Measuring Socialism in America

Which of the two countries is more socialist, Canada or the United States of America? It must first be state that neither Canada nor the USA is considered a socialist state. For the purpose of this project, a socialist state would be one such as Greece was until the early 1990″s; a country where the state owns all forms of companies and/or businesses and offers practically every type of social service known to modern governments.
Since none of the two North American countries that will be featured in this paper can accurately compare to the bove description, the paper will simply attempt to determine which of the two has a higher degree of socialism when matched against each other following a Before going any further, let”s view the conceptual definitions to the key elements of this paper. Socialism, as referred to throughout the text, can be defined as follows: any of various social or political theories or movements in which the common welfare is to be achieved through the establishment of a socialist economic system.
A socialist economic system can be defined as an economic structure in which the community owns the means of production, istribution, and exchange collectively, and the benefits are distributed to all members of that community. In this economic layout the people will run the government in a highly democratic fashion . Having established what socialism is, let”s move on to the research question, or hypothesis.

It is assumed that Canada will have a higher lever of socialism than the United States of America based on its higher level of taxation and its apparently more developed social services system. The research question is therefore: is Canada truly more socialist than the United States of America? The variables that will be used to measure socialism are the level of democracy; social services offered; the minimization of social classes; and finally, the collective ownership of factories, corporation, and companies.
According to the conceptual definition given earlier, a socialist country must be highly democratic. We must then find data that would help indicate the variable of democracy. What makes a country democratic? The representation and support of diverse political views as well as a high level of public participation in political decisions are two social characteristics that would ndicate a high level of democracy. To measure the representation and support of diverse political views, let”s examine the different popular political parties in both Canada and the United States of America.
According to the network CNN , in the latest US federal election which took place in November 2000, three political parties could be said to have garnered enough public support to be considered important. After the tally of 99 percent of precincts, the Democratic Party stood at 49 percent of public support, the Republican Party at 48 percent, and the Green Party accumulated enough votes to have 3 percent of all votes. No other party received a single percent of all votes. There is also a federal election being held in Canada this month, and the nation will vote on November 27th.
According to the latest Reuters/Zogby Research Canada poll , the Liberal Party holds the lead with an approximate 42 percent of public support, followed by the Canadian Alliance, which polled 29 percent, the Progressive Conservative Party holds 12 percent support, the Neo-Democratic Party has 7 percent and finally, the Bloc Quebecois holds 8 percent of public support. Canada therefore has five important political parties, all of which hold more public support than the United States” third important party.
However, it would be incorrect to assume that Canada is more democratic than the USA by simply counting the number of political parties. Let”s instead look at how many political views are represented in both countries. In the USA, the Democratic Party can be said to be mostly left of the center on the “left/right” line, the Republicans would be mostly right of the center, and the Green Party would be considered to represent fairly left political views.
If we place the political parties in Canada on the same left/right line according to the views they represent, we see that many more views are covered. The Neo-Democratic Party can be labeled as a far-left party, the Liberal Party and the Bloc Quebecois would be considered left-of-the-middle parties, while the Progressive Conservatives are right of the center and the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party) represents far-right views. It is evident that once the political views of the parties are exposed, Canada seems to have the edge over the USA when it comes to
Let”s now take a look at the second variable that will be used to compare the degree of democracy between Canada and the USA: a high level of public participation in political decisions. To measure this variable, we will look at the number of public representatives who are elected by the population. At the municipal level in the USA, according to the City of St-Louis Board of Elections , the population elects a mayor, a comptroller, a President of the Board of Aldermen, the members of the Board of Aldermen (councilors) and school board members.
At the state and federal levels, as maintained by the North Carolina Board of Elections , the population of North Carolina elects members of the US House of Representatives (In North Carolina,12 members are elected), associate Justices of the Supreme Court (2), Judges of the Court of Appeals (5), District Attorneys (37), Judges of District Court (87), members of State Senate (50), members of the State House of Representatives (120), Judges of Supreme Court (Non Partisan) (31), local County Commissioners ( 5), a President and Vice-President, a Governor, a Lieutenant Governor, an Attorney General, an Auditor, a Commissioner of Agriculture, a Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Labor, Secretary of State, a Superintendent of Public Instruction, a Treasurer, a Chief Justice of NC Supreme Court and an Associate Justice of NC Supreme Court. In Canada, at the local level elections are similar.
According to Elections Canada the public elects a Mayor, Councilors and School Board members, but no comptroller and no President of the Board of Aldermen, such as is the case in the United States. At the Provincial Level, according to the Government of Ontario , the population elects Members of the Provincial Government (Legislative Assembly) (In Ontario, 103 members are elected), and a Premier.
Contrary to the USA, the population does not elect the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Auditor, nor any secretaries, superintendents, treasurers, ministers, Chief Justices, Judges or District Attorneys; these positions are awarded by the governing Premier and his Cabinet. The same pattern exists at the federal level. In accordance with the Government of Canada , the Canadian population elects a Prime Minister and members of the House of Commons (In Canada, there are 301 members).
Again, there is a stark contrast with the American political ! stem, as Canadians do not elect members of the Supreme Court, or even Senators. When we count the number of representatives who are elected by the population, it seems that the American political system is more democratic than the Canadian system, as it is clear that many important positions are chosen by the people in America and by the politicians in Canada. It is important however to note that the men and women who hold the most power of all in both countries, the members of cabinet, are named by the leading politician.
In Canada these people must be chosen from the Legislative Assembly at the provincial level, and the House of Commons at the federal, therefore they were elected to represent the population . However, in the US the Governors and President may choose whomever they please as their cabinet , whether they were elected or not. Despite the previous fact, when looking at the democracy variable as a whole it must be acknowledged that the US is at least as democratic as Canada, therefore the first variable must be considered void. Let”s now move on to the second variable, well-established social services system.
For a state to be deemed socialist, it must offer numerous social services to its people, free of charge. Lets begin by examining education. The first indicator for education is the amount of years of free education that are offered by the state. Both countries offer free pre-school, elementary and secondary education through the public schooling system. (A totally socialist state would also offer free post-secondary education. ) In Canada, according to Statistics Canada , most provinces offer 14 years of free education, beginning at the age of 4 with pre-kindergarten.
The only exception is Ontario, which currently offers an optional 15th year, known as the Ontario Academic Curriculum. OAC is basically a fifth year of high school, designed to prepare students for university, also acting as their first year of university. However, the Government of Ontario has passed a bill to abolish OAC ! by the year 2002. In the USA, according to the National Education Association , all states offer 15 years of public education, beginning a year earlier than in Canada, therefore offering one year of pre-school more than the provinces of their neighboring country does.
It can therefore be said that the USA offers more years of free education than Canada does. But how much does the state spend on these years of education? Let”s look at the second indicator for the variable of education: the amount spent-per student per-year on education. In accordance with data from Statistics Canada , the three levels of government combined to spend an approximate 50,407,100 Canadian dollars per student for the school year of 1996-97. In that same year, Statistics Canada states that 5,065,914 students were enrolled in public schools across the country.
Therefore, the state spent approximately 9,949 Canadian dollars per student. Based on the US Census Bureau”s data , all three levels of American government combined to spend an approximate 5,882 US dollars per-student for the same school year of 1996-97. In order to compare these numbers realistically, let”s convert the Canadian dollars to US dollars. In 1997, the Canadian doll! ar was worth approximately 0. 68 American dollars, therefore the Canadian government spent an approximate 6,765 American dollars per-student, compared to the US government”s approximate 5,882. The next social service to be examined is income security.
It must be noted that the term “income security” does not mean exactly the same thing in both countries. In Canada, income security stands for social assistance, benefits to the elderly, employment benefits and child benefits. These services are covered by the Canadian and Quebec Pension Plans, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, Spouse”s Allowance, Unemployment Insurance, Children”s Financial Benefits, Social Assistance, and Worker”s Compensation. On the other hand, in the United States the term “income security” stands for disability insurance, private pensions, federal employees retirement, and disability programs.
These services are offered through Food Stamps, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Earned Income Tax Credit and Unemployment Compensation. In 1994-95, according to the Government of Canada”s overview of Income Security , the Canadian governments ! spent a total of 88,900,000,000 dollars on Income Security. When divided by the approximate population at the time, 29,500,000 people, it averages out to 3014 Canadian dollars per citizen. If that number is then multiplied that by . as the Canadian dollar was worth approximately 86 cents American at the time, we get 2050; the average spent per citizen in American dollars.
The United States governments spent 257,000,000,000 dollars on Income Security in 1999, according to the Budget of The United States Government for the fiscal year 2001 . When divided by the US population in 1999, which was 272,691,000, according to the US Census Bureau , we get the amount spent per citizen on Income Security: 942 US dollars. It seems as though Canada spends more on Income Security, but it must be taken in account that the US also has what they call Social Security.
The latter covers Old-Age benefits, and Survivors, and Disability Insurance. Since these services fall under the Canadian defi! nition of Social Insurance, it would only be fair to measure them under the same variable. According to the US Census Bureau, 383 billion dollars was spent on Social Security in the US in 1999. That comes out to 1405 US dollars per citizen. When added to the previous total (amount spent per US citizen on Income Security) we get a total of 2347 US dollars spent per US citizen, compared to 2050 US dollars spent per citizen in Canada.
However, before declaring the United States more socialist when it comes to Income Security, we must consider the fact that the Canadian data dates back to 1994-95, almost five years younger than the American data. It must be assumed that the Canadian Government has increased its spending on Income Security since 1995, as has been the trend with all of the social services for both Canada and the US. However, we must still recognize the fact that the United States governments spend a good deal of money on these types of services and can be said to sp! end more, or perhaps only slightly less than the Canadian governments do.
The final social service variable to be inspected is health care. In order to compare the two countries’ health care systems, two indicators will be examined: the number of health services offered for free and the amount spent per citizen on heath care. In the United States, there are two types of heath care services: Medicare and Medicaid. According the US Federal Government , Medicare is offered to most citizens who are 65 years of age or older, people entitled to Social Security disability payments for 2 years or more, and people with end-stage renal disease.
Medicaid is offered to certain low-income families to help cover their medical costs . The Medicare recipients will receive durable medical equipment such as oxygen equipment, wheelchairs, arm, leg, back and neck braces, ostomy pouches, surgical dressings, splints and casts, one pair of eyeglasses after surgery, and other medically necessary equipment that a doctor prescribes for use at home. Medicare also helps cove! r the costs for doctor’s services, outpatient hospital care, blood, lab tests and physical and occupational therapy. Medicaid on the other hand covers much more.
On the other hand, according to the Health Care Financing Administration, Medicaid recipients receive inpatient and outpatient hospital services, physician services, medical and surgical dental services, nursing facility services for persons aged 21 or older, laboratory and x-ray services, pediatric and family nurse practitioner services, ambulatory services to individuals under the age of 18 and individuals entitled to institutional services, prenatal care and delivery services for pregnant women, as well as some home health and clinical services.
In Canada, as stated by the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Heath , health care covers all services by a physician (except work or school-related physicals), five or ten annual visits to a podiatrist (chiropractors, osthopasths) and Physiotherapists, dental services do! ne in hospital, optometry services every two years for all 20 to 65 year olds and once a year for all under 20 and all over 65 year olds, and importantly, emergency care of injuries that occur outside of the country.
If we compare the services offered in both countries, we see that Medicaid is very comparable to the Canadian Health Plan, plus and minus a few services, while Medicare trails both systems, at least as far as services offered are concerned. The second indicator for health care is the amount spent per person on health services. This is an area where the US is expected to perform poorly, as mentioned in the hypothesis, because so few Americans actually receive government-paid health care. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau any form of government-paid health care covers only 24. ercent of the US population.
Medicare covers 13. 2 percent of the population, and Medicaid covers 10. 2 percent while the remaining 3. 1 percent are military personnel who receive basic military health benefits. According to the US Census Bureau , the three levels of government in the United States of America spent 40,168,000,000 dollars on 34,900. 000 Americans in 1991, therefore spending 1147 US dollars per recipient. However, when divided by the total America population at the time, which was approximately 258,000,000 people, we see that a mere 156 US dollars was spent per citizen on heath care.
Canada on the other hand offers heal! th care to all of its citizens, therefore it is expected that the per-citizen number will be higher. According to Health Canada , in 1994-95, the three levels of Canadian government jointly spent 51,900,000,000 Canadian dollars on health care. When divided by the total population at the time (29,500,000 people), we get 1759 Canadian dollars per person. Hence, after the conversion to US dollars, the amount spent per person on health care in Canada is 1196, almost eight times as much as the US spending.
Consequently, it must be alleged that although the US data is four years younger than the Canadian data, Canada still spends much more on health care than the United States does. Canada then comes out on top when we add all of the variables together in an attempt to determine who is of a more socialist nature, as far as social services go. It must nevertheless be admitted that aside from health care spending, the US does not trail Canada by an extreme amount when in comes to soci! al services, and even comes out on top when in the amount of years of free education offered through the public schooling system.
Aside from an advanced social services system, a socialist country must also have a low level of diversity when it comes to social classes. In order to reduce the difference between social classes, one must first reduce the variation of income levels. Therefore, the indicator for the variable “minimization of social classes” will be income inequality. As said by the paper Income inequality in North America: Does the 49th parallel still matter? , “Canada has not seen the substantial increase in income inequality that has occurred in the United States.
The paper states that the US” average income level has been rising rapidly when compared to Canada”s, but that the US”s income inequality has been growing consistently as well. “In terms of comparative economic well-being, Canadian families in the bottom 25% of the income distribution were better off in absolute terms in 1997 than were their counterparts in the United States. However, in the top one-fifth of the income distribution, American families had disposable incomes more than 20% higher than their Canadian counterparts.
In the top one-tenth of the income distribution, disposable incomes among American families were about 25% higher. ” (Income inequality in North America: Does the 49th parallel still matter? , The Daily, Statistics Canada) Although it was not possible to view the data that was used by the author to make the above conclusions, the information will be considered credible for this paper, as it was written on the part of Statistics Canada, which is highly reputed to be an accurate source of data. A more precise way of determining Income Distribution would be to actually compare the spread of income in both countries.
According to a US Census Bureau chart, in 1998, 3,6 percent of American households were in the lowest quintile of income (lowest level of income), 9 percent were in the second quintile, 15 percent in the third, 23. 2 percent were in the fourth quintile, and finally, 49. 2 percent of households were in the highest quintile of income. In Canada, the same chart can be found in Canadian Fact Book On Poverty, which was posted on the Posted on the Canadian Council on Social Development website (http://www. cfc-efc. ca/docs/00000327. m).
According to the data, in 1991, 4. 7 percent of the Canadian households could be found in the bottom quintile, 10. 3 were in the second quintile, 16. 6 were in the middle quintile, 24. 7 were in the fourth quintile and 43. 8 percent were in the top quintile. Although the difference may not be huge, there is no denying the fact that there is a larger gap between the income levels in the US as the above data shows.
As mentioned in the paper Income inequality in North America: Does the 49th parallel still matter? he highest quintile plays a major role in the spread of income in the US. Almost half of all households are in the highest fifth, whereas in Canada, seven percent less (43. 8) households are in the highest quintile. What does all this mean? In keeping with the conceptual definition of socialism used for the purpose of this paper, it means that Canada fits the description of socialism better than the United States of America when it comes to income distribution since the gap ! between the rich and the poor is thinner in Canada than it is in the United States.
Aside from having a high level of democracy, good social services and a low level of distribution of social classes, a socialist state must also own many, if not all businesses. That brings us to the fourth variable of a socialist state; collective ownership of corporations, companies, and factories. Traditionally, Canada has had many Crown Corporations (Corporations owned by the State), but the recent trend has been to sell these companies to private investors. Nonetheless, the Canadian governments still own many businesses today. Even so, the Federal Government still owns 49 Crown Corporations according to the Treasury Board of Canada .
The most commonly known of these corporations would likely be Canada Post, a nation-wide postal service, The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, which runs the CBC and SRC radio and television stations, and VIA-Rail. A few of the less known companies are the Canadian Commercial Corporation, International Development ! Research Center, Royal Canadian Mint, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, Export Development Corporation, Farm Credit Corporation, Defense Construction Limited, National Capital Commission, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
Bank of Canada, Marine Atlantis Inc. , and Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc. In addition to federally owned Crown Corporations, the provinces also own their own “public businesses” the government of British Columbia for example runs sixteen Crown Corporations. The most commonly known of these are BC Hydro, BC Rail and BC Ferries. The US Governments also own similar corporation, although they usually tend to be agencies more than companies. A few examples would be the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
There are however some agencies that can compare to the ones owned by the Canadian governments, as illustrated on the White House”s Federal Agencies and Commissions web page ! such as the US Postal Service, AMTrack, the Export-Import Bank of the US, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Park Service, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, the Overseas Private Investment Corp. , and the Securities Investor Protection Corp.
Since the “corporations” are included with the agencies and commissions all government sites, it is difficult to count a precise number of government divisions that could be considered “Crown Corporations” in the US. It can however be estimated that at the Federal level, between 10 and 20 of these corporations exist. In addition, the American public also owns a television station independently of all forms of government. The educational station PBS is funded entirely by the people, depending largely on personal pledges for its survival.
It must however be concluded that Canada has a great deal of State-owned companies when comp! ared to the US since it is nearly safe to say that there are at least twice as many of these corporations in Canada than there are in the United States. In conclusion, the hypothesis must be accepted, as the research proves that Canada is indeed more socialist that the United States of America. Although America is relatively strong when it comes to education, Canada does indeed spend more social services than the United States of America does. Canada also has more state-owned corporations than does the United States of America.
Since the US does not clearly come out ahead of Canada in any of the variables, we cannot claim is as being in the same league as Canada as far as socialism goes. We can however state that the United States offers more years of public education than Canada does, and that it spends approximately the same on income security. In fact, if the United States offered health care to all of its citizens like Canada does, it could be argued that both countries are very similar in terms of socialism, with Canada being the frontrunner.
However that is not the case, and what the entire research came down to was t! fact that health care is only offered to 24 percent of all Americans. The US Government actually spends 1147 US dollars per health-care recipient, only 49 US dollars less than Canada spends per recipient. What does this research tell us? It simply reinforces the theory that Canada is more socialist than the United States of America in its ways of governing. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that it is younger than its southern neighbor, that it still follows its European parents, France and England. America has matured more than Canada has, since it has been a free nation for much longer.
There is no doubting that the US has developed its own governing system, with its own distribution of services and is striving off of it economically. There is however no less doubting that Canadians are proud of their social services, and education and democratic system. It seems both countries are in a state of comfort. America is generally content with its system and Canada is also generally happy with the way the country is run. It is however always fun to peek on the other side of the fence and see how our neighbor is doing, and how we compare to him/her.

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