Friday, February 5, 2016

This Canadian Loves America


There is no other country in the history of the world that has provided more wealth, more technology and more global-scale influence than America. Rome and Great Britain come close, and the old Soviet Union was certainly no weakling, but the USA is in a different league altogether.

This isn't why I love America, however. I don't care about size of armies (although as a Canadian I do like living in "Fortress America" under the US defensive umbrella), and while there are major problems in the US, particularly with racism, violence, political corruption and obesity, I am able to see through these individual trees at the majesty of the entire forest.

Let me break it down:

Geography

There is no denying that America is beautiful. Where else in the world can you get EVERY SINGLE TYPE OF ECOSYSTEM within one country's borders? China? Please!

Here in Canada we have some beautiful landscapes too...for 4 months in the summer. The prairies are nice, until it snows. Cape Breton is beautiful, that is, until the first Atlantic blizzard dumps 6 feet of snow on it. Vancouver, when it's not soaking wet, is covered in fog while the Great Lakes flip between scorching humidity and bone-snapping freeze.

America has something for everyone. You like desert? Enjoy New Mexico! Want some palm trees? Florida beckons year-round. Bayou in Louisiana and mountains in Colorado. Heck, even if you are a masochist who likes Canadian-style climate, the US has New York, Minnesota and Alaska!

Smarts


Let's admit it: when it comes to genius inventions the Americans have a near-monopoly on smarts. Sure the British were good engineers who gave us the steam engine, and the Japanese are great at fiddling with US-made products and improving them, but it is America's culture of free enterprise that cultivates and spurs creativity.

All the best tech comes out of America. All the best movies come out of America. The best music comes out of America. Even some of the best food is American! 

Many of the people who have created these things were not American per say, but America gave them the freedom and opportunity to use their smarts in ways that would have impossible in their home countries. Einstein is one example. Today NASA employs the best space engineers and astrophysicists from around the world. Even Russian cosmonauts prefer to work for NASA!

This is because America's insistence on freedom, whether that be a free market or the free exchange of ideas, provides the most fertile ground for these developments. Thanks to the free markets young entrepreneurs and inventors are able to access a myriad of different funding options to get their ideas realized. 

Here in Canada there is a bureaucratic wall thrown up which is meant to protect the incumbents. At its heart Canada is a very conservative country (no matter what our Prime-Minister looks like). We don't like change. Got a great tech idea? Great! First make sure you register with three different regulatory bodies. Oh, and forget about funding, unless your investors already have more than $1 million in investment returns. Want to incorporate so you can attract a top-tier team of advisors and managers? Well, so long as they are immediate family only (or said millionaire-investors). 

Forget about getting money from a bank. There are only four of them, and they have their sphincters buttoned-up so tight that toilet paper won't even fit there. 

For the true geniuses and entrepreneurs, America is where it's at.

Government


America was founded with the opening words "We the people...". That says a lot about this country. 

Compare that to Canada's myriad of constitutional documents. The first words are "Whereas the Provinces of Canada have expressed desire to be federally united into one Dominion under the Crown..."

Yawn.

All joking aside, the 3 equal branches of government in the US and their corresponding checks and balances are superior to Canada's Winstminster-styled Parliament. In the US the President, although powerful, has zero control over Congress. In Canada a Prime-Minister with a majority exercises near-dictatorial powers over the executive AND the legislative branches.

In the US a member of the House of Representatives is elected with a majority of the votes. In Canada the awesome powers given to the PM is under a "first past the post" system, meaning that whichever party gains the majority of seats in the House of Commons also gains the key to unbridled power, even if it was only with 40% of the votes (which has been the case for the past thirty years). 

In the US Senators are elected. Heck, judges, Sheriffs and District Attorneys are elected! In Canada these are appointed positions for the "specalists" (aka "elites") who are chosen by political cronyism. 

Can you imagine that in 2016 we STILL DON'T ELECT OUR SENATORS???

People


Look at the photo above. See all the different smiles? That's because Americans are, on average, friendly people (at least in my experience). America is a multicultural, multilingual nation with a diverse range of opinions, religions, colors, styles and everything else. In fact, there is no way you can say "Americans do this" or "Americans are like that" because there is no one single "American" archetype.

Canada is much like America in its ethnic diversity, but when it comes to personalities Canadians are prudes. Smug prudes, at that. Our obesity levels, racism and academic ignorance are reaching parity with the US. We've taken the worst parts of British culture and melded them with the worst parts of American culture. That's Canada for you.

In the US not everybody is friendly. You're more likely to be killed in the US, whether by a thug, a lunatic or a cop. Or even a hurricane, or a flood, or a flying cow in a tornado. But overall most of the Americans I've met have been friendly, approachable and courteous (except for you, Seattle. What's your problem?). When I've gone to the south I've been blown away by the food, the over-the-top friendliness and those hot southern girls. South Carolina? Yes please!

Economics


America ran into some trouble in 2008, but they've since got out of it and even expanded their economy to higher levels than before the recession! Although job numbers in early 2016 shrunk, the US economy as a whole is chugging along in a rather healthy manner.

The same can't be said for Canada. We're the only G7 country in a recession. Eight of our ten provinces are in more debt than the entire country's combined GDP. Jobs are scarce.

In the US salaries have been rising across the board (despite what the "Occupy" protesters say...damn facts getting in the way of a narrative and all). The US not only created the largest middle class in the history of the world (a key factor in a free and healthy economy), but has also, for the most part, maintained it. 

Canada has seen its middle class shrink by more than 11% since 2000, whereas the US has actually grown its middle class by 4% in the same period. Salaries in Canada have stagnated, while prices have risen with the inflating dollar. In America the dollar has risen strongly and overall salaries have gone up with it. For instance, between 20012 and 2015, the average salary in the US rose from $37,500 to $44,700. In Canada the average salary actually declined in the same period, from $35,000 to $33,800! 

Canadians were smug at one point about being wealthier and having a more stable middle class than America, but that's not the case anymore. Canada has gone back to being a second-rate country, and has begun to fall into third-rate territory!

I could go on (and on, and on) but the fact of the matter is that the US is literally the best country in the world to live. It has the best weather, the best economy, the best people and the best government (in theory). The idea of America, that of a free and independent people who can decide their own fates and forge their destinies like adults, is wonderful. 

America was founded by revolution and remains revolutionary even today. Canada was founded by lawyers. 'Nuff said.