Mises Daily Articles
For the past several years the United Nations has proclaimed Canada to be "The Best Place In The World To Live." But if you value individual and economic liberty, you are not likely to agree.
In continually lauding Canada year after year, what does this tell us about the UN's goals and agenda? What is it about Canada that the UN sees as especially praiseworthy and, by implication, the model to be emulated by other regimes?
Could it be high taxation, centralized power, wealth redistribution between regions, and social engineering?
To understand Canada, one must realize that the self-proclaimed elite--an axis of journalists, politicians of all political parties, and academia--view Canada as a moral conscience to the world precisely because of its statism. And they proclaim it morally superior to virtually any country, but especially so to the United States.
Anti-Americanism is itself almost a religion amongst nationalists in the media, government, and parties axis. The myth is very popular that the US is a free-market bonanza with gun-toting cowboys and robber barons around every tree. And any suggestions that the free market is more just and efficient than the welfare state is derided as the dreaded "Americanization" of Canada.
But this wasn't always so. Canada was once called the "Switzerland of the North." For example, in 1968, Canada was second only to the United States among the G7 economies in per-capita income. Now Canada is 18th amongst the 27-member OECD--behind Italy and even Ireland--a country with ten percent of Canada's population.
In between then and now came various schemes of social democracy: deficit spending, bouts of nationalizing industry, attempts to control consumer prices, state regulation of foreign investment, and regional development plans and transfer payments from the wealthier provinces to the poorer ones. Thirty years worth of welfare has not made these provinces "self-sufficient."
Along with all this came the CBC, the government-owned news network, which faithfully mouths the nationalist side and claims to provide the 'Canadian View' of news (anti-capitalist, anti-American, pro-UN, pro-big government), and an annual budget of $5 billion Canadian to pay various Indian tribes--called aboriginals and first nations--constituting less than 500,000 people, to remain on their reservations. Not surprisingly any criticism of this is immediately called racism.
Canada seems to be a magnet for bizarre statist schemes, such as the Parliamentary resolution to end child poverty by the year 2000. When this 'law' was not achieved last year, it was solemnly proclaimed that child poverty had increased from 15.3% to 19.8%, but strangely the statistical methodology is never questioned. And of course this scheme led to calls on the government to spend $3 billion over five years on social programs.
Apparently there are no social programs that fail in Canada; they are only underfunded.
Other notable schemes include:
- a serious proposal in the early 90's to turn Canada into a refugee lifeboat for abused women worldwide--which died apparently from ridicule;
- the current party-in-powers' running on instituting a universal taxpayer-funded childcare scheme--shelved due to the deficit crisis several years ago (around the same time the Wall Street Journal called Canada an honorary member of the third world);
- a proposal made shortly after the last election in December for a guaranteed minimum income;
- mayors from all over the world being offered free trips to Montreal for helping the World Health Organization persecute smokers.
- recently, the federal government admitting to having "lost," through bureaucratic accounting, $1 billion in its "jobs program."
Perhaps why the UN loves Canada so much is because the two so resemble each other in support of every left-wing issue that comes along, but also perhaps because the UN is an avowed opponent of the free market, and statism appears to be secure in Canada for the foreseeable future.
But perhaps the UN really admires Canada's third-world political system. Although the PM is merely the leader of the party with the most seats in Parliament, among the powers of his office is the appointment by ministerial fiat of the representative of the Canadian head of state (the British Monarch) called the Governor-General, the appointment of all Supreme Court Justices, as well as all members of the Senate (some notable Senators, including a Prime Minister's dentist, and one of the current PM's golfing cronies) as well the total discretion of when the election is called within the 5 year term of every Parliament. It is also worth mentioning is that Parliament has the legal ability to suspend all civil rights with the War Powers Act.
These are the instruments of party patronage that grease the system for every party in power. Maybe the UN admires Canada because they both resemble each other in nepotism, patronage, bureaucratic mazes and backroom fixing.
Or perhaps the UN admires its economic system, where the political elite's determination of who constitutes "the rich" begins at an annual income of $66,000 Canadian, where the taxation rate for the middle class approaches nearly 50% of one's income, or perhaps that the media and other political consensus makers deride suggestions that economic liberty is as much a right as speech and religion.
Or maybe the UN admires the social regime, where a real system of thought policing functions--in only one direction politically, of course--where "Human Rights Commissions" police speech against privileged minorities in cases involving politically incorrect assertions, and hate crimes legislation is all the rage, and quotas for francophones and other minorities are imposed.
Certainly the UN believes itself to be morally superior and the conscience of the world, and in Canada, maybe we have the UN's view of what all its statist projects and bureaucracy can achieve. Maybe Canada is the model UN nation: the haven of the poor, the oppressed, and protector of minorities.
It could just be that Canada is being used as UN propaganda, since just about everyone already sees Canadians as nice, friendly "compassionate" people, which is surely the image that the UN--and all statists for that matter--wishes for itself.
In Canada, the UN undoubtedly sees the fantasy of a compassionate society, where the "poor" and "underprivileged" can find "dignity," where minorities can find "justice" against their cruel "oppressors," where women can find liberation through the state, and where children are protected from the violence of white males.
But apparently what the UN really values is an undisturbed record of centralization, patronage, corruption, cronyism, social engineering, mismanagement, inflation, regulation, regional wealth re-distribution, and every other manifestation of Social Democracy.
Unfortunately, Canadians are content to continue smugly looking down their noses at Americans, participating in the national pastime of hating "Americanism"; content to continue bragging about having universal healthcare while that very system is becoming the virtual equivalent of the death penalty, and content to suffer cruel levels of taxation and an ever declining standard of living.