Monday, Dec 22, 2014
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Second thoughts on Canadian citizenship

BY MARTY MOORE
Suncoast News columnist

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Can it get anymore delicious? Tea party darling Ted Cruz having a birth certificate kerfuffle! What goes around comes around.

Seems the first-term Texas senator was born to an American mother and a Cuban father in Alberta, Canada, so questions have arisen as to his eligibility to run for president if he so chooses in 2016. Legally, it appears he can. Jury’s still out on psychologically.

Cruz says he’ll renounce the Canadian half of his dual citizenship but he may want to reconsider. Should he manage to somehow repeal Obamacare, Canada has a really good health care system to fall back on when voters catch on to his inane bloviating and send him packing. Regardless of conservative distortions, surveys show around 90 percent of Canadians like their government-paid healthcare system.

According to the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, American per capita spending on health care in 2012 was $8,362, or 17.9 percent of GDP, compared to $4,404 in Canada, at 11.3 percent, yet the U.S. ranks only 27th in life expectancy, at 78.4 years. Canada, which conservatives love to malign as having “failed socialized medicine,” comes in eighth, at 81.4 years. Canada’s infant mortality rate is 4.9 deaths per thousand; ours is 6.1.

A Harvard study found Americans 42 percent more likely than Canadians to have diabetes; 32 percent more likely high blood pressure and the OECD finds 36 percent of American adults to be obese; in Canada 24.2 percent. Could Canadian emphasis on preventive care be the difference? Meanwhile the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. healthcare system thirty-seventh against thirtieth for Canada.

OK, but how much must Canadians sacrifice in the way of personal freedom for all this sweeping government attention? Not much it, turns out. The Economist magazine’s Democracy Index ranks Canada ninth in the world; the U.S. 17th. A recent Harvard-Berkeley study found Canadians have twice the economic mobility of Americans. And the OECD’s happiest places to live and work puts Canada at number three and the U.S. at number six.

Maybe that’s because according to the CIA World Factbook, of the 136 countries rated on the Gini index of income equality, Canada places 33rd; the United States comes in 95th.

One more stat: The OECD’s comprehensive world education ranking reports Canadian 15-year-olds rank fifth overall in reading, math and science. American kids place 17th.

Canada is Cruz’s and his acolytes’ worst nightmare. Here’s a big, activist, central government with a wide-ranging social safety net that conservatives sneeringly call European-style socialism outperforming us on nearly every benchmark.

And get this: According to the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, while all federal, state and local taxation accounts for only 26.9 percent of GDP and Canada taxes at 32.2 percent, the Economist still grades Canada as the best country in which to do business. The U.S. is fifth. What’s more because Canada had in place much stricter banking regulations it wasn’t nearly as impacted by the 2008 financial meltdown as the U.S.

So much for small government, libertarianism and low taxes enhancing free enterprise and quality of life.

Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.

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