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Hey America: You Don't Look So Great from Up Here

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Okay, America, it's winter up here, and when the snow is flying you'll always look pretty darn good. February through April is when we of the semi-frozen True North escape across the border, stab our cars into snow-drifted airport parking lots at Bangor, Buffalo, or Bellingham, and catch your el cheapo flights to destinations further south: anywhere from Myrtle Beach to San Diego suits us fine.

On the other hand, golf courses, blue skies, and cheerful degrees fahrenheit aside, you are looking kind of... surly these days. Sure, milk is $.50 cheaper a gallon on your side of the line, but we do have universal health care. We may need to stand in line for it, but we have always been a polite bunch and never minded queueing, as long as the line's fair. You used to be, but you don't seem so into fairness anymore, America.

We read about your plethora of fat cats, those masters of the universe, but mostly, in your upstate, northern border towns, we see poor folk and large, sad children returned from desert wars. Granted our perspective is skewed. The two crosscuts of the USA we're most familiar with are your sunbelt and your northern tier from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State to Aroostook County, Maine. Three thousand miles of farms and sawmill towns that used to seem sort of Canadian, except now they don't. Sawmills are shut, farmers are extinct, and much of your Great North Woods seems a hotbed of little but methamphetamine production and military recruitment. That's how it looks to us, anyway, from just next door. Along what used to be our undefended border you've aggressively "thickened" your frontier and you suddenly demand passports from us. Those lines are tedious, those officers aggressive. We don't much want to cross anymore, and if it weren't for the sunshine and the fact our dollar goes a long way these days, maybe we wouldn't.

America, you once elected a brilliant, shiny young president who seemed bold, but isn't, while we're stuck with a dour prime minister who looks and sounds like, well, a Canadian prime minister. Nonetheless, we get the feeling that Canada is moving in the right direction. Partly this is dumb luck: we're a resource economy, producing raw materials that China needs. Our universities are a bargain, and have you tried the brand-new Vancouver subway? It spooks us to see that you are not moving, America. You're dysfunctioning. Living alongside you these days and listening to the contenders in your Republican primaries is like overhearing a crazy family from the Maine backwoods in a loud, weird squabble at the Bangor Mall: everyone threatening, gesticulating, talking trash. The louder these men boast of keeping your military mighty enough to lick all comers, the weaker you seem, America, and so terribly out of touch with the rest of the world. Sometimes -- and we hate to have to say this, we honestly do -- you sound pathetic. Or you would, if you weren't also so magnificently, expensively, and ludicrously well-armed.

Stop obsessing about taxes, you can't pay for two wars without them. Anyway, taxes are not your real problem, you pay fewer of them than just about everyone except the Greeks. Be more mindful of your friends. If this isn't your century, well, so what, they can't all be. Get it together, America. Take better care of yourselves. Mind your health. Get moving again.