The largest percentage of my readers are either American or Russian, which seems strange to me since I’m actually Canadian. Of course, we don’t have the same volume of people up here, and maybe the numbers are representative of that. Maybe it’s because I write more about American politics than I do Canadian. There’s a reason I involve myself, though, despite having been told on numerous occasions by Americans that it’s really none of my business. The reason is that, well, yeah, it really is my business. Why? Because the US is a global power that affects every other country in the world, and it hugely affects Canada. Every decision made by the American government changes the lives of Canadian citizens.
I’ll use three specific subject areas to illustrate my point and ignore all the other ways we’re impacted. Those three are environmental, economic, and enforcement. I wasn’t trying to be cute with an alliteration or anything. It just worked out that way.
All environmental issues impact every single person on this planet. Period. What is done in one country does not stop at its borders. Every pollutant is absorbed into soil, water, and air. Soil is the only thing that stays pretty much where it’s already at. Global climate has been drastically altered already, no matter what the politicians who say, “I’m not a scientist, but…” try to tell you. Listen to the scientists that know what they’re talking about – climatologists, not meteorologist. Even the gardening websites and the plant hardiness zone maps have had to be altered with respect to which plants can survive in each zone. Why? Because the planet has warmed up. Twenty years ago we thought nothing of two feet of snowfall where I grew up. Now it becomes an emergency when there is six inches and they ground all the planes, close the schools, and inconvenience tens of millions of people. Maybe the people in Texas don’t notice the change, but anywhere with snowfall is a different story. We used to have a lot, and now we get a light dusting…in Canada. Yes, that country in which residents are often still believed to be living in igloos. If we were, we’d all be homeless these days.
Remember the global economic crisis? Do you actually know what financial experts believe was the cause of it? It started with President Reagan. The deregulation of the financial sector began during his presidency. They thought trickle-down economics was a good thing. With partial regulation still in place it wasn’t a complete disaster…yet. Now I see a lot of people who call themselves Liberals (in the American meaning of the term, with respect to it being a political affiliation), trying to blame George W. Bush. I sympathize, because I’d like to blame everything on him, too, but it’s not true and there’s no point in trying to rewrite history. It was the now-darling Bill Clinton, who at the time they allowed to be impeached (they didn’t like him so much back then apparently, as they seem to these days – memories are short), who signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (enacted in November 1999).
At this point the financial industry was pretty much completely deregulated. Now, the economy does not respond fully to anything within a short period of time. It took about ten years. W. was on his way out, and Obama was coming in, when the crap really hit the fan. Every economic power in the world was hit, and hit very hard. Why? Because the US does business with every other economic power in the world. They buy things, they owe money to many nations, and they sell things. They are the economic superpower, and if they fall we all do. The liberals apparently did get part of it right, though. The Act was co-sponsored by Gramm, Leach and Bliley, hence the name, who were all Republicans. Clinton should have known better, perhaps – economics was supposed to be his thing. Republicans and Democrats both voted it in with a large majority, though, so let’s do without any political smugness with regard to affiliation. Politicians just generally suck.
I tried to think of a better word for this, but nothing else fit with my meaning. What I refer to is military enforcement and policing of countries other than its own. I’m not saying at this point whether it’s good or bad that the US is involved in affairs outside its own country, just stating the fact that they are. Their involvement not only affects the country they’re in, but also pulls in involvement from other nations. Even when other countries refuse to bolster their military actions, some will be involved militarily simply as humanitarian aid. Canada refused to help invade Iraq, but we were still there. Canada actually had the first boots on the ground in Afghanistan, though not for combat reasons, so the US certainly isn’t the only country whose military butts in. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that military involvement, and the enforcement of the so-called ideals of Americans (though it’s not usually the populace that is pushing it, but the government, and the reasons often have little to do with ideals – more like natural resources, or political power), rewrites map lines and affects the way of life of people outside the US.
There are other global influences originating from the United States, such as cultural – things like music and movies (and when it comes to Canada we’re definitely subjected to a huge amount of American television programming) – but environment, economics and enforcement are the really important factors that can and do have a life and death impact. Given that there’s a lot of writing fodder available with regard to American politics, and the fact that most people know a lot about the US, yet almost nothing about other countries (except their own, possibly), it’s not surprising that the US gets ‘picked on’ globally. I’ve been asked many time why everyone talks about how terrible the US is, and why nobody is really focusing on forcing the middle east to conform. My best guess is that people have given up the middle east as a bad job. With the mindset we’re seeing over there, it just doesn’t seem as though there’s any hope at all for any kind of humanitarian reform. Take global interest and criticism as a compliment. It means we care, and we still have a bit of hope for Americans.
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