Americans could learn a lot from Canada -- but they don't have a clue. And they don't want to. When I first moved to northern Washington state and began covering Canada for Dow Jones' U.S. business site MarketWatch.com, I spoke at a local Rotary Club. The members were mostly college graduates and business leaders. I gave a quiz about Canada to the Rotarians, who share a Rotary district with B.C. I asked: What's the capital of Canada? Maybe half the members knew. OK, who is Canada's Prime Minister? Even fewer hands went up. Many Americans don't just have their heads up their butts; they also seem to enjoy the view.
Think of the U.S.-Canada economic relationship as a hockey game (remember hockey? Sigh.) In the first year, despite the distractions posed by the 2012 elections and a series of U.S. budget battles, the governments of Canada and the United States have made a strong start on improving border and regulatory cooperation.
Parkinson's Law, in its original form, states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." This was a humorous attempt at mathematically describing the rate at which bureaucracies expand over time -- the consequence of which is something that Washington is now dealing with. Hence the mania over the so-called "fiscal cliff" as the clock is ticking towards the January 1st and 2nd deadlines.
Last week, a casualty of China's unfair treatment of foreign investors spoke privately about the new trade deal signed between Ottawa and Beijing. Ottawa capitulated to China on everything. The deal, using a hockey metaphor, allows only a select few to play on Team Canada on a small patch of ice in China and to be fouled, without remedies or referees.
Sovereign-owned or controlled enterprises (SOEs) from questionable countries have no business in the boardrooms of Canada or other free enterprise nations. This concern about SOEs is not just about China. Russia is another questionable regime with companies investing here and all over the world that are owned by The Kremlin or by oligarchs who answer to it.
You know them as MasoniChip, or perhaps you've been led to believe it was a state and provincial endeavor intended to protect your little ones. They set up fairs, forge partnerships with law enforcement and even strive to distribute their services through North American public school systems. In Massachusetts this Freemason program was promoted by CBS News from the steps of the official State House and included their police dog, coincidentally named Mason. Reporters only failed to mention the private nod to those promoting him or that government had little to do with it.
We now see every week the crumbling of foreign policy of the United States. The War on Terror was not without mistakes, but the War on Drugs has been a disaster in every respect. Only 20 years ago, the U.S. bestrode the world, the only super power, strong by any measurement. Today it is quavering, waffling, semi-bankrupt, lurching from one mistaken and often hypocritical policy to the next.