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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Trading places

Given its intimate association with brutal and murderous ‘ethnic cleansing’ it is entirely understandable that the term ‘population transfer’ raises more than a few hackles.

But it need not necessarily be something to fear. Provided it is thought of in terms of free trade, then I can see a peaceful and voluntary process of population transfer as a beneficial thing.

Indeed, the process already appears to be underway:

A husband and wife in Minnesota, a college student in Georgia, a young executive in New York. Though each has distinct motives for packing up, they agree the United States is growing too conservative and believe Canada offers a more inclusive, less selfish society.

“For me, it’s a no-brainer,” said Mollie Ingebrand, a puppeteer from Minneapolis who plans to go to Vancouver with her lawyer husband and 2-year-old son.

Nor are these itchy feet to be found exclusively in the USA. There are people in Britain too, like this correspondent to the Guardian (concerning the death of Dr.David Kelly), who see Canada as the ‘Golden Medina’:

I think he HAD TO BE RUBBED OUT. He knew too much, where the bodies were buried, so his had to be buried as well. Maybe you’re more honest than we are: the media and the government are co=conspirators here. So good luck. I”m moving to Canada, land of the free.

Some may see this as a tragedy but I see it as an indirect means of slashing public spending. Surely it is preferable for all these guardianistas and tax-consumers to converge upon one country where they can stew in each other’s misery rather than staying where they are, demanding entitlements and whining interminably about the unfairness of it all. Together, they can truly build the kind of society they want to live in.

Of course this process need not, and should not, be a one-way street. Canada has no shortage of ambitious, hard-working people who might see their futures as somewhat sullen in the Land of the Puppeteers. The easiest solution is for them to pack their bags and head off to less stultifying climes where their talent and energy will be both appreciated and rewarded.

In fact, that is what loads of Canadians have been doing:

But every year since 1977, more Canadians have emigrated to the United States than vice versa — the 2001 figures were 5,894 Americans moving north, 30,203 Canadians moving south.

Quite what this means for Canada in the long run I dare not even imagine but for the rest of us it can only be good news. Carry on, I say.

[My thanks to the Brothers Judd for the link and to Peter Cuthbertson for the Guardian letter.]

33 comments to Trading places

  • T. Hartin

    Mucho thanks for the numbers on emigration each way from the US to Canada. This will come in handy as evidence of people voting with their feet when next some socialist is extolling the virtues of Canadian statism.

  • David R Beatty

    I saw that article in my local newspaper yesterday. I say “Nice knowing you, don’t let the door hit you in the butt!”

  • I shall henceforth think of Canada as the Land of the Puppeteers.

  • “There will be many a dry eye here when you leave.” — R. A. Lafferty

    “Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once!” — William Shakespeare

  • mj

    “the 2001 figures were 5,894 Americans moving north, 30,203 Canadians moving south.”

    Even more shocking when you realize the US has 10 times the population of Canada.

  • JSAllison

    Hmm, losing a puppetteer, geeze there’s a kick in the gross domestic product, recover from which, we shall not. Oh, and losing a lawyer, too, cool! So wotta we have to do to ‘sicken’ the UC-Berkeley liberal arts faculty?

  • Nevermind something which isn’t shown.

    Almost all Canadians with some sort of useful education can work easily, with truly minimal paperwork in the US under the provision sof the NAFTA treaty.

    One year temporary renewable visa, 60$ at the border.

    Lots of Canadians use it, how many Americans do you think?

    It’s overwhelmingly used by skilled programmers, engineers, technical writers, etc…


  • Russ Goble

    Yeah, I saw this over the weekend and thought the same thing. See ya!

    I’m really quite amazed at all the Americans who think our health care system is SOOOO awful and that state healthcare systems are clearly awesome because “there free.” In fact, you will find few Castro apologists who don’t use the words “free health care” somewhere in their critique of the Island Paradise.

    Of course, I remember reading (in the WSJ I believe) a few years back just what the national health care system was doing in Canada. Apparently, you couldn’t choose where to practice medicine in Canada. THey had a franchise type system. So, if a small town already had enough pediatritians (with “enough” being determined by the provincial or national government), you couldn’t practice there if you were a pedicatrian. Not to mention, things like gall-bladder surgery were considered non-emergency so you’d have to wait 6 months to get such a procedure done. But, my wife had her gall bladder removed within 10 days of realizing she had a problem here in the states.

    Anyway, I’m sure there are many examples like this, probably many in Britain I’d presume, but the really interesting item was a survey of Candadian medical students. Fully 60% said they intended to immigrate to the states to practice medicine. Voting with their feet, indeed.

    I especially like this line from the article “…but said it [Canada] seems to offer a more relaxed, less competitive way of life”

    Ah…that less competive way of life. A quicker rout to mediocrity I cannot imagine. Yes, I too view this development with glee. Go, and enjoy your snow-filled and less competitive paradise. Who knew El Dorado was actually Ontario.

  • Swede

    You can have the lawyer. But dammit, we want our puppeteer back!! This will open the door for a mass exodus of mimes and rodeo clowns next! If this should happen then I weep for the future of my country.

  • Merlin

    I just want to thank these idiots for leaving and to remind them to please don’t let the door hit your a%# on the way out!

    I love the quote about healthcare. Perhaps someone should have told this imbecilic female that according to the Canadian goverments own figures 70% of Canadians who can afford it cross the border for care in the US.

    Sadly, these morons will probably be back after having tasted the good life in our socialist neighbor
    to the north for a year or two.

  • john cheeseman

    Ah! Canada! A country to timid to become American and not bold enough to remain British.

  • T. Hartin

    I am always baffled by people who think that societies controlled by people who feel free to apply your earnings and wealth to their preferred ends are somehow “less selfish.”

    In my mind, being “less selfish” starts with leaving your fellow citizens alone to do as they see fit.

  • veryretired

    Some of my wife’s youthful years were spent near Montreal while her Dad worked for a computer firm. We have tried to schedule a vacation there a few times but other things got in the way. (Next spring for sure). Her sister’s family still has dual citizenship.

    Anyway, living near the world’s longest undefended border, where two reasonably free, prosperous, and, occasionally, crabby neighbors meet, I can only say that those who wish to cross may do so at their discretion. No hard feelings.

    That’s the whole point of being free: you get to make these choices without having to climb over a wall while people shoot at you, or throw yourself into the sea clinging to a rickety boat in the hopes you will be rescued before you die. You can just pack up the old mini-van and head out.

    Next time you watch “The Longest Day”, just remember that some of the guys with the funny saucer helmets are Canadiens. They were right down the line from our guys that day too.

    So, bon voyage, puppeteer and the rest. I’ll send you a card from Montreal next June, if I have time. Second honeymoons’ can get so hectic, you know.

  • Richard A. Heddleson

    Will these emigrants be able to e-mail their relatives in the US and UK or will they have to courriel?

  • Canadians have always migrated south.

    Briefly put, the economies of scale available in the United States are far superior to those in Canada, and always have been–we’ve maintained a 10-to-1 population ratio in favour of the US since the days of New France. Couple this with the fact that Canada has always been associated with another country (France, Britain, then the US), and the fact that a large number of Canadians migrate south shouldn’t be too surprising.

    Besides, the number of Canadian emigrants is well compensated–far more, in fact–by the number of immigrants, total.

  • There’s also migration between different political regions within the U.S. It’s a sorting process. Northeasterners tired of excessive government go south and west; Californians move to Utah and Nevada. Beneficiaries of govt in the more socialist regions stay while the tax base migrates. Good. There is some justice, as well as a bit of accountability for big-spending lefty pols, in this process.

  • Johan

    if this means that people who find themselves being on the left side of the political spectrum leave USA, then I’m more than happy. They might’ve realized that they can’t defeat capitalism.

    I wonder how many are leaving Sweden for USA…I’m one of them anyway.

  • Bob

    Back when I was going to college in Vermont, my friends and I would make weekend trips across the border into Quebec to evade America’s mind-numbingly asinine 21 drinking age. Many American college kids living near the border still do this. And with pot decriminalization on tap, I suspect that many recreational drug users of all ages will soon be making similar trips.

    I’m not a fan of Canada’s gun control laws or health care system, among other things, but the country does deserve to be praised for lacking the ugly puritanical streak that runs through American politics and culture. Maybe it’s not enough of a reason to move, but for some of us, it is enough of a reason to occassionally visit.

  • R. McLeod

    Fresher stats…

    2002 immigrants from Canada: 19, 519
    from the UK: 16, 181

    The Canadian numbers have definitely been growing too…In 1999 there were just 8864. Basically, since 1992, with some ups and downs, the US has routinely welcomed around 16000 Canadians annually as immigrants.

    Someone asked about Sweden? About 1200 annually.

    Full data

    can be found here at the BCIS (formerly INS)

    Emigration data is not actually kept (except for estimates) by the US anymore…you have to go to the country where the emigre’s are going.

    Canadian data shows, however, that between 1991 and 2001, an average of about 5100 Americans emigrated north.

    Canadian immigration data

    The big picture is this: The US lets in between 800,000 and 1 million LEGAL immigrants every year.

    If you took all the nation’s of the world and added up the number of legal immigrants (I’m not talking about war refugees here), i.e., people who WANTED to leave their homelands, the combined total for the world would not equal the number the US takes in. And that pattern has NOT changed.

    No matter what some puppeteer or hysterical wingnut from Berkeley says, the numbers simply don’t lie: America remains, by far, the place where most people want to go…

  • jason

    Canadians go to the US for opportunity (read: MONEY). People come to Canada for freedom.

    The US is 10x bigger, so the cash they pay for equivalent professionals is a little less then double the amount you can make in Can. Plus, the taxes are lower. In exchange, you have to deal with racial division, higher crime rates, strict laws, and paying your way for everything (although that’s not much of a problem for an employed professional).

    In Canada, people enjoy all of the freedoms Americans have (although hate crimes are illegal here, but that dosen’t apply to 99% of people), plus they get a more lax attitude towards things like drugs, prostitution, and other “vices”. They will also never be turned away from a hospital because they don’t have insurance or their HMO sucks. And yes, all Canadians do pay a monthly fee for health coverage (just like insured Americans), but if you can’t pay, you still get treatment anyways. Our gun laws are backwards (especially registration), but I still have 3 guns in my bedroom. If I want a handgun, I can get it by jumping trough some hoops, but my pump-action Winchester is all I really need. All in all, the ONLY motivation for me (a Canadian programmer) to move to the US is to make more money. Not freedom, not liberty, not a better way of life, just cash.

    So when you see those US immigration numbers, you need to realize that they represent people (nurses, doctors, engineers) who are there to make money. I don’t blame them, who can? Of course, they are dualies (dual citizenship) who have been in the US long enough to want citizenship for the benefits it confers, but not because they think that citizenship will change them into Americans. They have been ‘American’ all their lives, like most Canadians.

  • Kodiak

    John Cheeseman,

    “Ah! Canada! A country to timid to become American and not bold enough to remain British”

    And a French invention !!!

  • T. Hartin

    “The US is 10x bigger, so the cash they pay for equivalent professionals is a little less then double the amount you can make in Canada.”

    This is bizarre. The size of the salary is not correlated with the size of the nation, or China would pay the highest salaries, followed by India, etc. The US pays higher salaries because the US economy is more productive.

    “Canadians go to the US for opportunity (read: MONEY). People come to Canada for freedom.”

    Freedom and opportunity are inextricably tied. People come to the US for both. A salaryman who agrees politically with those restricting his freedom may not notice the difference, but it is there. If Jason were a business owner, his attitude would be different, I believe.

    “In Canada, people enjoy all of the freedoms Americans have (although hate crimes are illegal here, but that dosen’t apply to 99% of people), plus they get a more lax attitude towards things like drugs, prostitution, and other “vices”.”

    While this may be true in some instances, it is untrue as stated. Canada intrudes on its citizens’ rights in ways that the US does not. Canada, for example, imposes a wide range of regulation on business that goes beyond anything in the US, it has intrusive gun registration and regulation, it allows state censorship of materials coming into Canada, etc. etc. I would not discount the heavy tax burden quite so easily either.

    “They will also never be turned away from a hospital because they don’t have insurance or their HMO sucks.”

    Neither will they be turned away in the US. I don’t know where people get the idea that anyone in the US can’t get medical care because they can’t afford it. Emergency care is mandated, thousands of hospitals and health systems are charities, and there is a safety net.

    “So when you see those US immigration numbers, you need to realize that they represent people (nurses, doctors, engineers) who are there to make money.”

    If this were true, then they would all return after making their money. Some do, of course, but the numbers indicate the vast majority stay. It seems to me that when your most highly educated adn productive citizens leave the country for their productive years, you have a problem. When they don’t return ever, you have a real problem.

  • Matt

    From Kim Du Toits website on the same subject :

    As an aside, I have to report the following wonderful exchange at Slashdot, as noted by the esteemed Cracker Barrel Philosopher:

    GFW(gun-fearing wussy): “I wish all you gun-toting fucktards would just go create your own nation.”

    Gun Nut: “We did. Who the hell let you in here?”

  • Paul Zrimsek

    The only bad news is that the typical puppeterr’s eye for the main chance is going keep this from ever developing into much of a trend. But every little bit helps. I’ll be happy to buy a “Flee Diversity” bumper sticker for anyone who wants to leave.

  • Russ Goble

    Jason, the only place where people with emergency medical needs get turned away because of lack of insurance is on the TV show “ER.” It doesn’t happen in the real world. Also, in the U.S., you can get non-emergency care far quicker and with more choices than you can in places where there is state controlled health care.

    Also, why is the freedom to make more money not part of your liberty equation.

    The freedom to keep more of my earnings and spend it as I see fit is just as important as my ability to buy a beer or a joint. And the former has a far more positive impact on me and my community in the long run.

    Yes, Canada (and Europe) has far less of the puritanical hangups we have in the U.S. But because of laws that restrict arrest warrents, search and siezures, strict property rights, I’m able to…uh…get around some of those laws just fine. Bob’s point is valid as Canada being a good place to visit when you are 19. But, since that’s only 3 years (between 18 & 21) out of your life, I’ll gladly take more economic freedom over a lifetime rather than a more leanient attitude towards a few vices.
    And I suspect that’s the same for many Canadians and Europeans.

  • MayDay72

    “I wonder how many are leaving Sweden for USA…I’m one of them anyway.” -Johan


    Are you really going to move to the United States? What parts of the country are you thinking of? Just curious…

  • Johan


    dude, you bet. First of all I’m going there for college in hopefully 2 years (have to grad from high school first…) and then I’ll be enjoying life in northeast USA, around RI and MA for the rest of my happy life.

  • JC

    I’m not surprised that Canadians are moving to the US. I live in Michigan, about 30-45 minutes from Canada (depending on traffic, not counting the travel time through the tunnel or on the bridge), and one thing that always amazed me was the sheer number of Canadian license plates I see in the parking lot at the grocery store. If you feel a need to go miles into another country just to get some groceries, and you know your salary will be higher when you work here, you’d figure you may as well just live here while you’re at it.

  • T. Hartin

    Johan – Welcome to the USA! RI and Massachusetts are about as close to living in Europe as you can get and still be in the US. You should give the Rocky Mountain west a look while you are in country – its more your 100-proof American scene.

  • Johan

    Why thank you T. Hartin. One of the many things I want to do in USA is to take a roadtrip and see as much as possible of the Land of the Free – Rocky Mountain is high on my list of places to visit anyway, so I’ll sure find my way there 🙂

  • Omnibus Bill

    Homer Simpson, as usual, has the ultimate comment on this “trend”:

    “Why would anybody want to go to America Junior?”

  • Dave O'Neill

    I’d live in the US again, but I doubt if I’d settle there. For day to day living I found it infinately more dififcult than living in the UK.

    With healthcare, the issue is not emergency treatment, its often preventative treatment which people may leave until they have something really wrong with them that the system has to pick up on.

  • Jerry

    Too bad you let your dislike for Pat Buchannan and others that don’t share your view of wide open immigration get in the way of common sense. At what point are you going to think that maybe we have enough people in the USA? When do you think we should limit the number of people coming in? Or should we just continue this insane policy of loose borders and lax immigtation enforcement? Another five years of this and main stream America will look like main street Tijuana.