Richard Janda

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For a Canadian, there is some irony in learning that rediscovering the American dream may turn decisively on resuscitating federalism and clarifying the division of powers between the central government and the federated units, as Dr. Alice Rivlin suggests in Reviving the American Dream. After all, Canadians have spent all too much time in this century worrying about an optimal division of powers between the orders of government. If there were an export market for proposals detailing alternate forms of federal organization, Canada would have few, if any, trade rivals. More often than not, Canadians are embarrassed by this preoccupation, believing that they are diverting attention from concrete matters of policy. Instead of worrying so much about who ought to exercise power over various policy domains, why not pay more attention to what the policy ought to be? In that sense, Rivlin's suggestion that rethinking federalism may increase living standards comes as a tremendous relief. Maybe Canadians haven't been wasting their time after all.

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