Watch “American Reacts to Amazing Places to Visit in Canada” on YouTube

So I’ve been following this guy’s YouTube channel for a few weeks now and I have to recommend it highly, especially if you’re into learning about Canada ūüá®ūüá¶. Over the past few weeks this self professed average American has been reacting to videos on YouTube about various aspects of Canada as a country and I, as a Canadian fully approve.

However I do have a bit of advice for this fellow. Please stop introducing yourself as a typical American because it isn’t true. The average American doesn’t generally want to learn about other countries and certainly has little to no interest in Canada until they meet someone who is Canadian and show them just how little they know or care about their northern neighbor. Which I know personally as I, a Canadian woman, lived in the USA for just under 20 years.

I realize that the subject of Canada is boring to most Americans and the reason for this is that Canada isn’t as skilled as the USA is when it comes to creating hype. I’ve long said that hype is the only thing America still successfully creates. In Canada, on the other hand the only real hype that we’ve created is around the sport of hockey. So much so that regardless of the outcome of a hockey game half the audience will riot over it.

Thankfully our politics are pretty boring, because we have more than two political parties involved we don’t have the same political division. Don’t get me wrong there is some division, but it’s not like we’re heading towards a civil war or anything like that. As a matter of fact, we have 5 political parties in Canada and two official languages in which to agree or disagree . Et c’est vres!

Another reason Canada is so boring is that we have quite a bit of elbow room. With just one tenth of the population of the USA, and much more land, we are free to enjoy our personal space far more than countries with denser populations, and can stay out of each other’s way. Of course there is still violence that exists here,but after our last massacre we took a much harder stance on guns, which has saved us from having daily mass shootings like they have south of the border.

Kudos to this young man for his curiosity about his northern neighbor, his eagerness to learn and his honesty when he doesn’t know something because it’s just very refreshing to see from way up here.

I heard the news today…

Oh,boy! The corpse of his beloved mommy isn’t even cold yet and he has called himself the King of Canada . Dude, read the room.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know my opinion of the Tampon King and his wife whose new title (though I will always remember her as chlamydia duchess of corn hole) aptly refers to her one strength, her ability to consort. That this couple is fit to rule is laughable at best. We need to have a conversation, Canada. I wasn’t going to post this for a week or so to give a respectful amount of time to anyone who needs it, but those folks don’t read this little blog anyway.

We need to talk about the commonwealth ,which is a trade agreement for English speaking countries, save the USA,with a long tradition. I ,for one don’t like the idea of having to look at Upchuck’s face on my money, or having to spend that money on his and his family’s travel expenses, security etc. I put in enough time and this is the right,perhaps, the only time to change. Before he puts his gob on our money, stamps etc.

Australia is already having the conversation and why not? It can be just a trade agreement and nothing more. We can sustain ourselves and we should. England is a wealthy country and I say it’s beyond time that we let them pay their own way.

The Queen is dead long live our freedom!

A better understanding of Canada

I know many of you aren’t Canadian, or even Canada adjacent. So I thought I’d share this peek into the personalities and stereotypes that make up the second largest country in the world. Thankfully, I recently found this video that explains it all, if not perfectly, but it’s Canada and we’re fine with second place.

Watch “Ottawa protests have been ‘hell,’ says man living with disabilities” on YouTube GROW UP

Many disabled people don’t like to leave the house much, even before the pandemic hit, because they are all too aware that the attitudes of others are unkind at best, but put the extra stress of those others, now being worked up into a lather of rage, it’s just not safe for us. I find myself saying the words GROW UP multiple times a day. Especially when news stories are covering the freedumb rally, or some other anti-vaccine nonsense, because they ARE ALL ACTING LIKE CHILDREN IN THE MIDDLE OF A TEMPER TANTRUM ūüôĄ. I really hope that none of these people ever have to be in a wheelchair because they are not nearly strong enough to deal with it. If you can’t handle a couple of years in a mask without whining, I’d hate to see you have to learn how to walk again. STOP FUNDING THESE MORONS! They do NOT deserve your money ūüė§

Singer Jann Arden tweeted the best comment about the truckers. She wrote, Me Me Me Me Me Me Me, Me Me Me Honk Honk Honk Honk Me Me Me Honk Me. I would have thrown in a couple of whaaahs, but still the best tweet of the topic so far ūüĎĆ

Where are the men?

After the first week of Olympic competition, Canada has won a total of 12 medals, 8 bronze, 2 silver and 2 gold. The odd thing about this is that they were all won by women, with our swimmers shining above the rest. The number of medals won at this point in a summer Olympic games is about right for Canada, a country that traditionally does far better in the winter games, with both men and women dominating their respective sports. While the Canadian men have yet to collect any metal, the feminist in me is over the moon with pride and joy at the performances of these hard working female athletes. 

Bronze medal winners 

Swimming

Swimming

Canadian women’s rugby seven team celebrating winning bronze

Canada’s womens cycling track team takes home the bronze

Brianne Theissen -Eaton, bronze medalist in the women’s heptathalon

Silver medal winners 

Rowers Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee show off their silver medals

Gold medal winners 

Rosie Maclennan kisses her gold medal won for trampoline

Medal leader, swimmer Penny Oleksiak won 2 bronze, 1silver and 1 gold for Canada

If we want to beat our total medal count of 18, from the 2012 games we need 6 more medals, so unless our men really step up next week, it looks like, this summer, in Canada, the fairer sex is also the stronger sex .

*** the day after this post was published, Canadian runner, Andre Degrasse won the bronze in the men’s 100 meter sprint. Well done! 

The Harder They Fall

nero

Nero fiddles while Rome burns

It seems that whenever people talk about a fallen empire, they invariably discuss the fall of the Holy Roman empire, but there have been a plethora of fallen empires throughout history and they all share a common thread. It has been said that Pride goeth before a fall, but it is not only pride, or even arrogance that preceded the fall of some of the world’s most powerful empires. The real culprit is a different deadly sin… greed.

A lot has been made of late about income inequality and for good reason. When the haves, who make up less than 1 percent of the population of a country,¬†own more than 90 percent of a country’s wealth and the vast majority are the¬†have-nots, who¬†share the last few percentage points, the fall of that country is not far off. The masses will only put up with so much before there is a revolution, just look at the French Revolution (what happens when you have a pair of entitled¬†15 year olds ruling a country), or more recently the Arab Spring. Whether it’s a royal aristocracy, a¬†dictatorship or capitalism run amok that keeps the people down, it is only a matter of time until the people will realize that all they need to do is band together and revolt in order to stop the madness.

marie-antoinette

Mmmm Cake!

Sir Edmund Burke once said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” He was right. It’s easy to look back at the causes of the declines and falls of each and every former empire and make direct comparisons to current world powers. The writing is on the wall. It is not enough to make sure that the have-nots have almost enough to live on and dangle the carrot of a lottery win, a singing career, a reality show or a game show as hope that they too can become rich. There are only so many times that a shiny object (celebrity) can be used to distract the people from the erosion of their rights. A country must provide more than just welfare and food stamps for its poor. It’s not just the impoverished, though. If a country has successfully eroded away its¬†middle class, by union busting and¬†outsourcing jobs to other countries, all in the name of saving a buck, they have then¬†joined the middle class (which should be more populous than the poverty-stricken) with the poor, thereby strengthening their numbers and making¬†themselves that many more new enemies.

China used to be a powerful empire and is the only country that actually has a chance, and a good chance, at that, of becoming a powerful empire for a second time. This time, they are building their economy by educating their children in fields like technology, science and agriculture. They are studying the success and failures of other countries and learning from them. They are buying the debt of countries that have a lot of unpopulated land, as they are quickly running out of land of their own. They are forward thinking, all the while looking to the past.

Thanks to global warming (or climate change) Russia is poised for power as well. It wasn’t that long ago (1917) that the Russian Revolution happened and Putin is ruling like he has never heard of it. The arctic will be a major resource in the coming decades and Russia owns the lion’s share of the region. It is imperative that they have a forward thinking party in power and soon if they want to be a major player in the near future.

polite-canadian

 Canadians; apologizing our way to the top.

There is a country that is on the threshold of becoming a world power player for the first time for much the same reason. The country that owns the second largest share of the arctic, Canada. Yes, quiet, polite Canada with our wealth of¬†natural resources and our vast amounts of unpopulated land, really could be a¬†super-power in the, not so distant, future, if we play our cards right. When it comes to social issues like healthcare and human rights, Canada is on the forefront. Canada is one of the best countries¬†in which to live if you are a minority or a woman.¬†The quality of our education system is excellent and not so overpriced that only the wealthy can access it.¬†Yes, Canada is indeed a great place to live, which is why as we look forward by protecting our arctic land, we must also look around, like the Chinese are doing, at the successes and failures of others,¬†both past and present¬†and learn from them, so it will continue to be that great place to live. We do not want to see our rights eroded due to complacency on the part of the voting public. It is important that the people of Canada keep a watchful eye on our elected officials, so that they continue to act in our best interests and not succumb to the one thing that will spell our downfall… greed.

A Royal Pain

Ironically, I had planned to write about the British Royal family the day before yesterday, after watching Madonna’s film W.E., then it was announced that William and Kate are expecting their first child which only solidified the plan.

prince-william-and-princess-catherine-kiss-after-their-weddingThe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Now, before you start thinking that I am going to bash Will and Kate just one day after they announced their good news, let me put your mind at ease. This is not a blog about how William and Kate are spawning another mouth for the taxpayers of Britain (and the Commonwealth) to feed. They have done their Royal duty by creating an heir (a classier way of saying humped like bunnies until he knocked her up) This is a blog about whether or not the British Royal family is still relevant to society. I think not.

coronationlizQueen Elizabeth II on her coronation day.

It could be argued that the British Royals uphold a certain social and moral standard, that they represent a grand tradition and that their mere existence brings countless tourist dollars into Britain. The truth is that the Queen serves as head of the Church of England and must appear at numerous ceremonial functions as the face of England and the Commonwealth. The Church of England was created so that Henry VIII could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, so it’s not exactly a paragon of virtue from the get go. Now, I think Queen Elizabeth II has fulfilled her duty with the utmost grace and has been a shining example of what a monarch should be. She was groomed for the position since birth and¬†has sacrificed her whole life for honour and duty to her country. Elizabeth II¬†has reigned longer than any other monarch with the exception of Queen Victoria (though she is only 5 years away from beating that record). Sadly, her time on the throne is¬†nearing¬†an end¬†and it will soon be time to pass the crown to a new monarch.

Queen-Elizabeth-II-Celebrates-Diamond-JubileeQueen Elizabeth II celebrated her diamond jubilee

The next in line for that honour is Charles, Prince of Wales. Unlike his mother, Charles has not been what you could call a pillar of society. He has acted like a spoiled brat, consistently flouting the rules of his station and yet still expecting to keep his place in line to the throne. Unlike his Great Uncle, King Edward VIII he has not shown one ounce of regard for the import, nor the rules of his title and does not seem to understand that he has done nothing to deserve to ascend to the role of King. Instead he acts like it his God-given right to one day be King. I am sure he was groomed for the throne since birth, like his mother before him. I am sure he is aware of the rules of conduct to which he must adhere, yet, at every turn he has acted in a purely selfish manner, preferring to serve his penis rather than his title (which the taxpayers pay for him to hold). We, the public have had to endure all of the lurid details of his affair with a married woman while he was still married to the mother of his children. We have suffered through tape recordings of sexual conversations where he said he wanted to be a feminine hygiene product. All of this from a man who is paid to be better than the rest of the rabble.

Charles+Camilla+Attend+Annual+Mey+Games+C9c_1rUkb-nlChlamydia, Duchess of Corn-hole and the Man Who Would be Tampon

Support for the Royals is waning world-wide. Yesterday, Yahoo Canada had a poll that asked ‘Do you care about William and Kate’s personal life?’ Over 50,000 people responded and 81% of them voted No. Just last month, a 76 year old man in Auckland, New Zealand (a commonwealth country)¬†was arrested just before he had the chance to throw a bucket of horse manure on Charles and Camilla during a royal visit.¬†But, perhaps nowhere on the planet is distaste for the royals higher than in Quebec where more than 80% of the population is opposed to the monarchy. The last time Charles and Camilla visited La Belle Province, they were met by¬†more than 1000¬†angry protesters who hurled eggs at their car and shouted nasty slurs at them as they drove past. Even Will and Kate were on the receiving end of a protest when they visited Montreal last year. Every time Canada (a commonwealth country)¬†has to pay for another royal visit there are people from all across the country speaking out against the monarchy.

Prince Charles, CamillaCharles and Camilla in Montreal as protesters hurl eggs at their car.

It seems to me that if Charles is not passed over, that quite a few commonwealth countries will fall by the wayside. After all, we are no longer part of the British Empire, we are our own sovereign countries, some of whom are becoming more financially stable than England. It is my opinion that England would do well to disband their monarchy after the current Queen steps down. The government owns those castles. Why not turn them into luxury hotels? That way the staff could stay on (at a higher wage than the royals are paying them… plus tips) and the tourist dollars would likely be higher than they are now with no one being allowed so much as¬†a tour of Buckingham Palace. Other countries have royals who are royal in title only and can be seen bicycling around town along with the rest of¬† population, why not England? What exactly are you holding onto? It’s different in Monaco where the Grimaldi family¬†hold court. The Grimaldis aren’t freeloading off of¬†the taxpayers… in Monaco there is no income tax. Income tax as we know it started, by the way, in England in 1798 by William Pitt the Younger.

monacoroyalsThe Royal Family of Monaco

It makes no sense (cents?) to keep funding an entire family to hold positions that are but¬†figureheads in this economy when so many of your own people (taxpayers) are hurting¬†and with so many of your allies shouting down this antiquated tradition. Even if Charles is bypassed and William becomes King do you really think that the commonwealth countries¬†will want to continue paying for the visits and the pomp and circumstance¬†for a 30 year old kid and his wife? I don’t think that the British people will be so keen to keep the royals on if they are the only ones funding them either. I think the world is outgrowing this quaint high school-like tradition where one group is deemed better than the rest of us just because they were born rich, who then piss it all away. We have celebrities for that.

I’d like to leave you with the following video from The Kids in the Hall because, as I was writing this post, this sketch came screaming to mind… and I know I could use a good laugh after all of this kvetching.

America’s foreign policy part two… foreign aid.

I wasn’t going to do another blog about the United States. I felt like I had said all I had to say on the matter. Then, a heartfelt comment on my last entry prompted me to change my mind. You should know something about me. I find it impossible not to¬†respond to¬†statements of fact that are not entirely factual¬†and I am addicted to research. I would like to begin this post with apologies to Erika, the blogger upon whose comment this entry is based. I enjoy your blog and respect your point of view.

Erika’s comment challenged my assertion that America’s foreign policy was faulty at best by pointing out that America does so much good in the world with their foreign aid. To read her comment in its entirety click here

Because of my aforementioned personality traits I must respond thusly.

As my last post dealt with the American government, I will continue to keep my focus on America’s foreign aid on government aid. In her comment Erika stated “In 2012 American emergency foreign aid budget exceeded 1.6 Billion (with a B) and that does not include regular, planned aid contributions, this was just the ‚Äúacts of God‚ÄĚ stuff.” I’d like to start here because her quote of 1.6 billion dollars (with a B) is the exact amount that America owes the United Nations. Since 1985 the U.S. Congress has refused to authorize payment of the U.S. dues, in order to force UN compliance with U.S. wishes, as well as a reduction in the U.S. assessment. The following chart shows U.S. debt to the UN from 1995 through 2005.

U.S. debt to the United Nations, from 1995 to 2005
Year Regular budget Peacekeeping Total
31 December 1995 $414 million (73%) $816 million (47%) $1.231 billion (56%)
31 December 1996 $376 million (74%) $926 million (57%) $1.303 billion (61%)
31 December 1997 $373 million (79%) $940 million (60%) $1.313 billion (64%)
31 December 1998 $316 million (76%) $976 million (61%) $1.294 billion (64%)
31 December 1999 $167 million (68%) $995 million (67%) $1.170 billion (67%)
31 December 2000 $165 million (74%) $1.144 billion (56%) $1.321 billion (58%)
31 December 2001 $165 million (69%) $691 million (38%) $871 million (41%)
31 December 2002 $190 million (62%) $536 million (40%) $738 million (44%)
31 December 2003 $268 million (61%) $482 million (45%) $762 million (48%)
31 December 2004 $241 million (68%) $722 million (28%) $975 million (33%)
30 September 2005 $607 million (82%) $607 million (28%) $1.246 billion (41%)

As of 2012 the amount owed is 1.6 billion dollars. Oh, in case you were wondering, Canada’s yearly foreign aid budget is 5.16 billion dollars (with a B) and we are paid up.

The comment also stated that, ”¬†we are the first to run to aid when famine, natural disaster or disease strikes both as individual donors and from the government.” and specifically mentioned the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan as examples of this. The country that responded first in 2004 was Australia. The country that responded first in 2010 was the Dominican Republic. The first country to respond in 2011 was, again, Australia. The United States government was generous in their commitment of not only military aid, but financial aid in those situations, they just weren’t first. It should also be noted that the U.S. spends 19 times more on defence that it does on foreign aid.

The word commitment is important here. The United States commits billions of dollars annually to foreign aid, both in emergency aid and planned aid, however,¬†from 2000 to 2011,¬†only 40% of those committed dollars reached their destination, leaving a 60% shortfall. This is not new behavior. In 1970, the world’s wealthiest nations (United States included) agreed to spend 0.7% of their GNP on Official Development Assistance (ODA¬†or Foreign Aid) with a target deadline by the mid 1970’s. To be fair, almost all of the nations who signed into this agreement failed to reach this target (United States included). So, then another agreement was signed stating that these nations agree to spend 0.56% of the GNI¬†on ODA by 2010 increasing to 0.7% by 2015. USA‚Äôs aid, in terms of percentage of their GNP has almost always been lower than any other industrialized nation in the world, though to be fair, their dollar amount, since the year 2000 was the highest.

America is constantly whining that they are the country that the whole world turns to in time of crisis for military and financial aid. They seem to forget that other countries exist and are helping out as well. In fact, here’s a chart showing the per capita dollars donated to the 2004 Indian Ocean (Boxing Day) Earthquake/Tsunami.

Country Population (July 2004 or earlier) See [72] Aid (total) (USD millions) per capita (USD) Aid by government (USD millions) per capita (USD) Aid by public (USD millions) per capita (USD)
Australia 19,913,144 1,322 66.38 1,099 55.19 223.4 11.22
Norway 4,574,560 265.1 57.95 175.3 38.32 89.8 19.63
Kuwait 2,257,549 100 44.3
Liechtenstein 32,528 1.2 36.89
Netherlands 16,318,199 509.1 31.20 300.5 18.42 208.6 12.78
Ireland 3,939,558 117.94 29.94 20 5.08 97.94 24.86
Qatar 840,290 20 23.80
Canada 32,507,874 743.68 22.88 531.2 16.34 212.48 6.54
Switzerland 7,450,867 157.9 21.19
Sweden 9,010,627 230.9 25.63 71.9 7.97 159 17.64
Finland 5,214,512 89.5 17.16
Denmark 5,413,392 87.5 16.16
United Kingdom 60,270,708 795.7 13.20 140.3 2.33 654.9 10.87
Hong Kong 6,855,125 85.89 12.529 6.41 0.935 79.48 11.594
Germany 82,424,609 992 12.04
United States 293,027,571 2,875 9.81
Iceland 293,966 2.5 8.50
United Arab Emirates 2,523,915 20 7.92
Taiwan (ROC) 22,191,087 110 4.96 50 2.25 60 2.71
Japan 127,333,002 580 4.55 500 3.93 80 0.63
Singapore 4,353,893 15 3.45
Belgium 10,348,276 24.9 2.41
Italy 58,057,477 125 2.15
Greece 10,647,529 21.6 2.03
Czech Republic 10,246,178 19 1.85
Spain 40,280,780 73.1 1.81
Saudi Arabia 25,795,938 30 1.16
Portugal 10,524,145 10.9 1.04
France 60,424,213 57 0.94
Mainland China 1,298,847,624 63 0.05
India 1,065,070,607 23 0.02

Then there was the Haiti earthquake. In this case the United States pledged the most amount in dollars, however,if you take into account that¬†Canada’s population is one tenth the size of America’s population, and you see the America’s donation is only three times what Canada gave it looks like Canada was a tad more generous here.

Country/organisation ISO country code Funding, committed and uncommitted,
Others 639,381,379
Private (individuals & organisations) 593,639,219
United States US 466,879,506
Canada CA 130,733,775
World Bank (emergency grant) 82,107,356
Japan JP 70,744,798
Saudi Arabia SA 50,000,000
Spain ES 47,664,745
European Commission 43,290,043
France FR 33,844,153
United Kingdom GB 33,070,138
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 27,976,462
Norway NO 25,298,044
Sweden SE 25,039,684
Germany DE 21,645,022
Brazil BR 16,884,782
Denmark DK 16,288,032
Australia AU 13,489,209
China CN 10,813,535
Italy IT 9,302,037
Switzerland CH 8,932,039
Finland FI 8,005,607
Russian Federation RU 5,700,000
Netherlands NL 5,050,504
India IN 5,000,000
United Arab Emirates AE 3,209,113
Ghana GH 3,000,000
Ireland IE 2,886,002
Donors not specified 2,219,169
Indonesia ID 1,700,000
Czech Republic CZ 1,154,401
Belgium BE 1,151,876
Poland PL 1,089,466
New Zealand NZ 1,000,000
Morocco MA 1,000,000
Guyana GY 1,000,000
Estonia EE 1,000,000
Inter-American Development Bank 200,000

Aid to Japan for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami was given by governments from around the world. To take a closer look at who donated and what they donated click here .

Yes the United States government does donate a LOT of money in emergency aid funding, however they are often the last country to pay up. In fact, the United Nations had to ask the United States to pay their pledges to Japan as they had not been received a year after the fact. *Note, as of this posting the U.S. government still has not made good on all of the funds it has committed to Japan to aid in this disaster.

As you can see, the United States is not the only country on the planet that helps out in times of need. In fact, during Hurricane Katrina the United States found it self on the receiving end of foreign aid. Even without being asked, the list of countries that offered and gave aid to the United States during this time of crisis is as long as my arm (and then some). As expected, allies of the U.S. gave generously. Australia gave¬†7.5 million USD, New Zealand gave $2,000,000,¬†Canada was the highest international donor nation (the province of Alberta, alone, gave $5,000,000), and with Mexico was one of the two countries in the world to supply direct military assistance in addition to civilian donations and supplies. But then help also came from some very unexpected places. Countries that couldn’t afford much offered help like Greece, who gave $85,000 and two cruise ships to help house those left homeless by the disaster, Iraq gave $1,000,000 to the Red Cross via the red Crescent, Mongolia gave $50,000 and Nigeria gave $1,000,000. To read more about which nations gave what click here

That, of course is not the only instance in which America has received international aid, there was also the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the current effort due to Hurricane Sandy.

Getting back to the original comment that sparked this post, I was accused¬†of painting the United States as being all bad and that was both unfair and inaccurate. Firstly, I am not sure how one could infer from my last post that I was painting the country as all bad, when I was only discussing the American government¬†with regard to¬†its foreign policy and not the people of the country. But in the interest of fairness, I will concede that the American people are a very generous bunch… but my point here is that you are not the only ones giving.

My issue in the last post was really about how America thinks it is put upon to protect the world from the (as George W. Bush would say) evildoers. That pervasive opinion is so widespread because that is what your government tells you is the case. That is actually not the case. Often times, when America uses its military might to butt into a situation that is none of its business (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libia, Syria), they only serve to unite two warring factions against a common enemy… the United States. Then when the dust settles, those factions get back to fighting each other and nothing has changed except the number of people doing the fighting is now lessened. America could have saved itself some cash and just stayed home. In the case of Afghanistan, the Russian government actually warned the U.S. not to get involved in what would be a military quagmire, but the American government refused to learn from history only to be doomed to repeat it. If the United States government would only learn from both the mistakes¬†(for example¬†the Russian invasion of Afghanistan)¬†and the successes (for example¬†the use of wind power in the Netherlands)¬†of other countries then perhaps they would not be in the financial mud slide under which they are now buried. And perhaps they would stop viewing the rest of the world like this.

I can tell you that the rest of the world would be grateful if you would only acknowledge that we do our part too.

American foreign policy, a foreign perspective

Canada and the United States have long had what, from the outside, can be seen as a symbiotic relationship. We used to have (until recently)¬†the world’s longest undefended border. We signed on to NAFTA even though it benefitted us far less than it did our neighbours to the south. On the world stage, America is the cartoon¬†Bulldog and Canada is the Jack Russell terrier jumping around asking, “what are we doing today, Spike?”

The USA is the one on the left.

MILITARY

America has long gotten their power through military might, which is why military spending is the sacred cow when it comes to America’s budget. Neither Republicans, nor Democrats will significantly slash funding for America’s military no matter the fiscal consequence. America’s military budget is larger than that of China, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Australia combined.¬†A strong military¬†has been too large a part of the American identity for far too long¬†but it’s the only thing keeping them in a position of any real international power, so they are doomed to keep the funding bloated. Americans are so wrapped up in this identity that they actually think that the rest of the world wants them in the position of protector. In this link, from Aljazeera, the Americans on the panel are all of the opinion that America HAS to defend the entire world, that they have been placed in that position¬†by their allies.¬†(The foreign policy conversation begins at the 24:15 mark.) It seems this opinion is a pervasive one in the U.S. However, if you ask the leaders, or even the people of countries around the world, you get a very different opinion. Most other countries see America as a corrupt and greedy bully that has taken the role of warmonger (not protector)¬†upon itself, without ever being asked to do so, because they have been able to convince themselves that they own the moral high ground. That being said, there is no denying that America’s military might has served them well since the country’s inception. Unfortunately for America, their military (among other¬†things)¬†is bankrupting them, so they seem to be between a rock and a hard place. President Obama ran (the first time) on diplomacy over war. He seemed genuinely concerned about how America was perceived on the world stage. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he has not lived up to his promise. Just ask any country who has been on the receiving end of one of his drone attacks.

MORAL HIGH GROUND

A big part of what angers other countries about America is the fact that Americans smugly go around the world claiming the moral high ground. America is, “the greatest nation in the world”. Meanwhile, America has tortured, murdered and raped its way through wars just as much, if not more than the rest of us. America should be called out on human rights violations as much as countries like China, Iran and Pakistan are,¬†if only because of¬†their¬†for profit¬†healthcare, prisons, and their drug war that only serves to keep the minorities and the poor from achieving any level of success. The hypocrisy of the moral high ground in this case¬†would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. If you look at the countries causing the most conflict in the world right now they all have one thing in common… they all¬† think that they have God on their side and that they are the good guys doing God’s work by fighting the forces of evil. In fact, this has been a huge part of America’s brand since the American Revolution. This religious ideology is dangerous because it excuses all sorts of atrocities without actually having to have any kind of well thought out reason for killing, torturing or raping innocent (and not so innocent) people in countries around the world. They are so wrapped up in thinking they are the best, that they constantly act against their own best interests. In this last election there was quite a bit of China bashing going on. Do they not know that China holds the vast majority of their debt and makes most of their products? Yes, Americans are so smug that they think it’s okay to bite the hand that (literally) feeds them. It’s not easy being America’s enemy.

DEADBEAT NATION

It’s no picnic being America’s friend either. In 2011, when the United States Congress was busy bickering about whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, quite a few Americans seemed shocked that their country was not paying its bills. This is nothing new. America hasn’t been paying their bills for years. Even when court ordered to do so, America continues to be a deadbeat nation. Take a look at the Canada USA softwood dispute for an example of this behavior. Apparently NAFTA wasn’t good enough for the USA when it came to charging whatever they wanted to¬†for¬†a Canadian product, so they decided to impose¬†a tariff on Canada’s softwood. Canada took them to international court, several times and won.¬†America still has yet to pay the agreed upon amount in its entirety. (that is a nutshell version, to get the whole story,¬†I encourage you to¬†click the link.) I could cite may more examples, but we’d be here all day. When it comes to paying back what they owe, America reminds me of Dean in the following sketch from Kids In The Hall.

I’d be very wary of signing a deal with America.

THE BLAME GAME

One thing the U.S. government is good at, is blaming other countries for things that are (at least partially)¬†America’s fault. Take, for example the Gulf Oil Spill. America was very quick to blame the entire thing on BP, so as to get out of having to pay for¬†the lion’s share of the clean up costs. Halliburton¬†was just as much, if not, more to blame, but they got off relatively¬†scott free. Even the financial crisis in¬†Greece, which was a major contributor to the Euro Zone crisis,¬†falls onto America’s shoulders, via Goldman Sachs, a bank that received a government bail out.

WAKING UP

Slowly, other countries are waking up to the fact that America’s purchasing power is a bit like the Emperor’s new clothes. Sure, they buy stuff with the zeal of a kid at Christmas, but if they defer payment, or just plain, don’t pay at all, why would you sell to them? Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper (whose actions are hit and miss in my book) has cleverly been travelling the world, making deals with burgeoning economic powerhouses like China, Japan, Brazil¬†and, most recently, India to offset Canada’s reliance on American trade. In fact, this chart, from the International Monetary Fund¬†shows that the world economic stage is yet another place where America is no longer number one¬†.

The Twenty Largest Economies By Incremental Nominal GDP From 2007 to 2012
Economy Nominal GDP (billions in USD)
(01) China

4,756.006

(02) Japan

1,628.043

(03) United States

1,624.691

(04) Brazil

1,058.832

(05) India

794.189

(06) Russia

653.852

(07) Australia

596.361

(08) Indonesia

462.684

(09) Canada

346.017

(10) Saudi Arabia

272.107

(11) Argentina

214.741

(12) Iran

176.425

(13) Switzerland

172.325

(14) Colombia

154.837

(15) Turkey

133.939

(16) Thailand

130.012

(17) Mexico

127.588

(18) Egypt

124.655

(19) Malaysia

113.564

(20) Venezuela

107.936

The twenty largest economies contributing to global nominal GDP growth (2007 – 2012)[

Many other countries are following suit, making deals with each other to offset their dependence on the weakening American economy.

I have long been saying that the only thing at which America can still rightfully claim the number one spot is branding. They are very good at perpetuating an image, just not so good at living up to that image. Unfortunately, for America, everyone but the American public can see behind the curtain.