3 Weird Things About the U.S. This Pro-American Canadian Doesn't Get

There’s a “THANK YOU PRESIDENT BUSH” mug on my desk with an American flag sticking out of it.

The most popular newspaper column I ever wrote was called “I’m An American Trapped in a Canadian’s Body.”

I know all the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” — although a lifetime of Hockey Night in Canada probably helped.

All that to say:

There are a few things this (rare) pro-American Canadian still doesn’t understand about your wonderful country.

I’m not pretending to ask these questions either, like this shameful and embarrassing federal government employee, whose CBC TV show is paid for by my extorted tax dollars. Note that while ostensibly mocking Americans, all he does is accidentally highlight how patient and polite you guys really are:



#3 — Our health care is weird, but so is yours

Don’t listen to Michael Moore. He gets Canada wrong, just as he does everything else.

Canadians fund the developed world’s fifth most expensive universal access health insurance system. (…)

Given Canada spends so much relative to its economy, you might expect that Canadians receive world-class access to health care. Alas, the evidence is otherwise.

Consider waiting lists. In 2011, the median wait time from general practitioner referral to treatment by a specialist was 19 weeks in Canada. Despite substantial increases in both health spending and federal cash transfers to the provinces over the past 15 years, the 2011 wait time was 60 per cent longer than the 1997 median wait time of 11.9 weeks. In 2011, patients waited more than double the 9.3 weeks they would have waited in 1993. Our indicators are getting worse, not better.

NOTE: Those “waiting lists” aren’t an “unintended consequence” or “side effect” of the system. Rationing IS the system. If they can keep you waiting so long you eventually drop dead, you’ve done the system a favor.

In other words, my cat can get an MRI faster than I can, and so can any American reading this.

But just to review:

My MRI is “free” but takes me months to get. You get yours the next day — but have to pay who knows what for it and the treatment your doctor will subsequently prescribe.

Is either extreme ideal?

The solution for Canada — and the U.S. — is a system that lets those who can afford it to go to private clinics, thereby relieving the burden placed on the public system (which would remain in place, albeit drastically reformed.)

The government wouldn’t make us buy insurance — but if we didn’t, we’d be you-know-what outta luck, just like you are if your uninsured house or business burns down. You made a foolish choice about what to spend your money on instead, and now you’re paying for it.

By the way: Canada does have a tiny number of private clinics. They are used mostly by pro hockey players, labor union leaders — and politicians (especially socialists) who publicly praise Canada’s as “the best health care system in the world,” knowing they risk losing their seat if they don’t keep mouthing that fact-free phrase.

#2 — Lawsuit-mania

Undertaking tort reform instead of “Obamacare” would go a long way towards fixing America’s health care system, not to mention the overarching, culture-killing paranoia that leaves everyone in the U.S. afraid of being sued for almost anything — and others hoping to win a lawsuit “lottery.” Not exactly a recipe for social cooperation and harmony.

The culprit is the “American Rule,” whereby “each side in a civil legal case pays its own court costs regardless of outcome. This was different from the English [and therefore, Canadian] system,” which is “loser pays.”

As outlined by John Steele Gordon:

The Treaty of Paris (which ended the American Revolution) stipulated that British creditors could sue in American courts in order to collect debts owed them by people who were now American citizens. To make it less likely that they would do so, state legislatures passed the American Rule. With the British merchant stuck paying his own court costs, he had little incentive to go to court unless the debt was considerable.

Predictably, the American Rule has spread exactly nowhere since its inception. (…) There is not another country in the common-law world that uses it.

The American Rule was a relatively minor anomaly in our legal system until the mid-20th century. But since then, as lawyers’ ethics changed (…) For every malpractice case filed in 1960, for instance, 300 are filed today. (…)

Few things would help the American economy more than ending the American Rule. Texas reformed its tort law system a few years ago and the results have been dramatic. Doctors have been moving into the state, not out of it, and malpractice insurance costs have fallen 25 percent.

#1 — You’re fat. (Sorry.)

Slowly but surely, we Canadians have been creeping ahead of you guys in almost every measurable way: “we work less, live longer, enjoy better health and have more sex.” Our beer is better (as I recall). We don’t pay taxes on our lottery winnings.

We take politics way less seriously.

Meet our libertarian-conservative prime minister; let’s see your guy do this, America:

I had pizza at his house once. He has lots of cats.

And here’s our first female P.M., whose election was a matter of no gender-related controversy whatsoever. In fact, she got elected in spite of (or because of) this photo, which no one even tried to care that much about:

Canadian leaders are so boring, no one’s ever tried to shoot one. When one disgruntled citizen got too close to Jean  Chretien, the PM put the fellow in a choke hold and broke one of his teeth.

The closest we’ve had to a political sex scandal recently involved a government minister who left his briefcase on his girlfriend’s coffee table. You think I’m kidding.

Anyhow, our disposable incomes are higher and our personal debt is lower:

Certainly Canadians who venture down to live in the U.S. say there’s a huge difference in how the two countries approach spending and debt. Gerry Van Boven grew up in southern Ontario but moved to the U.S. in 1985. Now he’s 57 and living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He says his American friends seem genuinely puzzled by his reluctance to load on huge piles of debt so he can buy a big luxury car and a monster home. “Most of the people that I know who were born and raised here are a lot farther in hock than I am, and they think that’s quite normal,” he says. “They’re like, ‘Can’t afford it? I’ll just put it on plastic.’ Whereas I was brought up to believe that if you can’t afford to buy it in cash, you can’t afford it.”

Our banks weren’t obliged to give mortgages to welfare bums, so our housing market didn’t crash.

And let’s face it: our decision to pick our own cotton and mow our own lawns has paid off big time in terms of race relations, crime stats, and economics.

It’s too late for you to change the past. But there is something you could, and should, do, America:

Lose weight.

Americans are twice as fat as we are, and no wonder.

I went to a roadside restaurant in Minneapolis a few years ago and ordered the pork chops, not expecting to get five of them (!) stacked like pancakes. American supermarkets carry taco-flavored ice cream and ice-cream flavored tacos, or seem to, anyhow.

I won’t appeal to your concerns about your health or appearance. How about national security, then?

I’m starting to wonder if the U.S. will surrender to belligerent Islam as long as they’re promised free appetizers during happy hour.

I’m saying all this out of love, America. I want you to be around for a long, long time.

After all, someone needs to make decent looking movies and TV shows and cool music.

Don’t leave me up here all alone with Nickelback and Degrassi, you guys.

Lay off those pork chop pancakes, eh?


More humor from Kathy Shaidle at PJ Lifestyle:

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That’s Not Funny: The 5 Biggest Comedy Taboos

Vengeance Is Mine: The 5 Best Revenge Songs

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4 Ways My Moviegoing Habits Changed After I Grew Up

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