Introducing Freedom 3.0 (TM)

On this, the 242 anniversary of our original release of Freedom, we couldn’t be more pleased than to introduce the latest version of our original product. After researching current market trends, we’ve come to realize that what people really want in this hectic and modern era is less. We’re too overburdened with stuff. We have too many things to do, too many gadgets, too many toys. As a result, we’ve made minimalism the key feature of our new rollout and our customers will be pleased to find out how much more they can do with less.

 

The first thing we’ve decided to minimize is choice. I know, I know, you’re thinking: but we love choice! But there are some things you really don’t need to choice. Like Internet, for example. We all know you want it. Is it really necessary to have all that much choice in who gives it to you? No. This is why in most American markets, you’ll find your choice of Internet provider has already been made for you. But we’re going further than that! Soon, you’ll be able to have one option for internet, cell phone AND content provider. Don’t worry, AT&T are great people. We’ve spoken to them, they’ve donated money to us, they’re great. You’ll love them.

We’ve also decided to narrow down your options of political party. Two is just too many (we only count parties that can win, so “third parties” don’t exist as far as we’re concerned). From here on out, you’ll only have one! It’ll be great. Just look at Singapore. They only have one party and it’s been ruling it the whole time they’ve existed. It’s very clean, very orderly…the people there love it! You’ll still be able to vote for other parties…if you want. But they just won’t be able to win.

You say you’re swimming in stuff? Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered. We’re increasing tariffs on a wide variety of imported goods. This way, you won’t be able to afford to buy as much. You’ll have to make do with less. Remember, the keyword is minimalism. You’ll be able to afford less, but you’ll enjoy it twice as much. Your houses will feel so much more spacious!

Speaking of houses, the housing market is heating up again. Prices are going up, up, up. With that in mind, we’ve decided to support your housing wealth two fold. One, we’re going to make sure there are fewer people available to work in construction. Two, we’re going to make sure there are fewer people looking for housing. Both of these aims can be accomplished by limiting immigration. We don’t care what type: legal, illegal, educated, uneducated. We’re just not going to let any of them in. Maybe a few of the legal, educated types, but we’re going to reduce that, too. Minimalism, remember? We need to minimize the number of people here and the number of structures built so you can enjoy those minimialistic vistas so popular on desktop backgrounds these days. As an added bonus, the prices of your houses will boom! You’ll be so rich!

 

minimalistland

All in all, I think you’ll be very pleased with all the upgrades we’ve included in Freedom 3.0. Like all changes, it may take some getting used to, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the increased functionality, improved design and layout we’ve included. Remember, If It’s Freedom You Seek, Think Freedom, Inc.

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Reading the Grocery Store Novel

In the last few days of my senior year of high school, my English teacher gave us a choice for our last reading assignment. We could either read Dante’s The Inferno or After the First Death, which she described as a grocery store novel. Years later, I began to suspect she used that as a sort of litmus test to find out what kind of adults we would turn out to be.

This incident came to mind numerous times while I read Brian Caplan’s The Case Against Education, which I recently finished reading. He argues persuasively that education is 80% signaling instead of human capital development. It’s about letting people know you’re competent by getting the right papers. Look! I graduated high school! I’m not a complete fuck-up! Look! I graduated from Prestigious University! I’m competent! Look! I have a masters degree! I am tenacious and enjoy suffering! Look! I have a PhD! I don’t know how to stop working on something once I start! Pls hire!

This signaling theory neatly explains why my husband has 2 masters degrees and a fistful of bachelors. Education in Finland is highly subsidized; they pay you to study. As a result, my husband knows people with masters degrees in philosophy who are working as cleaners. When everyone has a master’s, showing you’re not a fuck-up gets a lot more challenging.

The easiest solution to this problem is fairly obvious: stop subsidizing education and stop trying to force everyone into the college track. The problem is convincing people this is a good thing to do. Let’s look at my nephew, for example.

My oldest nephew is now 22. He’s been out of high school for damn near 5 years (he graduated at 17). He was an average student, but like everyone else from a middle class family, was placed firmly on a college track. He took the ACT and scored a 19. He had good extracurricular activities, though. He was on swim team and worked as a lifeguard at the Y. He was a decent viola player. With the encouragement of his parents’ and guidance counselor, he checked off all the high school graduation requirements and college application requirements one by one.

Then he graduated and went to community college. He didn’t have any idea what he wanted to study, but he had to do something and knocking out some gen ed requirements seemed like the thing to do.

It was too much for him; he dropped out. He complained he needed to brush up on his math. I told him about Khan Academy and had him start taking the math placement test there. I think he started it, but never finished. He spent the next 4 years bumming around, working various minimum wage, entry level jobs while all the adults in his life took turns telling him what he should do. I told him about how wind turbine technicians was a growing field, how VoTech had a training program he could enroll in and it would pay well.
After hemming and hawing, he enrolled back into community college to knock out those gen ed requirements before he enrolled in VoTech to learn a trade. He’s following my advice about taking one class at a time while working full-time instead of quitting work and going back to school full-time while living off of student loans. If nothing else, I’ve managed to bash the fact that student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and will follow you around until the day you die (or flee the country never to return again) firmly into his brain. This semester he took music, English 102 and fitness.

But the whole situation infuriates me. Why should he have to take gen ed requirements? Is it likely a music course in community college is going to round him out that necessary bit more than all the music courses he had in his previous 13 years of mandatory education? Is it likely he’s going to have to analyze a poem in order to figure out why said wind turbine is failing to turn properly? Maybe they think Don Quixote will hold the key to this mystery? Haha, just kidding. They don’t read Don Quixote at community college. What was the point of all that general education he got in high school if he can’t even get into a vocational program without MORE general education?

It’s completely useless and a waste of time. I completely agree with Caplan that we need a proper vocational training program in the US. He says not everyone can be Germany with its swell apprenticeship training program. The reality is that we don’t need to be, and even Germany’s highly praised apprenticeship program is suffering from rigid German formality. When I was there 5 years ago, I met up with a cousin of my host family and asked her what she was up to. “Oh, I’m an Azubi.” Cool, what in? “A dry cleaners,” she answered. Words failed me and so did a polite answer. “Oh, that’s interesting,” I tried to choke out. What I really wanted to say was “Is that really something that you need an entire apprenticeship to learn? Couldn’t you just learn it on the job?

The answer is no. In Germany, you can do an apprenticeship in pretty much anything. The plus side is you’ll end your secondary education with a skill so you can find a job. The downside is that is your skill. While you may switch skills, doing so shows a disturbing lack of ernsthaftigkeit [seriousness], which is decidedly unGerman. And good luck getting a job in a field where you don’t have a qualification. Foreigners (especially Americans) may be able to do that; they just aren’t serious about the things they do and every one knows it. The work these unqualified people do is probably shoddy as far as any vernünftig German is concerned.

There’s no reason we can’t have a similar system here–only better. Why not make vocational tracks that run along side the college track at school? No need to separate them out into different schools like they do in Germany –god knows that would only increase the amount of competition among parents to get their kids into The Good School (“you know, the one where the kids don’t just learn skills that result in gainful employment! I want my kids to go to college and then work in marketing!”). Instead, we can let the students themselves choose their classes. Those who feel more academically compelled (coughnerdscough) will naturally drift into the classes they belong. The ones who are mechanically inclined can find their rightful place. Teachers in the respective classes can become mentors to these students and help guide them to enroll in classes that will result them in either going to the college that’s right for them or the trade that they’re best at, along with any writing and math courses that are relevant to their fields.

The choice part is key here. In Germany, teachers and parents choose for the kid when they’re only 10 years old. My host sister’s teacher wanted to place her in the Hauptschule track, which leads to Berufschule, because her English and German skills were weak. My host parents protested and managed to get her into Gymnasium, where she did very well and later became a doctor. Take that, overly rigid system!

Kids need to be active participates in their education. It needs to be something they do and not something that is done to them. My nephew just drifted along through college. He kept playing viola because his mother insisted on it. The same with swimming, though I think he was a bit more passionate about that. As soon as he graduated, he stopped playing viola. He quit working at the Y after a while, too, and then stopped swimming. What was the point, then, of all the money and time invested into that viola playing? Did he enjoy it? I’m not sure. Did it make him a more rounded individual? Maybe? He seems to prefer metal to classical music, though, and even when he was in high school his preferred sheet music was HIM transcribed for viola. It certainly didn’t get him into college and it isn’t getting him into any sort of well-paying job.

I tried to encourage him to take his viola and a friend who also played an instrument and backpack around the safer parts of the world, playing on the street for money. He’d learn a lot, I told him. But he lacked the courage. It sounded too risky a pursuit and, after all, he had it pretty good at home.

So he’s puttering his way through community college a second time and I’m sitting here, biting my lip, hoping that he makes it through this time and learns a trade. For some reason, I’m a lot angrier than he is at the time he’s wasting. This is his springboard into his thirties. The more he does now, the more opportunities he takes, the more he’ll be able to achieve later, even if he starts from a low base.

I have my own share of regrets when it comes to the education system, though I can’t say they relate much to signaling or mal-investment. I was college material. I belonged to the groupd of nerds that rolled their eyes at pep rallies and used the time to do homework instead. I read to the end of my world history book over Thanksgiving break to find out how the world ends (with the fall of the Berlin Wall, in case any one wonders. We now live in post-world.) I worked my way to an IB Diploma and entered college as a second semester sophomore. Granted, I went to an easy college, but honestly after the stressful experience that was high school, I was burnt out and needed a break.

When my senior English teacher gave us a choice between Dante and the grocery store novel, I picked the grocery store novel. My friends who have gone on to achieve masters degrees, MDs and PhDs and beyond? They chose Dante.

“When else am I going to have the opportunity to read it?” one of them responded when I asked why.

The accurate answer to this question is, of course, whenever they want. It’s in the public domain. But the realistic answer is…some things no one reads unless they’re forced to in school.

[I have a lot more to say about the Case Against Education, especially as it relates to homeschooling, but that will be another post]

Guns are a distraction

Another day, another school shooting. Some outlets report there have been 18 so far this year, but reviewing the data reveals that to be slightly exaggerated. What isn’t exaggerated is the fact that my Facebook feed is now 90% people arguing for or against gun control. They don’t even seem to be arguing with anybody, just AT people. When all I see is post after post from someone about one single topic, it starts to feel like I’m being argued AT. And I’m not even participating here, I’m just trying to see what’s up with people I know. Because god knows I can’t actually interact with anybody in real life; that would involve one of us leaving our house. So, I’m being argued at.

So what should be done? First off, let’s establish what isn’t going to happen. Guns aren’t going to be banned. It’s just not going to happen. Americans own a lot of guns and there’s no way in hell they’re going to support guns being taken away from them. It is, afterall, a right guaranteed by the second amendment, and the first thing you learn as an American is that some amendments are more equal than others. The Fourth Amendment is barely fit to wipe our asses with, but the Second Amendment! Now that one is important. The Third Amendment is the one all the other Amendments make fun of and push in his locker, in case you were wondering.

But for all their belief in its sacredness, defenders of the Second Amendment like to ignore the, shall we say, harder to interpret parts:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

A well regulated Militia…what the fuck does that mean? Most people ignore this because it’s hard to tell why that phrase is there. The Johnson column in the Economist spent an entire article wondering about it, and it made me wonder, too.  The second half is much easier to understand: the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Gun rights activists concentrate on that bit because it fits their views: they get to own guns, point blank, no restrictions. But…but what if we can in fact only legally own guns as long as we’re in militias, the constitutional role of which, according to the Second Amendment, is to maintain the security of a free state?

Wouldn’t it be the world’s biggest irony if the anti-government militias out in Idaho, of which the FBI is so fond of penetrating, were the only constitutional way to exercise our gun rights?

Maybe that’s too extreme; those groups hardly represent mainstream American views. But at the very least it seems to imply we need to belong to some sort of group whose purpose is to train people in the use of firearms and other weapons. Kind of like the National Guard, only you have to bring your own gear and you won’t actually get sent to serve in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Could we just at least make people take gun safety courses before they can buy a gun? Maybe even learn to shoot? Join a pistol club?

Right-wingers in the US like to talk about how pussified Europeans are because they don’t have guns. I still remember one such moment after I got my gun and was taking a basic pistol safety course at the NRA. Among us newbies was a guy from Manchester, who had immigrated to New England for loooooooooove. When we went to lunch, one of the other students started ragging on him about the gun laws in Europe and how horrible they are.  As though he himself were responsible for them. The thing is…guns aren’t 100% illegal in the UK, nor even in Germany. You just have to meet certain requirements to own them.

In Germany, you have to be part of a shooting club and thus have a proven need to own a gun. You also have to have an approved safe and always, always, always keep the guns in that safe. There are probably some other requirements I’m forgetting about, but on the whole it’s not unreasonable.

And before Americans start talking about how disarmed Europeans are or Germans are and therefore how wimpy they are, remember: you’re responsible for disarming the Germans. Up until the post-war occupation, Germans were quite well armed. But oddly enough, foreign military powers don’t like the idea that the country they just defeated could shoot them. And when the new German governments formed, they decided they didn’t like that idea either. I suspect that the East German government didn’t want that because the June 22 uprising was bad enough without guns. The west German government? Probably their commitment to peace and not invading their neighbors, crazy moral principles Germany still sticks to today.

The Economist’s article also points out that the first part of the second amendment doesn’t actually hold water: owning guns is not really necessary to maintain a free state. They argue the existence of many free countries without broad gun ownership proves there is no correlation. Indeed, if you look at the latest Human Freedom Index, the top ten freest were Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and (tied) the UK. The US came in at 17th. Interestingly, the top ten span a wide range in gun laws from restrictive (UK) to everyone must have a gun in the house (or so I’ve heard is the case in Switzerland). Switzerland, if the information I haven’t bothered to double check is correct, probably has the closest system to what the founding fathers had in mind when it comes to militias: all males receive military training and keep arms in their house in case they have to remind the Germans why invading Switzerland is a bad idea.

This data lends credence to the belief that a free state and the right to bear arms do not correlate. Perhaps what the founding fathers took for granted as necessary for freedom was not so much the right to bear arms, but the desire of the people to be free. Americans don’t really seem to care much about that at all. This may strike you as odd, but bear with me.

Americans care very much about the idea of being free. The idea of liberty sounds great. It’s a wonderful soundbite. But the actual practice of it (allowing people to live their lives as they see fit, minimal government, accepting that football players have the right to protest peacefully, that the first amendment cannot be limited to Free Speech zones, that we have the right to live within 100 miles of the border without being subject to warrantless searches by the border patrol.

But what are we all talking about? Fucking guns. GUNS ARE A DISTRACTION. This whole debate about banning guns, restricting guns, don’t you dare take my guns, arm teachers…it’s all just a distraction to keep us from talking about the issues that really matter. Namely, the fact that we are not free. And we are getting less free. The fact that Russian troll bots have taken to twitter to drum up outrage on both sides of the gun debate is proof of this.

At any rate, I can already tell you what is going to come of all this arguing at people going on on Facebook: Absolutely nothing. There will be no new gun laws, at least not on a federal level. There may be some on a state level, but I can guarantee that any laws passed that are more restrictive will be balanced by laws passed in other states that are less restrictive.
I can also predict that at some point more restrictive gun laws will be passed in the next 20 years. As the US continues to urbanize, it’s going to move further away from its rural gun culture. As the survivors of these mass shooters grow up, they are going to be very anti-gun. It would be a good idea to compromise now and save some lives and arguing in the meantime, but I’m sure as hell not going to hold my breath.

Schooling, unschooling, homeschooling

One thing that really annoys me about unschoolers is their need to take every little thing they do with their kids and turn it into Who Unschooling is Awesome. “I went to the science museum with our kids today! #unschooling”

Wow. I take my kids to the science museum, too. Does that mean I’m unschooling? Am I an unschooler now? Bob Blow takes his kids to the science museum, too. Does that make him an unschooler, too?

Then again, this is something regular, run of the mill homeschoolers do, too. “The great thing about homeschooling is that you can just go on field trips to learn about things. Like we’ve been learning about animals, so we went to the zoo! It’s so hands on! Homeschooling is awesome.”

Non-homeschooler can then reply, “Oh! I take my kids to the zoo, too! So I guess I’m homeschooling, too! Hahaa.”
And the homeschooler frowns. This was not what they meant at all. “No no no, you send your kids to school, so you’re not homeschooling when you take them to the zoo. You’re just…going to the zoo.”

It’s a matter of definitions, but also a territorial issue, too. Homeschoolers want people who send their kids to school to know how awesome they are as homeschoolers. They want them to know that yes, they, too, could homeschool. But as soon as the non-homeschooler points out that the things they do are hardly exclusive to homeschoolers, the homeschoolers immediately get defensive and try to mark out boundaries as to what makes them special. And more importantly, what makes them better.

It’s the same with unschoolers. They know that on the surface it looks like they aren’t doing a whole lot with their kids. So they end up pointing out every little thing that happens as the learning that must be going on in that moment. And, boy, does it get annoying. “Outside splashing in the puddles! Kids are learning physics! #unschooling.” Wow I wonder how long until they use that to derive the Pythagorean theorem all by themselves! My kids splash outside too! The difference is…I just call it playing. Sure, they might be learning something, too, but they’re also having fun. No need to dress it up.

I’ve started having fun with the labels. Whenever I hear someone talking about unschool this, homeschool that, or how they could never do either of the above, I like to tell them I couldn’t either.
Because I couldn’t. There’s no way I could structure my childrearing around just one of those things. We have our structured learning times (“homeschool”), sure, but I also give my kids lots of time to follow their own interests (“unschooling”). My kids also go to German school, Finnish school, PE class and art (“school”). We divide our time between all of those because all three of them have merits. Parents teach their kids, whether they want to or not. And you’d probably have to tie them up and leave them in a darkened room to prevent them from learning things on their own.

Which brings me to those “homeschoolers” in California who did just that to 12 of their 13 kids. “We need more homeschooling regulation!” people are now screaming. “Homeschooling should be illegal!” Except…well, California is actually quite strict when it comes to homeschooling. Except…they weren’t homeschooling when the abuse started. Their oldest kids went to public school in Texas and former classmates remember them being thin and smelling bad. They were dirty. And still, no one did anything. They fell through the cracks simply because there are so many cracks for children in abusive families to fall into. They’re so lucky one of them worked up the nerve to save themselves because, in the end, you’re the only who can.

But…on the other hand, there has been discussion among homeschoolers I know as to what level of regulation they would deem acceptable in order to prevent homeschoolers from falling through those cracks. In order to prevent educational neglect from occurring. The short of it was…there is none. Homeschoolers want to regulate themselves. They don’t trust the state to educate their children, why on earth would they trust the state to make sure they are actually educating their children themselves? It doesn’t help that the government spent so much time trying to keep homeschooling illegal or that they see homeschooling as competition or one way they lose money (state funds are distributed according to pupils enrolled). Nor does it help that homeschoolers watch the amount of their property taxes flowing into the public schools, which they benefit from and can’t opt out of.

But I’ve noticed whenever people are left to regulate themselves or self-police, they usually don’t. We excuse things in ourselves that we would never tolerate from others and that is a problem.

Just don’t mention politics

Posting on Facebook has become difficult.

It’s symptomatic of the growing divisions in our country that I’m wary of posting anything I fear anyone might take issue with and defriend me over or decide they hate me. I already had that happen once over vaccines. What made it even more obnoxious is that I only started posting things about how dumb anti-vaxxers are after watching weeks of the anti-vaxxers on my feed post about how anyone vaccinating their kids is injecting them with horrible toxins and giving them autism. So they can dish it out, but they certainly can’t take it.

After that I decided I shouldn’t argue anymore on facebook and I should do my best to never, ever post anything political that wasn’t tongue in cheek, humorous, or thought provoking (in the sense of “this article was really interesting!”). Then again, the last category may be a mistake as well since most people don’t like to have their thoughts provoked so much as confirmed.

My position is a bit more awkward than most. I consider myself to be libertarian, but over the years my views have changed slowly. I’ve gone from right-leaning libertarian to left-leaning libertarian, to be exact. Or maybe I’m not even libertarian at all anymore. I don’t know. I may actually be more of a neo-liberal now. But since my wider social circle is heavily libertarian, I don’t really want to rock the boat too much.

Take climate change, for example. I used to not believe in it. Then I decided okay fine, the climate IS changing, but it’s not humans who are doing it. The Earth’s climate just changes over time. Then my husband told me one day that he now believe in anthropogenic climate change.

I stared at him. “This is like waking up one morning and discovering I’m married to a leftist.” Then I asked him to explain why and send me the information that changed his mind.

I read through it and it changed mine, too. And with how I am, if I discover I’m wrong about one thing, I have to examine the vast majority of my beliefs to see what I think about those. It’s annoying and time consuming.

Even more annoying was the number of people on my feed who didn’t (and still don’t) believe in climate change. So if we have a cold day in summer, it’s “global warming lol.” If Spring is particularly cold, it’s “I could sure use some of that global warming lol.” But when it’s mid-October and we’re still running around in shorts…crickets. When we have a week of 100F weather when we used to have none…crickets. When the DoT has crews going around the state enlarging culverts to handle the increased water flow, they don’t notice. When people talk about Boston disappearing under a higher sea level, nothing.

But  I know if I were to post about my new views on Facebook, I would be shat on.

The interesting thing is I do know some libertarians personally who do believe in climate change, so I know I’m not alone. But I get the feeling they, too, are closeted.

I eventually reconciled my belief in climate change and libertarianism by remembering that the environment as a whole is a good example  of market failure. No one owns the air or water, so no one has a direct incentive not to dirty it. No one owns the future of the Earth and our own shortsightedness makes us reluctant to do anything to protect it for those who will, especially if it might mean some inconveniences today. So I’m perfectly fine with the government intervening and creating a market for carbon, such as trading carbon credits and having a carbon tax. People need to be made responsible for their negative externalities as much as possible.

More radically, I also support charging 5 cents for shopping bags. Free shopping bags really piss me off. They’re such a waste. There’s no reason every item I buy in the grocery store needs its own bag. All those bags do is join the thousand others in my cabinet until I finally need a new one for my trashcan. Five cents is a small enough cost to just be annoying and motivate people to bring their own reusable bags.

But from how some libertarians I know react, you’d think it was the same as suggesting we should try wiping out the Armenians again. Apparently personal responsibility doesn’t extend to the trash you produce or the consequences of the things you consume? For many libertarians I know, they believe in personal responsibility only to the point where it’s inconvenient. Then it doesn’t matter, isn’t important or the problem doesn’t exist in the first place. This is the position they take on vaccinations if they’re anti-vax (“Herd immunity is a myth! Vaccines cause the diseases!”), climate change (“Government grab for power! The climate has always changed!”) and educational neglect (“Government grab for power! It’s unschooling! There’s nothing wrong with putting your kids to work!”).

You have to admit, denying a problem exists is a clever way to justify you not taking any responsibility for it. The problem is eventually that denial is going to catch up with you and kick you in the ass.

So, at any rate, I try not to discuss politics, which is difficult considering my social group. It’s probably time to work on finding a new one, or seeking out the ones in the group who find themselves in a similar predicament.

 

Love it or [try to] leave it

“If Trump wins the presidency, I’m moving to Nova Scotia,” one of my friends told me during the last presidential election.
“Oh, you have Canadian citizenship?”
“My grandfather was from Nova Scotia! And I’ll do a DNA test even to prove it to them!”
I didn’t see the point in explaining to her that that would do absolutely no good, unless the Maritimes are actually so inbred they’ve developed their own genetic markers. “Oh so you guys kept up the citizenship?”
They hadn’t. But she wasn’t going to let her stop her. If Trump was elected, she was leaving.

A few weeks later, Trump was elected. Almost a year later, my friend is still living here. She hasn’t made anymore comments about leaving the country, but she does occasionally make outraged Facebook posts.

It’s a weird thing how everyone seems to think that it is really just that easy to move to another country. Protesting against the government? You don’t respect the flag? Fine, if you don’t love it, leave it!

And go where exactly? Most people, like my friends, seem to think all they need to do is declare their intent to immigrate in order to so. Pick a country and go there!

As it turns out, it’s actually not all that easy to emigrate. First, there’s the whole issue about getting an immigrant visa, or a work visa if you qualify. If you happen to be really rich, you could always buy yourself a visa! But presumably you’re an Average American who doesn’t have $50,000 to blow investing in another country in order to move there.

Then there’s the whole issue of actually adjusting to a new culture. Most Americans assume they’ll immigrate to Canada. It’s like America, but not America. It’s all the advantages of being similar to America, but actually a different country. It’s like leaving the US, but still staying in America. But it’s those tiny little differences that will eat away with you as you try to adjust to living there. A wholly different country you would be prepared to experience differences, but Canada?

They use Celsius. They use metrics. They sell their milk in bags. Summer is that time of year when there is no snow on the ground.

Then there’s the bigger problem: networking. Or rather, rebuilding your entire social network from scratch once you’ve immigrated and left all your friends behind. If you’re like a lot of immigrants (expats, for the upwardly mobile), you’ll end up just hanging out with other Americans. Who else will understand what you’re going through? Who else will also feel angry at those stupid little things people in your new country do that don’t make sense? Honestly, if that’s what you’re going to do, you may as well just stay in your own country and save on all the moving costs.
But that’s okay because most people never get around to actually moving to another country after something happens they disagree with politically. They threaten it. They may even google moving to Canada. But they never actually go, which is probably fortunate because all they’d end up doing is exporting our problems to another country.

They’d probably also just come back.