Canada Versus the United States: Socialism Versus Capitalism

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Canada is a socialist country

We’re not perfect. We aren’t. There’s lots to complain about up here. Many things we’ve done wrong and continue to do wrong (just look at how we treat our Aboriginal population). But we get a lot of things right. Here’s a comparison between some outcomes in Canada versus the United States. All data was taken from reasonable sources. You can fact check all of this. I think I got it right, in the hour I spent looking this up. There are many ways to look at things, but these ones are important to me, so that’s what I researched.

National debt per person in the US:             $69,000 US

National debt per person in Canada:           $41,000 CDN ($31,500 US)

Yeah, so socialism doesn’t bankrupt you. Canada has way lower debt totals than the US, even though we have a very good set of social programs that actually take care of people. Our debt is still too high, but at least we’re not at US levels.

Military spending in US per capita:               $2222 US

Military spending in Canada per capita:      $533 CDN ($410 US)

Right, that’s where the money is being spent in the US. 

Firearms in the US:                                        120 guns per every 100 people

Firearms in Canada:                                      34 guns per every 100 people

So yeah, socialism doesn’t take away your guns. Although I still can’t figure out why we have so many guns per person up here. I mean, what do we do with all this fire power? Shoot each other?

Murders per 100,000 people US:                  5

Murders per 100,000 people Canada:         1.7

So no, we don’t shoot each other all the time. Somehow, we find a way to murder less people up here. Must be because we have more police, right?

Police in Canada:                                            185 per 100,000 population

Police in United States:                                 300 per 100,000 population

How weird is that? We’re safer here even though we have fewer police officers and fewer guns.

People killed in our independence from England:                            0

People killed in American independence from England:       about 20,000

Okay, this one’s very unfair, but Canada did gain independence without a shot being fired. Just saying.

People who have health care in Canada:                              everyone

People who have health care in the United States:           about 80%

The United States is a mix of private health coverage, so levels vary. Canadian health care is a public system. In Canada, we take care of everyone, but we only spend about 10% of our GDP on health care while the States spends about 17% of its GDP on health care – and doesn’t cover everyone. Weird.

Percentage of folks in Canada who have a post-graduate degree:    54       

Percentage of folks in US who have a post-graduate degree:              33         

Going to college or university isn’t the be-all and end-all and I certainly wouldn’t suggest that you have to have a degree. But the difference is pretty stark. Why aren’t more Americans going to college?

Average cost of tuition in Canada/year:        max $6,600, as low as $2,100

Average cost of tuition in US/year:                  $9,700 state, $35,600 private

Think this has anything to do with how many people actually go to college or university in the States? 

Average income in Canada:               $61,000 CDN

Average income in United States:    $61,000 US

That’s interesting. We make about the same amount on average but we have lower debt levels and a better overall social system. That means someone must be making out like a bandit…

Total billionaires in United States:    614 (top 10 amount to $731 billion in wealth)

Total billionaires in Canada:               44 (top 10 amount to $126 billion in wealth)

Now if you really look at those numbers, Canada actually has more wealth concentrated in its top 10 billionaires per unit of GDP or population than in the United States. That surprises me. But it also says that yes, you can get insanely rich in a socialist country if you want to.

Number of political parties and choices in Canada represented at Federal level:             5

Number of political parties and choices in the United States represented:              2

You think maybe this is part of the problem?

COVID deaths per capita in Canada:                          24

COVID deaths per capita in United States:               56

This one’s sad, and all it means is that no one got it right. But the US is a richer country than Canada, and spends proportionately more of its GDP on health care, so how did this happen? 

So, tell me: what do you find fearful about socialism? And remind me: what is the greatest country in the world again? 

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Dream hard, rage hard.

40 thoughts on “Canada Versus the United States: Socialism Versus Capitalism

  1. Hi Trent. This is incredibly encouraging and enlightening. Speaking as an American awash in deep controversy over the question of “Socialism versus Capitalism”, this shed a lot of light on some of the pervasive propagandistic back and forth negativity that I feel sucked into most of the time. Speaking of that, how would you feel about me sharing this post on Facebook? I don’t know your feelings about that platform, and I really respect your reaction either way—yes or no.

    I just feel like this could clear up some of the confusion in my feed about the inherent evils of Socialism. But absolutely feel free to say, “Dear God, no!”

    1. Totally good with sharing, Holly. I don’t believe I’ve captured every part of this discussion but I’m happy to have shared what I did manage to grab.

  2. As you said, Trent, we definitely have our flaws but you need no reminder that Canada is the best country in the world. We are very fortunate to live here. I think this is a remarkable collection of information that I intend to share with as many people as possible. A couple of points I’d like to add/mention

    The US minimum wage is $7.25 US. The Canadian minimum wage is $14.00 Canadian (until Oct. 1 and then it is supposed to be going to $15.00) so even with exchange the Canadian is considerably higher. That says something about your income numbers above.

    I have always believed that education is the key to success but in recent years I have been leaning toward (actually I stopped leaning and now embrace) the Mike Rowe school of thought that learning a trade is the way to go. I know a lot of over educated people that are out of work and have to call those tradespeople whenever they need something. Add in the costs for both countries that you mention above and it seems a no-brainer. There are countries that offer free higher education to all and that is the way it should be IMHO.

    1. I forgot the minimum wage thing! Thanks for the reminder, Michelle. I agree with you about education by the way. What we call college here is a very good pathway for many people who want to enter the trades.

      1. I am the highest educated person in my family. Actually, the first to go to college and I did it twice. When I was fresh out of high school and I went back again when I was 36. I have an accumulation of 13 siblings (including me). I am the least successful and have the least to show for myself of every one of them. And I was supposed to be the big shot.

          1. Combining your post and mine on American Exceptionalism — that’s the thing though. Countries like Canada don’t need the glitter, we’re still caught up in the glitter and the whiz-bang of the thing.

            1. I figured. Your post inspired mine. Just read it early this morning. Got to think about what makes us good up here. Then stopped thinking on it and figured it’s just time to get on with it.

              1. While we’re focusing mostly on racism these days, I consider our health care system to be our biggest shame. At a time in history when every other industrialized, “modern” nation has figured this out, we’re still in the dark ages.

              2. It’s a mystery why it is the way it is. There must be a vested interest in taking care of people (as Jones said in another comment). Nothing good can come of kicking large numbers of people to the curb.

  3. 1) The login from wordpress has been borked on your site for awhile? At least for me. Maybe it’s my browser. Tch.
    2) The indoctrination of murikkka’s youth is huge and wholesale and terrifying. I spent a long time believing we were ‘the best’ and ‘the most free’ and dear god has growing up to learn how much of a lie it all was made me so terribly sad and miserable.
    3) If I could safely move my whole life and family elsewhere, almost ANYWHERE elsewhere, I would. I know this place has a lot of opportunity, and that people come here as refugees, often, but it’s *NOT* what we were led to believe, as children. Not at *all*.

    1. Weird. I have to log into your site to leave a comment. Have to check settings I suppose.

      It’s a nice thought that we’re great. I feel like your country is breaking – hopefully with a view to a better future for all. I hope the young don’t propagate the problem… but then I see that kid with the Ar15 or whatever you call it, in Kenosha. And I worry that it’s gone too far. Become too convinced in greatness of a very specific image rather than what actually makes your country special. Like a memory of greatness that includes only certain people and allows for limited privilege.

        1. I think fascism and racism is exactly the mix you’ve got just now… and that’s a horrible combination. I can’t believe people are openly advocating for stuff that amounts of fascism while dog whistling (or more) racist ideas and thoughts. It makes no sense.

    2. Also, at this point, I’m a leftist more than anything, but I DO believe that the following things should be paid for by a system contributed to by all in accordance with ability, and distributed to all in accordance with need:

      1. Homes
      2. Food
      3. Clean water
      4. Medical care
      5. Education
      6. A basic income
      7. A postal service
      8. The infrastructure to get to/do those things
      9. Probably more, but since it’s a fantasy, I might as well stop there

      I believe that people *want* to work and contribute to the society in which they live. I believe people would spend the time to become both surgeons and garbage men, both rockstars and teachers in the necessary numbers, because we *do* have a vested interest in our society thriving, and having all its needs met.

      In short: public works employees should be venerated, and billionaires should be eaten, and they’re probably closer to that in Canada than the US.

      Thanks for coming to my TedTalk

      1. Crike Jones, you just come up here, you belong here! I’m not sure about the eating billionaires thing though… but I love hearing you talk. Come to Canada!

  4. Excellent post, Trent. We do live in the best country in the world. I would never, ever want to live in the States. There are many Americans I love, and one in particular, and know they wish their “great” country would wake up, and fix what’s broken. You are right, it’s not perfect here but it’s way better than a lot of places.

    1. Thank you Dale… I love the people south of the border. I hope nothing but the best for them. I just don’t get why so many are so against things that benefit so many of them directly. We are so lucky up here.

      1. I do, too. So many of them. And I also, want nothing but the best for them. I don’t either. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
        We are extremely lucky!

  5. What an eye-opening post, Trent. Thanks for laying out the hard data. As an American with a socialist soul, I can only wish that our leaders would open their minds to the widespread benefit of serving “the commonweal.” That idea’s long gone down here.

    Obviously the military spending is our biggest folly, but the failure to impose progressive taxation on all those billionaires is a serious contender.

    Looks like the fight must go on …

    1. I hope they open their minds, too. We’re not talking about communism here. We’re talking about expanding social programs that you guys already have (like social security). It’s just about balance. I hope you guys get there.

      Keep fighting! Many European countries follow this approach too and are doing just fine.

  6. Not to mention you gave the world Rush, Neil Young, Paul Schafer, Bob & Doug McKenzie, maple syrup, and hockey. I’ll even give you credit for the moose, if you want it. I question your seasons, though. I don’t know much about them but I suspect they are all cold.

    1. You are hilarious, Walt! Listen, we are country of seasonal diversity. We are proud of our temperature variations. Also, very proud of the other things you mention, too. I would like to add Arcade Fire to the list, and Bryan Adams. There’s also this weird rumour that we own Justin Bieber and Nickelback, but they’re just nasty rumours and I don’t give them any credence.

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