Hillary Clinton once said we (the United States) should be more like Canada. It is quite commonplace to run into people drawing comparisons between the U.S. and other developed countries which make the U.S. out to look rather backward. One response to such comparisons is to agree. A more reasoned response is to point out how wrong they are.
This could be a column about how the U.S. has managed to thrive as one of the most impressive countries among developed nations of the world, while dealing with challenges of diversity no other developed nation has an inkling of.
We often hear about the fact that Blacks are disproportionately incarcerated in the U.S. What would shock most people is to hear that in Canada the Black population is even more disproportionately incarcerated, and in the U.K. even more so. We don’t hear about that because their Black populations are a much smaller percentage of their total populations. In the U.K. Blacks make up 3% of the population. In Canada the figure is 3.5%. In the U.S. the figure is 13.5%.
This could be a column about U.S. generosity. The U.K.-based Charities Aid Foundation ranks us as the fifth most generous nation in the world. Interestingly, only one developed nation, New Zealand, is ahead of us. They are fourth. The top three are Myanmar, Indonesia and Kenya.
This could be a column about the tremendous advances we have brought to the world in numerous fields. The U.S. is home to more Nobel Prize winners than all the rest of the developed world combined.
This could be a column about the great expansion of freedom and prosperity in the world in the last 70 years, far greater than in any other 70-year period. The U.S. has largely made that possible.
Instead, however, this will be a column about the ability of the U.S. to attract people from around the world. A Gallup Poll in 2016 asked people around the world, who were inclined to move to a different country, what would be their No. 1 destination of choice. The U.S. was the overwhelming winner, garnering more than three times as many votes as the second place country, Germany, and more votes than the next four countries (Germany, Canada, the U.K., and France) combined.
Some might think that only people from poor countries would want to come here. (That that is not the case will be the subject of a follow-up article). In point of fact, we do get a higher percentage of our foreign-borns from nations that are poor and made up mostly of people of color than do any of the rest of the developed nations (whose foreign-borns are, to a significant extent, the shuffling around of residents of fellow developed countries).
For example, NPR reported in 2014 that Australia (27.7%), New Zealand (25.1%) and Canada (20.7%) all had a higher percentage of foreign-borns than did the U.S. (14.3%). What they didn’t account for is where those foreign-born came from. At the time of their report the top two sources of foreign-borns in Australia were the U.K. and New Zealand (Italy and Germany were also in the top 10). For New Zealand the first and fourth largest sources were the U.K. and Australia, For Canada the fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th largest sources were the U.K., the U.S., Italy and Poland.
So what about top 10 sources of foreign-borns for the U.S.? They were Mexico, India, China, the Philippines, El Salvador, Vietnam, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, South Korea and Guatemala. If one looks at developed countries in Europe, it is much the same as for Australia, New Zealand and Canada: a lot of shuffling around of residents of fellow developed countries.
No developed country compares to the U.S. in terms of drawing people from nations made up largely of people of color and from nations which are overwhelmingly poor. One might well ask, “Who is doing the most good for the world?” And one might well ask of Mrs. Clinton if Canada and the rest of the developed world ought to be more like us.
Phil Kershner is a United Church of Christ pastor in Marine, Illinois. Prior to going into pastoral ministry he was a high school math and history teacher for 17 years. He has a master's degree in history from Loyola University in Chicago and a master's degree in divinity from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He is married to Sandee Kershner and they have two daughters, Ashlyn and Lauren. In late 2018 he published Why The United States is A Morally Good Country: A View From the Center. Read Phil Kershner's Reports — More Here.
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