There's nothing like visiting a poor cousin for the summer to get a glimpse of what life could be like if things were different, not for the grace of God, but for the fortune of good governance. A trip to middle America to take a course in the social sciences had me comparing life to others in my demographic: the middle-age, middle-class working parent. If I wasn't compelled to wave the Canadian flag before to distinguish my more understated tribe from the inward-looking and swaggering American, I would surely do it now. What a reversal of fortune - the richest and most powerful country in the world is now supported by the benevolence of a developing nation. While I take no credit for our much better position as a triple-A rated Canadian, or comfort in their double-A lesser one, it's nonetheless been an abrupt study in comparative politics, economic (and metaphorically gastronomic) indulgence, and ultimately, in national identity. Moreover, if we are just at an earlier point on the same continuum, what's happening in the U.S. is a timely warning . . . . . . .