From the very moment of its creation, Americans have always imagined their country to be a beacon of opportunity for the world. Thomas Jefferson lit that torch when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. This notion that everyone deserves a chance, and will most likely find it in America, has been arguably one of the most attractive and powerful ideas in modern history, guiding millions to Ellis Island, in search of a good job, a good education, a white picket fence and a two car garage.
But where once America stood alone as the land of opportunity, there are now dozens of other countries that have surpassed the United States; chief among these is its unassuming northern neighbour, Canada. Where do you go now for “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”? Canadians live 2.5 years longer than Americans. They are six times less likely to be incarcerated. And the World Economic Forum ranks Canadians as the 6th happiest people in the world, while Americans lag behind at 13th.
Every aspect of the American dream is now more easily found in Canada. In the United States, 46 per cent of the population has been able to obtain a college degree—in Canada it’s 59 per cent. After graduation, Canadians are more likely to find work, with an employment rate four points better. You are more likely to afford a house with a white picket fence in Canada, where home ownership rates are five per cent higher. Canadians also have more time to enjoy their homes, as they work over 80 hours fewer per year—and they take an extra three days vacation.
Compared to Canada, America isn’t even the “land of the free”, anymore. The Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index considers Canadians to be the sixth freest people in the world, while Americans limp in at 23rd, behind Poland. The conservative Heritage Foundation, based in Washington, ranks Canada and the U.S. seventh and 17th respectively for economic freedom. Free speech? Reporters Without Borders scores Canada 18th for press freedom; in spite of its much vaunted First Amendment, America only manages 41st.
The American Dream promised equality, a level playing field where everyone could pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but that too is more a Canadian thing. Canada’s “Gini coefficient”, a measurement of economic inequality, is significantly better than America’s and has been for 80 years now. In Canada, you are twice as likely to move from the poorest quintile of the population to the wealthiest. Similarly, the link between the income of a parent and a child is half as strong in Canada.
Read the whole article on Macleans