A few comments from yesterday’s general blogrequest post were Canada-themed and today is Canada Day and all, so it seems appropriate.
Lurkerwithout: Why people who call Canada “socialist” are, you know, stupid
Well, they’re kind of not entirely wrong. They’re wrong to directly equate socialism with communism, which they do all the time. But the modern point of balance of government is between socialist impulses and capitalistic ones, and Canadian society is certainly more socialist than the United States is. (Then again, most of the first world is more socialist than the United States is, but that is neither here nor there.)
But it is important to point out that officially, Canadian corporate tax rates are lower than American corporate tax rates. (Of course, unofficially there are so many loopholes in the American tax code that American-based corporations effectively pay barely any tax or often no tax at all.) The tax expense of being a Canadian citizen is not staggeringly higher than that of being an American citizen, and when you take into account that our taxes pay for most of our healthcare it’s probably about even.
But the counterpoint to the actual monetary argument is one of people’s attitude towards government. Canadians may gripe, but in the end we genuinely like government services and there is a general cultural attitude of being willing to pay taxes for those government services. Certainly we’d like to pay less, generally speaking, but there’s a difference between wanting to save money and the American anti-tax attitude that treats taxation as nothing more than theft.
So there’s that.
Canadave: I’d be interested to know what you think Canadian TV needs to do to in order to become\stay interesting and\or relevant.
Honestly, this is kind of a gimme question, because right now I think Canadian teevee is mostly already doing the right things: creating lower-than-American-budget television shows with pre-guaranteed markets (Canadian and American networks) that are of decent quality. I may not like The Listener or Flashpoint, but that’s because I watched them and decided they were just not my thing; it wasn’t because they were bad shows.
Would it be better if the Canadian television industry wasn’t one that over-relied on simulcasts of American shows with Canadian commercials and re-airs of old American content? Yes, undeniably. It wouldn’t be hard, either. Just limit a channel to, oh, fifteen hours a week of prime-time American shows. Even in the heyday of the old traditional “fall season” format of television, this would have only amounted to nine hours of Canadian shows in prime-time per week, which isn’t onerous to achieve (and a fifteen hour cap would have let Canadian networks air all of their most popular American shows, easy – you miss out on re-airing According to Jim, oh darn).
But given the refusal of the CRTC to make Canadian networks do anything that might make them cry bitter tears, I think things are about as good as they can be right now.
Bunnyofdoom: Your thoughts/feelings on being Canadian and what it means to you, and/or your idea of what Canadian Identity is.
You know, it’s funny, because whenever somebody asks me this question I always think of that episode of Friends where Phoebe is blathering on about past lives, and Joey gets worried because he thinks he doesn’t have one, so she responds, “Oh no, sweetie! You’re brand new!” Which is weird both because Canada is 140ish years old now and because I’m flashing to friggin’ Lisa Kudrow on a question about Canadian identity, but nobody ever claimed that I don’t have issues.
But I think of that because Canadians don’t have an identity in the way that the French do, for example. “Polite, friendly and considerate” is a nice stereotype to have, I suppose, but A) it’s a little overblown and B) just about everybody is polite and friendly.1 Germans might be humourless, but they’re polite and friendly about not laughing at your jokes. Italians might sleep with your wife, but they will be polite and friendly about it. And so forth.
We’re still a young country, and unlike America, which was born in the sort of circumstance which immediately invents a national character, we were essentially created out of compromise and convenience. “Polite and friendly” is the sort of stereotype that gets invented in the absence of a national character. It’s like a default precisely because it’s so bland and inoffensive.
So we’re essentially a country in search of a national character. There are some appealing options beyond “we like hockey,” and one of the reasons I’m a member of the New Democrats (much as it pains me to admit it) is that I think the NDP provide the best opportunity to expand upon our instinctive search for a national character in ways that I approve of. (The Tories have their own ideas, which I disagree with. The Liberals like bland and inoffensive.)
- Except the French, and possibly the Koreans. [↩]