I have a good friend of almost 17 years who’s a highly accredited record producer and college professor. His name is Dan Brodbeck and he’s Canadian. We’ve never really talked about quality of life, taxation, health care, governments, or even the long-running assumption socialized medicine results in “longer wait times”. Since our relationship has mostly been over the phone and email, we’ve just focused on music, family, jokes and well wishes. Luckily, even a few beers. With all this downtime and a large album project underway, I got curious.
How’s your country handling the COVID-19 crisis? Are you guys on lockdown?
“Pretty much all of Canada is for the last 2 weeks and there’s no end in sight. Shutting down has slowed the spread here: 8500 cases and 38 million people who are quite spread out. Our Prime Minister goes on TV every morning at 11 am and explains what they’re doing, what’s changed and pleads with people to stay inside.” Hmm…
What about your economy? Have they worked on an incentive package to keep everyone sheltered-in-place?
“Every person who’s lost work due to COVID-19 including self-employed gets a non-recoupable $500 a week check for 4 months backdated to March. If you still have a job or are working an essential service (grocery store, pharmacy, etc.) you don’t get one. Oh, and the government is paying 75% of small business’s payroll. 75 fucking percent!” Incredible!
How about financial cessations? What’s Canada doing there?
“Banks are holding off mortgages if you call them and the government is urging people to not collect rent although it’s barely happening. Hydro rates have dropped to help out and it’s illegal to evict a tenant right now.” Yeah, that’s sort of in-line with us. Sort of.
This got me thinking, how’s your health care? Don’t laugh but what about wait times? Everyone here loves to talk shit about the wait times elsewhere. (As if we don’t wait here.)
“Every single person gets the same care. There’s no such thing as paying for a better doctor. A billionaire goes to the same doctor as the homeless guy and our doctors get paid, man. I’ve seen their homes. They deserve it and they get it. I looked up US health care for an average 50-year-old and it is WAY more than the difference in our taxes. The difference is low-income people pay low taxes and if low enough, none at all but they get the same health care as the billionaire.” Wow. “If you go to the emergency room and have a sore leg, you’ll be there for hours.” Same here. “If you go in with chest pains, you’ll be taken right in.” Same-ish, TBD. “For critical or emergency operations, you’ll be taken care of right away. My spinal fusion 4 years ago was not quite an emergency but very serious. I got operated on in 6 weeks. If it was an emergency like it was when I was 30, I was operated on the morning after I went in. My dad died of brain cancer 11 years ago. His was not curable and we all knew it but to give him a quality of life they operated. That would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars. My spinal surgery would have been $100K easy but I paid nothing.” WHAT THE FUCK! That would bankrupt half our country and yours is free!? (Note: “quality of life”)
Don’t tell me college is free? I won’t be able to stomach it.
“University is not free but it’s not expensive either. Western in London is one of the best in the country. So is the University of Toronto or McGill in Montreal (our Ivy League). Western is $7k a year, not $40k. The government pays for the rest and the student has no idea. Fanshawe is $3800 a year.” Dammit!
Ok, what do you pay in taxes? It has to be 45%, right? (kidding, of course) I mean that’s what they say. (Whoever the fuck “they” are.)
“Our taxation rate is about 18% up to $100K. Over $100K you get into a higher tax bracket, Like 30%. So if you earn $110K, only the $10K is taxed higher.” Wow, man!
So wait a minute. It can’t be free-market then, right? There’s just no way.
“It’s very much a free-market industry but some things are regulated by our government more than the US like businesses. We really aren’t socialists although there’s more socialism here than there. So we are capitalists with some compassion LOL. Corporations are taxed. Amazon Canada pays tax, Amazon US doesn’t. Tax on booze is higher so it’s more expensive but weed is legal. It’s not France, where the taxes are through the roof but it’s not America where poor people are basically fucked. Our minimum wage in Ontario is $14hr. That’s still not enough to live comfortably. You’re taxed more if you make more and the number of people that abuse it is so low. I know people who’ve mooched off of the government and that’s gonna happen but it’s not like it’s enough to really live well. The incentive is to work.” Imagine that. Capitalism with compassion. Incentives to work.
I just don’t get it. I mean, I understand why some don’t wanna pay for others to succeed (if that’s how you look at it). But what about quality of life? One of my favorite clapbacks to those who argue against more socialism: have I ever once said anything that wouldn’t help you? Not, that might ‘hurt’ you—cause that’s subjective—but wouldn’t help you? Or, your mom? Your Grandma? Just because you believe in capitalism, which I do as well, doesn’t mean you can’t believe in decency. Capitalism and socialism can coexist. (They currently do in America, it’s just unpopular to expand on it.) You can still be The Wolf of Wall Street one day (statistically not likely, but keep trying) and the sheep of Elm Street to/for your family. Which is more likely, that you’ll have a family or more money than you’ll ever need? Rhetorical.
His final thought and I couldn’t have said it better myself, “It [COVID-19] will devastate the economy for a bit but what the fuck is an economy without humans?” That ^
I’ve stopped entertaining the simplicity of someone telling me to “move there” if I “hate America so much.” I don’t hate America and that’s not how America works. Chasin’ me off cause you don’t like what I have to say is not how our country was framed, amended and it’s not how all of our greatest achievements were engraved.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me anything it’s how uncertain, unaware, Americans are. I mean, that is the goal, right? To create dissension and division within our ranks. Less than 30 days ago, 50% of the population would’ve literally said “fuck you” on national television to anyone trying to get $12 from the government let alone $1200. Now, not a peep. If anything, it’s mass hysteria about how they can get their checks sooner. There’s only one reason for this complete 180, this philosophical change of heart. It finally affected them. The only thing that changed is now it’s on our doorstep. Profoundly. Did you ever see it coming? (Either/or.)
Financial planners and philosophers have been saying it for decades and no one would listen. They’ve made countless references to the fragility of the American Dream: A simple car accident, terminal diseases, job/stock market crashes, addiction, and no one would entertain. But now, it’s different, right? Is it, though?
Just remember, you and I can have a better quality of life. One, even worth fighting for. We deserve it. Most interesting to me, we don’t have to fight each other to obtain it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The next time someone says, “But that’s Canada” ask yourself this: is their quality a life really unattainable, or just something people in positions of power don’t want you to have?