F.H. Buckley: Canada’s system of government is proving far superior to America’s http://t.co/00PyaAUoff via @fullcomment – Repeal laws hard
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 5, 2014
This is a fascinating article. For those who understand how difficult it is to reverse ciizenship-based taxation, FBAR and FATCA consider the following excerpt:
“What Canada has importantly over the U.S. is reversibility, the ability to undo bad laws. That doesn’t happen so easily in America, with the gridlock built into its separation of powers, and that’s a problem Fukuyama himself has identified in two recent books that describe a sclerotic society of special interests which enact wealth-destroying laws. Once passed, Americans are stuck with bad laws. Their constitution doesn’t have a reverse gear.
What Fukuyama recognized in his recent books is James Madison’s error in The Federalist Papers. Madison argued that the separation of powers would prevent bad laws from being enacted in the first place. However, that’s an example of what Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek called the “fatal conceit,” the idea that planners can anticipate all the problems that might arise with a well-drafted statute. More modestly, Canada’s parliamentary system assumes that, in a world of human fallibility, mistakes will be made, that “experts” are often unreliable, that dumb laws will be passed; and that what is more important is giving the legislator the ability to bring hindsight wisdom to bear in undoing laws which experience tells us were ill-planned. If American government has gotten too large, if the statutory code and the federal regulations have caught a case of elephantiasis, that’s not surprising. The know-it-all hubris of the planner was baked into the American constitution from the start.”
Of course, we should also remember how easy it is to pass bad laws in the first place. Many laws are simply tagged on to unrelated laws. In fact, FATCA itself was a Trojan Horse Law. In fact, as at least one U.S. politician reminds us, sometimes we:
“Have to pass the law so that we can see what’s in in it.”
U.S. laws are so complex that sometimes we have to pass the law just so that we can learn what's in it! https://t.co/H9qJluaCWw
— U.S. Citizen Abroad (@USCitizenAbroad) December 5, 2014
You can read the complete article referenced in he above tweet here.
Sadly and very disturbingly, this “superiority” of the Canadian system changed when Stephen Harper became Prime Minister. For the first time in Canada’s history, as far as I know, Harper’s government (yes I now call it that, it bloody well isn’t my government or Canada’s any more as far as I’m concerned) has signed “free trade” deals with other countries that lock Canada into trade provisions for 31 years, effectively tying the hands of the next 7-9 governments after this one is replaced next year (one hopes, by a party other than the current Reformacons). So reversing a bad trade deal will be impossible for that time frame (unlike with NAFTA, which does allow reversals or opting out after six months, I believe).
I’m convinced this has happened because Harper and crowd have been taking lessons from, or getting advice from, certain American political advisors and consultants. One more example of how our sovereignty has been sold out to certain American political and economic interests by Harper and company, and one more compelling reason to get rid of this government next year, replacing them with no matter which party or leader, as far as I care. Anyone but Harper and his crowd. Literally, anyone would be an essential and vital improvement, to stop this horrible trend before our country becomes totally unrecognizable as a distinct and independent nation.
I confess to having a woefully inferior understanding of our Parliamentary system. I like the general idea of what Buckley is saying but don’t think the article amply demonstrates HOW the system is superior. Can someone please explain?
We have been stuck with the Conservatives for some 7 years now. A government that has a questionable record for being consistent with the Constitution and the Charter. A government that has no qualms about passing Canadian sovereignty to the U.S. without even so much as a whimper. Since they have the majority, we have no real means to stop them, other than the time-consuming and costly option of the courts.
Does Buckley simply mean a new government can simply come in and pass different &/or better laws that nullify the previous “bad” ones? How is that different than say, the Republicans winning in 2016 and changing Obamacare and hopefully, FATCA?
And thanks for posting that video! That superbly idiotic comment is destined to amuse for a long time.
Very interesting article. Makes me want to read Fukuyama’s work and, of course, Conrad Black’s new book. And I totally agree with Buckley’s concluding comment that the pettiness of Jean Chretien should at last be reversed by restoring Black’s Order of Canada.
The article reminded me of something one of my university profs once said, that it takes generations for a country to recover from a revolution. It appears that after some 200 years or so, the benefits of an evolutionary versus revolutionary political culture are becoming obvious.
If the Republicans won the House, 2/3rds of the Senate, and Presidency in 2016, then it might be like a parliamentary system. The downsides of the two systems are usually that it is harder to pass good legislation in the U.S. and easier to pass bad legislation in parliamentary systems. In 2008-2010, the Democrats controlled the presidency, had a majority in the House, and had over a 2/3 majority in the Senate. Because of this situation and because the U.S. parties are highly unified now, the U.S. system worked then much more like a parliamentary system. The Democrat’s unusual strength in 2010 is why FATCA passed without enough scrutiny. Nowadays, the Democrats have the presidency, but the Republicans control the House and Senate, so not much can get done at all. The U.S. system does not work well when the parties are as hostile to each other as they are now.
Thank you. I do understand the US system, having grown up with it.
My question is, what is it about the parliamentary system that makes it easier to reverse bad law?
Interesting and good food for thought this morning. The Harper government not only has a “questionable” record re: passing legislation that conflicts with our Constitution and Charter, it is frequently the loser when those laws are challenged in court.
I think Buckley means that in Canada change is possible when it becomes obvious to enough people that a bad law has been passed. Not only that, if the law in question is bad enough, the sitting government can fall and an election must be held immediately. In the US, everything must wait until the next scheduled election resulting in gridlock until that happens. Come to think of it, gridlock has now generally become standard procedure down there. They even have trouble agreeing about generic day to day funding in order to keep their government running for the next 90 days.
However, I don’t think we should become too smug and complacent about our “superiority”. That attitude is precisely what has gotten the Americans to their present deplorable state of affairs 200 plus years after their revolution. Canada’s perennial inferiority complex is actually more useful as a long term strategy for survival.
P.S.: Even if the Repubs win the presidency in 2016 (a big if) I wouldn’t get my hopes up regarding any meaningful change. Remember, the Repubs can’t even agree amongst themselves.
I literally got yelled at the other day by a friend who previously unknown to me, is a staunch Harper supporter, claiming that any of the other parties would have signed the FATCA IGA too.
I have to admit that I can’t find an argument against this, especially in light of the fact that none of the other parties have firmly grasped Harper’s IGA as a sure way of making the Conservatives look bad. I did, however manage to argue that had it been one of the other parties, we would be suing them too. I appreciate the fact, also, that she gave the issue enough thought to have come to that conclusion, and we are still friends in spite of also claiming that Harper’s been one of the best PM’s this country’s ever had. When objects are that immovable, sometimes it’s not worth the cost and effort trying to move them, and should just let nature run its course instead.
Our system has been subverted by Socialists who were sent by the Soviets in the early 1900’s and that subversion is what has made the system so cumbersome that it has almost stopped working. A group of those subverters were appointed to the Senate and along with other willing idiots, they got our Constitution amended with the17th Amendment, whereby Senators were elected instead of appointed by the State Governments.
Under the appointed system, if in a 2 year House of Representatives election, the house changed parties, the State Governments assumed correctly that the will of the people was to change parties. The State Governor simply recalled the Senators then serving and appointed one of the party that had won the election.
The 17th Amendment allowed one third of the Senate to be elected every 2 years. Imagine having to wait 6 years before it was possible to change parties. Things change more rapidly than 6 years, so before we can change we don’t know if we should.
If we simply repealed the 16th Amendment that allowed an Income Tax and the 17th Amendment which allowed direct voting for Senator, we’d be back where Madison wanted us in the first place.
I rather doubt we have had a group of politicians smarter than Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, Jay, Franklin and the rest of the actual founders, since they all died.
I’d like the section of the Constitution about the legislature revised, but it would take a shooting revolution to change it because whatever party is in power would never let the thinkers revise anything that would make any sense. That is why I refer to every person in D.C. as the D.C. Pukes. House Senate, President and the fourth Unconstitutional branch, that never changes and actually run the country. Gorbachev referred them as the Aparachek.(probably spelled wrong because it is Russian)
I am sorry to have to break it to your guys. The US despite their recent efforts to mess it up rules the world.
You have border babies because you don’t have hospitals on your side because you killed of the profit motive in healthcare. You citizens have to come to the US because your healthcare isn’t very good. It’s OK. The free healthcare in my native UK is crap as well. You just think it’s good because people who don’t pay get stuff for free. You think your prescription costs are low because your government fixes the price.
Your governments have to sign the IGA because you have no power. You have no power because you have to invest your money in the US. Your own system hasn’t generated the success the American system has.
Yes America is a bully etc but you can’t stand up to it because you have hampered your own innovation.
Think about this people. You rolled big time.
Border babies, which both countries had, have not been a routine occurrence for a long time. In rural areas, babies were routinely born to families from both sides of the border up until about 50 years ago – before Canada had socialised medicine, when Canadians had either private or no health insurance.
For Canadian families, cross-border births declined due to the socialisation of the health care system, the institution of provincial health insurance in the mid-20th century. Another factor occurring mid-20th century, which affected both Canadian and US families, was improved highways (although the medical facilities in your own country might still be further in miles than the nearest ones on the other side, it became a more convenient, quicker, drive than it had previously been.)
@Neill. “You have border babies because you don’t have hospitals on your side because you killed of the profit motive in healthcare. You citizens have to come to the US because your healthcare isn’t very good. It’s OK. The free healthcare in my native UK is crap as well. You just think it’s good because people who don’t pay get stuff for free. You think your prescription costs are low because your government fixes the price.”
We have border babies because it makes no economic sense to build a hospital for a few dozen people clustered along the border. It’s easier and cheaper to just send those few across the line. How many hospitals does the US have in the remote areas of Alaska? It’s not so much a question of profit motive but rather economies of scale and the location of large population centres.
Canadian healthcare, while not perfect, is less imperfect than the US system which has been hijacked by the big HMOs, the insurance companies, and big pharma. There was a window of opportunity back in the sixties when the Canadian system was created. The US had that same opportunity back then but for whatever reason chose not to act. The window has long since closed because the aforementioned very large companies now call all the shots (and own Congress). They oppose a national healthcare single payer system for the simple reason that it would destroy their business plan. Obamacare is the best they could come up with and it actually strengthens the stranglehold the big outfits have on US healthcare.
A US politician summed it up quite succinctly a while back: “the US has the best healthcare system in the world (as long as you’ve got the money to pay for it)”. Those who don’t have the money are screwed.
While this may not be the correct or best IBS webpage to place this, I just came across and re-read a wonderful article about the RB-CBT debate which is probably worth a re-read by lots of others (indeed, we could forward it to others outside IBS to read for the first time, especially those in their OMG phase and folks we know inside the US border) – – great commentary to consider.
Thank you, maz57.
I would have been one of those screwed if I had remained in the US and my life played out with the same divorce and single parenthood for most of my children’s growing up years. With my own medical issues and my son’s many medical and developmental issues that would have been considered “pre-existing”, I would have been a welfare mom in the US — of that I have NO DOUBT. In Canada, even with my own medical needs, I was able to work (my butt off) for a very fair and accommodating employer and remained a contributing member of Canadian society and able to raise my kids without going onto welfare. I thank all that’s holy that my path brought me to Canada for that and many other reasons. I will never take for granted how lucky I am — as a lot of life’s situations are pure luck, generally combined with a lot of hard work.
the article omits two features of our system
a: strong separation of powers between federal and provincial levels; Obama care would be impossible
in Canada, our national health care plan (not health care system) is an agreement between the federal and provincial governments, the provinces define and provide the benefits for their residents. The federal provides funding, equalization and guaranties portability.
b: “the reference question” to the court. The federal government can directly ask the court for legal guidance as in the Clarity Act, or indirectly by its arguments before the court as was the case for same sex marriages. I believe this will be the approach to the ADCS challenge
While this may not have changed the eventual outcome, the NDP argued strongly to wait regarding the implementation of the IGA and introduced amendments as did the LibS (Hsu/) and Greens (May). Perhaps a few more concessions would have been demanded/granted since those parties clearly understood the distinctions regarding “US Person.” Would we have filed suit if “Accidentals” and “Border Babies” had been exempted from reporting? Would a cut-off date for duals who returned at a young age been negotiated? The situation for immigrant duals would remain however, I assume there would be less sympathy for them.
I cannot fathom how anyone would see Harper as having been good for Canada.
@Calgary. I’m a person who managed a double-dip with respect to turkey this year so I had two Thanksgivings and twice as much time to reflect on the fact that I, of all my relatives, wound up in Canada. I feel like I definitely won life’s lottery. Even if I wanted to move back I couldn’t because I simply would be unable to afford the exorbitant health insurance costs down there.
I’m amazed how a country as large, wealthy, and powerful as the US continues to be unable to create a decent universal heath care system for its population. It is surely one of the great failings of modern America. Even more amazing is the fact that a major segment of their population still vehemently opposes any reform, including many low income people. I guess they are all drinking some kind of weird Kool-Aid which thankfully seems to be unavailable up here (although it appears some of the Conservatives might have got a hold of some).
While I can’t speak as to what occurred in the past I will say cross border healthcare especially in emergency/trauma situations is most tied to the specific geographic circumstances of where you are along the border. Detroit for example has more hospitals total and more “advanced” hospitals(Henry Ford, Wayne, U Michigan Ann Arbor) than does Windsor and Southwestern Ontario. On the other hand in far north upstate New York State Montreal(McGill) provides far more advanced medical far closer by than anything in NY State out outside of Rochester or NYC. Further east towards New England their is probably more advanced healthcare on the American side of the border relative to Canada(Fletcher Allen, Dartmouth Hitchcock, all the Boston hospitals).
I would say in general advanced medical care in Montreal and Toronto is equal to that of the US. Is it true that their is a falloff outside of the major metropolitan centers of Canada. Yes, but this is simply a consequence of Canada from a land mass perspective being a heavily rural nation. The US too has very limited healthcare in rural areas with the exception of places like Vermont and New Hampshire which longstanding teaching hospitals.
In comparison to the UK(NHS) Canadian healthcare at the high end at least is head and shoulders above. It is a lot more expensive too. I will also add universal healthcare in Canada does not cover pharma and that both the US and Canada are the only two countries on earth not to have national pharma care(outside of US Obamacare and the Quebec mandate for private pharma insurance).
First, a comment on the article and second, a comment on the other topic on this thread: health care.
When I first saw the article, I immediately thought of a “bad” law that actually had been changed: Prohibition. But, of course, very few laws have been changed, and if they are, it is through the U.S. Supreme Court. Sadly, today’s Congress commonly pass laws with laws nested inside them, that no one has taken the time to read and debate. Not only that, but the Congress no longer works the way the Founding Fathers envisioned. Due to the 17th Amendment, for example, the State Legislatures don’t choose the senators that best represent their state. Instead, the “people” elect them, which essentially means that the national Republican and Democrat parties decide the two candidates the people can pick from. (There is no equivalent of the Saskatchewan party.) Interestingly, the one former Independent state governor, Jesse Ventura has co-authored a book portraying the two major parties as gangs similar to the Bloods and the Crips as the title is “DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government.” The President and Congress are staffed by these two gangs, plus the President chooses the Supreme Court members based on his political leanings.
National Health Care is still in place in Canada, despite soaring costs for at least three reasons that we have but Americans don’t:
1) The majority of taxpayers and all political parties in Canada (the stake-holders) are strongly committed to national health care.
2) Canada doesn’t allow lawyers and jury trials to award exorbitant pay-outs for “malpractice” that in turn drive up the cost of malpractice insurance, etc. Also, doctors don’t need to run a lot of extra, just-in-case tests that are largely unnecessary if you aren’t worried about someone suing you.
3) Canadians know what things Medicare will cover and therefore, insurers such as Blue Cross can be counted on to cover or contribute toward other types of expenses, at least for in-province procedures. People aren’t hit by huge bills because a claim that was rejected for no apparent reason.
I agree with all you wrote.
I thought the National Post article very good, putting Canada in a good light, ,even though I am not a fan of Conrad Black, the National Post or Stephen Harper .
I am so thankful I chose Canada to live in when I was 21. My children were born here and my husband and I realized we were never going back and we became citizens before the awful USA law that would have to have me renounce. I relinquished (thank you IBS for your wonderful advice.) Canada was far superior in every way, except warm weather. I will take the cold and snow over the guns and religious nuts.
I would be a destitute widow right now because in 1998 we were hit with a double whammy, Cancer. two months apart. My husband and son were given the ultimate best of care. Millions of dollars worth. and we did not go bankrupt or have to choose treatment over food or a roof over our head. I myself would have not had health care in the USA if we lived there because of pre-existing conditions. I almost died 3 times from the same illness in different years.
I love that we are all in this Canada boat together. Seniors do get their pharmas for just $100 a year in Ontario… We should have all our citizens get it like those in Europe. and dental care but since we are comparing the USA and Canada…Canada comes out the best.. I also found that Canada has surpassed in having a larger middle class per population ration than the USA. There is a very big gap in income equality in the USA and it is getting worse.
The Republicans look very foolish trying to kill the ACA and social security. very foolish.
Neill. Sorry to break it to you but in most respects Canada has better healthcare than does the US.
Both countries have rationing. Neither could afford otherwise. In Canada it is by waiting list. In the US it is by ability to pay.
The results for maternal mortality, infant mortality, life expectancy etc. are very similar. The US may have more cutting edge technology but it is not widely available.
Americans think we have socialized medicine; we don’t. The VA system in the US looks after more patients than there are citizens of Canada and IS a form of socialized medicine. More patients suffer on waiting lists in the VA system than in all of Canada.
Bills to the patients and insurance companies are routinely padded fraudulently. We seldom see a bill.
Obamacare was hijacked by the insurance cos. and by big pharma.
I could go on but you probably get my drift
Brings to mind this video: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/dr-danielle-martin-gives-washington-a-lesson-on-canadian-health-care-1.2570872
Some of you might remember how Washington got schooled by a Canadian doctor on the differences between the two health care systems:
Yes, who knows what the outcome would have been if a more receptive government was in power. Still, I can only guess what the silence since then means. Is it too politically risky for the Liberals and NDP to take public stand in our defence?
Didn’t see you’d already posted that, Calgary!
Having my parents and their families in a Canadian border city, my mom’s sister married an American. While they lived in the US sister city, her first of four children was born in Canada, the other three in the US.
We spent most of the 80s US Thanksgivings at their US home. Each year, as a teen then young adult, it was like a sigh of relief crossing back over that border. Her first born, my cousin, lived with my family for first grade, then with our grandmother here for seventh and eighth grade. For this reason, he is more like a sibling to my brother and I.
He still calls each of us monthly, as the three of us approach 50. We are very political and very current events oriented people. He has not been happy in the US for a very long time, and consistently points out where he feels Canada is full of kindness, respect, and forward-facing. Even in its politics. Even though he’s a cop, and even though he’s NRA. Having lived both sides of the line, if his wife would agree, he would move them up here upon his retirement next year. I hear it every month.
“an example of what Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek called the “fatal conceit,” the idea that planners can anticipate all the problems that might arise”
MacDonald wrote the Canadian constitution almost entirely by himself. One of his goals was to avoid the implosion that the US suffered through with their civil war. He felt that this resulted from the American founding fathers giving too much power to the states. Decentralization of power. Which was true. The American founders didn’t want a powerful federal govt that could do whatever it pleased without checks/balances.
The funny thing is that the US has become exactly what it’s founders didn’t want as Canada has become what MacDonald tried to guard against. Canada has one of the most decentralized federal govts in the world b/c the provinces can hold their own against it when they choose to.
Our parliamentary system allows for leader change at any time really (though it doesn’t seem to happen as often as people would life) whereas the Americans are stuck with a president for four and more often eight years at a time. Plus they (as do we) are often saddled with leaders that are not the choice of the majority of citizens. Americans because of their electoral college and us thanks to first past the post rather than proportional voting.
In a parliamentary system – as far as I can tell – minority govts make for the best govts and majorities are almost quasi-dictatorships and our first past the post voting systems allows minorities to foist govts on the majority.
The Canadian system is actually one of the most egalitarian in the world because it is still possible for anyone from any walk of life to enter politics and to even be elected an MP. The same cannot be said of the US. Also, because of our small population, citizens have access to their representatives in a way that most Americans don’t.
The border baby crack is just nonsense. The US and Canada have always had a very entangled border in terms of shared resources and even citizens. Until the recent administration in the WH, this has never been an issue. It shouldn’t be an issue now and only is because the Americans chose to make it so. They could just as easily chose not to.