A friendly note to America from a Canadian: Quit saying you’re the “envy of the world”!

untitled2Dear America,

You are bombarded every day with your media telling you that you are “the envy on the world”.

I’ve travelled to almost every Canadian province and spent considerable time in four of them.  I hate to burst your bubble but, contrary to your belief that you are “the envy of the world”, no Canadian that I’ve ever met — even in the most conservative parts of Alberta — has ever struck up a conversation with me saying:  “You know who I’m really envious of?  The USA.”  In no conversation I’ve ever had, even in conversations about America, has any Canadian, European, Aussie, Kiwi, Mexican or Asian that I’ve ever met said to me “Jeez, it really sucks that we’re not Americans.  I’m so jealous of them.”

I sometimes wonder if it’s just that you don’t realize how ridiculous this claim is.  The rest of the world can’t help but notice that no two people can even agree on why America is the envy of the world but that there is a compulsion to recite the refrain every day nevertheless.

The Jacksonville Progress publication yesterday seemed to suggest that America is the envy of the world because of its “people and for the God-given principles of freedom”.  (Apparently God only gave freedom to America, therefore the rest of the world is envious).

In a state of the union address, your outgoing President claimed instead that it was America’s economy that was the envy of the world.  (Apparently China’s nearly double or triple the US’s GDP growth rate isn’t as economically impressive or envious).

While, on a more ridiculous mindset, this news site seems to suggest that America’s peaceful exchange of power is what makes it the “envy of the world”.  (Apparently no other country has yet mastered that whole ‘democracy’ thing the Greeks were talking about 2000 years ago).

So you don’t even know why the world is supposed to be envious, but you just know that they are.  Am I the only one who sees how insane that is?

So please, America, take this in the nicest way possible, but if you ever plan on not being seen as a nation of fools (which you are not) and if you ever intend on repairing your image after 8 years of Bush, you absolutely have to stop saying that you are the envy of the world.

Signed,

A Canadian

31 Responses to “A friendly note to America from a Canadian: Quit saying you’re the “envy of the world”!”


  1. 1 patricksperry 12 November, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Chuckles* Politicians and pundits might use phrases like that, but I can assure you that everyday Americans do not.

    Tell you what I did hear time and time again though when I would head out to the Jefferson County Airport in the Ambulance to pick up patients that had flown down from various parts of Canada.It was always something along the lines of “Don’t ever let them do to medicine what they did in Canada.”

    Others that I worked with that were from Canada would say things like; “I love Canada, but I’m staying here in the States for a reason…”

    I will not bother with the things that I have heard immigrants from all over the world. They were all very glad to be in America. They would say things like you stated that we say above.

    So then, lets talk about Canada! I love the people there. I love the fishing and hunting there also. I’m not to big on Quebec, but I’m not to big on large metropolitan cities anywhere. What, if any, is your favorite place in Canada, or the U.S. if you have one?

  2. 2 ian in hamburg 12 November, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    It’s a sign of collective narcissism, you know. They have this unrealistic, idealised vision of what they think they are, fail to see their faults, label as enemies anyone who calls them out on it, and can’t understand why anyone would fail to understand why they’re so great or why anyone wouldn’t envy them. I’ve seen it on a personal level, and these people are sick. DSM-IV sick.

  3. 3 Toe 12 November, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    For fuck sakes, we’re Godless, Heretical, and Heathen, and that’s the BEST! I just wish upon a star, they’d say it themselves! ya know? Not big on Quebec? Big on hunting/fishing? It’s a Palin disease or sumthing.

  4. 4 Alex Dawson 13 November, 2008 at 2:01 am

    South America, Africa and Asia, on the other hand, really love the place :)

  5. 5 West End Bob 13 November, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Great post, Paulitics! I linked to you, hope you don’t mind . . . .

    Just discovered you from Progressive Bloggers – Good stuff!

  6. 6 Linda 13 November, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    How right you are!
    Much as I enjoy the bloodsport of American politics, much as I admire their constitution (except that right to bear arms bit) – I never wanted to be an American. The death penalty, the gun culture (my brothers own rifles for hunting, that I have no problem with), their obsession with religion, anti-gay, obsessed with abortion, the lack of health insurance. The media for the most part is part of the “cult of personality” down there.

  7. 7 Nick 13 November, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    It’s obvious that your speaking out of envy in this post: You obviously envy our robust social services, our completely up-to-date and in no way crumbling infrastructure, our first-rate responses to hurricanes and other natural disasters, our national whole-hearted embrace of scientific principles, our vibrant labor movement, and our cheap and accessible health care. I don’t blame you. Who wouldn’t be envious of all that.

    <3 ‘Merica.

  8. 8 martinp 13 November, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Every country thinks its’ ‘the greatest’. Canadian media does the exact same damn thing. You will hear canadians claim that their little shithole is the most fantastic place on earth. In Saint John, NB, they will proclaim life can’t be better anywhere else all while breathing in the air of a pulp mill and oil refinery and sitting on a nuclear waste pile!

    However, Canada just had an election where the leading party got 40 seats closer to a majority government even though their popular vote didn’t even increase by ONE percent! So as I overheard the other day, “its weird to go from hating americans one day to being envious of them the next”. The only thing that kept George Bush from running canada completely was the bloc.

    There system of governance is fucked up, but look at canada’s. The difference is that in the US they know it. However, the ‘democracy’ they talk about is NOT at the national level but at the state and local level. Something like 60 ballot initiatives were voted on in the various states, and thousands at the local level. When is the last time you actually voted on POLICY in Canada? They do have democratic tools, which is why politics there is so bloody, but you can’t blame democracy because powerful interests use whatever means they can to overcome its effects.

    However, if they weren’t so big with their propaganda then maybe people would know more about other parts of the world, and the REAL envy of the world would be Switzerland or Norway.

  9. 9 paulitics 13 November, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Martinp,

    As always, your comments are greatly appreciated. I think you’re right on the money with your comment about the Canadian media doing much the same (although, I’ve certainly never heard them take it to such ridiculous levels as to call anything Canadian “the envy of the world”).

    I don’t know if you saw it, but a while back I had a post that talked about how the Canadian media generally won’t criticize the state. I think you’d find a lot in there that you might agree with.

    https://paulitics.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/the-national-posts-unholy-obsession-with-passchendaele/

  10. 10 RPJ 14 November, 2008 at 12:04 am

    To Patricksperry: You missed the point. Canada (and most other countries) think their country is wonderful but are not under the delusion that they are the best in the world (especially in all things). In Canada we ALL bitch about our health care, because it is underfunded and needs overhauling, but ask one of us if they would mind if it was taken away from them. They’ll go for your throat if you even suggest it. Also, are you also under the delusion that you are the only country with immigrants who are excited as hell to get to your country? We all have them and often they tell us they deliberately chose Canada over the USA because they liked what we are about. No doubt there are those who choose the USA for similar reasons. That is the point that is being made. It was not a contest for who is the best in the world. It is a statement about the ridiculousness of anyone claiming to be the best country in the world. Can’t you see that it is just like the insanity of claiming you are the best person in the world? Its laughable. You have wonderful things about your country and really shitty things about it, just like the rest of us. Duh! When Americans make these over the top ridiculous claims, you all look ridiculous.

    PS: Give Quebec a chance. I love to visit that province because it is unique in Canada and has a wonderful flavour all its own. Something similar to how your city of New Orleans is unique in your country.

  11. 11 Lurker (usually) 14 November, 2008 at 9:28 am

    martinp – While I see much to agree with in your comment, it burns me when people pull statistics out of their butt, then emphasize them to somehow validate their point. In 2006, the Conservatives won 36.3% of the popular vote. In 2008 it was 37.6%, a 1.3% increase.

    But I should also ask what your point was, exactly. When you’ve got a winner take all system like ours (or the USA’s!), it often only takes a small shift in opinion to swing contentious ridings one way or another.

  12. 12 Travis 14 November, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    I hate all that rah-rah America crap as much as the next person. I think it’s sad that that is the way the rest of the world may see us, but I hope that people can realize that a sizable minority of Americans don’t think that way. I, for one, consider myself first a citizen of the world (although I must say I do appreciate living in the US — it could be worse).

    I do have to say, though, I see a few comments above that are pretty ignorant themselves. Ian in Hamburg comes to mind. If you can’t realize that America is a diversity of opinions, you are just as ignorant as the people you rally against. Frankly, I am ashamed of our perception and standing in many parts of the world, and I apologize personally for our foreign policy. So don’t paint the US with such a broad brush.

  13. 13 martinp 14 November, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Oh gee, sorry about that faux pas, let me rephrase- the governing party, whose head is being taken to court for breaking his own election law, got 40 more seats on an increase of 1.3% more votes, NOT ‘less than one percent’, as originally stated. People should note the magnificent difference of .4% there, I do apologize.

    The point was exactly what was stated, but the point is even better made since ‘the winner’ didn’t ‘take all’ because of course a ‘winner take all’ system is so dysfunctional that people are stuck with a government that most DO NOT support. In fact, the system even let New Brunswick elect a Premier who got fewer votes than his opponent, even though its essentially a two party system-and he has a majority government!

    If canadian media were as prominent in the world they would no doubt do the same thing, in fact since the country is quickly going the way of the US, you can expect that jingoism to increase exponentially. Part of the reason is obviously brainwashing, like the ‘USA’ chants you hear on the simpsons. The reason for that is ‘control’, which in Canada you don’t need because there are far fewer political recourses available to canadians than americans.

    So the point is that the US is only different in a measure of degree to other countries-and that degree is only a reflection of the precariousness of governmental control and their place in the world. It’s very much like the blog mentioned later on the war movie and the National Post. The US IS a lot freer than Canada, and there are far more opportunities for political involvement at various levels. The US is second only to Switzerland in that regard, so again, they DO have lots to crow about, and if you look at the countries that house most of ‘the world’ its not that much of a stretch to state that they are the envy of them.

  14. 14 Ken Furber 17 November, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Hey Paul.
    It always makes me nervous when someone starts arguing about how ignorant Americans are. You do make a somewhat valid point but why? We don’t need to bash the Americans, after eight years of Bush and Co. many are doing that job themselves. We’d be better off looking at our own problems. For instance, did you check out some of the resolutions that passed at the recent Conservative convention in Winnipeg? They’d make the American religious right proud.
    I grew up six miles from the US border, have spent considerable time traveling there and have met many Americans both here and in their own country. And the vast majority of Americans struck me as damned nice people. By constantly bashing Americans, I believe Canadians are revealing something ugly about themselves. Perhaps it’s time to knock it the hell off. Or at least buffer it down a bit.

  15. 15 martinp 17 November, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Keep in mind the problem that when Paul is talking, he is NOT talking about average americans-he is talking about american media, and perhaps a loud minority on blogs. I do tend to agree that there hasn’t been a lot of content here, and postings like this is hardly really beneficial to anybody and tends to minimize the very smart and hard work posted. It is understandable though, after all its the most powerful, and its not like the people have NO say (although not a lot). And Canada is no different, but Paul has hit on something, because a percentage of canadians are very ‘americanized’, so its ‘safer’ to criticize the US (always popular all over the world), as a way of criticizing a certain ideology popular in canada. I was recently in europe though, and it really is amazing how little those countries talk about the US. Apart from CNN and the BBC there was almost no mention of the US, although on Al Jazeera TV there was some VERY interesting documentaries on the US, a perspective that is never shown in the US or canada.

  16. 16 Ken Furber 18 November, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Martinp:
    Okay, fair enough. I do get grouchy on Mondays. And Paul is right when he argues America has to stop crowing how great the country is when it has so little credibility around the world after those eight years of Bush. But I know how I feel when some dip-wad US blogger makes an unkind, and generic, comment about Canadians. If we want Americans to listen to our criticism, and I do, we have to step somewhat carefully. Otherwise they’ll either tune out or you’ll get the sort of comments registered above or worse. And for the record I’d rather have our damaged health system with its long wait lines then no health care for 40 per cent of our citizens. I know this is another topic but it pees me off when our government considers spending billions of taxpayers money to bail out incompetent businesses but when it comes time to lubricate the financial gears on our health machine — well that is just too expensive.

  17. 17 patricksperry 18 November, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Where might that be at Ken..? Certainly not in America. We are going broke paying for health care for illegal aliens as it is.

    Government should not be in the business of bailing out business IMO. Not anywhere, and not at any time.

  18. 18 martinp 18 November, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Cool, everybody gets grouchy on mondays, my reply wasn’t too friendly either. However, I don’t think ANY criticism presented in any way is going to have an effect on americans. Do you pay much attention to comments by americans on Canada? I guess we just have to remember this is just a guy’s blog, and he has an opinion and wanted to say it, so its really the reader’s problem. I just have to add that IF the US is ‘going broke’ its certainly not because of health care for illegal aliens. One days purchase of oil for military uses easily covers most of that health care expenditure for a year. Even with pretty shitty service I’d agree and take the canadian healthcare system, but people should realize that the majority of americans would as well, as polls have shown for quite some time and quite consistently. It seems its just as hard to get single payer as it is to hold onto it.

  19. 19 Ken Furber 20 November, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Patricksperry please see Martinp comment as answer to your response to me. I couldn’t say it better myself. Certainly we need to do what we can to keep business as healthy as possible and to encourage entrepreneurship. Business keeps our countries’ economic engines running. And from that comes taxes. However, the other side of that is what we do with those taxes. As individuals we do have responsibility to be the best citizen we can be. But we also have a responsibility to help those who are having trouble doing that so they can eventually stand on their own. As for health care. I simply do not understand why right-wingers do not get the concept that public health care is more efficient and all inclusive than any other system — if the government would just fund it right. It’s called buying power. A single system with millions of users all paying for it — through their taxes — will be more responsive than private single enterprises.

  20. 20 Ken Furber 20 November, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Sorry guys. I just reread my last bit and the part about supporting business sounds a bit hypocritical when taken in context with my previous post about being peed off with bailing out the auto industry. Apples and oranges. The auto industry has had lots of what I’d argue could be termed incentives from taxpayers on both sides of the border. Now they’ve pissed that away, they’re holding out their hands for more. I’m for generally making life reasonably easy for business so we all benefit, but this makes my stomach turn. I realize though our government seems to be stuck. If the Americans put out a bail out package and Canada doesn’t do we lose the Big 3 in Ontario. Then again, it could well be that we dump a few billion their way and we still lose those plants. Fun and Games. But I agree with you Patricksperry we generally should not be bailing out businesses who appear too incompetent to evolve with the times. My old man was a Socialist tried and true and I know what he’d say about all this. Give business a financial break so it’ll help create more employment and they’ll stuff the money into their coffers and forget about it. Now more jobs, no gratitude, no thanks. However, I think the US and Canadian governments working together have an opportunity here to force change. But considering the types of governments we both have — and yes I’m including the democrats — that won’t happen. I fear it’ll just be more corporate welfare. We waste money feeding the greedy corporate machine when people live on the streets, haven’t enough to eat, don’t get the health care they need etc. etc. etc. Enough already. Time to grab that pendulum and shove it back where it belongs.

  21. 21 martinp 23 November, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    People often simply don’t want to SAY they are socialist, thanks to the last fifty years. However, since the nationalistic jingoism seems to be over, I’d like to comment to Ken. Being from NB thats where many of my examples come in, and to back up what he mentioned, lets look at forestry. New Brunswick owns about 50% of the land of the province publicly, which it leases to five corporations which have pulp mills in the province. UPM owned the pulp mill in Miramichi, and the province gave it $300 million a couple years ago because of the ‘hard times’. Last year, the company announced it was shutting down. That means that the $300 million could have been simpy given to the 1000 workers (300 grand goes a long way), instead it went to the company which closed its doors anyway. And to add insult to injury, the government changed legislation that required the license holders which were required to process NB wood WITHIN NB. UPM still owns land and has a license, yet can ship all the NB wood they want to their brand new facility in South Dakota- a new facility built with govenrment subsidies. You see, the company wasn’t actually LOSING money, it was just more cost effective to do it this way.

    So the point ol grandad the socialist would make is that it is because of the reality of politics that bailing out corporations won’t mean governments will ‘make changes’. In fact, both Harper and Bush have been even louder in exclaiming that there has to be MORE free trade to solve the problems that free trade made. For americans here who may have missed it, at least ten percent of the almost a trillion dollar bailout is earmarked to ensure corporations will still pay off dividends-in other words add more money to those who caused the problem in the first place. This is why there are socialists, and why socialism always comes back. The amount of regulation required to run an ACTUAL capitalist system is pretty damn close to socialism (for one actual capitalism requires the expulsion of ‘corporations’ or what Adam Smith called ‘moneyed organizations).

  22. 22 Zhu 24 November, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    As a French (yes, French, please no comment…) living in Canada I have learned to like some sides of the U.S.A but it is true that I rarely meet or seen anyone who express his envy for the country. Most Canadians aren’t even interested to work there… not that people bash the U.S.A, mind you. Just not that interested, same way not every French is dying to go live in the U.K or every Italian want to live in Spain.

    Not everybody is interested in the US. This is the reality.

  23. 23 paulitics 24 November, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Zhu, you shouldn’t worry about posting that you are from France and living in Canada here on Paulitics.

    I myself, while an anglophone, reside in Québec and have great love for both the Québecois and the French.

  24. 24 virgomonkey 28 November, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Hey, you’ve got that bass ackwards. ;-)

    Why am I not surprised that, as usual, you are judging us by our EXTREMISTS – which is always the easiest thing to do.

    Why don’t we have a look at the other side, shall we?

    Thank you in advance for being open-minded enough to the undistorted reality – you know, the kind that YOUR media won’t show YOU.

  25. 25 virgomonkey 28 November, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    RPJ,

    You missed the point. Canada (and most other countries) think their country is wonderful but are not under the delusion that they are the best in the world (especially in all things).

    This must be your blind spot. We all have them. However, the most nationalistic group of people I have ever met were Canadians. Not the mainstream, thankfully, but yes – the Canadians. If you have to define your country only by means of being Americanophobic – that says more about YOU than US, really.

    Speaking of ignorant Americans, I wouldn’t get all too excited about feeling too good about being smarter than Americans. Here’s another peak into the other side.

    Actually, most of the unsubstantiated rumors that Americanophobic Canucks believe in blindly have been debunked/challenged long ago in my blog.

    Ian in Hamburg: (a typical Americanophobe)

    It’s a sign of collective narcissism, you know. They have this unrealistic, idealised vision of what they think they are, fail to see their faults, label as enemies anyone who calls them out on it, and can’t understand why anyone would fail to understand why they’re so great or why anyone wouldn’t envy them. I’ve seen it on a personal level, and these people are sick. DSM-IV sick.

    Once again, judging all 300 million people by their extremists.

    One word: Lazy

    Oh, and you can call that sick too. That’s what bigotry is all about. Unfair labels and stereotypes while simultaneously and sanctimoniously pounding his own chest and patting his own back.

    Good call.

    Let me guess, I bet you all believe that the US is the fattest nation and that Bush actually got fairly elected twice, right? I’ll let you guys figure that one out for yourselves.

    Whoa. Speaking of blatant ignorance….

  26. 26 virgomonkey 28 November, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I apologize for the above BOLD print. I accidental left out a tag in my html.

    Please forgive.

    Gawd forbid, I get called out on looking too flamboyant – “a typical yank” that is.

  27. 27 RPJ 29 November, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Virgomonkey.

    What part of the original post or of my message constitutes American bashing? Read my message over again please because I think I was saying we are all the same. We ALL have good parts about our countries and shitty parts, that is one reason why claiming to be the best country in the world is just plain dumb, no matter who does it. If you don’t think your media is constantly saying this then we are listening to different US networks. Since we get your 3 major networks plus several of your cable networks, please advise what you are watching that has lead you to believe this does not happen. If you believe that Canadians constantly claim they are better than everyone else I am not going to argue with you about it, even though I have not seen evidence of it and we don’t seem to have that reputation globally. I must say that your response to “a friendly note” from your neighbour is interesting. If you are determined not to take any advice from anyone that is your prerogative.

  28. 28 virgomonkey 5 December, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Another thing… Just because Olbermann didn’t question Friedman’s comments doesn’t mean that Olbermann was agreeing with him. To suggest that is absurd. There are time constraints during these interviews. There’s not as much time as you my think there is for questioning every statement. It’s TV.

    Olbermann’s standing up to and mercilessly bashing the Bush administration, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, the Iraq War, the corporate greedy fat cats, and all-things-American-corruptions just about says all you need to know about Olbermann! He’s anything but a blind patriot. A patriot, he may be, but not a blind one love-it-or-leave-it type.

    Cut the guy some slack.

  29. 29 Carlos (Mexican born, American by choise) 30 May, 2011 at 12:45 am

    I think the fact that this article even exists is proof enough of the envy & antiAmericanism found (especially by Canucks) True no one merely spills that they’re jealous of the states as this douche says but being born in another nation, I could honestly say there is a level of jealousy, envy & spite in the life style we as Americans enjoy. Which Canadian can honestly say, “Damn we have the best weather on earth, I never want to leave this place” yet being from SoCal I feel that way ALL the time! I wield around my passport like I were the big dick in the room. When I go home to visit family in Mexico they are envious of the lifestyle & ambience that I life in. I went to Canada & their insipid lifestyle seemed to contradict my overall fun loving party nature. I could go on & on but I really want to go out, it’s night & its a beautiful 66 degrees (19 for u Canucks) I’m finding me one of the tons of Canuck chicks who come here to escape the desolate cold frigid Canadaian men & fuck the hell out of one. They can hardly resist my Americanish Latin charm! =)

  30. 30 Robert 11 November, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    We’ll say and do whatever we like and there is absolutely nothing that any other country in the world,or even all other countries combined,can do to stop us.That is what makes us the envy of the rest of the shit eating world.

  31. 31 futanari 12 August, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!


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