Sometimes you can better appreciate your own life by knowing how others see you.
We all have problems and worries, but these can take a different perspective when viewed through the eyes of others who aren't intimately involved in your life.
This is true of countries as well as individuals -- and I'm not thinking of Third World countries, or homeless refugees seeking peace and security.
We in Canada wrestle with what we view as endemic problems, exacerbated by politicians who make promises that won't be kept, and/or warnings that rarely materialize.
We may think we are over-taxed, with average working people struggling to keep abreast of rising costs and reduced services and limited income. And it's true. Garbage collection costs keep rising with pick-ups less frequent; mail delivery used to be twice daily with stamps costing less; banking never used to have all the extra charges it has today.
And so on. A new washing machine lasted decades; cars didn't deteriorate as fast as they do now; built-in obsolescence was unheard of.
Since the 2008 recession, Western economies have had a tough time.
We've all heard of the Euro crisis on the continent, with Greece, Portugal and Spain threatened with default bankruptcy. Mismanagement.
It's small comfort to Canadians that the U.S. is having a tougher time than we are (our banking system is the world's best).
Still, it's reassuring when a knowledgeable and respected entity like the Wall Street Journal tells its readers that Canada is faring better than Americans, and that "Canada shows how mistakes can be reversed with sound policies." Hmm. That's good to know.
That assessment may not please the NDP or Liberals, but it should give pause to Canadians who bitch and grumble as a sort of Pavlovian reflex to whatever happens in their own country.
Among the virtues that the WSJ sees in Canada is Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's view that to "raise taxes, increase government spending, and shun new trading opportunities" would "kill jobs, impose crushing deficits and cripple our economy."
So, Canada's proposal of one policy to exploit national resources (e.g. the Keystone XL pipeline) is sound, while the U.S. has multiple reviews that have stymied progress. The question begs: Why pay extortionary foreign oil prices if we can develop our own oil resources, while protecting the environment?
The WSJ (and anyone with half a brain) sees the value of Canada raising the eligibility for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 -- starting in 2023, for heaven's sake. That's pretty modest and 11 years down the road.
And Canada's 15 per cent corporate tax is so much better than America's 35 per cent corporate tax that hurts the domestic economy and encourages businesses to invest in countries that don't inhibit enterprises but keep wages low.
When outsiders remark that Canada is being well and responsibly governed, we in Canada could do worse than take note.
The Warren Kinsellas of our country can whine that Conservatives are mean, unethical, cheat, and like "winning elections at all costs," but to the rest of the world, (and the WSJ) we're pretty lucky in our government.
Would Liberals or the NDP do better? Un-unh.
We've got a country and government that the rest of the world envies, and from which our own citizens benefit, even while we snipe and snarl at one another and think we are having it tough.