Painful Truth: U.S. congress always set to go boom

Only in America do the wheels fall off if you fail to hold a vote.

Dear America, why do you keep doing this to yourself?

Check out any American news or politics website of late, and you can find all kinds of helpful explainers about the recent three-day government shutdown.

Who’s off work, what services are effected, how much it costs, all that stuff.

What’s missing is the fact that shutdowns are deeply, deeply stupid.

The United States is the only country in the world that has a budgetary system designed like a mad scientist’s doomsday device. If you don’t keep pressing the button (i.e. passing budgetary votes) the whole thing explodes!

In most governments, taxes are collected and revenue expended even when the government is paralyzed.

Consider Belgium, which in 2010 had a disastrous election that saw two diametrically opposed parties split the vote. They each failed to assemble any sort of coalition. Belgium had no effective, working legislature for a staggering 541 days!

That’s not good. If that happened in Canada, it would mean no new legislation for months, no way to respond to long-term issues like housing, trade or the environment.

But the country wouldn’t crash and burn. (More likely, we’d just have new elections until we got a bunch that could pass something, anything like a budget.)

America isn’t a failed state. But if you squint, you can see the fractures along which it could crumble.

A legislative branch that is both hyper-partisan and riven with internal factions in each party. Excessive gerrymandering. Resentment between rural and urban states. A primary system that inflames passions while soaking up vast sums of money. And that’s just on the political side of things.

What worries me most is that many Americans don’t even see their problems as weird. It’s weird to have an off switch for the government. It’s something you should probably fix.

I don’t know if America can fix itself, at this point. And that’s a scary prospect for those of us living next to the mad scientist and his doomsday machine.

Just Posted

Actor hits playhouse tonight, in honour of her sister

Langley’s Elyse Ritchie may be an administrator by day, but by night she loves being on stage.

Langley students awarded for historic knowledge

Several students were singled out for awards at a recent Heritage Fair.

Young Langley golfer has strong weekend

Emma Yang shot two under part in her division.

The Circus is coming to Aldergrove

Great Benjamins Circus is coming to thrill fans of high-wire derring-do in Aldergrove in May

VIDEO: Two Langley musicians join Motown Meltdown

Fundraiser on tap at the Commodore this weekend.

Shania Twain visits Canadian Armed Forces base in B.C.

Canadian country icon thanks members of CFB Esquimalt for their service

Countdown is on to the 2018 B.C. Summer Games

Cowichan Valley hosts on July 19-22

Driving Change: A B.C. man’s charitable trip across Canada

A Kelowna man, his bus, and his mission for positive change across our country

Case of teacher secretly filming teens reaches top court

Acquittal of teacher, Ryan Jarvis, who secretly videoed teens ‘dangerous,’ top court told

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

B.C. communities await marine spill compensation years after incidents

The government maintains a Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund to compensate Canadians

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Conservative MP wants feds to close loophole for illegal border crossers

Immigration advocates call on government to suspend Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement

Alberta university criticized for honouring David Suzuki

University of Alberta plans to bestow environmentalist with honourary degree

Most Read