The Canadian Superiority Complex

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I just got back from Canada, where I gave a speech on "The Tyranny of Public Health," discussing how the War on Smoking set the stage for the War on Fat, in Montreal and Toronto. Press coverage of the speeches, which were sponsored by the Montreal Economic Institute, prompted e-mails from several critics whose nationalistic touchiness reminds me of a radio show host I encountered during a previous visit to Canada. He was perfectly polite and cordial until I noted that socialized medicine by its nature forces taxpayers to subsidize other people's risky behavior. At that point he indignantly demanded to know how I dared come to Canada and lecture Canadians about the Canadian way of life.

In a similar vein, Blake Manchur had this response to my criticism of the War on Fat:

Well here we are…an American telling Canadians what we should do with our health. Our government is just fine and our quality of life is far better than yours. I use to live in America and it was the worst 2 years of my life.

Please stick to your own country and worry about your own back yard…… please.

There is a reason why we are healthy and why guns and crime are not out of control like in the US.

You people just don't get it.

More Canadians woud like you guys if you would just mind your own business. It's the Canadian Government that helps lead Canadians to enjoy a good quality of life.

I could go on forever, but all I wish is for Americans to shut-up and just listen for a change. You might just learn something.

Matt Hunter also was to quick to enumerate the ways in which Canada is superior to the U.S.:

I am a little bit confused by your remarks! How you can make comments about our government when the white house should be named general hospital. [I'm not sure what that means either.] Our health care system is far better and we tend not to invade countries that have massive amounts of OIL.

Canada is one of the most peaceful places to live on earth. So what if our government wants to intervene with what we eat! Ever seen Super Size me? Do you realize that at McDonalds your cups are bigger; your large fries are bigger, over all you as Americans have more obese people than anywhere else in the world!

So what if our government wants to take a proactive approach to unhealthy life styles. Something your government needed to do before everyone got fat!

But the anti-American non sequitur prize goes to Douglas C. Trant, who said:

The Canadian governments try to advise folks on better life styles, but we still have the freedom to eat what we want. Much better than a government who takes folks [on] an Iraqi shoot.

As an opponent of both the Iraq war and the War on Fat, I'm not sure what one has to do with the other. But the really weird thing is that my speech was mostly about the American policy, and somehow it was interpreted as a slap at Canadians.

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  1. Shake the dust of Canada from your sandals and never enter it again.

  2. This coming from people who only achieved self-determination because the British Crown got tired of ruling their frozen tundra of a homeland.

  3. As of 7 years ago, when I worked with Canadians in Japan, there seemed to be an extraordinary sensitivity to any sort of American comparison. Very large chip on the shoulder when certain subjects came up.

  4. I love the implication that we cannot divine the size of McDonald’s drinks and fries without watching Super Size Me. “Morgan just threw up his cheeseburger! Eureka!”

  5. Many Canadians do seem to have a national inferiority complex that makes them touchy and insecure.

  6. Such generalizations must be true. Therefore, all Canadians (sorry, CanadiEns) must say “Eh” and “Aboot.”

  7. I’ve known a lot of people who’ve done things to make themselves healthier. Started working out. Changed their diet. Stopped smoking. Used condoms.

    Not a single one – not a single one – ever mentioned reducing the cost of their health care as a motivating factor.

    You know, I was going to stop smoking these bare-assed camels, but now that I know chemo is free – whoo hoo, book me a suite at Johns Hopkins, cause I’ve got some lungs to trash!

  8. I am a little bit confused by your remarks! How you can make comments about our government when the white house should be named general hospital. [I’m not sure what that means either.]

    Really, you don’t know what that means? It could mean that they (our white house) value style and PR over substance, or that our president is over produced or that our Presidents seem to act like characters on a soap opera. Any of which are valid. In fact I think its a rather good observation on Matt Hunter’s part.

    Based on these comments, I don’t see an implication of Canadian superiority complex. They seem to imply a “why don’t you get your own shit together before you come and criticize what I am doing” attitude.

  9. “Ever seen Super Size me?”

    HAH! That’s precious. Did you tell him you’re IN Super Size Me?

  10. Please stick to your own country and worry about your own back yard

    But Canada is our back yard …

  11. joe:

    I think that the incentives matter much more than you acknowledge. You can’t escape the context of the third party payor.

  12. Point of information for Jacob, and point of clarification to Chicago Tom’s comment.

    “when the white house should be named general hospital”

    “General Hospital” was (perhaps is) an American television “daytime drama”, aka soap opera, of the twentieth century.

    It speaks volumes about Matt Hunter that he would use this analogy.

  13. State medicine is practically a religion up there. The only Canadian I’ve ever met who hates it is a Newfoundlander. But then again, he wants Newfoundland independence, so he’s definitely not mainstream anything.

    – Josh

  14. Jason,

    Could you give me an example of something you do for health reasons that you would cease to do if the government, rather than your employer, was paying for your Blue Cross?

    Can anyone?

  15. Can anyone?

    I would floss more.

  16. Canada is now a country entirely defined by how they’re NOT like the United States. It’s where all their self – regard comes from these days: they’re not in Iraq, they don’t pay for their health care, etc. Nowhere in the national dialogue do you ever hear the words, “This is what Canada stands for,” primarily because they stand for nothing at all at the present time. Remember, this is a country that actually camethisclose to splitting up entirely, twice in the last 35 years.

    Paranoia runs deep up in the Frozen Tundra, along with a severe case of identity theft.

  17. State medicine is practically a religion up there.

    A number of my Canadian friends have complaints about certain aspects of the healthcare system in Canada. Wait times for certain things tends to jump out more than ever.

    Having said that none of them would trade it for the system we have here and can’t even begin to understand why Americans accept the status quo

  18. I know 4 Candian women who came down to the US just to get a job as nurses. They smoke and drink just as much as anybody else. Not to mention drunk Canadians with a bit of an accent are a hoot to be around!

    Guess the social reprogramming didn’t take and they got deported.

  19. What you don’t know, joe, is whether they would have done those healthy things sooner if all their health care costs weren’t being subsidized.

    Maybe its no coincidence that your buddies were both (a) fat barebacking smokers and (b) had third party payors picking up the tab for their medical bills.

  20. Some of us would be a lot healthier if the government took over health care. The quality of care would be so shitty that we’d cut down on risks in order to avoid suffering.

    Of course, some people would end up a lot less healthy. And we’d all be a lot poorer.

  21. joe and Jason

    The problem missed by Jacob Sullum here, but one that he has alluded to before is the incentive that socialized medicine creates for the nanny state. After all, if The State is paying your medical bills then The State should be able to protect itself by forcing you to not engage in behaviours that might cause illness. Why should I as a taxpayer have to pay for your smoking-induced lung cancer or you non-helmet-wearing-motorcycle-riding head injury? (Though very rarely do you hear anyone complain about someone’s skiing-induced shattered leg).

    To me this becomes the biggest problem.

    Could you give me an example of something you do for health reasons that you would cease to do if the government, rather than your employer, was paying for your Blue Cross?

    Actually, joe, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the current employer benefit model of “health insurance” in the US is almost as bad as a government provided model of “health insurance”, in that it creates the same perverse incentives and obscures the real costs of medical care.

  22. You must understand that there is an almost McCarthistic mentality about health care (if any mainstream public figure ever questioned government monopoly health they would be blacklisted and their career esentially over). Not only are the schools used to propogandize for socialize medicine, but imagine if CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CSPAN where all nationalized and put under the control of the White House, and that is what you have with the CBC in Canada. Add that to the great national chip Canadians have on their shoulder about the U.S., and you should know better than to ever talk about health care to Canadians. You would be better off discussing Scientology to the Taliban.

  23. Not a single one – not a single one – ever mentioned reducing the cost of their health care as a motivating factor.

    That’s because their insurance premiums are probably not going to change one bit. Maybe for stopping smoking, but that’s it.

  24. It’s always amusing when they bring up agitprop like Super Size Me.

    The poorest, most supported group in the US is the fattest. The only real lesson that you can reasonably draw from that is that when the government provides for you, it eliminates any incentive to take care of yourself.

  25. Canadian contrarianism has a brighter side for libertarians. Canada is already somewhat more tolerant of marijuana and other illegal drugs than the U.S. is. Let’s make fun of their tolerance until they counterreact by legalizing all drugs. Then American drug warriors will have to explain how our neighbors to the north legalized drugs without going to hell in a handbasket.

  26. Forget it, Jac. It’s Canadatown.

  27. Please stick to your own country and worry about your own back yard…… please.

    This sounds fair to me. Now if Canadians could just do the same…

  28. Canada is one of the most peaceful places to live on earth. So what if our government wants to intervene with what we eat!

    …what we watch on tv
    …who we marry
    …who we have sex with
    …what we read in our spare time
    …what religion we practice
    …where and when we can speak
    …who gets to raise our kids

  29. The Anti-Puritan

    Your approach could backfire. Just as our fearless drug warriors would gladly close the border to stop the flow of evil drugs there are plenty of Canadian pols who are looking for ways to stop the flow of evil guns the other way.

    Might end up changing “the longest undefended border” into “the longest highest wall in history”.

  30. I gots a joke for you:

    How did Canada get it’s name? Well, the people of the soon-to-be Canadian nation all convened together to figure out a name for their country. Since no one could agree on any of the suggested names, they decided to pull a series of letters from a hat to determine what would be the name of their country.
    So, with everyone gathered, the highest official began pulling alphabet letters from the hat. First he pulled a C.

    “C, eh?”

    Then an N:

    “N, eh?”

    And finally, a D:

    “D, eh?”

    So now you know. C-A-N-A-D-A.

    ^_^

  31. “Please stick to your own country and worry about your own back yard…… please. There is a reason why we are healthy and why guns and crime are not out of control like in the US. You people just don’t get it. More Canadians woud like you guys if you would just mind your own business.”

    Wow, Blake Manchur really digs on the doublethink. He tells us to stop telling Canadians what’s wrong with their country, while telling us all about our evil guns and crime.

    But I suppose I’d be touchy too, if the biggest cultural contributions my had made were Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Mike Myers, and You Can’t Do that On Television!

    /Big, dumb, ethnocentric ‘merican

  32. …what we watch on tv
    …who we marry
    …who we have sex with
    …what we read in our spare time
    …what religion we practice
    …where and when we can speak
    …who gets to raise our kids

    Thank goodness that in the USA, the gov’t would never try and intervene in such things.

  33. Oh, and that should read …contributions my nation had made…

    And smacky, I had a college professor tell that exact same joke once.

    He was Canadian.

  34. it’s = its

    mmmm….Tollhouse.

  35. Isn’t it about time for Matt Welch to jump in on this issue?

    http://www.mattwelch.com/archives/week_2005_04_03.html

    Oh, and I just finished a 4-month wait for a rheumatologist, only to wait 2 hours in the office before actually seeing the doctor.

    Meanwhile, we got back a statement of benefits for a test my wife had done, and the insurance we have reduced our ‘negotiated payment’ for the test from something like $330 to around $50. Meaning that those without insurance get to pay $330, of course.

    THANK GOD WE DON’T HAVE SOCIALIZED MEDICINE IN THIS COUNTRY!

  36. But I suppose I’d be touchy too, if the biggest cultural contributions my had made were Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Mike Myers, and You Can’t Do that On Television!

    mediageek, you forgot Anne Murray and Alanis Morisette

  37. if the biggest cultural contributions my had made were Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Mike Myers, and You Can’t Do that On Television!

    Yeah, but Kids in the Hall and Rush make up for all of those other things.

  38. Yeah, but Kids in the Hall and Rush make up for all of those other things. *

    *Addendum: There is no excuse for Celine Dion.

  39. Technically, Alanis is covered under You Can’t Do that On Television!

  40. Their nation was originally named Can of Duh. This name was shortened to Canada.

  41. Meaning that those without insurance get to pay $330, of course.

    That’s one thing I can’t figure out about privatizing health-care to the point where everyone has HSAs and is responsible for paying for basic care out of pocket. Individuals are infrequently in a position to shop around and negotiate on price when a critical health care situation arises. I’m all for individually directed health-care, but this is one nut I haven’t been able to crack.

  42. Meaning that those without insurance get to pay $330, of course.

    Hence my reference to the problems inherent in the model of “health insurance” in this country.

    There is reason to suspect that absent price controls and rationing third payor coverage results in much higher prices.

    You might possibly, without “insurance”, been able to pay for this $50 test out-of-pocket and only have insurance for catastrophic events. You probably would come out ahead under such a scheme.

  43. Canada is a beutiful country filled with nice, mediocre people.

    It really is sad how they put their stop lights sideways, and the deer on their Deer Xing signs are a little funny looking.

  44. This coming from people who only achieved self-determination because the British Crown got tired of ruling their frozen tundra of a homeland.

    More to the point, these are the descendants of folks who thought the idea of throwing off the yoke of tyranny was…just…not…very…civilized…

  45. The Canadian superiority complex has been around for quite awhile. I heard this joke in the 60s:

    “Thangsgiving is the day Americans thank God they’re Americans and Canadians thank God they’re not.”

    They’re still doing it apparently.

  46. ChicagoTom, I am a Canadian and I much prefer the U.S. healthcare system to the Canadian one. In fact, you will find that there is a large cross-section of the Canadian population who would love to see our system move towards the U.S. private healthcare system.

    I moved my family to the U.S. a few months ago, primarily as a result of a transfer within my company. However, I had been seeking a move to the U.S. for the past four years (really, longer than that, but not quite as actively.) We have already applied for our status to be changed to permanent, and we plan on applying for U.S. citizenship as soon as we are eligible.

    Canada bites. For whatever reason, Canadians (not CanadiEns – that’s the name of Montreal’s hockey team, I think it’s the french spelling) have become a country of whiners who want the government to hold their hands from cradle to grave and can only define themselves as “better than Americans.” As others on this site have done, I put this down to a profound inferiority complex. It’s unfortunate because the country has such great potential. I suspect that this all flows from a lack of real identity as a country, which probably comes from the fact that it just evolved from a British colony to an independant country (don’t let the commonwealth crap fool you, Canada is no more beholden to the Queen than the U.S. is.) Canada has never had to define what it is and fight for that. The result is a bunch of whiney babies.

    Anyway, as I said before, many Canadians support a U.S. style health system, especially in Alberta, and there is already movement towards that. Also, and I know this is a touchy subject on this board, many Canadians, like myself, are whole-hearted supporters of the Bush doctrine and the war in Iraq (my only regret is that it didn’t happen a long time ago, and the U.S. hasn’t yet kicked North Korea, Iraq, and Syria’s collective butts – maybe soon though.)

  47. joe,
    I know about a dozen or so people who in the past couple of years began paying for their own health care. Every single one of them started working out more, and eating less, and every single one of them said cost of health care was the primary motivating factor in changing their lifestyle. Funny how actually having to shell out cash can be more inspiring than sitting on the couch thinking about it.

  48. Meanwhile, we got back a statement of benefits for a test my wife had done, and the insurance we have reduced our ‘negotiated payment’ for the test from something like $330 to around $50. Meaning that those without insurance get to pay $330, of course.

    How much does it cost the party doing the test to administer it? $50, or $330? Or something in between? Was the value of the test to you, in terms of what it provided in medical value or benefit, $50, or $330, or something in between?

  49. I use to live in America and it was the worst 2 years of my life.

    That’s some fine evidence there.

    Well, I lived next to Canada for 18 years and I can tell you that every Canadian officially sucked.

    And while HMOs may be a little piece of socialized medicine heaven right here on earth, most employers offer the (relatively) speedier and kinder option of a PPO. Hell, some (like Whole Foods) even give employees the options of HSA accounts sans premiums. I bet if someone looked into that, they’d find that when it’s your own money and you’re in the position of watching in dwindle, you’d start asking about the price when you went to the doctor’s office.

    Not that anyone in a doctor’s office can tell you, since third party insurance has assured that even the medical office secretaries at the establishment you prefer to frequent don’t know what they’re charging.

  50. “How much does it cost the party doing the test to administer it? $50, or $330? Or something in between? Was the value of the test to you, in terms of what it provided in medical value or benefit, $50, or $330, or something in between?”

    I have no freakin’ idea whether the test is worth $50, $330, or $800. Which might be part of the problem I have with believing that a more market-oriented approach could possibly work.

  51. Shannon,

    My new plan is a high-deductible HSA WonderFunHealthAccount, and it sucks just as bad as the PPOs I had before, which actually sucked a little LESS than the HMOs I had before that. Despite advertisements to the contrary, I had BETTER luck getting the HMO to refer me to a good rheumatologist when I had the initial flare of my spondylitis than I did getting into a rheumatologist at ALL with a later PPO.

    I have to wonder what world some of you live in. Everybody at my last company hates their health insurance, everybody at my current company hates their HSA plan; everybody at company N-2 hated the HMO. The only good one I ever had was a PPO funded by a California company which had a Texas office – during the internet boom, crappy benefits were making it difficult to hire people, so they (temporarily) made them less crappy.

  52. “I know about a dozen or so people who in the past couple of years began paying for their own health care. Every single one of them started working out more, and eating less, and every single one of them said cost of health care was the primary motivating factor in changing their lifestyle. Funny how actually having to shell out cash can be more inspiring than sitting on the couch thinking about it.”

    I haven’t seen this to be true, and I’ve been working at a high-deductible HSA-plan company now for several months.

  53. Tom said :
    I moved my family to the U.S. a few months ago, primarily as a result of a transfer within my company

    I am going to assume by this statment that your company also provides health insurance as a benefit of employment? How much would you like the system if you had to shell out for your own private insurance or if you were a blue collar guy who couldn’t afford insurance for you and your family?

    Canada bites. For whatever reason, Canadians …ave become a country of whiners who want the government to hold their hands from cradle to grave and can only define themselves as “better than Americans.

    That may be your belief, but my experiences (granted my friends and acquaintances are mostly people from Ontario and Quebec and Nova Scotia) have not left me with the same impression. In fact very few of them have been “whiners” nor have taken an attitude of wanting government hand holding (maybe you can cite some specific examples of the kinds of hand holding beind demanded). As for the inferiority complex, I will admit that some of them, when dealing with Americans did come off as having something to prove, but after talking with them I realized it’s more a reaction to the Americans they have encountered than a lack of a national identity/pride. They are stunned that a large Americans can’t even name the leaders of countries that border the USA, or what the capitol of Canada is. They also have had to deal with American’s who think that “typical” Canadians are exactly like what we see on SCTV.

    Anyway, as I said before, many Canadians support a U.S. style health system, especially in Alberta, and there is already movement towards that. Also, and I know this is a touchy subject on this board, many Canadians, like myself, are whole-hearted supporters of the Bush doctrine and the war in Iraq (my only regret is that it didn’t happen a long time ago, and the U.S. hasn’t yet kicked North Korea, Iraq, and Syria’s collective butts – maybe soon though.)

    Can I assume that you will soon be enlisting to go fight for and help implement the doctrine you believe in? Last I checked, some of the Armed services were failing in meeting their recruiting goals, and there are still wars you believe in going on.

  54. I have no freakin’ idea whether the test is worth $50, $330, or $800. Which might be part of the problem I have with believing that a more market-oriented approach could possibly work.

    Maybe one regulation I’d support is to make it mandatory for health practitioners to publish their fee schedule. With a large font. On the front door. The practice of being hush-hush about the cost of services is ludicrous.

  55. A Canadian friend once explained to me why they get so damn defensive–even to their detriment.

    Imagine you play tennis in your local association. You’re a fantastic player. In fact, you’re one of the best amateurs in the world…loads of trophies on your mantle. You have every right to brag about how great you are. There’s one problem: your big brother is Pete Sampras.

    Canadians get touchy because everything they are and everything they do will always be compared to the US. No matter how much better Canada may be than most of the rest of the world in any given measure, they look small and insignificant next to their big brother…and the link is inescapable.

  56. I have to wonder what world some of you live in.

    This one, where I have a high deductible HSA that is, by far, the most flexible and sensible health care I’ve ever enjoyed–and my parents worked for the public school system when I was a kid. And someone can correct me on this if I’m wrong, but Whole Foods’ employees have to vote each year to implement a health plan. Last year, something like 80 percent of them voted to keep their HSAs. Sounds like I’m not the only one impressed.

    But as you pointed out (albeit inadvertently), having an HSA as opposed to a third party provider does require becoming educated about your options and their relative costs. And in a mixed market system like this one, competition is still limping along. I suspect that no one will understand how great competition is until we actually have it. Which, alas, gives me little hope for HSAs.

  57. Mike (Singing):
    Oh, I wish I was stuck in the hills of Alberta,
    Drinking beer with some big dumb guy trapping fur!
    As he scraped and chiseled all the moose dung off his boots,
    I would learn that he’s the Prime Minister!

    Crow (singing):
    Oh, I wish I was in the land gave us Peter Jennings,
    Alanis Morissette, Mike Myers, too!
    No, I take that back, I wouldn’t go there even if you paid me,
    Oh, Canada, you are a place I must eschew!

    Tom (singing):
    Oh, I wish I was blowing up Prince Edward Island,
    And going on to bomb Ontario!
    The destruction of Canada and all of its culture,
    Is by far my fav-o-rite scenario!

    Just where the hell does Canada get off sharing a border
    With countries far superior to it?
    Why, you lousy, stinking, francophonic, bacon-loving bastards,
    Your country’s just a giant piece of sh…

    Mike (spoken): I think that’s enough. Mustn’t hate! Mustn’t hate!
    Crow: At least so overtly.
    Mike: Exactly, right. Must disguise our hate, just a little.

  58. “This one, where I have a high deductible HSA”

    Just like the one I have. Which, so far, has been absolutely no different than the previous HMOs and PPOs, except that there’s an additional required level of interaction between my HSA account and the medical providers.

    “Having an HSA as opposed to a third party provider does require becoming educated about your options and their relative costs”

    The chance that enough people have enough capability to make these kinds of decisions adequately to make any real difference seems to me to be very small. Often times bad practice in the medical field doesn’t show up immediately enough or obviously enough to even figure out what went wrong. And there’s little chance today that I can POSSIBLY determine a reasonable value for that $50 or $330 test. I’m an educated engineer to boot – if I can’t do it, Granny sure as hell never will.

  59. Could you give me an example of something you do for health reasons that you would cease to do if the government, rather than your employer, was paying for your Blue Cross?

    I’d quit working at a sucky job because it has health benefits.

  60. “Maybe one regulation I’d support is to make it mandatory for health practitioners to publish their fee schedule. With a large font. On the front door. The practice of being hush-hush about the cost of services is ludicrous.”

    How does this help? How do I know that Doctor A who charges $50 for the same test that Doctor B charges $330 for isn’t just doing a much much much shittier job of it? I’m not qualified to evaluate the test, and I doubt you are either.

    In Libertopia, we’d have some kind of Consumer Reports scheme, I suppose, but I doubt very much whether medical science will be anywhere near that cut-and-dry in our lifetimes in the RealWorld.

  61. Larry A,

    You made me snort my Diet Coke. I think I need a $330 test for nasal damage.

  62. Just like the one I have. Which, so far, has been absolutely no different than the previous HMOs and PPOs, except that there’s an additional required level of interaction between my HSA account and the medical providers.

    Well, I’m sorry to hear that, but you should be aware that this isn’t everyone’s experience. And if you’re coming from a libertarian perspective, and HSA makes good economic sense. This sort of semi free-market approach has strong economic arguments in favor it, in other words. So unless you have more than your experience–compared to the positive experiences of others–this doesn’t seem like a very good argument at all.

    The chance that enough people have enough capability to make these kinds of decisions adequately to make any real difference seems to me to be very small.

    You’ll forgive me, but this is probably the most paternalistic thing I’ve heard all…day (I do live in the United States under George W. Bush, after all). Cars are complicated pieces of machinery where “bad practice” in their engineering doesn’t always show up immediately, yet we trust people to choose which cars to buy. Maybe Granny can choose her own car but not what to do with her own medical funds because no one’s ever given her a reason to become informed about health care.

    I’m just a lil’ ol’ humanities graduate type of person with no medical training and I’ve managed to pick out excellent doctors and get myself on a weight lifting regimen since I got an HSA. I’ve found the thought of paying for insulin and expensive diabetes surgeries an excellent motivation to lose weight and exercise. Surely, “All the evidence points to the fact that excessive weight accompanied by no physical activity leads to (expensive) diabetes” isn’t too hard for even the moderately intelligent to understand.

  63. joe,

    If i lived in Canada i would absolutely change my lifestyle to avoid having to deal with any major medical event given the fact that Canada rations them, hence the inhumane waiting periods and the high intangible costs they represent. Just b/c I don’t shell out cash doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost.

  64. KOO-LOO-KOO-KOO-KOO-KOO-KOO-KOO
    KOO-LOO-KOO-KOO-KOO-KOO-KOO-KOO

    oh geez, like, way to go. beauty, eh? no question.

  65. ChicagoTom, in answer to your questions:

    1) Yes my company pays for health insurance and, yes, I would still prefer the U.S. health system if I had to pay my own way (actually, I do pay my own way, since, if my company didn’t pay for the health insurance, I would expect to receive a increase in pay comparable to the cost of health insurance.)

    2) Don’t believe the B.S. about how they’re only reacting to the ignorance of Americans. I have lived the same lives as them for 43 years (I grew up on southern Ontario and spent the past 17 years in western Canada – I know of what I speak), I have relative who are Americans, friends who are Americans, and co-workers who are Americans. They are no less polite, nor ignorant than any Canadian I know.

    3) Yes, I would fight for the Bush doctrine, however, at 43, I’m not a likely candidate for action. I have three sons, maybe one day they will be called to action – hopefully, they will show the courage and commitment to liberty to answer that call.

  66. ChicagoTom
    “They are stunned that a large Americans can’t even name the leaders of countries that border the USA, or what the capitol of Canada is.”

    Probably because Canada is simply too unimportant for most Americans, while the reverse is (apparently ) not true.

  67. I think one of the things Canadians have the hardest time grasping about the States is the size of our population and economy. They have no frame of reference. They can get by with the Canadian system because there’s just not that many people in Canada. I think we have more federal employees than they have citizens. But, one of the major problems they have is that they are running out of people to support the system. As their population ages they have more people using the system than paying into it. There is also a lack of capital investment in the facilities they have. Their hospitals were the envy of the world in the 80’s but as medical technology has advanced they haven’t kept up because they don’t have the resources to do so. I’m not talking about breakthroughs. Canadians are fantastic at research. Unfortunately most of their breakthroughs benefit the States because our hospitals can afford to implement them.

  68. >Actually, joe, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the current employer benefit model of “health insurance” in the US is almost as bad as a government provided model of “health insurance”, in that it creates the same perverse incentives and obscures the real costs of medical care.

    Yep. I have acid reflux, which is associated with esophageal cancer and which, in the short term, is associated with me feeling really shitty when I don’t watch my diet. Mostly though, I push my dietary limits as far as they can possibly go and only occasionally pay for it with extreme physical distress. This is because of proton pump inhibitors — powerful inhibitors of digestive acid production which are also very expensive. If I had to pay anything close to the real cost of my medication, you better believe I’d watch my diet because I could never afford the drug on my own. But, it costs me only $20 a month out of pre-tax income. So I continue drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day, and alcohol, and even occasionally indulge in Pakistani food. My personal cost/benefit analysis says it’s worth it.

  69. I recently had first hand experience with the Canadian system. My father broke his ankle while we were on a canoe trip in western Ontario. The irony was that he is a doc and he had been ragging on the Canadian system to our driver on the 8-hour drive from Thunder Bay to Pickle Lake. Karma?s a bitch like that. The verdict – their system is not as bad as we think or as good as they think. The doc that saw my dad said he averages about 4 patients an hour because everyone comes to the emergency room for the slightest thing. Why not? It don’t cost nothing. We saw patients on gurneys in the hallways waiting for rooms, but it was Friday night in a mining town. On the plus side, everyone was very nice, the place was clean and they didn’t charge Pops for his crutches.

  70. Well, I lived next to Canada for 18 years and I can tell you that every Canadian officially sucked.

    Hm. I lived next door to Canada for 27 years, and the people seemed OK to me. Even dated one for awhile. And the cities were cleaner, and with less crime, than I was used to. And, most importantly (for awhile), the drinking age was 19.

  71. “Canada: Our big retarded cousin in the attic.”

    OK, I wouldn’t go so far as to agree with the wag who said that — but, geez. Nice people, but geez. They’re so … so European.

    Actually, as tempting as it is to smear all Candadians, I must say that Alberta seems to be a relative hotbed of sensible, pro-liberty thinking.

    I once talked to a woman from Toronto who disgustedly disparaged Albertans as “cowboys.” She didn’t seem to undertand that in the USA, “cowboy” is often a compliment.

    And there’s a pretty cool libertarian anarcho-capitalist who’s not only Canadian, but a French-speaking Quebecoisian to boot! (Or, to bout?) Check out the English-language articles at http://www.pierrelemieux.org/ some time.

  72. Other observations from a frequent visitor to the Great White North:

    Their rivalry with us reminds me of every team but Boston?s rivalry with the Yankees. Real big deal to them. Not too big a deal to the Yankees.

    A conservative Canadian would still be a liberal Democrat here.

    Despite putting scary pictures on packs of cigarettes of nasty lungs and rotted teeth the whole nation smokes like crazy.

    The all look like they bought their clothes at Sears and got dressed in the dark. Even the Yuppies.

    They do genuinely care about their fellow citizens – to an annoying extent.

    Their food sucks. Except for their doughnuts.

    Their service industry people are nicer and more helpful. I chalk this up to the fact that since there is no real incentive to be ultra successful you get more educated people saying fuck it and working at the airport. Why not? Everything is subsidized.

    They are generally very well traveled because their system allows them to take time off without worrying about making ends meet.

    They give you your Loony back when you get a cart at the airport. Suckers.

    Punting on third down is gay.

  73. I’m not going to debate the “risky behavior” premise anymore, because I don’t want to derail what has become an amusing Canada-bashing thread.

  74. Shannon,

    You’ll find that liberals like joe and M1EK basically think that most people have to be spoonfed through life and are in general world class rubes.

  75. The kind of feedback Jacob Sullum received from Canadians very nicely covers at least a few of the reasons why I don’t live there anymore, no matter how much I like the wilderness of western Canada.

  76. joe,

    I’m not going to debate the “risky behavior” premise anymore…

    Because you can’t. Brave Sir joe, bravely ran away.

  77. M1EK –
    How does this help? How do I know that Doctor A who charges $50 for the same test that Doctor B charges $330 for isn’t just doing a much much much shittier job of it? I’m not qualified to evaluate the test, and I doubt you are either.

    You’re also not likely to be able to evaluate many other things you have to evaluate such as different lawyers with different billing amounts. But this doesn’t mean the government, or someone else, should evaluate these things for you. Freedom comes with responsibility.

    BTW – The same can probably be said of insurance companies which are unlikely to be able to evaluate the test effectively at the doctor’s office either; as they probably have never been inside the doctor’s office, nor has any of the administrators ever run the test. They’re accounts, and IT people, and administrators, and lawyers, and very very very few doctors.

  78. yeah – the western half of canada is pretty cool. bummer that vancouver is hosting the olympics. i guess they want to fuck up the western half, too.

    my friend Joe is married to a canadian. and she’s big time libertarian. that’s a cool couple. (and just like Gaius, they just had a baby, too!!!!!!)

    for a wonderful place to visit,

    http://www.wickinn.com/

    for all the hmo stories from the us, i have my share of horror stories from living in denmark where they actually believe they have the best healthcare in the world.

    (snicker)

  79. Well isn’t it the Americans with all the answers.
    Try these..most Americans don’t know Geopgraphy or History (World or American either one) and seem to revile in their ignorance.
    Fat, smokers, esp the young ones who being bombarded with data not to smoke for 30-40 years, still are dumb enough to get in my Insurance pool and screw up my BC-BS rates.
    We crow about being the “Dominator” on World Policy..so was Rome, so was Germany. They fell.
    It’s the usual American crap, I’m fat, ugly, dress funny and wrongly opinionated but let’s pick on the other kid over there.
    If you’re so dominate American take on China w/o nukes and watch your ass get whipped straight away. Hell, a few Islamic rugheads are already kicking your butts to the tune of almost 2000 dead in a War you won 2 years ago.
    Most of the World tolerates but no longer loves us because we act like they owe us something from WWII…..behave well, remember there are 2 sides to any issue, the other side you will never understand unless you engage your opponent, and stop acting like the World Resource consuming pigs we’ve become. God gave man brains but a lot of Americans seem to substitute their IPod’s for them.
    Jobs get shuffles from Illinois, to Mississppi then to India or China screwing American workers left jobless behind yet you love the Nike’s the GE’s and all those others. It’s like inviting a Rapist to your own Rape…..
    You life should include more than just the 5 people who agree with you.

  80. Canadian “superiority” is based on ignorance. Case in point, human rights. Canadians assume that they are superior to Americans because Canada has acceded to international human rights instruments while the United States has not.
    What these ignorant Canadians don’t know is that Canada does not live up to its international human rights commitments. Discrimination based on race, ethnic group, national origin, sex, and religion is rampant in Canada -and prohibited under the human rights instruments that Canada has agreed to uphold. Next time the hot air of Canadian superiority heads south, just tell Canadians to live up to their laws before they start criticizing others.

  81. Last sentence should read – They’re accountants, and…

  82. M1EK,

    Then get qualified. BTW, I’ll note that people as a rule are far more able to educate themselves than paternalistic liberals ever realize. Of course the same can be said about paternalistic conservatives as well.

    SixSigma,

    Well, unfortunately we live in the wake of “progressive” and liberal “reforms” regarding the professionalization of a whole host of types of employment. Of course they really weren’t reforms so much as they were rent-seeking endeavours, ways to inhibit folks from undesireable backgrounds from entering professions (e.g., due to race, ethnic background, etc.), etc. The genesis of the ABA, bar exams, etc. all came out of attempts to keep Jews, blacks, etc. out of the legal profession.

  83. Smarterthanyou,

    …most Americans don’t know Geopgraphy or History (World or American either one) and seem to revile in their ignorance.

    That seems true of Canadians as well (indeed, most people world wide). Then again, due to my graduate school education in history, I might have a bias.

  84. Hak-

    you forget the second half of the sentence stating that you’re probably unable to interpret the test, either. with lots of zealots if they don’t know, you couldn’t know, either. and then they keen and wail and gnash their teeth.

  85. As to Canadians, my wife and I found the country and its people to be generally quite pleasant on our stay there during our honeymon (on Manitoulin Island).

  86. cool. do you have a link to where you two stayed on manitoulin?

    amicalment et bonjour a madame.

  87. How does this help? How do I know that Doctor A who charges $50 for the same test that Doctor B charges $330 for isn’t just doing a much much much shittier job of it? I’m not qualified to evaluate the test, and I doubt you are either.

    You don’t have to be an expert car mechanic to determine where to bring your car for repairs. You rely on reputation, word of mouth and past experience.

    Of course, the same analogy can be extended to getting run over the coals when your car breaks down 100 miles from home. It helps in those situations to be a member of an organization (AAA for cars, a PPO for health) that has a network of associates.

    What if they make an egregious error? That is what tort law is truly for. And yes, medical errors may result in death, which is much worse than having your car break down again. But the system we have now is not doing a stellar job of preventing medical errors, is it? Market competition doesn’t breed perfection, but it comes closer than state run services.

    A combination of open competition with a reformed tort system (the jury system sucks) would do wonders for health care in this country. Widespread adoption of HSAs are what I believe to be the key. The biggest obstacle is the tax deductions that businesses receive for providing health care benefits. Eliminate these (with the exception of HSAs) and Canada would be begging to become part of the US.

  88. “But I suppose I’d be touchy too, if the biggest cultural contributions my had made were Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Mike Myers, and You Can’t Do that On Television!”

    “mediageek, you forgot Anne Murray and Alanis Morisette”

    And Dan Ackroyd and Dave Foley (though some would argue that technically he’s included in Kids in the Hall). And can I mention Bill Shatner?

    OK, we’ll just leave it at Dan Ackroyd and Dave Foley.

  89. “How much does it cost the party doing the test to administer it? $50, or $330? Or something in between? Was the value of the test to you, in terms of what it provided in medical value or benefit, $50, or $330, or something in between?”

    I would guess that the marginal cost is probably fairly low, maybe even less than $50. But at the same time there are a shit load of fixed costs to every medical test. Those big machines that go “ping” cost a lot of money, you know. So those who have bargaining power (i.e., those covered by insurance companies) are better able to bargain price down to marginal cost. That means that the health provider must recover his fixed costs somewhere else, and he’ll recover it, as far as possible, from those with less bargaining power (i.e., those uninsured who aren’t actually indigent).

  90. Neil Young is from Canada (he lives in CA now). Probably the greatest musical artist with the exception of Bob Dylan who was almost from Canada (Hibbing, MN).

  91. drf,

    Here is the island’s webpage: http://www.manitoulin-island.com/

    I don’t know if the B&B we stayed at is a going operation still (I’d have to ask my wife what the name of it was), but there are a number of quality B&Bs on the island.

    I recommend this restaurant: http://www.manitoulin-island.com/gardensgate/index.html Great local beer and I loved their blueberry pie.

    You could spend a month on the island and still not exhaust your oppurtunities for fun. We did a lot of hiking there and swam in the very cold lake water between hops into the Native American style steam lodge they had at the B&B.

  92. No matter how much better Canada may be than most of the rest of the world in any given measure, they look small and insignificant next to their big brother…and the link is inescapable.

    Hey, it’s not like Los Yanquis never gave them a chance to join the show. The offer was made twice, in fact, and each time the Canucks turned it down with extreme prejudice. Their loss.

  93. Socialized medicine, like death, is just Nature’s way of telling you to, “Move on.”
    In fact, make it snappy.

  94. Hakluyt –

    Agreed.

    People seem to want Parents, whether the government plays the roll or not, seems of little concern, as long as someone else is doing the job.

  95. God gave man brains but a lot of Americans seem to substitute their IPod’s for them.

    Cool – I think this is the first time I’ve seen iPods get referenced in a piece of knee-jerk, anti-American spiel. Usually the mindless consumerist jibes involve predictable fare such as SUVs, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, etc.

  96. I’m just hoping Vancouver becomes the new Amsterdam so I don’t have to fly so far to enjoy some legal chronic.

  97. merci Hak!

    merci bien.

  98. The western half of canada is pretty cool.

    I understand there’s a strong libertarian faction in British Columbia.

  99. Smarterthanyou,

    Were you writing like that on purpose or are you retarded? If English is your second language I apologize for my typically insensitive American question.

    Seamus,

    Don’t forget Pam Anderson. She’s Canadian, but it took American science to make her what she is today. A better example is Evangeline Lilly. That is a 100% natural Canadian beauty. Now if we could just give her some gigantic fake American breasts. 🙂

    Come to think of it. If Canada is so great how come all of the attractive and talented Canadians live here?

  100. I might be impressed, Smarterthanyou, if you could spell or put together a coherent sentence.

  101. If you ever want to make a Canadian stutter during their how great it is to live in Canada speech ask them how great it is to be an Indian living in Canada. Not that our native population is any better off, but it really throws a monkey wrench into their whole we take care of everyone while Americans are mean, cruel and racists spiel. What’s really funny is that many of them don’t see themselves as racists.

    This is a paraphrased conversation I had with a canoe outfitter in Black Lake Saskatchewan:

    Outfitter: Damn Indians are lousy boatman. They’re drunk all the time. They don’t work. All they do is drink and have babies and collect their checks from the government. They’re useless.

    Me: You don’t say.

    Outfitter: So where are you from in the States.

    Me: Texas

    Outfitter: Down Sous eh?

    Me: Yep

    Outfitter: (with a straight face) Lot of racism down there eh?

  102. Hey Doug, how about another slice of milktoast? Extra heavy on the on the non-fat simulated dairy cream not-quite cheese spread. Oh and a beer, Eh?

  103. Their food sucks. Except for their doughnuts.

    Besides poutine, how are Canadian food and doughnuts different from American? Does milk still come in bags there?

  104. Jacob!

    Quit insulting the Canadians by printing what they said!

  105. Smarterthanyou,
    Mr Chompsky, is that you?

  106. OK, got one tiny indication from the x-post above (gee, I’m slow on the Post button).

  107. poco,

    Poutine is not bad. You just need to get your government covered Lipitor prescription filled after you eat it.

    The food sucks because they butter everything. Twice. Then cover it in mayo. Frankly I’m amazed they even talk shit about our obesity epidemic.

    But of course I generalize. I have had some wonderful meals in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. But, if you pull of at a roadside diner in Ontario you better be packing a ton of TUMS and wet naps.

  108. drf,

    When we were in Canada we were asked by some of the folks staying at the B&B (since we told them that we are from Alabama) whether any of our relatives had owned slaves and what it was like to have a black servant. I knew right then and there that the whole conceited notion that Canadians are more knowledgeable than Americans about things outside their home country was false.

  109. Smarterthanyou: …and seem to revile in their ignorance.

    I guess I revile in ignorance and revel in irony… and not just the irony of that sentence and the name, but the rest of the comment as well.

    Let me see if I got the general theme right: We Americans shouldn’t act so arrogant and attempt to dominate the world’s resources. Such poor behavior is unbecoming. We should “engage” with the rest of the world and attempt to understand them – just don’t hire them.

    I guess when we’re talking about jobs (which, after all, are rightfully ours, aren’t they?) it’s ok to feel a little nationalistic arrogance. Lovely.

  110. joe,

    I think you’re ignoring the margins. The fact of actually having to pay for the consequences of your actions yourself can be the final push needed to discourage people from making unwise decisions — especially if they know they *couldn’t* pay for the consequences.

    For example, if you were living paycheck to paycheck and had allowed your car insurance to lapse, wouldn’t you be extra-certain to drive carefully? It’s not that having insurance makes you go “woo hoo! I think I’ll play chicken with that Mack truck!” — it’s that NOT having insurance makes you more aware, and thus more cautious.

    On the health-care side, things you would be more likely to avoid doing if you couldn’t afford health care would included unprotected sex, speeding, hanging out with friends who are currently suffering from the flu, smoking, and getting in fights. Not that you’d get into a fistfight just because you have Blue Cross — but the realization “hey, I literally cannot afford to get my ass kicked” surely discourages some people who would otherwise get physical from doing so.

    People expressed the same skepticism about cause-and-effect when aid for families with dependent children first came along. Economists observed that paying people for having kids out of wedlock would encourage people to have kids out of wedlock. Skeptics scoffed at the idea that anyone would do this. But it is a fact that people did — not necessarily deliberately, but the reduced cost of irresponsibility pushed marginal people into engaging in risky activity or unstable relationships that then resulted in more children being raised by single parents. Once the benefits started getting cut, the out-of-wedlock births started dropping again.

  111. In all fairness to my country’s reputation, keep in mind that the typical audience for the CBC, whose website Sullum’s article appeared on, is substantially left-wing, somewhat anti-American and both rapidly aging and declining.

    Ironically, the network is currently embroiled in a labour dispute and most of its employees are locked-out, leading hefty bloviator Michal Moore to protest the airing of Fahrenheit 9/11.

  112. Also, related to the other thread on the lack of original Candian content on TV:
    Until recently, most new TV programs were developed for the CBC, and aimed at that somewhat high-brow demographic. That would explain why many attempts at creating a Canadian sitcom ended in failure (BTW, Corner Gas was created by its private rival CTV). Interestingly enough, the CBC’s highest rated programs are the decidedly lowbrow Hockey Night in Canada, The Red Green Show, and This Hour has 22 Minutes (sort of like a cross between SNL and the Daily Show). DaVinci’s Inquest being a notable exception.

  113. Well, Canada is just a slightly more northern and much larger version of Cleveland, so the touchiness is understandable and quite entertaining. Just goes to show us that America has not cornered the idiocy and illiteracy markets.

  114. “And yes, medical errors may result in death, which is much worse than having your car break down again. But the system we have now is not doing a stellar job of preventing medical errors, is it? Market competition doesn’t breed perfection, but it comes closer than state run services.”

    You ignore the fact that medical science is a million times messier than auto repair – and I find it hysterical that you’re proposing INCREASED use of the courts to solve this problem, when your ideological compatriots keep bitching about malpractice suits as if they were the devil.

    And again, quit talking about HSAs as if they’re new to me. I HAVE AN HSA PLAN RIGHT NOW. IT STILL SUCKS. ALL IT MEANS IS THAT I NEGOTIATED A HIGHER SALARY TO MAKE UP FOR THE BIG DEDUCTIBLE, AND STILL OPERATE AS I DID BEFORE, SINCE NONE OF MY FAMILY’S MEDICAL EXPENSES WERE DISCRETIONARY.

  115. Oy!
    FYI. Canadian. Almost 40…*sigh*…Had a brush with what was almost cancer. Live in a First Nation’s community (da Rez for those who don’t know)…wife and kids are FN…I’m whiter than a fish belly.
    Yeah. We Canadians have some real issues when it comes to our brothers & sisters to the south. One of the more annoying examples was Rick Mercer (“comedian”) who would do a segment called “Talking to Americans” on our version of the SNL/Daily Show “This Hour Has 22 Minutes.” It was funny the first few times hearing Mercer ask questions of Americans that centered around Canadiana. Think Leno’s questions of people in the street. Hell, I think Mercer even caught W pre-presidency by referring to our then Prime Minister Chretien as PM “Poutine” and W responded at face value to what he’d said. Funny. YES! But ultimately it became an exercise in smugness. Sort of a “Jebus, look how stupid those Americans are.”
    We have serious issues in our country. Racism is far more prevalent that Canadians like to think. I hear it all the time. Comments about blacks, natives, east indians. It pisses me off more than a little. The gun problem in Toronto getting blamed on US guns coming across the border when it’s far more apparent that it’s a justice system with no balls regarding serious crime, like, I don’t know, KILLING people. As for our medical system I had a run through last year when it was thought I might have lymphoma. Thank God it wasn’t but it still took a couple of months from possible diagnosis to surgery (biopsy) to actual diagnosis. A stressful time for the family. If you are a politician who even intimates a possible “sharing” of medical services between public and private (hell, the French do it!!!) you might as well have told people that you like fucking little kids. You WILL be considered THE Anti-Christ. Ironically our Prime Minister’s doctor runs a private clinic of sorts. Fortunately in Quebec it’s been determined that the extended waits for treatment under the current system are a violation of the Charter of Rights, I believe. Anyway, we Canadians have a rather large pickle up our asses when it comes to our relations to the US. I’d like to see it change but I don’t know if it will. *sigh*

    T@A

  116. M1EK,

    At least I offer a plan. I’m all ears waiting for yours.

    Malpractice suits are an issue because uneducated juries grant exhorbitant awards for actions not related to incompetence or gross negligence. The fundamental idea of tort law is sound.

    And you don’t operate the same now that you have an HSA. You now pay closer attention to all of the medical costs you incur.

    And stop yelling.

  117. I see that clich?s about Canadians are as widely used in the US as clich?s about Americans are in Canada! 🙂 I attended your speech in Montreal and must say that it was very refreshing. Thanks.

  118. “At least I offer a plan. I’m all ears waiting for yours.”

    Do what France does. Do it now. Matt Welch sees it, why can’t you?

    “And you don’t operate the same now that you have an HSA. You now pay closer attention to all of the medical costs you incur.”

    I just told you I operate exactly the same. I paid attention before; I pay attention now. The fact that the money comes out of an HSA rather than an FSA changes absolutely nothing.

  119. The beginning of a single payer system in the US will be the beginning of the end of the Canadian system. I don’t see how we can avoid going through the whole messy process though. Too many old people that vote want subsidized or free care right now and couldn’t care less about innovation. We will wind up with a nationalized system, innovation will screech to a halt, the Canadian system will suddenly become either much more expensive as they have to start paying for their own development or will stagnate as they choose not to. Curable diseases will go uncured, and I will wind up with frikkin Alzheimers in 30 years because I’m demographically challenged.

  120. “SINCE NONE OF MY FAMILY’S MEDICAL EXPENSES WERE DISCRETIONARY.”

    This means precisely that you are facing an uninsurable situation. It isn’t insurance if the provider and the consumer know for a fact that the cost is coming. The only questions are do you pay for your known expenses or does someone else, and how many layers of insulation are between the payor and the payee?

  121. Do what France does. Do it now. Matt Welch sees it, why can’t you?

    My gut reaction is any system that has 10,000 people die in a heat wave can’t be all that good. But honestly, I don’t know dick about the French system so I’ll have to look into it.

    I just told you I operate exactly the same. I paid attention before; I pay attention now. The fact that the money comes out of an HSA rather than an FSA changes absolutely nothing.

    You’re skirting my point. You started to pay attention when you converted to a user pays system. The FSA was the government’s first ham-handed attempt at setting this up. HSA’s are far superior to FSA due to the retention of your saved assets. But my point is that the point in time where you start to pay close attention to the bills you recieve was a highly significant event. Getting everyone in the country to start paying this level of attention to health care costs is what will trigger monumental changes in our system.

  122. “My gut reaction is any system that has 10,000 people die in a heat wave can’t be all that good. But honestly, I don’t know dick about the French system so I’ll have to look into it.”

    http://mattwelch.com/archives/week_2005_04_03.html#003088

    From a Reason writer. There you go.

    “You started to pay attention when you converted to a user pays system.”

    You keep saying this. And it’s not true. I ALWAYS PAID ATTENTION. Because under the HMO or PPO, there was always a co-pay, a deductible, and a percent-contribution. ALWAYS. Even when I had ancient dinosaur insurance back at IBM in the early 1990s, I still had to pay something like 20% (but no co-pay on top back then). It’s been decades since the average American had the kind of health care you seem to assume here – the type my Dad had as a university employee in the 1970s, where you essentially didn’t pay for much at all.

  123. “”SINCE NONE OF MY FAMILY’S MEDICAL EXPENSES WERE DISCRETIONARY.”

    This means precisely that you are facing an uninsurable situation.”

    No, not really. I got sick; I didn’t have the discretion about choosing whether or not to treat it, since it was debilitating enough that I couldn’t work. But it was not foreseen.

  124. It isn’t insurance if the provider and the consumer know for a fact that the cost is coming.

    Hence my putting insurance in quotes above. An awful lot of things covered under health plans fall into this category.

    If other insurance was the same my homeowners policy would pay to repaint my house and my auto policy would pay for oil changes.

  125. According to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada only exists because the British didn’t protect them well enough from us violent invading Americans.

  126. And it’s not true.

    Yes it is. And I’m backed by years of anecdotal evidence. And my anecdotal evidence trumps yours because I say it does. SO THERE.

  127. An interesting study in the whole “do or can people actually change their healthcare-related behavior” argument: Emergency room visits down during key baseball games

    Obviously, nobody is going to say “Of course I personally put off my emergency room visits!” But…
    “When the team was doing poorly, TV audience ratings were down and ER visits up. But when the team was doing well and tension was high, TV audiences rocketed and ER visits went down. The findings suggest that the idea of what constitutes a medical emergency is somewhat subjective.”

    Likewise, even though people say “Medical insurance doesn’t change my behavior; I go to the doctor when I have to”, and no doctor says “I order worthless tests because, hey, they’re free”, I believe there is some evidence that on aggregate, where it counts, insurance makes a difference to people’s behavior.

  128. And so does the Wikipedia:

    “The Fenian threat prompted calls for Canadian confederation in 1867.”

  129. T@A,

    I’ve seen that bit before. It’s a cheap bit of humour to be sure. At least with Leno, he doesn’t hide the fact that he went looking for stupid people. THe canadian guy seems to think that people will actually buy into the notion that all Americans are as clueless as the cherry-picked “people on the street” that he runs into.

    Still, I have to admit, I did laugh.

  130. Canadian: “Canada is better because we don’t pay for health care.”

    SAME Canadian: “We need the government to regulate eating so we can reduce the cost of our health care.”

    This is a common paradox in Canada. I wish stoopid Canadians would just decide already: is health care free or not?!?!?!

  131. Canada is not a real country. “Canada” originally only referred to St. Lawrence River Valley (i.e. Quebec). The Brits didn’t want to defend Canada from the US but at the same time didn’t want the US to take over Canada. They also didn’t know how to handle the French. Toronto and Montreal business interests wanted a unified British North America (everything north of the US except Alaska) to benefit themselves (i.e. the tariff). Hence the creation of Canada.

    As a Torontonian I can tell you that there is a shooting practically every day here. Oh and the crooks are usually b****! Seems like “progressive, unAmerican” Toronto is becoming very much like New York City.

    A typically Canadian habit is to rip off US statism and criticize the American for not being statist enough.

    Then there’s multiculturalism, aka “Lets get people in to wreck actual Canadian values and Culture and prop up Big Goverment by outvoting Conservatives and Quebec Separatists.”

    Canadian “values” are big goverment statist “values” indocrinated by Comrade Trudeau and his ilk.

  132. Oh and yes Universal Healthcare is pretty much the state religion of Canada.

    Funny Canadians also like to import American concepts of such as separation of Church and State (never mind that Catholic schools receive public funding in Ontario, the head of State of Canada, the Queen of the UK, is the head of the Church of England, this concept is not written down anywhere just like in the US) and judicial review and blovialate about how unAmerican we are.

  133. Just a question have folks like Mr. Sullum made similars speeches in countries besides Canada and the US and did the critics of the speech consist mainly of criticizing the US?

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