Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Nationhood: what be thy cost?

That people are fearful of change is not surprizing. Yet the forces of nature are constantly at battle, reaching for a shifting equilibrium. Nature is full of change. So too are the economic forces that shape our civilization. Individuals struggle to survive in a shifting economic landscape, and the laws of nature guide us through this evolution. With the burgeoning globalization of the international economy, we are confronting culturally and economically threatening change. Livelihoods once taken for granted are lost forever to the laws of comparative advantage. We have a growing population of people left on the fringes and whose economic well-being is threatened by the forces of capitalism. More threatening, for many nationalists, is the insidious integration of peoples and cultures within the the increasing sphere of the American political economy.

Canada, whose exports to the United States account for about 83% of total exports and over 1/4 of GDP, has always been vulnerable to the American destiny. But now that destiny, thanks to the emergence of the Asian economy, and the growing stature of the European Union's economy has placed the Canadian economy at a watershed. Canadian economic integration with the U.S. market is well underway, NAFTA just one level of formalization of what must inevitably become a Union of the nation states in North America. Security threats and currency issues will further bring the Canadian dominion into the American fold. The question will remain: at what price is Canadian nationhood? Equalization payments, subsidies, and other nationalist programs administered by our federal policy makers will continue to come under painful scrutiny. Canadians - specifically young Canadians - must come to grips with individual, and regional self-interests weighed against the price of nationhood. These costs will increasingly come to the forefront. It would be of great benefit if economists and politicians started to give the Canadian electorate a clearer picture of the costs of the current reality. The costs of nationhood for this and future generations should be enumerated.

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