"Has the American Dream Moved to Canada?" Yes. A long time ago. The better questions to ask are "Do Canadians realize they are living the American Dream?" and "Will America do anything to get the American Dream back?"
Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN explored the initial question on Sunday. Scott Gilmore has come up with an extensive bit of research to show Americans that Canadians are doing a better job at living the American Dream. Gilmore is a former Canadian diplomat and wrote "The American Dream has moved to Canada" in Maclean's.
The traditional standards of college degrees, home ownership, and life expectancy are checks that go into the Canadian column.
Gilmore notes that Canadians are doing better in other categories:
- The Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index: Canada 6th freest; United States 23rd freest.
- The conservative Heritage Foundation: Canada 7th on economic freedom; U.S. 17th.
- World Economic Forum: Canadians 6th happiest people in the world; Americans 13th.
- Reporters Without Borders: Canada 18th for press freedom; America 41st.
Sadly, it's very American to not know how poorly the country is doing compared to other countries, especially Canada.
The American Dream has moved to Canada (Maclean's)
Gilmore has some more truly compelling statistics: Canadians are 6 times less likely to be incarcerated. In Canada, you are twice as likely to move from the poorest quintile to the wealthiest. The link between the income of a parent and a child is half as strong in Canada, meaning you are more likely in Canada to do better than your parents.
Let's go back to these primary measurements. Canadians have far less debt for university study than Americans. This isn't about genius moves by Canada. Well, students in Quebec did protest extensively over tuition hikes in 2012 because they wanted more people to have access to education. But that difference between the countries can be tied in part to the U.S. system of running up a crushing amount of debt.
Unlike the United States, Canadians can't deduct the interest on mortgages on their federal income tax returns. Canada also has, by far, the 2 strongest housing markets in North America in Toronto and Vancouver. Yet Canada leads in this category.
Life expectancy is higher despite a mostly cold climate with a significant part of the Inuit population living without basic necessities such as housing and clean water. Canadian health care is a good reason why Canadians live longer.
The Canadian version of the American Dream has been stronger for some time. Or perhaps the Canadian Dream looks better in comparison because the American Dream has fallen so low.
Zakaria and Gilmore talked about whether Canadians should be smug about how Canada is doing. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals got elected in part due to the Canadian economy with 2 economic downturns under the Harper Government. The folks in Alberta, southern Ontario, and the Maritimes would have very strong arguments in favour of improving the Canadian economy.
Canada's advantages do come from a society that understands the need to think of all the people instead of extreme individualism. The newest GOP "fix" on Obamacare is nothing Canadians would ever consider, even conservative Canadians.
Neither the Canadians and the Americans should look at where they are and be all that happy. The difference is that the Canadians are well ahead of the Americans and a lot of Americans are clueless that they are as far behind as they are in North America and the world.
photos credit: CNN