Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

U.S. best in Olympics; in business, Ontario is a better choice

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Canada is in the spotlight for the last half of February with the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in one of the most beautiful cities in the world in Vancouver, British Columbia.

With the focus being on the Great White North, there are opportunities to showcase what Canada has to offer. One organization is running ads during the Olympics to do just that. InvestInOntario.com is running an ad touting Ontario’s favorable tax rate as a reason for businesses to invest in the province.

The ad notes that “Ontario’s combined federal/provincial corporate income tax rate is lower than the average combined federal/state rate in the U.S.”

While I don’t run a business, the tax rate might be something to seriously consider, though there are likely more corporate loopholes in the U.S. tax system than in Canada’s system. But if I were running a business in 2010, I might invest in Ontario (or another Canadian province) for two more vital reasons.

In running a business, I would want better educated workers. In the Western world, most countries blow away the U.S. in terms of education. We fall way short even when things are normal. But when Utah seriously considers getting rid of 12th grade, when Hawai’i cuts back on its school year, this doesn’t inspire confidence.

Better educated workers might not make some CEOs think twice, but there is one other area where Ontario — and Canada — shines that would perk up the ears of a CEO: health care costs.

If you set up in Ontario, or elsewhere in Canada, there are no administrative costs, no hassles, no money to put into a system.  No worries about running a health care are system in Ontario or any other province for that matter.  And no incentive for employees who are stuck in a job to stay where they are miserable just because of health insurance in the United States.

The mess that the United States has made over health care is costing this country in ways that normally inspire change. After all, since corporations are now people, and to politicians, people they have cared more for than regular people, if corporations are upset, they should get changes they need.

But politicians are listening to health insurance companies and Big Pharma more than they are listening to General Motors and other companies affected by the disparity of health care costs.

Whether you are in favor of the public option or insist on “tort reform,” separating the employer from the health insurance system should be something we can all agree on doing. Corporations and people (not one and the same) should agree that having an employer-based system hurts employers, workers, and the American economy.

Want to improve the economy and create jobs? Those on the left and right all agree: getting rid of employer-based health care would be a huge jump start.

The only ones that don’t agree are those in non-corporate power. Politicians standing in the way against progress: employers and workers agree on few things, but this would be one of them.

We are competing on ice and snow against countries from all around the world for 16 days on the international stage. By that count, the United States is currently far ahead of everyone in the medal count. The United States has more medals (18) and more gold medals (6) than any other country, and the Americans have a 7-medal lead over second-place Germany.

However, in the international economic world, we aren’t up for a gold, silver, or bronze medal. We aren’t even in the top echelon. We need a lot more training and practice. But more importantly, we need to see what works in other countries, and how we can adapt it to work in our country.

If we want to compete with the rest of the world outside the Olympic Games, we need to act like champions. Olympic champions have talent, but they also have the desire to work hard to do what they can to make themselves champions. We have the talent; we need to put in the work.

We’re being passed by. If Ontario were a state, it would be the fifth most populous state. The province has North American access, strong trade relationships and agreements, incredible resources, and borders five U.S. states, including four of the eight most populous states. And they speak English, though with a few different spellings. All of this combined with strong education and no health care costs: This is a medal contender. Not to disparage Canadians, but if the United States can’t compete with one of Canada’s 10 provinces, the U.S. is a long way from gold.

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