Canada and go over frequently. Although Canada seems to be more well-off than the U.S. right now, the living expenses (at least in the Ontario Province) are ridiculous.

Gas believe it or not, is almost twice as expensive as it is in the States, which we all know is a ridiculous price. Groceries are comparatively pricey compared to the U.S.

Lastly and most importantly, beer and alcohol is outrageously ridiculously overpriced. First of all, you can only buy alcohol at a designated beer or liquor store and these stores are only oped till 9 pm at the VERY LATEST. They also dont even sell 30 racks. The average price for an 18 is about 20-25 dollars Canadian!

It may look like Canada is in a better financial condition on the whole as a country, but the shitty living costs definitely even out if not outweigh the hardships we have here in the U.S. right now.

Lol, this is such an misinformed opinion. As opposed to this guy, I actually live in Canada, and the situation isn't at all like this description. I'm stopping myself from insulting you.

Jul 25, 2011
mlg321:
Derek.Garner:

I live in Buffalo, New York, which borders Canada and go over frequently. Although Canada seems to be more well-off than the U.S. right now, the living expenses (at least in the Ontario Province) are ridiculous.

Gas believe it or not, is almost twice as expensive as it is in the States, which we all know is a ridiculous price. Groceries are comparatively pricey compared to the U.S.

Lastly and most importantly, beer and alcohol is outrageously ridiculously overpriced. First of all, you can only buy alcohol at a designated beer or liquor store and these stores are only oped till 9 pm at the VERY LATEST. They also dont even sell 30 racks. The average price for an 18 is about 20-25 dollars Canadian!

It may look like Canada is in a better financial condition on the whole as a country, but the shitty living costs definitely even out if not outweigh the hardships we have here in the U.S. right now.

Lol, this is such an misinformed opinion. As opposed to this guy, I actually live in Canada, and the situation isn't at all like this description. I'm stopping myself from insulting you.

Please tell me how this is misinformed. Like I said, it might be different in other parts of the country, its a ver y big place and ive only been to places in the Ontario province, but from where i am at that is my experience when compared here to the U.S.

Please clarify any wrong statements ive made.

Jul 25, 2011
Derek.Garner:

Gas believe it or not, is almost twice as expensive as it is in the States, which we all know is a ridiculous price. Groceries are comparatively pricey compared to the U.S.

False - the US has ridiuclously low prices for gas compared to the rest of the developed world. Of course, the tax money and American blood spent on currently 3 wars to secure the cheap oil supplies and the future costs associated with an insane addiction to cheap oil (lack of clean tech investments due to lower incentives) are NOT visible at the gas station.
...not to mention the consequences for the environment - but hey, fuck externalities!

Jul 25, 2011
Lubyanka:
Derek.Garner:

Gas believe it or not, is almost twice as expensive as it is in the States, which we all know is a ridiculous price. Groceries are comparatively pricey compared to the U.S.

False - the US has ridiuclously low prices for gas compared to the rest of the developed world. Of course, the tax money and American blood spent on currently 3 wars to secure the cheap oil supplies and the future costs associated with an insane addiction to cheap oil (lack of clean tech investments due to lower incentives) are NOT visible at the gas station.
...not to mention the consequences for the environment - but hey, fuck externalities!

lol, the US actually imports most of its oil from CANADA! :P

Jul 25, 2011

Also, you do have to wonder whether the big cities like Toronto and Montreal are really representative of the rest of the nation. I mean, you can't really say places like New York and Boston are really representative of the United States. I feel like it's definitely more expensive living in Toronto, than, say, Edmonton or Calgary.

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Jul 25, 2011
In The Flesh:

Is a similar turnaround possible here?

Yes

Jul 25, 2011

^^Well said sir. If only that was the case...

Jul 25, 2011

^^^Agree, our system is not that bad, but it could be a lot better. It needs to become more capitalist. There's no price visibility. That's the biggest problem. In healthcare areas where you see price visibility between provider and patient (cosmetic surgery, lasik, etc.), you consistently see prices go down, and quality/results go up. Why? Price visibility...the free market can work its magic.

Jul 25, 2011

Derek.Garner, most of the stuff you said about costs in Canada is true (beer is crazy - I should know by my bar tab there), HOWEVER that has nothing to do with government spending and unemployment, etc. It has to do with the Canadian gov's view that it should discourage immoral/unhealthy activities (drinking) by taxing or highly regulating them. Gas has already been discussed and I'm not sure about groceries (we are the breadbasket of the world after all).

Jul 25, 2011

The liberals did not have that much to do with it. Anyone leading the country at the time had to do that. Rosenberg in one of his "Breakfast with Dave's" this year explained the timeline brilliantly.

Bottom line what woke up the country was the S&P downgrading the nation to AA, no one thought it would happen till it did. It flushed out the system and showed people how running a huge debt to spending ratio really works, then when budget cuts began people saw on the rebound occured. Also NAFTA was passed possibly 2 years before the spending cuts begun, many people pointed to Mulroney and NAFTA for basically shitting the bed. Again over the next 4 years people saw what the value of short-term pain was for long-term gain.

Really the best thing that can happen to the US, is for the debt ceiling to stop and for the bonds to default. To go down to AA, that will finally flush out the system and people will see how bad things can get. Btw, TARP saving the banks was no way a real flush, the US needs a real flush.

Jul 25, 2011

from my uncle (i need to get him his own wso username..): "We can learn lots from Canada. They were where we are now in the early 90's and they took drastic measures to improve their economy and debt to GNP. Now the loonie is 1.06 to the USD whereas in the late 90's it was a 1.60 CDN to 1USD. Our house and senate needs to set aside the bickering over each other and pass something for the American people rather than protect their position in the house or senate. Lets all vote the incumbents out of office next November!"

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Jul 25, 2011

You can trade anecdotes above the US and Canadian health care systems all you want, the bottom line is the the Canadian system is far better by every objective measure. Not surprising, given that the US has the worst health care system of any country in the industrialized world. The also pay by far the most per capita for healthcare, because insurance and pharmaceutical companies are able to extract massive profits out of people.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_system#Cr...
The average worker person is MUCH MUCH better off when living under a system of socialized medicine. What state has the highest level of satisfaction with health care? Massachusetts - the only state with a single pay system. People in other states only continue to oppose Medicare For All because they are being tricked by the Fox News Propaganda Machine that blames immigrants and "socialists" for everyones problems when it is actually massive corporations fucking them over.

Yes the cost of living is higher in Canada but so are our wages. They beer may be more expensive, bu at least it doesn't taste like shitty ginger ale with 3% alcohol.

The United States has massive and growing income inequality. Canada is a much more fraternal and peace loving society - there are far less gun toting, bigoted, religious fundamentalists.

I love America and the principles it was founded upon - but you guys have been hijacked by plutocrats and oligarchs. America is now a second world country.

Jul 25, 2011
LocoDice:

You can trade anecdotes above the US and Canadian health care systems all you want, the bottom line is the the Canadian system is far better by every objective measure. Not surprising, given that the US has the worst health care system of any country in the industrialized world. The also pay by far the most per capita for healthcare, because insurance and pharmaceutical companies are able to extract massive profits out of people.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_system#Cr...
The average worker person is MUCH MUCH better off when living under a system of socialized medicine. What state has the highest level of satisfaction with health care? Massachusetts - the only state with a single pay system. People in other states only continue to oppose Medicare For All because they are being tricked by the Fox News Propaganda Machine that blames immigrants and "socialists" for everyones problems when it is actually massive corporations fucking them over.

Yes the cost of living is higher in Canada but so are our wages. They beer may be more expensive, bu at least it doesn't taste like shitty ginger ale with 3% alcohol.

The United States has massive and growing income inequality. Canada is a much more fraternal and peace loving society - there are far less gun toting, bigoted, religious fundamentalists.

I love America and the principles it was founded upon - but you guys have been hijacked by plutocrats and oligarchs. America is now a second world country.

Wrong. This is so ideologically blinded it is ridiculous. Why do Americans pay more..regulations. Not only that, Americans have the best healthcare in the world no matter what you say. You should look at the first article I posted in my previous comments. True, Americans have higher rates of obesity, heart disease, etc. But that is not because of the healthcare system. Once Americans are treated in America for those diseases we have the highest recovery rate of any industrialized nation.

Reality hits you hard, bro...

Jul 25, 2011

Canada, as said before, has crazy sin taxes. But did you see the article in the NYT today about putting a 20% tax on soft drinks as a way to decrease obesity? The liberals love telling people what to do wherever they are- and the conservative party in Canada is about as conservative as the Dems here.

If the debt ceiling is not increased we will not default. The GAO in the 90s (or 80s idk) said that the Secretary of the treasury can prioritize the payment of bonds over spending. So we will not default, but massive cuts will occur. The expected tax inflows in august is like 175bn, outflows 300 something bn. While the Dems want people to believe that this will mean that old women will be dying in the streets, more likely it wil cause people to cut all the unnecessary spending and cut tentatively from there. Why do we have farm subsidies for one? Yea....

Reality hits you hard, bro...

Jul 25, 2011

Americans have ACCESS to the the best health care in the world (IF they are rich). The American health care SYSTEM IS the worst in the industrialized world, "no matter what you say".

It is not because of "regulations". America has the ONLY completely market driven system in the industrialized world. This means that insurance providers have an incentive to not provide care.

Jul 25, 2011
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