Saturday, November 21, 2009

No, really, this won't work

Matthew Yglesias sadly reiterates his belief that my country shouldn't exist:
But the case for US-Canadian political union is pretty clear. As things stand, Canadian citizens are intensely impacted by decisions taken in Washington but have no real ability to influence them. Political union would give residents of Vancouver and Toronto an opportunity to have a say in decisions that are important to their lives. What’s more, the politics of AmeriCan would be more sensible than current US politics. There’d be a lot of microeconomic efficiency gains, and bringing America’s higher per capita income together with Canada’s vast natural resources could be beneficial for everyone.
Let's take these in turn:
  • Canadians actually more or less get along fine without a direct voice in American policy-making -- as do residents of Washington, DC. We make our wishes known, and we are either listened to or ignored depending on domestic US concerns. When things are going well, we do alright. When not, not. You know what really protects us from the downside of US decision making? Being a sovereign country.
  • The politics of the US would, if anything, become only marginally more sane if we all started voting in your elections. Marginally, as in "margin of error". Canada has only 10% of the US population. This means, if you can do the arithmetic, that even in 2008, as his Presidency was an increasingly bitter joke, that there were twice as many Americans who believed that George W. Bush was doing a good job as there were Canadians, period. An influx of Canadian voters would shift the bars only slightly.
  • America is already going to have access to Canadian natural resources, by an obscure and complicated mechanism called "paying for them". This is particularly strange, because unlike the median American voter, Matt usually seems to understand that resources can be bought and paid for on the open market, and that we don't necessarily need to use political means (including massive firepower) to secure economic goods like oil. So WTF?

Let me propose an equally logical act on Yglesias' part: he should join the Republican party. For most of his life, Republicans have dominated either the Congress or Presidency, or both. The GOP, then, is an institution of incredible political importance and as a Democrat, he has no real input on their policy-making decisions. I think we can all agree that he's unlikely to join the Party of No anytime soon, though. If he thinks about the reasons for why that's so, he might stumble upon the reason why Canadians might view the idea of a political union with the US as a bad idea.


Jennie / Jae said...

Here's the thing:

"As things stand, Canadian citizens are intensely impacted by decisions taken in Washington but have no real ability to influence them."... is true of every country in the world to a greater or lesser degree. It's certainly true of western European countries, not to mention Mexico. Should they ALL unify with the U.S., now? Give me a freaking break.

Gar Lipow said...

I think Matt, for all his wonkishness has pretty much the standard U.S. understanding of world geography.

Alison said...

American progressives - meh.
I think Matt's argument goes south because he doesn't realize that the "Frasier Institute", despite being the most popular sitcoms of all time, is still only a spin-off of the Cheers Institute.