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Flight of the Democrats

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It was with a twinge of sadness that I read a recent New Your Times article by Rick Lyman that chronicled the rise in U.S. citizens moving, permanently, to Canada.

It seemed to Mr. Lyman that a large contingent of American liberals were actively seeking Canadian citizenship and fleeing, what they feel, is a worsening of the American political and social scene. Quoting from the article:

“America is in no danger of emptying out. But even a small loss of residents, many of whom cite a deep sense of political despair, is a significant event in the life of a nation that thinks of itself as a place to escape to.

Firm numbers on potential émigrés are elusive.

“The number of U.S. citizens who are actually submitting Canadian immigration papers and making concrete plans is about three or four times higher than normal,” said Linda Mark, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver.

Other immigration lawyers in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax said they had noticed a similar uptick, though most put the rise at closer to threefold.

[End Quote]

I have to admit I have some really mixed feelings about this, seemingly, unique watershed event. I deeply regret that some people see American as having drifted too far to one side of the political spectrum. Drifted so far, in fact, that they can no longer lives here as citizens. One young lady was quoted as saying “Under Bush, the U.S. seems to be leading the pack as the world spirals down.” That truly saddens me.

America should be a place for honest debate and discussion and, yes, even protest. For someone to feel so disenfranchised that they feel their only recourse is to leave the country is significant. We have always been a country where healthy debate was welcomed and part of our lives. If your candidate does not get elected, you fight harder in the next election. You protest. You write letters and editorials (and, today, BLOGs). You contribute to the party of your choice. You go to meetings and you organize. You get more active locally for candidates closer to home. But to just pack your bags and leave? I believe this truly says something significant and disquieting. It’s says something sbout the Democratic Party and the Republican Part. It says something about us all.

On the other hand, the conservative in me leaps for joy. I think “Fine! Leave! That will make our majority in the next election even greater. We won; get over it. Good riddance!”

But, I still keep having that nagging feeling that this is not the way it should be. The pendulum should not swing so far as to knock people off the edge. Should it?

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  • http://halfbakered.blogspot.com mike hollihan

    This is far from the first time it’s happened in America. It goes back at least to the American Revolution, when a lot of royalists fled out of fear and anger.

  • dietdoc

    Mike writes:

    “This is far from the first time it’s happened in America. It goes back at least to the American Revolution, when a lot of royalists fled out of fear and anger.”

    Reply: You are absolutely right and I am would be willing to bet that during the Regan years there was a similiar flight.

    I was just thinking about it with a little sadness. I know it has happended before and will, undoubtedly, happen again. But, in our country of free thought, we should have room for all ideas, no matter how distasteful, irritating, or alien to our own. American should be the land of ideas.

    Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote:

    “It contributes greatly toward a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into….companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of his way to appreciate.”

    I just feel we are lessened, as a society, somewhat when we lose people of such strong conviction, regardless of what we may think of that conviction.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    It could be argued that many of the royalists (during the revolution) fled out of fear and anger because the system in which they got to sit on top as the aristocracy was coming undone. Also, I don’t think that emigration was as significant during the Reagan years for two reasons: 1) the opposition (i.e., Democrats) still had control of Congress, thereby tempering what the Reaganites could do; and 2) there wasn’t perceived to be options that were as viable then as they are now. (Does anybody know of any statistics to compare emigration in 1985 to 2005?)

    I think that a big reason emigration seems like a good choice now (unlike twenty years ago) has been the rise of truly viable alternatives to the United States in Canada and the European Union. Although economic growth may not be as strong in those places (possibly a questionable advantage anyway), by many measures (such as public health, life expectancy, vacation time, job security, protection of human rights, tolerance of minorities, and overall quality of life) Canada and Europe have equalled or surpassed what we have in the United States.

  • dietdoc

    Roy writes:

    “have equalled or surpassed what we have in the United States”

    Reply: If true – even if true only in the minds of those leaving – it is a sad commentary, indeed.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Dietdoc writes: If true – even if true only in the minds of those leaving – it is a sad commentary, indeed.

    Some of both, I suspect – in some areas, the Canadians and the Europeans truly are doing things better than we are, and in some they are only perceived to be doing better.

    Not to slam Europe, because as a continent they have done remarkable things since the end of World War 2, but they are not immune to the USA’s habit of failing (sometimes dramatically) to live up to their stated ideals and goals.

    I am currently a discontented liberal (I would like to call myself a progressive, but that term has been hijacked to a certain degree by elements of the loony left), but I am not going anywhere unless the USA actually does slide into fascism. Although this bad result is possible, it still doesn’t seem likely to me.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I think comment 3, Roy hits the nail on the head in the second paragraph.

    We’ve known several people to flee to Europe, and while we are now looking for a home, we are no longer confining ourselves to just looking in America, although it’s still our first choice.

    A lot of the ideology of the Right, which they promote as individualism, comes off as ‘every person fend for him/herself’, whether it’s retirement, health care, education, etc.

    While individualism is a fine trait, and while it’s not exclusively in the realm of the Right, even though they paint that perception, when it comes down to individualism in EVERY single aspect of your life, you end up with people having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

    Here’s a conversation between a working mom and Bush, posted on Atrios. The woman is 57 years old and is raising three kids, one with Down’s syndrome and she’s holding down three jobs to make it possible. Bush says that’s ‘fantastic’ and ‘uniquely American’.

    The people that we know, who go to Europe, don’t want a life like that. What’s ‘fantastic’ about working three jobs to make ends meet? Yes, it is uniquely American though.

    No, the people we know who leave, they want a small farm in the countryside, where they might work hard, but it’s on just one job, and then they can still have their health care, their retirement, etc. and then they can focus on what’s important to them. Their life and their family, and not get lost in the rat race of ‘every man fend for himself’.

  • dietdoc

    Roy writes:

    “..I am not going anywhere unless the USA actually does slide into fascism. Although this bad result is possible, it still doesn’t seem likely to me.”

    Reply: Roy, I sure hope not. I can’t see it happening. I really can’t. I would join you – either in the trenches or on the Airbus – if that happens. And I am – if we need to label our ideaology – a conservative.

    Nice posts, Roy. Enjoyed your comments and insights.

    Ron

  • http://www.kolehardfacts.blogspot.com Mike Kole

    I have no sadness at seeing people relocate to places they believe will make them happier. It’s a great thing to have options and freedom of movement.

    One trend I am actually dreading is the increasing homogenization (sp?) of nations, and even out states. Yes, I know there will be those who throw out the red state-blue state argument, but if that held water, these people emigrating to Canada might sooner choose a different US state. As states and nations become more similar, the opportunity to vote with your feet diminishes in terms of getting something more in line with your values.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    As someone with relatives living in Europe and who’s spent a great deal of time there, I thought I’d clear up some misconceptions.

    Roy: I think that a big reason emigration seems like a good choice now (unlike twenty years ago) has been the rise of truly viable alternatives to the United States in Canada and the European Union. Although economic growth may not be as strong in those places (possibly a questionable advantage anyway),

    Germany is currently enjoying negative economic growth and France is breaking even. Growth is only happening in England and Eastern Europe and that’s also where all the jobs are.

    Roy: by many measures (such as public health,

    The national health systems in many European countries are barely holding their heads above water. They can provide basic maintenance, but for major operations or expensive procedures the strategy is to make the patient wait and hope they die before they get their operation.

    Roy: life expectancy, vacation time, job security,

    A good unemployment package is not job security. Jobs are being lost at alarming rates in France and Germany and there are no new jobs available unless you trade-down into something really menial and even then jobs are hard to find.

    Roy: protection of human rights, tolerance of minorities, and overall quality of life)

    Like the French law banning head scarves on Islamic women? Or perhaps the massive growth of neo-nazi, anti-immigrant groups in Germany and England? It’s reached the point where prejudice is so ingrained in these countries that the neo-nazis are bordering on respectability and actually run candidates in elections and have won a number of local offices in Germany. I hear there are similar problems in France with immigrant labor taking jobs from native workers leading to a great deal of racial resentment, but the race problem in Germany is truly out of control. I would not be at all surprised to see racial violence becoming a major problem in Germany.

    And some other issues you may not be aware of. For the last 3-5 years European countries have seen rapidly escalating crime to the point where violent crimes and property crimes have reached double the level they were at 10 years ago.

    Then there’s the issue of unemployment. While France and Germany officially claim unemployment rates around 10% the real figures are substantially higher since they don’t count the chronic unemployed or those who have recently lost their jobs. The rates are probably actually closer to 25%. Plus there’s massive underemployment with people having to take part time work.

    And don’t forget taxation. France has personal taxes as high as 70%. Germany has taxation as high as 61%. And of course we all bow before Denmark’s 85% tax rate. Now, salaries for mid-level jobs in Europe ARE higher than they are here, so after the taxes you should be able to earn about 80% of what you make here at an equivalent job, but housing costs and food costs are generally higher, and of course gas is prohibitive, so have fun in your efficiency appartment eating spam on toast on a $45K a year salary.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    so have fun in your efficiency appartment eating spam on toast on a $45K a year salary.

    Dave, I don’t know the economic status of every nation across the Atlantic, I’m sure some are doing better than others, but this gloom and doom, dismal picture that you paint…well, let’s just say the postcards I get from my friends who moved haven’t experienced the horrors you write about at all.

    They can provide basic maintenance, but for major operations or expensive procedures the strategy is to make the patient wait and hope they die before they get their operation.

    I don’t see how that’s much different than an American HMO telling me that I have to see a specific primary care physician, and when I call, the next available time I can be seen is just over 6 months down the road. The Nanny (Fran Drescher) was on Hardball tonight. She was talking about ovarian cancer (promoting her book), and she talked about how doctors are pressured by HMO’s to misdiagnose ovarian cancer because it’s symptoms match less costly cancers, so to treat something else is cheaper and people are dying because of it.

    All I’m saying is for all the bad someone can point out in Europe, someone can point out the bad in America too, as well as the good points of each. You paint a dismal picture of Europe, where it would be filled with sick Oliver Twists with empty porridge bowls because they can’t get employment or medical treatment. Nobody I know encounters the dismal situations you describe.

    I’ve got friends in France, Greece and Denmark. The ones that went to Denmark, knew the tax rate they were getting into. But according to them, it balances out. A childless couple, they make about 50k a year collectively (I don’t know what that’s worth over there), but they’re able to afford their own home (what does that give you here?), they still have enough left over to travel once a year, they can afford internet service – meaning they aren’t left with just pennies, there are other factors that change the cost of living over there. They did give up a car, they didn’t need it where they are at, so they don’t have that recurring expense.

  • Eric Olsen

    a fascinating discussion: if anyone is going, sounds like your best bet is Canada. why? Because it’s the most like the U.S. Coincidence? I think not. And as far as I can tell, there is still more difference between Mississippi and New york than there is between New York and Toronto.

    Ultimately, it’s about values, isn’t it? What do you value more? An atmosphere of greater latitude where there is also a greater chance of failure, or one where the ceiling is lower but the fall is better cushioned? More guarantees but fewer options? And on and on.

    And, surprisingly, no one has mentioned that the rate of people checking out is always dwarfed into insignificance by those checking in, and rendered tiny-unto-invisibility by those who would like to come here.

  • dietdoc

    Eric writes:

    “And as far as I can tell, there is still more difference between Mississippi and New york than there is between New York and Toronto.”

    Reply: Interesting point, Eric. Being in the Deep South, I suspect you are absolutely right. I would, for one, feel like a catfish on land in NYC. It just would intimate the heck out of me. I did manage to survive London but NYC is just plain scary for a fellow like me.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  • Eric Olsen

    and I was talking about New York state

  • dietdoc

    Eric, sorry, I got the metaphors mixed up. When you said “Mississippi and New York than there is between New York and Toronto” – the Toronto thing and New York, I started assuming and….

    Nevermind.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Dave writes: The national health systems in many European countries are barely holding their heads above water. They can provide basic maintenance, but for major operations or expensive procedures the strategy is to make the patient wait and hope they die before they get their operation.

    The European Union has higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality, lower rates of heart disease and cancer, and health insurance that covers every person-for about half as much per capita as the United States spends.

    I judge the effectiveness of healthcare systems based on figures that measure effectiveness of healthcare, not anecdotes.

  • Eric Olsen

    Ron, I was just keeedding – certainly NYC is in greater contrast to Mississippi than the state of New York, which still houses Appalachians without plumbing or phone service

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I may be prejudiced because of the horrible treatment of my wife’s relatives in the German healthcare system. It keeps people alive, but they expect you to live with chronic pain and once you get past a certain age anything but basic, maintenance healthcare stops and you glide into death. It’s a brutal, inhuman system dominated by an uncaring bureaucracy, where people with chronic problems either have to sue for relief or go outside the country for major treatment.

    Dave

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    If I have to pick a “brutal, inhuman system dominated by an uncaring bureaucracy” to be abused by, I would take a government (which, at least in theory, is responsive to voters) over an HMO (responsive to shareholders) any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    For anyone who’s interested enough to register, there is an interesting ariticle in the Spectator comparing the efficacy of British and US healthcare. Entitled “Die in Britain, Survive in the US”, you can probably get the gist of it.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Like the debate over Social Security, the debate on healthcare hinges on what your (mostly unspoken) assumptions regarding priorities are.

    Those who prefer private health care systems (like in the U.S.) focus on care for catastrophic conditions, which is better in the United States.

    Those who prefer public health care systems focus on statistics like overall cost, life expectancy, and percentage of citizens with health insurance, which the European systems are doing better at. (Or you could say that those that prefer low cost systems that maximize life expectancy and provide universal coverage prefer public health care systems.)

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    Given that latter criteria, Japan would probably rate higher than any country in Europe.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    Joe: Probably. I have no idea how Japan’s healthcare system works, though.

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    Basically, it’s public demand-side/private supply-side. They phased in universal healthcare but have left providers as private entities. The time phasing allowed them to keep the costs down as they implemented the program over a roughly 30 year period. Additionally, Japanese life expectancy is around 80 (as opposed to a little over 77 in the US a little under 78 in Europe). Americans probably don’t have the patience to undertake such an approach.

  • http://emeraldcitycomments.blogspot.com/ Roy Smith

    As I understand it (though I may be completely off base) that is roughly how Canada’s “single payer” system works. The insurance is universal, but the actual services are provided on a competitive basis by private entities. I think some countries in Europe do it this way too.

  • Erid

    f I have to pick a “brutal, inhuman system dominated by an uncaring bureaucracy” to be abused by, I would take a government (which, at least in theory, is responsive to voters) over an HMO (responsive to shareholders) any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    To add a note to the above comment as a person who see’s himself as a moderate. I would like to add that the Canadian Medical System is more centralized and avoids the cowboy regulation of states in policing Medical Doctors. I have personally fealt the pain of being a Doctors Medical Mistake and I tried the State system in Georgia for a failed hope of action. I discovered a State Licensing board which operates much like the Used Care licensing board in my current home state. I recieved nothing but stonewalling from the state board and avoidance of the issue. At least in Canada if you survive, someone will try to correct the mistake, not leave it to you as they struggle with their own deniel or Medical Mega Mania and Narcisim.

  • Eric

    Roy writes:

    “..I am not going anywhere unless the USA actually does slide into fascism. Although this bad result is possible, it still doesn’t seem likely to me.”

    I have one question, concerning your definition of Fascism. Have you ever watched PAX?

    It seems alive and well in Fundamentalist America and it’s rules are expressed in religious Dogma and Jargon on every Fundamentalist TV show on PAX. It’s not a reach to see an illimination program for those seen as evil. Also, by definition a desirefor past values based on religious dogma-Admittedly, most is made up on the spot on Pax and is appealing to the lowest of IQ’s in America, but think of the concept that a cult following of any ideology hoping to illiminate what is viewed as Evil or destructive to them as a group and Idolizes the past, only needs a Dictator to be a Fascist government.

    …or I just hate organized religion? I am buying the book, Canadian Immigration Made Easy, Just in case.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I missed something Roy said earlier:

    >>The European Union has higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality, lower rates of heart disease and cancer, < <

    This is not true. On average heart disease and cancer are about 50% more likely to kill you in Europe as in the US.

    >>and health insurance that covers every person-for about half as much per capita as the United States spends.<<

    Actually, their socialized health systems are one reason why taxes are so high. The portion of tax which goes to healthcare is typically 15% of income, which on an average income is about half again as much as typical US citizens pay for good coverage.

    Dave

  • http://www.docofdiets.com dietdoc

    Dave writes:

    “Actually, their socialized health systems are one reason why taxes are so high. The portion of tax which goes to healthcare is typically 15% of income, which on an average income is about half again as much as typical US citizens pay for good coverage”

    Reply: I can’t help but believe that good ol’ capitalism has something to do with it. Insurance companies in the U.S. are turning a nice profit of over-inflated insurance premiums. And capping doctor reimbursement. It’s the system at work.

    Cheers,

    Ron

  • http://www.kolehardfacts.blogspot.com Mike Kole

    Dave- My observations in my last three trips to Europe (in the last 12 months) is that the Europeans I encountered smoked far more than Americans, and they smoke in places that Americans don’t smoke- the airport, the train, the grocery store, etc. I’m going to be betting that European incidence of lung cancer is higher than in the US.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    True enough, Mike. But that doesn’t explain the higher rates of death for most other forms of cancer and for heart disease. What I was comparing was not number of people who GET cancer, but survival rates after they are diagnosed. If you get cancer or heart disease in Europe you’re 20-50% more likely to die from it than in the US. That’s how it is.

    Dave

  • Eric Bell

    Just a comment on Healthcare statistics. The life expectancy is higher in Canada than the United States. The cancer issue, is one of we droped test bombs on our own soil in the 40’s. Do a search on the internet on cancer and nuclear testing. I remember a map showing how nuclear testing cause cancer rates to be higher in areas affectd by the radiation fall out and it was a National map. The issue of hight cancer rates in Europe. Chernoble elevated the Radiaion levels in Northern Europe, check the World Health organization cancer increases in Russia and the Ukrain after Chernoble.

    You can not make a rash judgement on healthcare based on Cancer and Heart Disease. I am of Northern European Descent and I have genetically higher risk of having a heart attack due to hereditary cholestrol levels. It seem my doctor explained it as a northern European/ Scandanavian genetic trait. Remember our populations are not all identical and we do have different issues for health risk based on our genetic history.

    Your on a liper slope with the European heart disease and death rates. If you include the Ukrain life expectancy is rather low. If you look at Spain and France, lung cancer is very high because they smoke more, as do the Japanese and chinese.