Sunday, September 21, 2014

Selective Lens in US/Canadian Comparisons

Fun article in today's NYT about American Conservatives admiring Canada (Krugman argues against this article too). This new love affair mostly is apparently about low corporate taxes and austerity combined with growth.  The piece notes some selective reading of the Canadian scene since there is the value added tax and the single-payer health care system.  Surprisingly, it does not mention the personnel income tax which, at least as I see it, is far more steep than the American one.

What else was omitted?
  • That this conservative utopia is partially afforded by spending something like $20 billion on defense.  Much easier to be austere when defense is 1% of GDP.  Good luck trying that in the U.S. 
  • The trade restrictions that limit competition in some parts of agriculture (dairy, poultry) called supply management and in the cultural section.  30% of all classic rock, for instance, on the radio must be Canadian.  There is now a debate to figure out how to regulate Netflix.  There was some discussion that Quebec would restrict or tax online booksellers and big book stores to protect smaller ones.   If American conservatives don't like regulation, they will not like Canada.
  • How do U.S. conservatives feel about cartels?  Canada seems to accept them just fine. Maple syrup, as we found it due to the big theft, has high prices because the producers cooperate to stockpile the sweet stuff.  On the island of Montreal, new cars are not sold on weekends as the car dealers cooperate and threaten any dealer that attempts to sell new cars on Saturday or Sunday.
  • How about unions?  Canada has unions that are quite more significant than the U.S.  I am not conservative but I got mighty steamed when the police and fire departments would engage in various political activities. 
  • The usual social stuff: gay marriage is accepted, abortion is not being regulated into being difficult and rare, marijuana is not quite legalized but close enough.*
  • The conservative utopia is partly due to about ten years of the Conservative party ruling. At some point, that will change, and we could expect to see corporate taxes go up. 
Canada is a great country, but not I am not sure how great it is for American Conservatives.  They can admire what they want, but they are blind to the stuff they dislike.  But the again, American Conservatives are pretty blind to much reality so why should this be any different?

* I didn't even mention guns. Yes, they hunt up here, but guns are far more regulated up here.  

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