WSJ: US and Canada Should Get Married

Last week, there was a Wall Street Journal editorial proposing that the US and Canada, being best friends for such a long time now, should tie the knot already and merge to become one nation. I have no idea how serious this proposal is, but let's toy with the idea for a bit.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB100014240527...

On paper, a US-Canada merger makes a lot of sense. On a total trade basis, the US and Canada are each other's biggest trading partner. Literally millions of people have worked across each border, and both nations have a long history of defense and foreign policy together.

But from a practical perspective there are at least 3 enormous sticking points to a US-Canada merger:

1. Government. This should be obvious. How would a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional republic make decisions?

2. Healthcare. Would Canada keep its (mostly-funded and solvent) benefits system?

3. Taxes. The current US tax code is almost 74,000 pages long. Does anyone even want to attempt to figure out how adding 35 million Canadians to that would work? What about Canada's carbon tax? Or its VAT?

So the WSJ author overlooks quite a few elephants in the room. But to simplify things, may I present the ITF version of this...

Let's start with a customs union and EU-style, passport-less travel between the nations. I've traveled to Toronto twice this year, and anything that provides a small tailwind for travel is a good thing, in my view. Plus I could visit more Toronto Happy Hours.

Eliminate the working-Visa requirements. Visas are a completely arbitrary and politically-driven means of rewarding other countries we happen to like. What better way of showing our Canadian neighbors we love them by letting them work here Visa-free, and vice-versa? Professionals would especially benefit by being able to more easily expand their job search abroad without having to worry if a firm will be able to sponsor them. Firms would be able to attract top talent with less hassle and paperwork.

And finally, let's spread the NAFTA love. All the way down to Panama. More free trade and opportunity for everybody is an enormous market tailwind.

Some paranoid folks will oppose these steps on principle because they believe they are steps toward creating a North American superstate. But is that even workable? Do they have a point? Or is my splitting the difference a better approach?

Comments (52)

Dec 17, 2013

Why would we merge with Canada? If anything we would "acquire" them.

WSJ should focus on quality of writing instead of these ass OP pieces. Financial Times is literally a fraction of the size, yet far better to read.

Dec 17, 2013

Indeed. There are people who tried to work towards merging the US, Mexico and Canada together and create the amero to replace the three nations' currencies. This is not only far fetched, but would destroy sovereignty of all nations and people involved, including civil liberties.

Dec 17, 2013

We should just "acquire" Toronto and leave the rest. They can have Detroit.

Dec 17, 2013

don't forget vancouver

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Dec 17, 2013

We'll probably have to throw Cleveland in there as well...

We'll tell them how great the sports scene is. Oh the 'ol bait and switch. They'll never see it coming.

Dec 17, 2013

It would be more convenient if we were on nation, for sure. But we're not and Canada is more likely to fragment than merge....but neither will happen. Canada has different entry restrictions, and many people use Canada as a pivot point on their way into the US. Hell, terrorists do. I'm not sure opening the border completely will happen. Realistically, this is a good relationship and trying to turn it into an "improvement project" really is besides the point when there are so many other much more pressing issues to address. A for effort though, I'd really like to see hockey get a boost.

Dec 17, 2013

If we can keep our healthcare, I will gladly support Canada merging with the US so we can replace are horrendous domestic football league.

Dec 17, 2013

When talking about Canadian 'Football' you have to out the word football in quotes.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

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Dec 17, 2013

I think turning both countries into one is a bit far fetched, but many of the author's points on forming an EU-like structure in relation to some parts of monetary policy and resource allocation makes a lot of sense. Despite being adjacent to each other, there are a lot of pain in the ass costs when it comes to Canadians and Americans traveling between the two countries or working together.

Dec 17, 2013

eh guy

Canada is just like the US but with less guns. You guys would benefit though from Rob Ford

Don't listen to anyone, everybody is scared.

Dec 17, 2013

Ya, send Rob Ford to Detroit and you will have a miracle~

The Auto Show

Dec 17, 2013

Canada and the U.S. are only similar topically, the way the UK and the U.S. are. When you get down into the cultural fundamentals, the two nations are radically different and have virtually nothing in common.

I hate to admit this, but right now it would be to Canada's detriment to embroil itself in the U.S.--our political system is unstable by historical standards, our debt and liabilities are out of control, our violent crime (though better than the past) is terrible, our public education system is mediocre at best, and our immigration and health care systems are totally indecipherable. (This isn't just an issue with Obama--this is an issue with our system at large).

Canada is a relatively small nation by population--it's much, much easier to govern. As the U.S. has centralized power in Washington, D.C. our population has spread out throughout the continent and developed radically different cultures. If anything I'd say Canada's relative success is an argument for federalism--governments ruling smaller and more homogenous groups of people.

BTW, if I were Canada I'd gladly let Quebec have its independence.

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Dec 17, 2013
DCDepository:

Canada and the U.S. are only similar topically, the way the UK and the U.S. are. When you get down into the cultural fundamentals, the two nations are radically different and have virtually nothing in common.

I hate to admit this, but right now it would be to Canada's detriment to embroil itself in the U.S.--our political system is unstable by historical standards, our debt and liabilities are out of control, our violent crime (though better than the past) is terrible, our public education system is mediocre at best, and our immigration and health care systems are totally indecipherable. (This isn't just an issue with Obama--this is an issue with our system at large).

Canada is a relatively small nation by population--it's much, much easier to govern. As the U.S. has centralized power in Washington, D.C. our population has spread out throughout the continent and developed radically different cultures. If anything I'd say Canada's relative success is an argument for federalism--governments ruling smaller and more homogenous groups of people.

BTW, if I were Canada I'd gladly let Quebec have its independence.

Oh yeah and this is probably true. Canada is because a North America version of Switzerland. If you were Switzerland why the fuck would you want to be anything other than Switzerland? To impress arrogant yanks who have a lower standard of living, clock-full of impoverished minorities, less uneducated than you, and way more social and economic (debt) problems? It would be like Switzerland wanting to become France. ROFL. Canada does not want to become like USA.

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Dec 17, 2013

Agreed. The U.S. has a primary intangible--culture--that it can give to Canada. This is a culture of hard work and entrepreneurial innovation. But if a Canadian wants that he/she can move south pretty easily.

In terms of an economic union, I can see the argument, but there is a major problem--Canada has a far superior banking system while the U.S. has an utterly dominant banking system. The Canadians would have to trade almost 200 years of total banking stability for booms and busts every 20 years. They'd also probably have to give up their currency in favor of the USD and they'd open their provinces to the imported Mexican, Salvadorian, etc. scum. Governing a small and relatively homogenous nation is easy--wait until their governors have to start governing states that look like Texas or California in terms of cultural complexity.

The benefits would be great for the U.S.--I'm failing to see the great benefits to Canada.

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Dec 17, 2013
anybankeratall:

Oh yeah and this is probably true. Canada is because a North America version of Switzerland. If you were Switzerland why the fuck would you want to be anything other than Switzerland? To impress arrogant yanks who have a lower standard of living, clock-full of impoverished minorities, less uneducated than you, and way more social and economic (debt) problems? It would be like Switzerland wanting to become France. ROFL. Canada does not want to become like USA.

I just got a fucking migraine trying to read this - what?

Dec 18, 2013
anybankeratall:
DCDepository:

Canada and the U.S. are only similar topically, the way the UK and the U.S. are. When you get down into the cultural fundamentals, the two nations are radically different and have virtually nothing in common.

I hate to admit this, but right now it would be to Canada's detriment to embroil itself in the U.S.--our political system is unstable by historical standards, our debt and liabilities are out of control, our violent crime (though better than the past) is terrible, our public education system is mediocre at best, and our immigration and health care systems are totally indecipherable. (This isn't just an issue with Obama--this is an issue with our system at large).

Canada is a relatively small nation by population--it's much, much easier to govern. As the U.S. has centralized power in Washington, D.C. our population has spread out throughout the continent and developed radically different cultures. If anything I'd say Canada's relative success is an argument for federalism--governments ruling smaller and more homogenous groups of people.

BTW, if I were Canada I'd gladly let Quebec have its independence.

Oh yeah and this is probably true. Canada is because a North America version of Switzerland. If you were Switzerland why the fuck would you want to be anything other than Switzerland? To impress arrogant yanks who have a lower standard of living, clock-full of impoverished minorities, less uneducated than you, and way more social and economic (debt) problems? It would be like Switzerland wanting to become France. ROFL. Canada does not want to become like USA.

"less uneducated"

Dec 17, 2013

The article is not thinking big enough.

Combine Oz, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK + USA into an Atlantic Union with free trade. All 1st world, Anglo-Saxon culture and heritage, Democracy, Capitalism, and common language. China will have zero chance against us.

Screw Mexico. Even if they shout "no fair" we don't want your legions of uneducated impoverished natives. Go merge with Nicaragua and you can inherit their drug lords and other 3rd world problems. haha

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Dec 17, 2013

We'll take NZ and Canada but please leave the unsophisticated Yanks and Aussies out of this :)

Dec 17, 2013

Slightly dilutive on a per capita gdp basis

Dec 17, 2013

Commenting this from Europe, the Visa-free travel seems like a very good idea and has benefited Europe greatly, IMO.
The working Visa requirements on the other hand, is another topic. Europeans in general (I'm not one of them) seem not to like the migrant workers too much and as the EU is probably the first large-scale example of free labor movement across that many countries, one can easily argue that it has failed because of the economic situation as it is. The two EU countries (Germany and Austria) that opened their borders to the new members' labor later than the other "old" EU member countries are for some reason the ones who have survived the economic crisis the best. Was opening the border a big factor? Probably not, but it may leave the impression which will hinder these kind of alliances in other parts of the world as well. Of course, comparing Canada to the US is different than comparing the UK to Romania but there might be some similarities in the general human behavior when these options become available.
For example, the minimum wage, as I have understood, is higher in Canada, and the government is providing more services to the people, so could this lead to a situation similar to Europe, where a lot of the migrants from East are in many cases people who were unable to secure a good standard of living in their own country and therefore moved to try their luck somewhere else?
In general it seems that although the start-up scenery is fighting with the US government to make it easier to employ foreigners, it seems that this more closed approach has served the US well, at least when comparing the wages and purchasing power with Europeans. This goes against the economic theory I have read on the free labor/goods/etc movement, so if anyone cares to comment, I'd appreciate it.

Dec 17, 2013
jaan1:

In general it seems that although the start-up scenery is fighting with the US government to make it easier to employ foreigners, it seems that this more closed approach has served the US well, at least when comparing the wages and purchasing power with Europeans. This goes against the economic theory I have read on the free labor/goods/etc movement, so if anyone cares to comment, I'd appreciate it.

I think you're right on on many points, but I would say that the US start-up scene demanding immigration reform is because the scene has popped up in California in areas of many progressive hippie liberals. They have no intention of employing migrant workers from Mexico--they just see the issue as a hip issue to be part of. It's entirely a progressive, popular issue in their circles.

The US Chamber of Commerce, on the other hand, is advocating for lax immigration standards so their member businesses can employ the migrant workers.

Dec 17, 2013

I would just be happy for the car import laws of Canada! 15 year old cars instead of 25? Helloooooo Skyline!

Dec 17, 2013

Should have invaded Canada and made those provinces new states sometime in the 1800's.

Dec 17, 2013

Drove through Detroit on my way to Toronto once. Just from that one experience, the Canadians would be batshit crazy to merge with us. Toronto is so damn nice and clean. My cousin out there was trying to impress me by showing me ghetto areas of Toronto (which were actually more middle class than anything), that in of itself was an insult....why the hell would I be impressed with your ghettos?? They basically think our cities are dangerous and shitty.

Dec 17, 2013

Btw, if we do merge, we keep our flag and throw theirs away...can't negotiate on that at all.

Dec 17, 2013

@DCDepository : Canada has had booms and busts too.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Dec 17, 2013
In The Flesh:

@DCDepository : Canada has had booms and busts too.

There have been ALMOST no bank failures in Canada's 180-year banking history, and I believe one since the Great Depression. It's a FAR sounder system than ours.

Dec 17, 2013

That is just Americans realizing how superior Canada is to the ''great'' U.S.... How does it feel to have a shitty education system, crappy healthcare systems and all those killings and drug traffic? While tons of Americans drown in debt just to get a degree, we pay 4k a year here where I live. Oh, and also, I can walk into any hospital when I want and get quality services almost for free. We also beat you in terms of GDP per Capita, DESTROY you in terms of the Education Index and we do twice better than you by the Health system attainment/performance rankings, even if you spend more money per capita on healthcare.

But, fellow americans, we are flattered by your desire to ''merge'' with us.

P.S.: If you ever feel down, just remember: your government cares more about its bombs and jets than their population! :) :) :)

Keep munching on those burgers and fries,

Canadian guy

XOX

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Dec 17, 2013
Sidthetrader:

That is just Americans realizing how superior Canada is to the ''great'' U.S.... How does it feel to have a shitty education system, crappy healthcare systems and all those killings and drug traffic? While tons of Americans drown in debt just to get a degree, we pay 4k a year here where I live. Oh, and also, I can walk into any hospital when I want and get quality services almost for free. We also beat you in terms of GDP per Capita, DESTROY you in terms of the Education Index and we do twice better than you by the Health system attainment/performance rankings, even if you spend more money per capita on healthcare.

But, fellow americans, we are flattered by your desire to ''merge'' with us.

P.S.: If you ever feel down, just remember: your government cares more about its bombs and jets than their population! :) :) :)

Keep munching on those burgers and fries,

Canadian guy

XOX

lol. Great troll post. Nice work.

Dec 17, 2013
Sidthetrader:

That is just Americans realizing how superior Canada is to the ''great'' U.S.... How does it feel to have a shitty education system, crappy healthcare systems and all those killings and drug traffic? While tons of Americans drown in debt just to get a degree, we pay 4k a year here where I live. Oh, and also, I can walk into any hospital when I want and get quality services almost for free. We also beat you in terms of GDP per Capita, DESTROY you in terms of the Education Index and we do twice better than you by the Health system attainment/performance rankings, even if you spend more money per capita on healthcare.

But, fellow americans, we are flattered by your desire to ''merge'' with us.

P.S.: If you ever feel down, just remember: your government cares more about its bombs and jets than their population! :) :) :)

Keep munching on those burgers and fries,

Canadian guy

XOX

There's so many half truths in this I don't even know where to begin. I'll start and end with this--Canada has considerably lower GDP per capita, which is easily verifiable. I could go point by point but it would be pointless.

Dec 17, 2013
Sidthetrader:

That is just Americans realizing how superior Canada is to the ''great'' U.S.... How does it feel to have a shitty education system, crappy healthcare systems and all those killings and drug traffic? While tons of Americans drown in debt just to get a degree, we pay 4k a year here where I live. Oh, and also, I can walk into any hospital when I want and get quality services almost for free. We also beat you in terms of GDP per Capita, DESTROY you in terms of the Education Index and we do twice better than you by the Health system attainment/performance rankings, even if you spend more money per capita on healthcare.

But, fellow americans, we are flattered by your desire to ''merge'' with us.

P.S.: If you ever feel down, just remember: your government cares more about its bombs and jets than their population! :) :) :)

Keep munching on those burgers and fries,

Canadian guy

XOX

LOL, YOU MAD BRO???

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Dec 17, 2013

@sidthetrader All that Canadian awesomeness seems to have rendered you calm and levelheaded, just as I'd expect from a Canadian.

@jmayhem If you like your health plan, you can keep it

Dec 17, 2013

@anybankeratall We're part of the reason you and other countries can pay less in healthcare, part of the reason you don't have to think seriously about defense spending, etc. At least the Swiss would be men enough to admit if they benefitted from the stupidity of the US.

That's not an insult, it's admiration. But that doesn't make you Switzerland, you're just the Matthew Lesko of countries getting all the benefits you can. I ain't mad.

Dec 17, 2013

The metric system and napoleon complexes

Dec 17, 2013

I may actually go munch on some burgers and fries. And I won't wash it down with LaBatt Blue, takes like 20 of those to get a buzz.

Dec 17, 2013

Hey Canada, when Pootie Poot invades you after claiming the North Pole, don't come a knockin' to your neighbors down south. I'm sure the mounties will put up a good fight though.

Dec 18, 2013

we are more than happy to be separated from the usa here... haters going to hate

"There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning."

Best Response
Dec 18, 2013

When I think of Canada I think of those little birds...

Dec 18, 2013

It would make sense if all Canadians get Class A shares that have 10:1 voting rights. Then we would have more intelligent presidents

Dec 18, 2013
killerkl0wn:

It would make sense if all Canadians get Class A shares that have 10:1 voting rights. Then we would have more intelligent presidents

Yeah, because the big problem with our Harvard/Yale educated / Rhodes Scholar President(s) is they aren't "intelligent" enough.

Dec 18, 2013
killerkl0wn:

It would make sense if all Canadians get Class A shares that have 10:1 voting rights. Then we would have more intelligent presidents

What happened in Toronto?

I like Canada. Nice place, few cool cities, great skiing and natural resources. Other than that it isn't an important nation. Imagine the US without Canada? Maybe a little difference. Imagine Canada without the US? Big difference.

Dec 18, 2013

Canada "merging" with the US? LOL. We don't want 'em Americans coming in and mooching off of the healthcare system, or the pension system. And plus America is far too right wing for us. Our right wing is probably more left than your left. There will be far too many cultural issues in post merger integration.

Oh and for those who think that they can just walk in and "conquer" Canada, do not forget the War of 1812.

Dec 18, 2013
IRSPB:

Oh and for those who think that they can just walk in and "conquer" Canada, do not forget the War of 1812.

By the 21st century it was a forgotten war in Britain,[163] although still remembered in Canada, especially Ontario. In a 2009 poll, 37% of Canadians said the war was a Canadian victory, 9% said the U.S. won, 15% called it a draw, and 39%--mainly younger Canadians--said they knew too little to comment.

Sounds like a monumental victory - I can totally understand where your pride comes from now

Dec 19, 2013
CaR:
IRSPB:

Oh and for those who think that they can just walk in and "conquer" Canada, do not forget the War of 1812.

By the 21st century it was a forgotten war in Britain,[163] although still remembered in Canada, especially Ontario. In a 2009 poll, 37% of Canadians said the war was a Canadian victory, 9% said the U.S. won, 15% called it a draw, and 39%--mainly younger Canadians--said they knew too little to comment.

Sounds like a monumental victory - I can totally understand where your pride comes from now

Pride comes from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_Washington

Canadians managed to get into your house and burn down your capital. Please do enlighten yourself. It doesn't matter whether people remember it or not.

Dec 18, 2013

It makes complete sense (from a hockey perspective).

Gold medals ensue (still hates Crosby).

Dec 18, 2013

Whenever I think of Canada, I think of the classic Terrence and Phillip songs. Those were great. "Shut your fucking face Uncle Fucker"

Dec 18, 2013

That would be the BEST ACQUISITION EVER !!! Or merger? ..Nah.. Acquisition.

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right."

-Warren Buffett

Dec 19, 2013

I really don't take arbitrary pride in a country or zip code that I reside in so I don't understand the US and Canadian bravado, but what I truly cannot grasp is how Canadians aren't accepting of their irrelevancy. It's like Bulgaria trying to put down Russia or something.

Canada is a cool country, I dig Toronto, but you guys ebb and flow with the USA, not the other way around. How is this even a debate? Furthermore, "Canadians" didn't burn the White House, British troops did.

Dec 19, 2013
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May 19, 2014
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LIVE THE IMPOSSIBLES

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