Canada’s Fiscally Conservative Socialism

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 18 2012 @ 3:21pm

Stephen Marche claims that, "for the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American." He ponders the implications:

Both liberals and conservatives in the U.S. have tried to use the Canadian example to promote their arguments: The left says Canada shows the rewards of financial regulation and socialism, while the right likes to vaunt the brutal cuts made to Canadian social programs in the 1990s, which set the stage for economic recovery. The truth is that both sides are right. Since the 1990s, Canada has pursued a hardheaded (even ruthless), fiscally conservative form of socialism.

Reihan reframes:

The really interesting question is this: given the massive housing bust in the U.S. and the continuing appreciation of home values in Canada, Canada’s importation of large numbers of college-educated immigrants and its draconian policies towards unauthorized immigrants, and its markedly different family structure, why isn’t the gap in average net worth between Canada and the United States much larger?

Christopher Sands tweaks Marche's argument:

Socialism, based on economic redistribution, requires growth so that there is money to redistribute, just as philanthropy relies on prosperity. Canada was hardheaded in promoting growth, not in simply managing redistribution, and this is why it has enjoyed better results than most countries since the 2008 recession began. Socialism is not the father of Canada's success, but its progeny.

Joyner questions the comparison. Dylan Matthews questions Marche's statistics:

 Stephen Marche is wrong. The average Canadian is not wealthier than the average American for “the first time in recent history.” He’s been wealthier all along.