On February 16th, Gallup released the results of a poll that has been conducted for the last 20 years with some new results and some similar results. This question of Americans’ views toward their international neighbors has been asked for a couple of decades. Here’s the question: What is your overall opinion of [country xyz]? Is it very favorable, mostly favorable, or very unfavorable?
The top result was that fully 99 percent of Americans have a generally favorable view of Canada. Here are some others that are at the top of the list: Australia (93%), Germany (86%), Japan (83%), and India (75%). These ratings are at record highs. Great Britain came in at 90 percent and France at 75.
My first thought was that in an age when a mindset of American Exceptionalism and contempt for anything international has swept the public discourse, the views of these respondents are a welcome sign of openmindedness. As we all know, this flies in the face of some “facts” that have been churned out against anything that may pose the slightest threat to “free market, cut-spending” dogma.
First, let’s take Canada.
Canada's national health insurance program (also called Medicare) is designed to ensure that every resident of Canada receives medical care and hospital treatment. The cost of care is paid through general taxes or through compulsory health-insurance premiums. Yes, an individual mandate.
Some folks might recall that a year ago this month on Fox News' America Live, Megyn Kelly brought viewers’ attention to the case of a Canadian couple who Kelly claims has been "ordered to let their 13-month-old boy die." However, one-year-old Joseph Maraachli had been at the Victoria Hospital in London since the preceding October, suffering from a progressively deteriorating neurological state according to medical reports.
After being hospitalized for three months, young Joseph's brain had apparently lost its functioning capacity, with his reflexes and responses classified as abnormal. The attending physicians concluded that Joseph had no chance of recovery and would only continue to deteriorate. A deliberated decision was made to remove Joseph's breathing tube. Despite these sad facts, Joseph’s condition provided Fox News and its viewers with a ghoulish but perfect example of that diabolic socialist health care system uncomfortably close to our north that’s designed to deprive its citizens of the care they need.
Canada has had a storied history of liberalism, socialism and communism. The Communist Party of Canada is considered "Canada's party of socialism" with origins going back to 1921. It’s actually the second oldest existing political party in Canada after the Liberal Party of Canada. The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) was created in 1971.
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, many socialists believed that the working class, the largest group in Canadian society, as it is in the Southern 48, could work with government in a peaceable fashion to abolish poverty, inequality and class exploitation. They still believe that capitalism can be transformed through legislation to a more humanitarian form of exchange.
Another top rated choice among these American respondents is Australia. The health care system Down Under is well regarded globally. Adding a little perspective, a 2010 survey by the Commonwealth Fund, places the United States’ healthcare system last, despite having the most expensive health system in the world. The Netherlands ranks first, followed closely by the United Kingdom and Australia.
In the Commonwealth ranking, Australia ranks first in “long, health, productive lives” and second in “effective care, patient centered care and efficiency. Overall, Australia ranks third, but unfortunately rates poorly with regards to access.
France has provided the Right with a liberal whipping boy intermittently since their denial of support for American involvement in Viet Nam and more recently for the American invasion of Iraq. Remember when Chairman of the House Administration Committee Bob Ney ordered cafeterias to rename "French fries" to "freedom fries" in a posturing display of American ire directed at the French’s audacity to practice independent thinking on the issue of Iraq? Those pompous French. Don’t these respondents have TVs or go to McDonald’s?
According to The American Thinker, “the American left embraces a romantic myth of the superiority of French socialism, to impress upon mushy minds that the corporatist state envisioned by Obama would be a good thing. The American left has always cherished a similar myth: the myth of the superiority of European socialism. John Kerry and Barack Obama, and their many supporters, have spent decades attempting to reshape America in the image of France.” Gallup is not known for bias in its sampling results.
In terms of tax rates, Germany’s top income tax rate is 42 percent. Its corporate tax rate is 33.3 percent and it sales tax, which is a valued added rate, is 19 percent. For France, the top individual rate is 40 percent and the corporate, 33.3 percent. Another top rated country of American admiration across the ideological pond is the United Kingdom with a relatively progressive tax structure: according to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, the figure is 20 percent for annual incomes under £35000, 40 percent for annual incomes between £35000-150000£ and 50 percent for annual incomes over £150000. These figures compare with a top rate of 35 percent for individuals and 38 percent for corporations.
Could we Exceptional Americans who so cherish low taxes, private medicine and hate leftwing democratic social policies of Europe and elsewhere not see that our love is in vein? What’s next? Will we trade in our exceptionalism for a new world order? Are we becoming those dreaded “citizens of the world” that Newt Gingrich has so adamantly denounced? The short answer is no.
I’m guessing that either Americans are beginning to see past the fallacy of their bucket of freedom fries and replacing it with an appreciation for our economically and socially developed neighbors who surely have something to offer when it comes to a value added, recent turmoil in Europe notwithstanding. This could be a hint that we are trading in our freedom fries to borrow a cup of sugar.
When all is said and done, the bottom line is that we can let Mitt off the hook for checking France off his “bucket list” of things to do and places to go.