March 31, 2009

How much is worth to be a Canadian?

The Offer
If someone paid you $1,000,000 tax-free US dollars to renounce your citizenship, would you do it? (You really should read the link or the rest of this entry won't make any sense.)

From a strictly short-term personal financial perspective, it makes sense. I'd be a million dollars richer. I could do a lot of things with a million dollars. I'd have to be an idiot to turn down an offer like that, right?

And yet... I would reject an American offer to buy my citizenship.  

Why would I reject such an astounding offer and why would I discourage others from taking the deal?
  1. $1,000,000 isn't worth very much when everybody else has $1,000,000.  Want to see inflation go crazy?  Give half of the Canadian population $1,000,000.
  2. Those Canadian dollars that you already have?  Watch the value of those dry up instantly. 
  3. Want to see your friends (at least the ones who weren't able to take the offer) get very, very poor?  What a slime ball I would be if I did that to a friend or neighbour.
  4. As similar as Canada and the US are, there are a lot of differences between the two countries:
    • Socialized medicare?  Love it.  So what if I could afford the health insurance?  The peace of mind of not having to deal with an insurance company when you're dealing with a health crisis is priceless.
    • Our Employment Insurance system?  It's great.  While I've paid a lot more money into it than I've ever gotten out of it (and plan to keep it that way, though I appreciated the $314 I got for one week of unemployment), the fact that the safety net exists comforts me.  I actually sleep better for it (not that I'm eligible now as a self-employed person).  The fact that it's there for others also comforts me.  Yes, there are a few abusers, but there are far more non-abusers and I think our Employment Insurance system will go a long way to keeping our economy out of more-dire economic straits.
    • Attitudes towards multi-culturalism.  I love that I don't live in a cultural melting pot.  Diversity rules!
    • Speaking of diversity, I'm not gay, but if I were, I would darn well want the right to a civil union (aka "marriage") and I would want my children to also have that right.
    • Although I have my issues with the party system, I'm pretty confident the Canadian government system represents my interests as a citizen a whole lot better than the American government system can (then again, with a million dollars, I could afford to make a few political campaign contributions...).
    • As poor a job as we Canadians do taking care of our natural spaces, we'd do an even worse job under an American government.  "What?  1,500+ ducks died in a toxic pond?  Did it affect our oil supply?  Is anybody suing us? No?  So what's the big deal?"   Actually, it would probably be "What? 1,500+ ducks died in a toxic pond?  Let's sue the environmental groups for being negligent in their care of the ducks!  Those terrorists.  We've got to stop them before they stop us!"
    • Speaking of suing, as someone who likely would have been sued a dozen times by now (I don't know why, but under the American legal system, does it really matter?), I really like Canada's less-litigious legal system.
    • Although our foreign policy hasn't been as good as it once was, I appreciate that I can go to most foreign countries and not be instantly despised (rightly or wrongly).
    • Um, guns make you safer?!?  Riiiiiiight.
    • It would cost me more than a million dollars just to send my kids to college if Canada became America.  So much for that million bucks!
  5. Based on some of the things I've mentioned in #3, the offer essentially amounts to a purchase of my values.  Sorry, but those aren't for sale.  Everybody has their price, you say?  Never been true.  Sometimes, people just don't feel like buying what you're selling.  Come to think of it, I find the offer downright insulting.
  6. Besides, other than $1,000,000, what has America got to offer me?  To make my life better than it is now?  To make my childrens' lives better than they are in Canada?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not an America hater, but if I thought America was a better country for me and my kids, I'd already live there.

The "offer" has given me an idea, however.  The American economy is going down the drain faster than an AIG executive accepts a bail-out bonus.  More and more Americans will be losing their jobs and their houses and they sure as heck won't be able to afford health insurance and they have America and its government to thank for that.

Why not give America the opportunity to buy into Canada and the Canadian system of government?  Yes, I know America severed ties with "the monarchy" a few centuries ago, but think of the advantage for Americans:
  • Canada has a federal government that (for the most part) knows how to balance a budget and (until recently) pay down its national debt!
  • Other than buying up a few mortgages, our government hasn't had to bail out any of our banks because they're well regulated!
  • Universal health care for all citizens.  It makes life easier for everyone (except for those who would otherwise profit from health insurance sales and over-priced medical services).
  • Instant corporate and personal liability protection from excessive and frivolous lawsuits.
  • Election campaign contributions from corporations are severely limited.  Professional lobbyists have to join a registry.  Comparatively, it's government by the people, for the people!
  • It's easier to sing our national anthem (except for the French part if you don't speak French).  It's also easier to draw the Canadian flag.  Who has the time to draw all those stars and stripes?
  • International travel will become much more comfortable and Americans will no longer be living a lie when they stitch Canadian flags onto their backpacks.
  • With our lower dollar, Americans will suddenly find themselves much wealthier (thereby stimulating the economy).
Now, I'm not going to be so radical as to suggest that the entire US of A buy into Canada all at once.  No, that would be far too much change to handle all at once.  America is a union of states, after all, so I'm going to propose that it be done on a state-by-state basis for only $250 billion per state (which amounts to $12 trillion - the amount that was already offered).  

Alaska can buy into Canada first (because Alaska just looks like it should be part of Canada and,  since Alaskans and Yukon-Canadians are already pretty chummy, it'll be an easy transition). 

In fact, America, act now and we'll let Alaska become part of Canada for FREE!  That's right, I said FREE!  This is a limited-time offer, so call today!  For just 51 easy payments of $250 billion, you can become a part of Canada and a part of Canadian history. Easy payment plans are available on approved credit.  Call now! 

Don't let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass you by!  What have you got to lose?


Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

What a great post Michael!! There is no amount of money that could convince me of that plan either.

Anonymous said...

I could only imagine poor US politicians trying to figure out how to handle the personalities of Chretien, Preston Manning, Buzz Hargrove, Judy Rebick, Danny Williams.....they couldn't handle it.

And I love the commenter from the article who suggested that outright invasion would just be cheaper. Given that their military is having trouble taking over a small country (ie Iraq) I can't see how they could could take over a country bigger than they are.

Of course as the article's author points out and history bears out, buying, stealing and trying to take over the world is nothing new to American foreign policy.

Jennybell said...

We do have a lot of government programs that make health care more affordable but... dealing with our government is a pain! Say if your kid is on Medicare/ Medicaid what ever it's called, good luck getting top quality care because our Government doesn't want to pay the hospitals what it cost to care for your kid and may not even cover some treatments. We have good insurance through my husbands job, they're even easy to deal with, plus we have a state program that covers all Naomi's bills.
The gay marriage thing is a complete thorn in my side! I don't understand why they don't accept it! If it takes a government liscense to get married, EVERYONE should be entitled to get that liscense! They should be entitled to a civil union. I'm not saying the Catholic church or any other religion has to accept it and perform the services. But the churches should have that option. A church in Cleveland OH has stopped performing ANY marriages until everyone has the freedom to marry.
Got to get my kids to school, good post.

Meandering Michael said...

Jennybell, I hereby make you an honourary Canadian.

Anonymous said...

I think I speak for all the States when I ask, do you accept credit cards? (think of the points people)


Meandering Michael said...

We will accept all major credit cards, money orders, drafts, certified cheques (aka "checks"), wire transfers, cash, and Interac.

(A small fee may apply on credit card purchases over $2,500.)

Scientific Chick said...

Michael, this is the best post ever. I got the heebie-jeebies when I read the original article, but you give me faith that Canadians are a smart bunch! Thanks!

Janet said...

There's no amount of money in the world that would entice me to give up my citizenship. Thanks for the great post.

Unknown said...

Oh, yes! Yes, please! And thank you kindly. This Yank would like nothing better than to be absorbed into the awesomeness that is Canada. Where do I vote?

Meandering Michael said...

Linda, the first step will be to build support within your state (likeVermont is doing. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the constitution that prohibits a state from leaving the union - although there might have been a Supreme Court ruling that indicated that the state and federal governments would need to agree on the departure.

Researching this, I was surprised at how many state successionist groups there are!

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

Hmmm, just another pathetic American stopping by to say hello:)

Meandering Michael said...

Aw, Nancy, I didn't mean to imply that America or anyone in it (especially you) is pathetic - just that America might be better off if it was, well, Canadian.

Meandering Michael said...

I've soooo just been flagged as a threat to American national security. :( But I'm only kidding! I don't REALLY want Canada to buy the US!

Meandering Michael said...

(Or for the US to buy into Canada)

APF said...

Ha ha, I'm sure you did get flagged by national security, but hey dialogue is healthy.

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

April Fools! Of course, there's nothing pathetic about America, Mr. Pealow! Only our politicians:D

And, I know the truth about those damn Canadian Geese. It's a conspiracy I tell ya. They were sent over to poop all over our yards and kill our green grass and hiss at us everytime we walk by. They're your "weapon of grass destruction!" yuk-yuk-yuk

Marty Cortland said...

Dear Mr. Meandering:

Two hundred fifty billion dollars times 50 states equals $12.5 trillion (not $12 trillion), but who's counting?

I applaud your staunch support for your country's systems and values. (And clearly you enjoyed writing your post.) I think most Americans have positive opinions of Canadians, and I thought that I was both explicitly and implicitly complimentary of Canada. It's a shame that you found it necessary to impugn Americans in your post, but I'll chock it up to a cold winter and assume that you're better than that.

However, I do take issue with your counterproposal to allow America to buy into Canada. Notwithstanding the fact that your guppy could not swallow our whale (the "guppy-swallowing-whale" example describing a maneuver used in corporate leveraged buy-outs) -- because Canada could never service America's debt, even with America's assets -- it doesn't supply the economic stimulus that was the whole point of my article.

Recall, the premise of my article was the fact that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress intends to blow upwards of $10 trillion to stimulate the U.S. economy. My thought was, shoot, if we're going to spend that kind of money, let's buy something valuable instead -- something that pays for itself in the process. (As noted in my article, the stimulus comes from 12 million happy Canadians spending some portion of their $12 trillion bounty in the U.S. economy.)

And, by the way, my proposal is no more inflationary than the Obama plan -- which, as every serious person acknowledges, will almost certainly have disastrous future monetary consequences.

What I didn't address in my article was how I intended to pay for my plan. The U.S. would not simply print fiat money (which it has been doing already in the TARP bailout and which is part of Obama's go-forward plan). Instead, as Jefferson did with the Louisiana Purchase, we would finance the acquisition of Canada through the pre-sale of assets and the flotation of asset-backed bonds -- which I'm sure the Chinese would much rather own than the crummy Treasuries they currently have moldering away in their Reserves.

Anywhoo, it's been nice chatting.

Best regards,

Meandering Michael said...

Thanks for you comment, Marty. I had no intention to impugn the good ol' US of A and agree with you on the bailouts having disastrous future monetary (and tax) consequences.

As for guppies swallowing whales, I can think of a few acquisitions where a larger company bought into a smaller one so it could adopt its systems and processes (or its brand, especially in cases where the larger brand has suffered in its public perception).

You're right, of course, about the debt-servicing issue. The question that I didn't address was "Why would Canada want the US to become part of Canada?" Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that question to be insulting, but if Canada were to allow the US to buy into Canada, the US would need to bring something more to the table than just a purchase price. Really, the same question needs to be asked for your (clever) proposal.

Marty Cortland said...

Dear Mr. Meandering:

With respect to your statement -- "As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the constitution that prohibits a state from leaving the union - although there might have been a Supreme Court ruling that indicated that the state and federal governments would need to agree on the departure." -- you might have done some light Googling to verify the accuracy of your supposition.

In fact, there is no provision under which a state can leave the Union. You might recall from your history class a war that we fought in the 1860's over just that issue: our Civil War, where 623,000 U.S. soldiers gave their lives. Stop a moment and think about that number. It's like every single person in Vancouver dying -- and then 50,000 more. It represents more U.S. fatalities than in all other U.S. wars and conflicts combined.

Point being, we're pretty serious about the bonds of our Union -- and as flinty and independent-minded as Vermonters might be, stupid they are not.


Meandering Michael said...

My supposition WAS based on some light Googling. While there may be no provision under which a state can leave the Union, word on the Google street (and in the Constitution, as I understand it) is that there are no provisions preventing a state from leaving the Union either.

And, as you can imagine, since you're pretty serious about the bonds of your Union, Canadians are pretty serious about the bonds of our Confederation (for which no wars have been required to keep States from leaving).

Meandering Michael said...

(or provinces, as the case may be.)

Polar said...

You might not want Alaska, since it would come with the Murkowskis, Sarah Palin, Ted Stevens, etc.

Anonymous said...

For whatever this is worth, American liquor laws tend to be more relaxed than those in Canada (meaning you can buy booze in more places). Also, not every product in America has French on it.

Meandering Michael said...

In the grand scheme of things, those aren't exactly features of citizenship that are going to win me over...