Friday, December 7, 2012

Sometimes A Little Distance is Good

A little distance can bring perspective.  Western Rifle Shooters Association links to Sarah Hoyt, again, at Ungovernable.  Sarah grew up in Portugal when they went communist and talks about how fundamentally different Americans are than Europeans.  Americans fundamentally don't accept "that's just the way it is" as an explanation very well. 
It’s hard to explain how different that makes us.  To most Americans it seems logical behavior (it is) and I only get the difference because I remember being brand new here and how ALIEN it was.  And I remember living in Portugal without the constant “oh, for heavens’ sake, just do it” moments I have when I go back now.  (I should possibly point out that most Europeans find most middle aged American women bossy, interfering and a bit terrifying.)

Yes, I know some of you are going to tell me that spirit is now lost.
I work with a really bright engineer from Romania, who grew up under Ceausescu and the communists, and got out of the country when it became possible.  He spent some time living in Canada, then came to our place a few years ago.  As you might imagine, being from behind the iron curtain, he's about as anti-communist as you get, like most of the Cubans I grew up with. 

So when I complain about how it is here, he says it's not as good as it was, but we have so far to go that I can't possibly understand. I don't have enough distance perspective.  He's concerned about the direction, of course, and despises The One, but knows we're not there yet. He says we're still a free country; still more free than even Canada.

I bet you don't feel like that do you - as the developing police/security state unfolds around us, do you?  That's because of your American DNA, "baked in the cake of a people who came here to escape the top-down spirit of other places", as Hoyt puts it. She believes Americans just won't put up with much of what the rest of world will. 

A week or so after the election I asked him if he was considering going back, and he said he was.  When I asked him which was more free, Canada or Romania, he said Romania. That may not surprise you - you're probably aware of the Canadian health system and gun restrictions, just for two easy examples of how Canada is closer to the Euro-Socialist model than we are (at least for the next few months).  He says Canada is a more modern country, with better infrastructure, but Romania is more free.  Fewer highways, fewer open spaces, less infrastructure - let's just call it third world - but you can more easily do what you want. 


  1. 'still more free than even Canada.'
    That statement is highly debatable in 2012. I would say that US is in principle freer than Canada but with the possible exception of Quebec, Canada is freer than the US de facto. Look at the economic and freedom indices of Canada versus the US. Presently, Canada has a libertarian Prime Minister, well to the right of Mitt Romney, a modern day Thatcher. (For a right verses left check; note that he is far more supportive of Israel than either Obama or Romney). Consider the almost Randian speeches by his ministers which would put even Thatcher to shame.
    Obamacare and much of the US system follow a fascist, not socialist system, so it only appears at first glance to be freer. The government still holds all the cards. You talk about health care; what about the legal system of the two countries? In which country is Anglo Saxon law more entrenched? In which country are you most likely to be thrown in jail for smoking pot, or for doing nothing? Or have the authorities break into your home. Or to get beat up rather than spoken to respectfully by a police officer? In which country is the jury more likely to acquit you for reasons of their own, that no one (not even the Queen) would dare question? Canada is the capital of Anglo-Saxon law in the modern world, where a man’s home is his castle and no one, whether Queen or Prime Minister can pass. Local laws are a different story but by definition, they vary from place to place and can be avoided.
    BTW: Canadian citizens are allowed to visit Cuba. Several of my relatives have done this. I don’t agree with it but we are talking freedom here, not moral correctness. I’m far more likely to be a victim of police violence in the US than in Canada. Also, Canada only pretends to fight the drug war.
    In the long run Steve Harper will like Margaret Thatcher (the milk snatcher) probably be only a flash in the pan. But at the moment personal freedom in the Canadian rural areas is probably the greatest of anywhere in the world. And if you can find an unarmed farmer somewhere in Manitoba or Alberta, I would like to know about it. Canada may have gun laws in the sense that you have to pay a fee to own them but in the rural areas even that rule is not presently enforced.
    I’m a Canadian and I’ve lived my entire life in small town Ontario, moved to Nebraska, then to Manitoba, and finally to St. Louis so I know the US and Canada in the same east/west zone. Look at the map of Canada and tell me how many police it would take to cover an area that large to violate everyone’s rights. I bet your engineer friend lived in a large Canadian city, perhaps Toronto or Vancouver? Remember what I said about local laws? If you only count those two cities plus Montreal as Canada as most non Canadians do, then he is correct. But the map suggests otherwise and foreigners usually get a rather biased view of what Canada is all about.

    1. I should have been more clear that those were my friend's opinions, not mine. I've only been in Canada briefly, both times for less than 24 hours, and the most recent of those was over 20 years ago. I think my friend said he worked in Toronto. I believe he left around five years ago, but I'm not sure if it's 5 or 3.

      I really have no experience base to claim knowledge of life either there or Romania. I did find his perspective interesting.

      Florida, especially the southern half, has a large number of Canadian tourists and my wife and I have spoken with several who came here to avoid the Canadian health care system. I recall meeting and talking on occasion with a Toronto ER physician, who said he would come to the US if he needed anything major. That's another thing that collapses going forward.

  2. 'She believes Americans just won't put up with much of what the rest of world will.'

    No, that is not true, it will only take them longer. But when the US falls, the rest of the world falls with them. There is not much time left.

    Check out this video.

  3. I'd like to share Miss Hoyt's optimistic view of our stiffness before encroaching tyranny. Unfortunately, I can't, for the reasons I gave as a comment on that post.

    Freedom-minded, MYOB-type Americans have been and are still being outsmarted, outflanked, and outmaneuvered by the would-be totalitarians. Being individualists, we haven't learned how to league together to combat the incursions...and the tipping point has already been passed.

    1. Francis, I wish I could disagree with any of that, but it seems spot on, as do the comments. I like to believe that there is still hope, but I'm not as sanguine on that as Miss Hoyt is.

      I'm hoping that someone who has seen communism from the inside and sees us here sees things we don't and may have insights I don't.

      Another guy I work with is Russian; similar background story as the Romanian. He's sick with anger over what's happening here.

  4. I'll add this little bit about Canada: the last couple of times I crossed the Northern border, the Canadian authorities were polite, helpful, and complete gentlemen/women. Coming back, the American Border/Customs agents were rude, arrogant, belligerent, and treated my wife and I like criminals, instead of citizens.

    And I have refused to fly commercial aircraft since 2001.

    1. It's one of my favorite stories. Last time I ventured into Canada was into Alberta, on hiking trip to Glacier National Park. Late August of 1992. On the way back into the US, the customs guy asked us if we had anything to declare and gave a list. One item was citrus.

      Citrus?? From Canada ??!!11??

      I think I even said something to him about how crazy that sounded, and that I wasn't aware of giant orchards of Canadian citrus. Coming from Florida, and seeing the citrus belt move further south over the course of my lifetime, it's even more bizarre.

  5. I think both sides are right in a way, that America is both more free and less free.

    Americans tend to defer to authority less than anyone else. Even the morals-free slobs in the parasite class have no respect for authority. Just look at any Internet forum debate; you can fairly easily tell what people are Americans as they show no respect to rulers. This is why we have homeschooling and guns, for example.

    On the other hand, any increase in statism goes badly for Americans. We don't do socialism well, and the reason we don't do it well is that we have no restraint, no sense of responsibility, chasing goodies from the state (maybe I shouldn't use the word "we" here). For example American "education" is far more expensive, more bureaucratised and does a worse job actually educating than any other western country. The aim for people in the system is a cushy life for themselves, not helping kids learn. Or look at the police state. Why is there a war on drugs? Because it benefits the drug warriors, plain and simple.

    In the 19th century, European visitors to America were often struck at how much Americans wanted to chase the "almighty dollar". This has both good and bad sides...

    These two tendencies are going to experience a head-on collision shortly, as the economy crashes.

  6. Very perceptive and cogent comment there. Thanks, Paul.