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Any attempts at local forced altruism in a highly mobile people group will result in an exodus towards less expensive areas by those who do the majority of the earning. This has been the experience in the United States and is becoming also the experience in Europe now that the EU has made travel and work across borders much easier.

I don't think racial homogeneity had anything to do with the "success" of the nordic countries at establishing a powerful welfare state. In the case of Norway the answer was with oil, Norway as one of the third largest oil exporter (per capita and total) in the world. It exports 718.485 barrels a day per 1,000 people (From Nationmaster). As the state in Norway owns the oil, this means that the country can fund an extremely generous welfare state. The other states near it can reap the benefits of this by selling products to the Norwegians.

If you're into some philosophy about the composition of Canadian society and how the USA model may or may not translate up here I would suggest John Ralston Saul's A Fair Country.

Biased of course, but make an interesting argument.

Except the real poor in Canada are the natives. And non of the immigrant races want to share with them! We came, we conquered, we'll be damned if we are going let "them" in on the game.

I think two things are key re the Canadian experience:

1) As others have suggested the biggest key re ethnic-based redistribution in Canada. You should check out some polling etc., there is more opposition to this then you might think. A lot more. (which is not to say that some 'smart' proposals could not help to alleviate that).

2) I think it also depends on how wide the margins we are talking about. I live in TO, in the vast majority of service-industry type places I go (coffee shop, retail), the overwhelming majority - like at least 75% i think - those relatively low-wage earners are visible minorities. To some degree that is about the demographic makeup. to some degree it isn't. are we talking about that? or just the widest relative disparities? i think it matters.

But your overall point is a good one. we have done little to consider the types of policies that could encourage more equitable redistribution and what would build support for it. these are excellent questions!

I think I remember Steve arguing a little while ago that redistribution occurred primarily through the expenditure side of the budget (transfers, universal programs such as health and education etc).

Arguably, homogeneous communities will find it much easier to agree to publicly provide goods and services. Think of small-town Quebec portrayed in stories like "the hockey sweater". Life revolved around the community rink; everybody(or, more accurately, every male) played. It's easy to build a consensus around providing a community hockey rink. However if some people play hockey, other soccer, others basketball, others cricket, it's hard to agree upon which facilities to provide publicly. But without public provision, there is less redistribution.

The same arguments can be made for lots of other things governments do - education (why should I pay for public education when I want my child to be educated in my own language/religion?), pensions (why should I pay for public pensions when in my community children care for their elders?), childcare, etc.

I don't know what's going to happen in Canada over the next 20 to 30 years. But I do think culture matters, so things will change as a result of immigration.

And as a result of the decline in the relative importance (population wise) of Quebec - where corporatist or social democratic values have often found relatively more support (think $7/day childcare etc).

Since the majority of the immigration into Canada for the last 20 years and the foreseeable future is from large socially uncohesive countries (Pakistan, India, Phllipines, China) I don't think there will be a bright future for reduction in income inequality or a increase in social cohesiveness.

I see a large disparity in the values goals of cities like toronto and vancouver and the rest of Canada.

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