Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Canada: a Country of Rugged Individualists.
Socialism is not part of our heritage.

The mainstream media of Canada, along with the interventionists of the country, would have us believe that socialism is at the heart of our unique Canadian identity.

They are wrong. Michel Kelly-Gagnon emphasizes in a recent column that Canada was much later than the U.S. was in adopting many "social reforms" and was fervently individualistic for most of its history. [Thanks to Jack for the link; $req'd]

Now, it is obviously a fact that in today’s Canada taxes are high, the unions are strong (especially in Quebec) and you have powerful interest groups who will fight any attempts at change. It is also undeniable that, under most indicators, governments in Canada (especially when you compare provincial governments with state governments) are bigger today than they are in the United States.

But what needs to be challenged is the claim that interventionist government, high taxes, protectionist policies and socialized medicine constitute the very fabric of our national identity. We should not accept any more the notion that anyone who believes that less government is economically beneficial as well as morally justifiable is, de facto, trying to Americanize Canada and, thus, would be some sort of traitor to the Canada nation. The reality is that this so-called “Canadian identity” based on government compassion (or socialism, to speak more clearly) was only invented in the 1960s and ’70s.
He concludes

... free-market ideas are part of our Canadian heritage and of our Canadian identity. It’s something to be proud of. And it’s about time we started explaining to our fellow citizens, with patience, passion and reason, that you can be a true Canadian while wanting to reduce government control over our lives.
For more on Canada's individualistic beginnings and its drift toward statism, see Globalization and the Meaning of Canadian Life by Bill Watson. Sadly, both Kelly-Gagnon and Watson go overboard, trying to make their point, and in doing so they needlessly open themselves up to picky criticism.

Note: I posted the above as my inaugural post at the blog for the Western Standard, where it sparked considerable discussion.
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