Hi! I’m TopTenz’s token Canadian, and I’m here to explain why you apple pie eating, baseball playing, llama-molesting Americans should be more like your northern neighbors (llama molesting is a stereotype about Americans, right?)
Whatever, the point is that Canada is awesome, and you could be too. So throw on your hockey jersey, pour yourself a nice cold glass of milk from a bag, get comfortable on your chesterfield, and proceed to learn why all of those stereotypes are stupid.
10. The Metric System
Real talk, America: other countries are laughing at you behind your back. No, it’s not because Texas makes you look fat — it’s because you won’t switch to metric. It’s a better system; don’t even argue. While you’re busy trying to remember how many gallons are in a peck, or how many cubic feet you need to fill a hogshead, we’re off jet skiing and banging supermodels. At the same time.
Sure, old habits are tough to kick, but almost every other country on Earth has managed to make the switch. Only you guys, Liberia and Myanmar are stuck in the past, and they have the excuse of crushing poverty and a brutal dictatorship. What’s your excuse, America? That’s right, you don’t have one.
I realize that switching in a country of your size is tough. But you’re not starting from scratch; metric is standard in medicine, science and the Armed Forces. If it’s good enough for the people who will take a bullet for your country, it’s good enough for you.
And hey, aren’t you guys trying to create new jobs? Think of how many people you could employ to change all those road signs, rewrite all those textbooks, and run the Metric Conversion Training Camps every citizen would be required to attend for two weeks. That’s like, a ton of jobs. A metric ton.
9. No More Pennies
Speaking of the outdated and useless, when’s the last time you used a penny? Unless you like to crush them on train tracks or flick them at hobos, they’re about as useful to have in your pocket as lint. Well in Canada, pennies have gone the way of the dodo, if the dodo had been slowly phased out instead of brutally hunted to extinction. We’re getting rid of pennies, and we’re going to save an estimated 11 million dollars a year by doing so. Think of all the penny candy you could buy with that!
If you think that’s a pretty, uh, penny, wait until you see how much you could save in America. Actually, you don’t have to wait, because I’m telling you now: 58 million dollars. To put that in American currency, that’s about 9.6 million Big Macs, or 0.5% of one of those fancy new supercarriers you guys are working on. That’s like, all the paint, or maybe most of the nails and screws.
It seems like such an obvious move, considering a penny costs you two cents to make. The biggest argument against eliminating the penny is that businesses might raise prices to the nearest five cents. First of all, boo hoo. What, you might have to fork over an extra nickel to buy milk? Maybe if you saved your pennies and cashed them in, instead of chucking them at the homeless, this wouldn’t be a problem.
But you can relax, Uncle Moneybags. In countries where the penny has been eliminated, like the UK and Australia, businesses have played fair. Do you want to fall behind Australia? Australia? If that happens, you might as well just pack it in and call it a day. America was nice and all, but now it’s kangaroos and boomerangs, baby. And nobody wants that, so get rid of your freaking pennies already.
8. One and Two Dollar Coins
Let’s stay on the subject of coins, because what could be more fascinating? Now, maybe you don’t want to get rid of coins because you’re a bluff old traditionalist, or maybe you just enjoy hearing their jingle jangle in your pocket because they help you pretend you’re rich while you trudge off to work at the Poor People Factory. That’s where poor people work, by the way, not where poor people are made. Poor people are made when a poor mommy and a poor daddy love each other very much.
Well I have good news, weird sentimentalist and/or poverty stricken factory worker—your pennies can be replaced with one and two dollar coins. We have them in Canada, and they’re just swell. They’re called the loonie and the toonie, named after the loon on the reverse and the 8th Prime Minister of Canada, Gregory Toonie, respectively.
It’s hard to explain just how much more convenient dollar coins are; you have to experience them. But I’ll try my best. True story: on one of my trips to your fair country, I waited a good fifteen minutes to get on a bus. That’s because every passenger had to feed dollar bill after dollar bill into the toll machine, wait for it to get sucked in, and then try again if it was rejected, which happened a lot. I’m not one for hyperbole, so believe me when I say the process was literally comparable to being waterboarded. I was loving my trip to America before that bus arrived, but by the time we were finally rolling, I was plotting to assassinate the President.
If we had been in Canada, we would have just tossed some coins in and arrived at our destination by the time the last passenger in the Yankee bus was finally sitting down. Same deal with vending machines — while you’re struggling to make the machine take your money, I’m already cramming my face full of Funyuns. Coins are just so much better.
Still not convinced? Okay, how about this—switching to coins could, over thirty years, save the government an estimated 5.5 billion dollars. Damn, what are you guys printing your bills with, white tiger blood? You could buy an actual healthcare system with that kind of money.
Alright, enough about currency. Let’s talk football. As you may know, Canada has a football league, the CFL, populated by all the players who weren’t good enough for the NFL. I’m not a huge football fan, so I’m not going to get into all the little technical differences between the Canadian and American games. All you need to know is that we only use three downs, and stuff like this can happen:
Doesn’t that look fun? And while everyone is entitled to their opinion, the three down system is objectively superior and you’re wrong if you think otherwise. There’s much more passing, which makes for a quicker, more exciting game, unless you’re a huge fan of two-yard running plays.
Before you stand up and demand I be lynched as a heathen, I’m not saying you should change the NFL at all, even though it’s slower than watching two turtles make love on drying paint. I’m just saying you should maybe think about getting into the Canadian rules, too.
We can take it slow. Start by watching a CFL game or two, and check out a Grey Cup. The Grey Cup, both the game and the trophy itself, is awesome. It’s the oldest professional trophy in North America, and it’s been around. It’s been broken more times than we can count, stolen twice, held for ransom, and it’s survived a fire. Plus, it just looks like a trophy should.
See? That’s something you want to win. Meanwhile, the Vince Lombardi Trophy looks like an Egyptian obelisk pegging a football. I know which one I’d rather have in my living room.
The Grey Cup game itself can be tremendously entertaining — famous instances include the “Mud Bowl,” the “Fog Bowl,” the “Ice Bowl” and the “People from Saskatchewan are Dumb Hicks Who Can’t Count Bowl” (we’re not very good at names) Once you’ve seen a couple Grey Cups for yourself, maybe you could try playing some games of your own. Or maybe some of your cities could rejoin the CFL — Baltimore already won the Grey Cup once, why not compete for it again?
The way I see it, this is just a chance for you guys to watch even more football than you already do. You’re obsessed with the NFL and college football, so why not throw the CFL into the mix? The seasons don’t even align, so it’s not like you have to choose between them. What else are you going to watch in the offseason, Arena Football? Is that even still a thing? Give Canadian Football a try some time when you’re bored — you may be pleasantly surprised.
For those of you woefully unaware of what poutine is, it’s pretty straightforward. You take French fries, smother them in gravy and cheese curds, and then you have an orgasm in your mouth. No, not that kind.
If that’s not enough for you, throw some more unhealthy food in there. Bacon? Done. Sausage and eggs? Go for it. Hell, some places will put caviar and truffles on their poutine, so you can feel classy while you’re clogging your arteries. I can go to the local poutine place and get corn dogs and mustard on mine. Why? Because suck it, healthy eating. That’s why.
I’m actually surprised poutine hasn’t caught on in the US, considering it’s basically a heart attack on a plate. I guess I shouldn’t be trying to get you hooked on yet another fatty food considering you’re dealing with that whole obesity thing. But it is so delicious, you guys, seriously. You obviously have no serious intention of reining in fast food consumption, so you might as well eat the good stuff.
As we all know, America invented freedom. Good work on that. But I’m afraid that somewhere along the line between 1776 and today, you guys dropped the freedom ball, and Canada picked it up and ran with it. Don’t like my freedom ball metaphor? Well that’s just too darn bad, because I’m free to make it.
Don’t worry, I’m not one of those hippies who calls America a fascist police state because he got fined for not wearing pants in public. I’d just like to point out that Canada is ahead of the US on pretty much every major freedom index, including the Press Freedom Index, the Democracy Index, the Index of Economic Freedom, the Economic Freedom of the World Index, and the Freedom 500. Where’s the land of the free now, bitches?
Lagging a little on democracy and press freedom may not surprise you, considering the election you just had. But economic freedom? “Say wha?!,” I assume you’re saying right now, because I like to pretend that my audience consists primarily of stereotypical African-American women.
That’s right, girlfriend — when you factor in ease of business operation, property rights, labor and financial freedom and corruption, Canada comes out on top. Oh snap!
All that freedom adds up — Canada and America are 12th and 23rd on the IDHI, aka the official How Awesome is Life in Your Country? Index. 23rd isn’t bad, but you can do better. I know it’s easy for me to say that, and I don’t mean to sound preachy because, when you get down to brass tacks, America is pretty alright. But if you can find ways to improve on these metrics, you can be even alrightier. Demand better from your media and your government. You go, girl!
4. Economic Culture
Hey, you know what one of the benefits to all that freedom is? A strong economy. Now the economy, like the platypus, is a complex beast. And like the noble platypus, a lot more than freedom is factored into its performance. But all that there freedom don’t hurt none, and this is a list on the Internet, not a freaking policy study. If you want one of those, go bug the Cato Institute or something.
I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but Canada’s economy is doing pretty well. Compared to the States, we have a better unemployment rate and debt ratio. We have stable banks and stable mortgages. We’re working less, making more, and living longer. We’re even getting laid more. Well, I’m not, but you know. On average. So score one for freedom, literally.
In addition to that sweet ol’ freedom, differences in our attitude towards debt may play a factor. Americans are buying bigger houses and nicer cars than us, but they’re going into debt to do it. We Canucks are pretty good at avoiding debt, and so our per capita debt is much lower than yours. Why? It might have something to do with our respective consumer cultures. Americans are bombarded with even more advertisements than we are, and buying your way to a happier future is the American dream.
I’m not saying Canadians are a bunch of monks who have rejected material wealth. I love the gadgets I’ve bought more than I love most of my friends. But I don’t go into debt to buy something I can’t afford and, from our perspective, it almost seems like that’s what you Yanks are encouraged to do. So … maybe don’t do that quite so much? Look, I’m not a financial adviser; I’m just sayin’.
3. Political Culture
Americans pundits like to point to Canada as an example of either a liberal paradise or a socialist hellhole, depending on which side of the fence they’re on. But from our perspective, that’s focusing on the wrong issue.
You see, Canada doesn’t have any of that pansy “checks and balances” crap that’s in the American political system. If the Prime Minister wants to get something done, it happens. A majority government has, for all practical purposes, unilateral power. So, unless their platform is based on genocide, they can get stuff done fast. That’s handy when you’re trying to, say, kick-start a struggling economy.
By contrast, the American political system has reached the point where Congress can’t buy new pens without putting it through months of committees, tacking on a rider about abortion, calling it the new Holocaust on Fox News, and inevitably voting it down. If our political systems were animals, Canada’s would be a graceful gazelle while America’s would be a … fat gazelle. With a broken leg. And polio. A fat, gimped gazelle with gazelle polio. Can gazelles even get polio?
Some would argue that the US political system is working just as intended, although they’d have to put air quotes around “work” at the moment. And the Canadian system is hardly without its flaws, as anyone who didn’t vote for the party in power — and that’s the majority of the country — kind of gets screwed. At the moment, that screwed majority includes me. But I also recognize that governments need to make things happen, even if I don’t necessarily agree with what they’re doing.
The topic of reforming the American political system is a complicated one that should be left to people far smarter than me. But the political attitude of turning every issue into trench warfare, that can change. I would humbly suggest that you try to usher that change along
2. Gun Culture
You may have noticed that guns have been in the news lately. It seems to be sort of a problem. And while I can’t claim that Canada has a spotless record on gun violence, I think you can still learn a thing or two from us.
See, contrary to what you might believe, guns in Canada are not tightly controlled by The Man. We’ve got almost ten million legally owned firearms here—not bad for a country of only 33 million people. And while it definitely takes more work to get a gun in Canada, upstanding citizens shouldn’t run into any problems. Pass a safety course, wait a few weeks for a background check, and bam, you’ve got yourself a license. You’re limited in what you can buy compared to what’s available in America but, if you’re looking to go hunting or target-shooting, you won’t be let down.
And that’s pretty much all guns are used for here. The big difference in gun culture between Canada and the US, is that a large percentage of our gun owners don’t think they’re going to need their firearms to fight the government when the G-men come to put them in concentration camps. Guns are enshrined in America’s cultural consciousness as a fundamental tool of freedom, but in Canada they’re just a thing.
Now, debating the role of guns in American culture would require an entire article of its own (hey, found one!) and I’m in no position to tell you what to think about them anyway. I’d just like to point out that it’s possible to crack down on guns a bit without an evil dictatorship taking control of the country. We’re proof. So while you’re trying to sort out this whole gun thing—and best of luck with that, by the way—try to scale back the rhetoric. You’d be surprised how much it helps.
Okay, yes, I’m ending this with a stereotype, but there’s truth to it — hockey is awesome. Yet, despite having 23 pro teams to support, you don’t give it nearly as much love as you do other sports. Where’s the love, America?
Even if you’re not a huge fan, hockey is pretty much all you got once the Superbowl’s over. Baseball’s just getting going by the time the Stanley Cup Finals comes around. Basketball? Don’t make me laugh. Nobody likes basketball, they only watch it because they hope the teams they hate lose. NASCAR? Stop. Just … just stop. If you want to watch people go in circles for hours, go read some YouTube comments.
And did you know something? America is pretty darn good at hockey. You guys won the 2013 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships — did you hear about that? And you beat Canada on the road to doing it. Hell, you didn’t just beat us — you embarrassed us. Up here it was a national crisis treated with the same severity that you gave Watergate, but it barely warranted a passing mention on ESPN.
And that’s a shame, because hockey is one of the few sports played in the States that has a truly competitive international scene. It’s either watch exciting international hockey tournaments every year, or wait four years to see the US get knocked out of the World Cup by some African country 90% of you couldn’t find on a map. Plus, getting into hockey is way easier than reforming healthcare or whatever. So what do you say?
You can read more from Mark at his website.