Thursday, December 15, 2005

How They See Us

A friend passed this on to me - The Economist's view of the upcoming Canadian election. It's illuminating, if only the show what an Anglo-American bastion of capitalist thought thinks of us:
Yet there are two reasons why the world--and its American neighbour in particular--should pay a bit more attention to Canada. The first is a rather old-fashioned one. Canada, and especially its west, is one of the great storehouses of the commodities that the world needs in ever greater quantities--something China has recently noticed.
That's us Canucks - nothing worthwhile except our oil! Not that a nation of 30 million people should be worthwhile on its own, right?
The second reason to watch Canada, as The Economist has argued before, is that it is a healthy rival to the American way. To the "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" of the American Declaration of Independence, Canada replied with "peace, order and good government" in its founding charter.
This cliche gets old fast. It's true that Canada was founded - almost 140 years ago - in an oblique reaction to the United States' liberalism. But it's about as relevant to say that the US today is defined by the enshrinment of slavery in it's constitution. Not that you can't make that argument, but frankly there are far more relevant aspects to look at.

Not that I expect relevance from The Economist. This is the magazine that can acknowledge that a) George Bush is the worst president on free trade, ever, and b) for some reason a magazine calling itself The Economist thought he should be reelected. Speaking of:
Mr Martin was a fine finance minister, but as prime minister he has, on the whole, disappointed. Rather than reform Canada's cherished but increasingly expensive state-provided health-care system, he has merely pumped ever more money into it. Although he promised to improve relations with the United States, he has not done so.
Rather than reform Americas absurdly expensive and wasteful system, Bush keeps funnelling money in to it - when will the Economist condemn that, I wonder? Bush's incompetent Medicare bill is liable to cost (and waste) orders of magnitude more than anything Paul Martin is likely to do. But because it's the Economist, public = bad, private = good. Simple as that.

As for repairing relations with the US, don't blame Paul Martin for that. At least, not Martin alone. Unless "improving relations" is simply code for "bend over and take it, bitch" and I missed it, repairing relations requires two willing partners. Ask a marriage counselor. So long as the United States is run by Republicans, relations with Canada are going to be strenuous at best.

Oh, but we're not done yet - the Economist needs to get one last slap in at the Canadian left:
Unless Mr Harper excels, the election's most likely outcome is another Liberal-NDP government. That does not bode well. Economic growth is no longer outstripping that of the United States, as it did between 1999 and 2002. The gap in productivity and incomes is widening. To close it, Canada needs more investment and enterprise. Mr Martin knows that. Temporarily free from the veto of the old-school socialists of the NDP, last month the government announced tax cuts and new training schemes. That is the right ground on which to stand, but may prove untenable if the Liberals are again forced into coalition with the NDP.
Okay, let's see if you follow this: The Economist says Canada needs more investment. The Liberals wanted to cut taxes. The NDP forced the Liberals to spend money (or as some economists call it, "invest") instead. But somehow, the NDP are old-school socialists. Funny, I missed the point where Jack Layton started singing the Internationale, and proposed nationalizing the Auto industry.

My problem with the Economist is not only that it's basically a pretensious rag that talks down to everyone who doesn't love Saint Ronald. My problems is that it's entirely incoherent - health care spending is bad, unless you're George W. Bush. Investment is good, unless it's by the NDP. The hell? Somebody wake me when the Economist decides to actually try consistency over more than three paragraphs. Until then, I'm going back to the BBC.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Economist, basically, just expresses traditional disdain for whatever the English elite feels like disdaining at any given moment. Canada's been "a great white waste of time" for the English since the 1950's and every time the English media comments on the country, the overall message is that Canada continues to underwhelm.

I have no idea when the English elite will get tired of saying this. Maybe never. The Economist has been reporting on Canada in this manner for as long as I've been reading it (since the early 80's)

In any case, my response has always been..."Ok. We get it. You think we're boring. Just be grateful that, without crashingly boring Canada, you people would have no basis on which to judge yourselves inherently fascinating."