After a few of my less positive posts about Quebec received some well-deserved criticism, it reminded me of one of my biggest pet peeves about Canadians--that they are satisfied with comparing their situations with the American equivalent. Canadians, while deeply dissatisfied about their health care, do not agitate for significant reform because the US system is worse. Well, that really is a non sequitor as reform does not imply or require adopting the American system. Instead, Canadians should consult the European systems that work the best.
My post about the Quebec day care system is in the same vein. Child care is a challenge everywhere, but it is impossible for many folks to find available care in Quebec because the simplistic $7/day program distorted the market too much. Why not means-test so that poor and middle class get day care and the well off have to pay extra to get it? There seems to be a hostility here to any kind of means testing for social services, so everybody gets the same mediocre services.
Tuition is similar. In Quebec, there is the belief that all should pay only a relatively nominal fee for university, which means that the higher educational system is in a permanent funding crisis. While the American system is also out of control, the idea that providing financial aid to the less well off and having the more well off pay seems to be anathema.
Of course, why should I complain? I would be means tested out of getting these benefits. But the problem is that I end up paying for everyone's mediocre services. And a little imagination would be nice--considering alternatives other than the worst examples of American policies would be nice.
And of course, I should not complain so much since I am a guest in this country. Canada is an amazing place, and Montreal is a wonderful city. We feel far more welcome here than we did in West Texas. I just want this place to be better still.
[And, of course, I didn't even mention the seal hunt ;)]