And after all, isn’t Canada the real danger? We may not become Albania, but as Montreal-dwelling Jacob Levy has noted with some glee, the U.S. no longer ranks ahead of Canada (though it’s a statistical dead heat, really) on the annual Index of Economic Freedom. And this is not, I’m afraid, because Canada has turned into a laissez-faire capitalist utopia. We are all Canadians now. Possibly even Europeans. Michael Moore should be delighted, but at least we should no longer have to hear compare and contrast stories that treat the U.S. as a model of laissez-faire and Canada or Europe as a sharply dichotomous opposite. That’s just not the case anymore.
Ideologically, of course, the U.S. retains a laissez-faire streak in its DNA, though it is not now dominant in the expression of policy, that may yet emerge and rescue the world. Unfortunately, there too, Canada may be working its mesmeric attraction. Is it mere coincidence that multiple figures whose ideological mushiness or moderation I’ve noted in the past — and whose very mushiness or moderation seems central to their thinking — are somehow tied to Canada: Jacob Levy himself, his fellow “liberaltarian” Will Wilkinson, Charles Taylor, chief national greatness (!) conservative/big government conservative/Obamacon/cancer David Brooks, and more?
The U.S.-Canada convergence in economic freedom comes from both sides. Canada has become much better and the U.S. has become worse. More frightening still for the patriotic American free marketeer is that, according to the 2009 Heritage-WSJ index, 8th-place Denmark lags 6th-place U.S. in economic freedom by less than the U.S. lags 5th-place New Zealand, despite a crushing tax burden. Should the cradle-to-grave Danes cut taxes to anything near North American levels it would shoot up the index into Singapore’s neighborhood. Meanwhile, Tim Horton’s sees the writing on the wall and leaves Delaware for more hospitable northern climes.
And who would thought that there would come a day when Americans longed for the freedom of Ireland?
I’m trying to imagine the meaningful trait Will, Taylor, Brooks, and I all have in common, and am coming up entirely empty.
Eliciting disapproval from Seavey, a nominalist prone to projection.
Ideologically, of course, the U.S. retains a laissez-faire streak in its DNA, though it is not now dominant in the expression of policy …
And there in lies the real problem in America today … an addiction to policy. Freedom/liberty/laissez-faire can only come from the elimination of policy, because policy is the antithesis of policy.
um, “the antithesis of freedom.”
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