Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day - Just How Much To Celebrate?

It's July 4th today, the biggest day of celebration for Americans. What I personally value most about it is the fireworks display and the opportunity to go on a mini-vacation for the long weekend.  Right now Anita and I are enjoying our road trip to Toronto, meeting up with friends and family after stopping to admire Niagara Falls for the nth time.

For U.S. patriots it's unquestionable that the U.S. winning its war of independence was the best thing that could ever have happened, and was the basis for U.S.A. becoming a superpower. We're certainly in a very happy place, and Americans have a lot to be very proud of. 

But what if the war of independence had never been fought, or our founding fathers had lost it and the British continued to rule as a colonial power? It's similar to what happened when the Rebellions of 1837 were successfully put down in Canada. Would Americans today really have been worse off?

An answer may lie in looking at how other colonies set up populated largely by British and other European settlers have evolved to this day.  These are Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  The GDP per capita comparison shows Australia's is higher than U.S.A.'s ($67K Vs. $53K), Canada's is almost the same ($52K) and New Zealand's lags slightly at $41K. All of them have robust democracies and good quality of life for their residents that some may argue is better (because of universal healthcare, lower crime, lower unemployment, etc.) than for the average American.

The British were hardly monsters who mercilessly exploited these colonies made up of their own emigrants.  Over time they loosened their grip so that self-rule evolved anyway.  It is entirely possible that the American States with their larger population, more favorable geography and climate would have done even better.

More importantly, Canada and U.S.A. could have been one country if we had evolved instead of breaking away from British rule. That would mean twice the land mass, all the oil and gas (including shale oil), minerals and other natural resources of Canada added to our own.  More liberal Canadian thinking may have tempered our (new) Tea Party activism and influence.  Heck, Britain also abolished slavery in 1833, so we may never have come to events leading up to the civil war.

It's a good question as to what Canadians would have gained from being part of the U.S.  Should our successful war of independence and 4th of July be celebrated equally by Canadians because it gave them a whole country (with much higher natural resources per inhabitant) to themselves?