Canada fest

It’s true that the U.S. has in many ways a more libertarian culture
and political tradition than does Canada. But then isn’t it all the
more interesting to note that, despite America’s unique “land of the
free” self-conception, we’re no more free than Canadians? I feel
strongly that American culture is more varied, alive, weirder,
synthetic, and creative than probably any other. This is in part
because of, and not despite, the odd conservative and religious strands
in American culture.  And it is a culture especially amenable to all
sorts of entrepreneurial experiments, which gives American culture a
level of innovation and vitality (including countless varieties of
religious weirdness) that I think partly explains why it is the world’s
dominant exporter of culture. And I think the U.S.’s wealth relative to
other countries is actually underestimated. We are astoundingly rich
(recession or no recession) and this is a place of crazy opportunity.
So I think the U.S. does better in positive liberty terms than it
sometimes gets credit for.

But that doesn’t begin to mean that we live up to our reputation for
the kind of liberty classical liberals tend to care about. My sense is
that some American libertarians have a vague sense that if Canada
really was more free, then they should want to move there. But they
emphatically don’t want to move to Canada. My diagnosis is that many
libertarians prefer to live in a place where it easy to find others who
share their individualistic and libertarian values over living in a
place where they would actually be more free, but would feel more culturally alienated.

Via Megan McArdle, here's talk of safe Canadian banks and yet Canadian is still seeing the same downturn as the United States.  One can preach the virtues of Canadian banking regulation as much as one wants, but the Fischer Black-like question remains: how much real net risk exposure did Canadian industry accept vis-a-vis all external sources of risk, U.S. financial institutions included?  Lots.  A decision not to economically decouple from a large, leveraged economy is a small bit like a decision to leverage oneself, though many people do not welcome this perspective.  The bottom line is that risk mistakes have been made by just about everybody, not just the obvious culprits.

Addendum: Arnold Kling is not Canadian but Megan McArdle defends him aptly; he wasn't guilty of anything in the first place, except perhaps having exaggerated the coercive nature of taxation,


Comments for this post are closed