Socialist Canadians Wealthier Than Capitalist Americans?

"The average Canadian has quietly become richer than the average American," claims a pro-Canada organization.

Michael Adams, president of something called the Environics Institute, passes on the interesting news that “The average Canadian has quietly become richer than the average American.”

Over the past five years, net worth per Canadian household has exceeded net worth per American household (total combined value of liquid and real estate assets minus debt) for the first time.

Currently, the average Canadian household is more than $40,000 richer than the average American household. (According to the latest Environics Analytics WealthScapes data, the average household net worth in Canada was $363,202 in 2011; in the U.S. it was $319,970.) And these are not 60-cent dollars, but Canadian dollars more or less at par with the U.S. greenback. Furthermore, these figures ignore public-sector (government) debt that presumably people on both sides of the border or their children will some day have to pay. Such debt is higher in the U.S. as a percentage of GDP than it is in Canada.

Has Canada experienced a sudden surge of productivity or entrepreneurial genius? Not exactly. Our resource sector is certainly firing on all cylinders, but the biggest reasons for Canadians’ deep pockets relative to Americans’ in recent years are the related phenomena of the 2008 economic crisis and the collapse of the U.S. housing market. Because house prices in the U.S. have plunged, the real estate held by Canadians is now much more valuable than that held by Americans (worth over $140,000 more on average). In fact, Canadians hold more than twice as much real estate as Americans and, once mortgages are factored in, have almost four times as much remaining equity in their real estate. Americans’ liquid (non-real estate) assets are still greater than Canadians’.

Now, I’m not persuaded that a metric so heavily influenced by housing prices is a meaningful metric of wealth. I’d think something that took into account overall standard of living would make more sense. Then again, Canadians rank slightly ahead of Americans in terms of nominal GDP/capita and slightly behind us on GDP/capita at purchasing power parity.

Regardless, it sparks an interesting debate, given the different social climate and regulatory policies. Novelist Stephen Marche weighs in:

On July 1, Canada Day, Canadians awoke to a startling, if pleasant, piece of news: For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American.

According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in the Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household’s net worth was $319,970.

A few days later, Canada and the U.S. both released the latest job figures. Canada’s unemployment rate fell, again, to 7.2 percent, and America’s was a stagnant 8.2 percent. Canada continues to thrive while the U.S. struggles to find its way out of an intractable economic crisis and a political sine curve of hope and despair.


Good politics do not account entirely for recent economic triumphs. Luck has played a major part. The Alberta tar sands — an environmental catastrophe in waiting — are the third-largest oil reserves in the world, and if America is too squeamish to buy our filthy energy, there’s always China. We also have softwood lumber, potash and other natural resources in abundance.

Policy has played a significant part as well, though. Both liberals and conservatives in the U.S. have tried to use the Canadian example to promote their arguments: The left says Canada shows the rewards of financial regulation and socialism, while the right likes to vaunt the brutal cuts made to Canadian social programs in the 1990s, which set the stage for economic recovery.

The truth is that both sides are right. Since the 1990s, Canada has pursued a hardheaded (even ruthless), fiscally conservative form of socialism. Its originator was Paul Martin, who was finance minister for most of the ’90s, and served a stint as prime minister from 2003 to 2006. Alone among finance ministers in the Group of Eight nations, he “resisted the siren call of deregulation,” in his words, and insisted that the banks tighten their loan-loss and reserve requirements. He also made a courageous decision not to allow Canadian banks to merge, even though their chief executives claimed they would never be globally competitive unless they did. The stability of Canadian banks and the concomitant stability in the housing market provide the clearest explanation for why Canadians are richer than Americans today.

Martin also slashed funding to social programs. He foresaw that crippling deficits imperiled Canada’s education and health- care systems, which even his Conservative predecessor, Brian Mulroney, described as a “sacred trust.” He cut corporate taxes, too. Growth is required to pay for social programs, and social programs that increase opportunity and social integration are the best way to ensure growth over the long term. Social programs and robust capitalism are not, as so many would have you believe, inherently opposed propositions. Both are required for meaningful national prosperity.

Now, this is a mixed bag, indeed. Clearly, the American banking sector suffered a massive hit from the profligacy and weak oversight of the recent past. Then again, so did the European banks, which were more tightly regulated.

For that matter, I’m a bit skeptical of drawing too many lessons from comparisons of two vastly different countries. Canada is geographically bigger than the United States yet has roughly one-ninth the population. Further, while it’s starting to change, Canada’s demography remains so overwhelmingly European in origin that the most recent census breakdown by “ethnic origin” lists Canadian (32.22%), English (21.03%), French (15.82%), Scottish (15.11%), and Irish (13.94%) as its five most popular responses. The horrible legacy of Jim Crow and the real challenges of essentially open migration from a linguistically disparate developing country likely skew US performance far more than differences in fiscal and regulatory policy.

While our living standards are quite similar, making debates about relative wealth largely academic, social mobility is much easier in Canada than the USA. A recent OECD study [PDF] found that only Italy and the UK topped the United States in the connection between parental wages and those of their children; Canada, by contrast, was down with Australia and the Benelux countries in relative fluidity.

The reason is pretty simple: Money buys more here than there.

The stronger and tighter Canadian safety net doubtless ameliorates true poverty better than its more porous American counterpart. More importantly, while it’s probably better to be rich and sick in the United States than the Great White North (or, at least, it would be if rich Canadians couldn’t simply come here whenever the felt like it) it’s certainly better to be poor and sick in Canada. Canadians don’t risk bankruptcy from catastrophic illness; Americans do.

Additionally, as noted over the weekend, the American road to wealth tends to go through elite universities—and the children of the well off have a much easier onramp.  While rich Canadians doubtless have many of the same advantages, Canadian higher education is much more heavily subsidized, meaning the ability to pay is less of a factor in deciding where to go to school.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Economics and Business, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    Canada isn’t Nirvana, but I’ve seen almost all of Canada except the far north and I can say that it is is a damned fine place.

    I could easily see myself living in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto or Montreal.
    Vancouver is a great city.

  2. EddieInCA says:

    Due to work, I’ve lived and worked in both Vancouver and Toronto. If it wasn’t for the damn winters, I’d live in Vancouver in a heartbeat.

    Clean parks. Great medical care. Phenomenal infrastructure. Great restaurants. Good bars. Most people are educated.

    We Americans think we are the center of the universe. Here’s the truth (not safe for work due to a few “f” bombs):

  3. anjin-san says:

    I’ve spent some time in BC and loved it there. Don’t think I could ever give up the weather here in NorCal, but what I saw of Canada I liked quite a bit.

  4. gawaine says:

    On the “poor and sick ” thing – sure, they don’t risk bankruptcy, but that doesn’t mean anything if their problems aren’t addressed. Which, as anyone who’s experienced it will tell you, they aren’t.

    At least, here, you can go bankrupt after you get the care you want – there, you may spend months on a waiting list for knee surgery. Physical therapy that would be weekly here, is monthly there. An emergency facility with 40 beds may have one doctor there – not one at a time, but one for the whole week, 24×7, who comes in when needed, if he can stay awake for the drive in. Sure, those are just windows into the life of one couple in Canada, and anecdotes aren’t data, but qualitative statements about which is “better” really depends on what you think “better” is.

  5. gawaine says:

    I was surprised not to see a mention of the difference in defense spending. The difference, which according to Wikipedia (sorry, didn’t care enough to look for a reliable cite), is 4.7 vs. 1.4 percent of GDP. That’s a sizable amount of money to spend on different priorities.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    life north of the 45th paralell is tough…no matter how much your house is worth.

  7. anjin-san says:

    depends on what you think “better” is.

    You post would be better if it was not just a string of unsupported claims. We can find plenty of those on any right wing rant site.

    I have a friend in Victoria who has been working through some complicated health issues. She has not been complaining about the standard of care.

  8. DRS says:

    I’ve done contract work in Toronto several times, Ottawa (nation’s capital) twice, Calgary and Vancouver once each. Great cities, really enjoyed my time there.

    My work in Ottawa involved working on a convention for software companies in 1999 and there were a lot of displaced Americans who’d come north to work in Silicon Valley North, as Ottawa was experiencing a high-tech boom at the time. One guy told me he and his wife had decided to make a commitment and were looking to buy a house. In the realtor’s office he said (jokingly) that he wanted to live on the same street that Terry Matthews, local billionaire (seriously, a real one), lived on.

    The realtor didn’t even blink; he pulled the White Pages over (this was in 1996 or so) and flipped through it to the M’s and said that street was kind of small and how about a house in the same neighborhood instead? The guy was floored.

    Personally I didn’t buy the story so I checked the White Pages myself and there it was – home address, listed phone number, all there. I couldn’t believe it. Now I know the guy probably had all kinds of home security stuff and private guards and whatnot but still…

  9. EddieInCA says:


    For those who can’t click on the link above, from “The Newsroom” (HBO):

    And you, Sorority Girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there’s some things you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world.
    We’re seventh in literacy.
    Twenty-seventh in math.
    Twenty-second in science.
    Forty-ninth in life expectancy.
    A hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality.
    Third in median household income.
    Number four in labor force and number four in exports.
    We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.

    Now none of this is the fault of a twenty-year-old college student, but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I dunno what the fuck you’re talkin’ about. Yosemite?

    Sure used to be.
    We stood up for what was right.
    We fought for moral reasons.
    We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons.
    We waged wars on poverty, not poor people.
    We sacrificed.
    We cared about our neighbors.
    We put our money where our mouths were.
    And we never beat our chest.

    We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars. Acted like men.

    We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it—it didn’t make us feel inferior.

    We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t, oh, we didn’t scare so easy. Ha. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men. Men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.

  10. paladin says:

    Wowser! Another historic first for The Won!

    Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

  11. Stan says:

    @gawaine: This post reminds me of a thread on the Fodor travel site in 2007 or early 2008. Somebody asked about European health care systems, somebody else responded, and by the time it petered out there had been over a thousand posts. The Europeans and Canadians who responded were almost unanimously in favor of either fully socialized medicine, as in the UK or Spain, or universal health insurance, as in the different systems used in France and Germany. The American response was mixed. The extreme right-wingers among the Americans kept on talking about long waits for elective surgery in Europe, and the Europeans and Canadians derided this as hogwash. I mean no disrespect, gawaine, but I have a strong feeling that you’re just parroting what you’ve heard on Fox News.

  12. JKB says:

    I’d just read this little review of Canadian health care over at PJ Media.

    As a contrast, just last month, my brother who had no insurance was being seen for liver disease, the doc recommended, after payment arrangements, of course, a colonoscopy just to make sure there weren’t any other problems that might kill my brother first. Could have scheduled it the next week after working out a payment plan. We declined as my brother didn’t want it and it probably would have killed him but a completely unnecessary colonoscopy within the week, no waiting. Apparently, not something available in Canada.

    Sure the medical bills have been rough, sure I was the “death panel” saying yea or nay on blood tests and such. Never skipped anything necessary but sure questioned the expensive, just in case, orders. In the end, the colonoscopy wouldn’t have been of any use to my brother but there was no waiting. Also, no issues getting the treatments he needed with payment to be worked out later. It’s the weekly lab tests and prescriptions that eat you alive.

    And for all you worried about freeriders, Obamacare wouldn’t have been of any use as he had no job, so no money to buy the insurance or pay the “penalty”. But don’t worry your pretty little heads, his life insurance will clear up most of the bills. He went the old fashioned way, diagnosis to death in 2 months well before being eligible to collect Social Security. It is the way the welfare state expects men to die.

  13. john personna says:

    I read this story just before a summary of the looming sequestration fight. It makes a stark contrast because we are not pragmatic in the way the way we used to be, Canadians are. We prefer idealism and bs pseudo facts. We simply do not demand problem solving. A story that someone with liver disease and without insurance can still get appointments (this week, before his credit rating tanks) is all we need. True solutions not required.

  14. Rob in CT says:

    Obamacare wouldn’t have been of any use as he had no job

    Isn’t that what Medicaid is for? The ACA provides subsidies for low income folks (133%-400% of the poverty line)

    Sorry about your brother, though, really.

  15. Rob in CT says:

    Damnit. Obviously I messed up the tags and reversed the quote from JKB and my comment.

  16. anjin-san says:


    Very Impressive. You link to a “Review of Canadian Health Care” is actually a link to an unsigned screed, accompanied by a stock photo, regarding HCR in the US, on a highly biased site.

    Also, no issues getting the treatments he needed with payment to be worked out later

    I have a friend who recently needed surgery for a condition that would kill her sooner, not later, without surgery. Insurance would not cover it. She needed to come up with 80K, which would cover some but not all of the cost before they would operate.

    How many people do you know that can come up with 80K in a hurry?

    One of my cousins was in the ER once, needing emergency surgery. The ER doc said he needed to be operated on immediately. He had no insurance. An administrator said he would have to be transferred to county due to lack of insurance. The ER doc said he would die in the ambulance.

    Luckily, his boss, who is rich, was there. He put 50k for the operation on a credit card.

    I could go on…

  17. Dave Schuler says:

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the median income in Canada was higher than it is in the United States. We’ve been importing predominantly unskilled, uneducated workers for decades even as the demand for such workers declined. By comparison skilled workers make up almost 20% of Canada’s immigrants.

  18. EddieInCA says:

    While in Sweden (not Canada, obviously, but with a similar system), I was helping a friend prepare food for cooking when I almost sliced my finger off. Deep, deep slice into my finger almost to the bone on the third knuckle. Rushed to the hospital. Blood all over a huge bath towel. Emergency surgery to repair the finger.

    Total cost: About $124 US for ‘supplies’. And I wasn’t even a resident or citizen. Just a tourist.

    Yes. Other countries do do certain things better than we do. Healthcare is only one of the things Sweden (and Canada) does better.

  19. JKB says:

    @Rob in CT: “sn’t that what Medicaid is for? ”

    Actually, it turns out, at least in my state, the Medicaid doesn’t cover adults unless they are on Social Security:SSI.

    It covers
    kids under 21,
    pregnant women,
    single parents or caretakers of a minor child,
    Two parent families with minor child living at home when on parent loses their job or had a health or mental problem for over 30 days,
    Women who need treatment for breast or cervical cancer,
    people in nursing home with less than $2100/month income

    There may be more, but none for single men, and I assume women, who are not already on Social Security Supplemental Income Insurance. Which means you can’t have more than $2000 to your name outside of your residence and, I think, a vehicle.

    In my state, they just ruled that the Medicaid can go after your residence after death and, I believe, entry into a nursing home.

    Safe to say, we all have a weak understanding of the actual system.

  20. I used a walk-in center in Tumbler Ridge, BC. I didn’t have to wait for an appointment. They apologized before charging me $10 as a non-citizen.

    @Dave Schuler:

    FWIW, Highly Skilled Immigrants Takes High Percentage in US Labor Force

    A recent study carried out by Brookings Institution shows that immigrants with college degrees have now accounted for the majority of immigrant labor. This makes highly skilled immigration a more important issue in discussions and debates about immigration reform.

  21. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Give Canada the likes of Detroit, Chicago, Philly, L.A., Newark, Camden, New Orleans and Oakland, etc., and then recalibrate.

    In any event, I’m actually surprised household wealth per capita in Canada is not even higher. For all practical purposes the Canadians have told “environmentalists” to pound sand and thus they’re exploting their vast energy resources, most notably the tar sands. Back in the 1990’s, as indicated in the main post and in the cited article, the Canadians basically tossed statists over the cliff and slashed social welfare spending. In recent years they’re been bringing in highly-skilled, highly-motivated labor. They’re exporting a lot of energy products. All other things being equal more exporting means more GDP and a better current account picture. If they lowered their tax rates their economy would take off like a rocket. Ah, well.

    Regarding the U.S., we haven’t truly been a capitalistic country since the 1930’s. A lot of de facto and even direct socialism has creeped in. That won’t end well. Unless we change course eventually we’ll run out of other people’s money.

  22. @Tsar Nicholas:

    Give Canada the likes of Detroit, Chicago, Philly, L.A., Newark, Camden, New Orleans and Oakland, etc., and then recalibrate.

    You know ;-), those cities you listed, alone, have a higher GDP than Canada.

    LA is actually the 3rd highest GDP city in the world. Chicago is number 4.

    Detroit is number 23, and tied with Toronto.


  23. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Apparently, not something available in Canada.

    I call bogus on that. While I haven’t sought treatment in Canada, it would be the first “socialized” system I encounter that did not also have a readily available private payer track.

    Most Americans seem to ignore the fact that you usually have the benefits of both: you’re covered by the general health care system and you are free to pay for faster or better treatment if you have the money. There is no earthly reason why one should have to give up a proper health care system to obtain elective procedures using private funds.

  24. (Of course, on several levels Tsar’s post is what’s wrong with America.)

  25. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    You know ;-), those cities you listed, alone, have a higher GDP than Canada.

    LA is actually the 3rd highest GDP city in the world. Chicago is number 4.

    Detroit is number 23, and tied with Toronto.


    And down goes Frazier…..

    Your use of facts in a debate with conservatives is unfair, really.

  26. Dave Schuler says:

    @john personna:

    The study that the link you provided refers to was conducted by the Brookings Institution. It explicitly mentions that it undercounts illegal immigrants, many of whom are unskilled.

  27. Stan says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: After reading your list of awful cities, Chicago and the rest, I have a bad feeling about where you’re going with this line of argument. What you seem to be saying is that Canada has a natural advantage because it has fewer minorities. Is this really the way you think? I’ve got news for you. The country has changed, and you have to learn to live with it. Paraphrasing one of the shining lights of your party, you need to learn how to be an American.

  28. john personna says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    But in separate news we know illegals are net negative for the last few years.

    Education and a skilled workforce are important, but with globalization and low tariffs it gets complicated. Is training a key or a Hail Mary? I’m not sure we can just count on the Apple dynamic, with a few US jobs and many more in China

  29. Dazedandconfused says:

    I believe the Saudis take the biscuit on wealth. I guess a strict religious theocracy with kings who lavish their people with social benefits must be the best form of government possible.

    Sorry for the snark. It’s just that wealth being simply a matter of how ones government is structured is so silly, yet I see it is the underlying premise of nearly all debates these days.

    Canada exports a lot of oil. Saw a chart that showed a remarkable correlation in Brittan’s oil production and fiscal health. A lot of it was attributed to “Thatcherism”, but they were exporting a heck of a lot of oil then, and they must import oil now.

  30. Davebo says:

    Safe to say, we all have a weak understanding of the actual system.

    Or at least you seem to, especially regarding Medicaid.

  31. JKB says:

    @anjin-san: It would be more honest to acknowledge that I linked to a comment by a Canadian on that post, not the post itself.

    Your anecdotes are not on point. One, why would you believe “government” payer would pay for something private insurance denied. in the second, why did your friend not have insurance and it is, at least in my state, a legal requirement to provide stabilizing treatment to all then transfer to medicaid/charity county hospitals. Your anecdote only relates one-sided information and not the actual prognosis used by the administrator.

    Would you care to offer something constructive to the debate or do you wish simply to show your ignorance. The coverage I cited came right off the denial letter I received just the other day for the most recent hospitalization for my brother.

    Please enlighten us with your greater knowledge of Medicaid rules. The case worker would be eager to use a legitimate coverage to approve the case.

  32. Mikey says:

    @john personna:

    Detroit is number 23, and tied with Toronto.

    As a native Detroiter, I can assure you that is the only thing the two cities have in common.

    Well, that and both have an Original Six hockey team. Not that the Leafs have done anything lately.

    I do still have a big soft spot in my heart for the Detroit area. It’s got some really wonderful parts, and I enjoy visiting my extended family who are still there. But having grown up not far north of the city limits, and having worked in Detroit for a few years, I hold little hope for a true renaissance there. Too much corruption and far too long a history of very bad city government.

  33. anjin-san says:

    Your anecdotes are not on point. One, why would you believe “government” payer would pay for something private insurance denied

    That was not my point, and its not what I said. What I was saying is that I have close knowledge of several situations where peoples lives were on the line and there was no kindly doctor saying “let’s get you the treatment you need, then we will worry about paying for it.” It was more like “Will that be cash or charge?” In both cases, the parties in need of surgery got it only because they had friends or loved ones with deep pockets.

    why did your friend not have insurance and it is, at least in my state, a legal requirement to provide stabilizing treatment to all then transfer to medicaid/charity county hospitals.

    My cousin did not have insurance because he was young and foolish and though only middle aged/old people needed insurance. Maybe he heard that from a conservative pundit, they say it often enough.

    The ER doc got him stable enough to go upstairs for surgery – his condition was grave, they told him that if he had come in 15 minutes later he would have died. There is a legal requirement to stabelize/transfer, but in this case, the hospital administrator did not care if he died in transit, he was more worried about getting paid.

    As for your link, as I said, the post was an unsigned piece by someone claiming to be a doctor. There as a stock photo of a doctor. Do you really spend you time on sites like that? Commentators can be anonymous, contributing writers should sign their names. Why would anyone want to comment on such obvious tripe?

  34. @Mikey:

    I have never been to Detroit. I like the idea of renaissance though, and so hope they somehow pull it off.

  35. george says:

    Been living in Canada for about a couple of decades now. My observations:

    1) Not sure that people are richer, but the standard of living is pretty similar between Canada and the US.

    2) These things tend to ignore the first nations problems Canada has, who have it as bad as any minority group in the US. Seriously, many of the reserves would look poor in third world nations.

    3) My own experience with life threatening health situations in Canada (very serious car crash) is enough to make me laugh at those who think Canada is a bad place to be seriously ill – very quick and prompt care. Day to day health care is also pretty good, never had to wait more than a day or two to make a doctor’s appointment. Nor do I know anyone who has.

    4) Non-life threatening health care in Canada can be pretty slow – I know people who’ve had to wait a couple of months to get knee surgery (and complained bitterly every day of it), though I know more who got in quicker than that – six weeks was what I had to wait (and yeah, it seemed like a long time).

    5) Canada isn’t socialist by any meaningful definition of the word, nor capitalist. Its a mixed economy, some government and some private. Most of the time its mentioned in the US as one extreme or the other, both of which seem like a joke if you live here.

    6) Its bloody cold here in winter. I mean it, its really cold. If you don’t like cold, don’t consider moving up here, the winters go on a long time.

  36. JKB says:


    Well, then Obamacare will take care of people like your cousin. Of course, he’ll have to pay 3 times his actuarial risk for his insurance or maybe he’ll pay the token penalty tax instead and still end up in the ER without insurance expecting someone else to pay.

    I can tell you, I’ve learned all to well that when you are uninsured, you can’t just go anywhere for treatment. You may not like it but only certain facilities are set up to handle charity cases.

    If you’d read the article, not the comment. The articled written by a longterm contributor to PJMedia with a bio link :

    Peter Weiss M.D., F.A.C.O.G., is Director and Founder of The Rodeo Drive Women’s Health Center and The Rodeo Drive Health and Wellness Centers. He is also Assistant Clinical Professor of OB/GYN at The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.He was health care adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign.

    You would have read about how the doctor is out of the picture in the government healthcare system. He’s a nine to fiver with little say in the course of treatment. The treatments being designed by committee long before the individual shows up needing care. The treatment withheld from disfavored patients, such as the elderly, obese, smokers, perhaps even politically misaligned?

  37. Mikey says:

    @john personna: About 35 years ago, they tried. They built a honking huge complex on the riverfront, four big office buildings and a big hotel in the middle, sitting on a big shopping mall. The hotel is the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere (says Wikipedia, anyway). They called this place the “Renaissance Center.”

    Today the mall is much smaller and GM owns the complex. The hotel is still there, a Marriott. It was a Westin, “back in the day.” I spent my first wedding night there. The hotel fared much better than the marriage.

    There are some casinos downtown now, and some of the place was fixed up for the 2006 Super Bowl. They’ve finally developed some of the gorgeous riverfront I used to drive by and think, “Why is all this just sitting fallow?” But I can’t figure out exactly how they could possibly pull off a revitalization of a place that’s essentially been a terminal cancer patient for the last four decades. Parts of it are so bad they don’t even have city services any more. It’s like a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

    But, if you ever visit, be sure to get lunch at Lafayette Coney Island. Visit the Detroit Institute of Arts. They have some original Van Gogh (his Self Portrait, among others) and Rodin (including The Thinker). It’s a real jewel of a place.

  38. anjin-san says:

    the doctor is out of the picture in the government healthcare system. He’s a nine to fiver with little say in the course of treatment.

    Well I guess that explains why most other advanced countries in the world get better outcomes that we do at a lower cost.

    Peter Weiss M.D

    Hmm. A doctor with a Bevely Hills practice thinks things are fine just the way they are. I am shocked. Have you ever walked down Rodeo Drive? You are not going to bump into very many people who are strugging to afford health care. You will probably see a movie star though. It is the kind of place the Romney family might go.

  39. matt says:

    Based on me and my families experiences with the hospital system (family and friends who are nurses including my mom who worked ER in Chicago near Cabrini-Green in the late 80s) “stabilizing treatment” is open to a very WIDE interpretation.

    If asked I’m sure the supervisor in anjin’s case would of declared that the treatment offered would of been sufficient to stabilize the patient..

  40. Stan says:

    @JKB: The Affordable Care Act and the similar systems used in Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are concerned with insurance, not with the provision of medical care. Your concerns about doctors being nine to fivers in “the government health system” don’t apply.

    For what it’s worth, my doctor for the last fifteen years and my wife’s for the last ten are nine to fivers. They work at the student health service of the university at which I taught before retiring. They’re the best doctors either of us have had, and when they order examinations or treatments we don’t have suspicions that they’re doing it for money.

    Finally, I’m not sure if it’s occurred to you that Canada, France, the UK, Germany, Israel, etc., all countries that have universal health insurance plans or socialized medicine, are political democracies with robust conservative parties and higher rates of voting participation than the US. They know what the US health system is like and they show no inclination to scrap their systems and use ours. Is it your contention that they’re all stupid or that their politicians, including Churchill and Thatcher, are all left wing types? I’m waiting breathlessly for your response.

  41. James Joyner says:

    @george: The headline was meant tongue-in-cheek. Both countries are mixed economies and closer to capitalist than socialist on the scale. Canada has socialized more services than the United States.

  42. mattb says:

    Possibly off topic, but Sorkin’s “sock puppet” rant from the Newsroom is pure BS that’s meant to stroke liberal flames. But if you actually listen to it its problematic for a few reasons…

    After nicely dealing with the problems of calling the US “the worlds greatest nation” now, it then immediately reverses itself and conjurers up the image of the “Great America” of the past. Rather than pointing out how subjective this notion is, the entire speech essentially is dedicated to re-enforcing the idea that there can be a “worlds greatest nation.”

    Further, the Jeff Daniel’s rational for why the US was the best also contains a lot of dodgy history (arguably the same type of easy stories that led the girl who asked the question to believe America was the best).

    He also seems to heap most of the blame for the current state of the country on the girl’s generation, conveniently jumping over his (generation’s) own role in the apparent decline of the US.

  43. al-Ameda says:

    I’d willing to bet $10,000 that less that 25% of the Canadian people would vote to change their health insurance system to emulate the American system.

    In fact, I doubt that there is any advanced country in the world that would change their single-payer health insurance system to the American style of private insurance. How is that we’re the best yet no one wants to emulate us when it comes to health insurance ?

  44. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    Kind of doubly tongue in cheek, because Canada really is a socialist bogey man for wingnuts.

  45. Jeremy says:

    I wouldn’t really call Canada “socialist.” Sure, we joke about it being a socialist country a lot, but it actually outranks the United States on the Economic Freedom Index; it’s #6. We’re #10. The only thing that’s terribly socialist about Canada is the single-payer health care system, which, if I’m not mistaken, they are considering getting rid of.

  46. john personna says:


    “Considering” is kind of a low bar. We’ve considered switching to single payer here.

  47. george says:


    I’d willing to bet $10,000 that less that 25% of the Canadian people would vote to change their health insurance system to emulate the American system.

    You’re way too high, the number would be under 10% (recent polls put the number at 8%).


    . The only thing that’s terribly socialist about Canada is the single-payer health care system, which, if I’m not mistaken, they are considering getting rid of.

    There’s a lot of support for going to a system like in many parts of Europe, which has both single payer and private payers. Almost no one (see 8%) above wants to get rid of the single payer system, people (myself included) would just like to have a private system on top of it … which works very well in many parts of the world.

    But given a choice between just a single payer, and just a private system, 92% of Canadians would go with the single payer – not even the most conservative Canadian parties (aptly named the Conservatives) raise the thought of getting rid of single payer … it’d be political suicide. What many would like is a “best of both worlds” approach, single and private.

  48. Barry says:

    @gawaine: “…there, you may spend months on a waiting list for knee surgery”

    It took me seven months (in the USA) to get hip surgery, and I have gold-plated coverage.

    This is because major elective surgery has looooooooong wait times, even (especially?) in the USA.

  49. Barry says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “Give Canada the likes of Detroit, Chicago, Philly, L.A., Newark, Camden, New Orleans and Oakland, etc., and then recalibrate. ”

    I love the way that right-wingers think. You don’t think that Canada has old industrial cities?

  50. Rob in CT says:



    That rant is crapola, for exactly the reasons you cite. Glad I never bothered with that show.

  51. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    In fact, I doubt that there is any advanced country in the world that would change their single-payer health insurance system to the American style of private insurance.

    Well let me put it this way. In any discussion about reforms of the health-care system even the conservative hardliners open their speeches with “of course no one wants American conditions”.

    The US system is perceived as one or two steps above socialist healthcare a la Cuba but still as something unfit for a civilized society. I doubt you would even get the Canadian 8% for a change.

  52. steve says:

    “You would have read about how the doctor is out of the picture in the government healthcare system. He’s a nine to fiver with little say in the course of treatment. The treatments being designed by committee long before the individual shows up needing care. ”

    As a practicing physician, also an Assistant Clinical Professor, I think your guy is wrong. Not what I see in practice, but then I am not a campaign adviser.


  53. al-Ameda says:


    You would have read about how the doctor is out of the picture in the government healthcare system. He’s a nine to fiver with little say in the course of treatment. The treatments being designed by committee long before the individual shows up needing care. ”

    That person is talking about a system wherein the government controls the health system from insurance to hospitals to clinics to having doctors on the payroll – and that is not the case in most advanced countries with single payer insurance. In Switzerland or Germany for example, doctors are not on the government payroll, and people purchase their insurance through private companies (that must offer a government legislated basic plan, if people want more or excess coverage they can buy in on the market too.

  54. Oak Park Dave says:

    The problem is that real estate is so expensive in Canadian cities. Canadian real estate is not presenting any kind of “buyer’s market” right now. In the states there are major bargains to be had. I think that this will change. Canadian real estate prices are just not proportional to income right now.