October 13, 2009

We're Number Four!

With everyone here over Thanksgiving, conversation turned to that latest national rankings of how great a country is to live in. Canada placed 4th, behind Norway, Australia and Iceland. Out of the medals, but I guess if Norway is unable to fulfill her duties in the coming year, maybe we'll move up a notch. Actually, tallying was done before Iceland upended like the Titanic and sank earlier this year, a victim of fishermen becoming bankers and buying too many Land Rovers. Read a fabulous Vanity Fair article on it here.

I still think these surveys are weird. How do you possibly factor in every tangible - and more importantly, intangible - thing and arrive at a number? I decided they should just look at something very basic: How much is a human life worth in a given country?

Because when I see reports like this one out of China, where 1000 kids are sick because of their smelting operations, I wonder. China has so many people that when mining accidents happen, they just move up another row of workers like shark's teeth. They simply don't care. They are running many of their manufacturing operations like something from the early 1900s in North America. I don't care how fast their economy is booming - any country that puts so little consideration into worker's health and their citizen's well-being doesn't even begin to be somewhere I'd want to live.

I won't go to Mexico. Tourists in Mexico get murdered, and nobody cares. Authorities there do not investigate. The consulates have no power, or at least none they will exercise. This Canadian couple murdered in 2006 at their daughter's wedding? Still not solved. Never will be.

Maybe that's what these surveys try to do, without telling us. Maybe they really are just arriving at a number on our foreheads that designates our worth. Are you worthy enough to be fed if you're hungry, cared for if you're sick, protected if you're persecuted?

I often tell my kids they've already won the lottery by being born in Canada.

Now, I think I need to go find something happier to write about it. Too sunny out to be so crabby.


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