In other words, even though shutdowns aren’t the wide-scale calamity that many imply, it displays yet again the incredibly irresponsible members of Congress who seem to be chronically unable to perform their No. 1 job. And I when I say “chronically,” I really mean it. While people like to talk about how “the budget process is broken” or “things are getting worse,” the truth is that Congress has suffered for decades from this shameful inability to do its job.
According to a January 2018 report by the Pew Research Center, “in the four decades since the current system for budgeting and spending tax dollars has been in effect, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only four times: in fiscal 1977 (the first full fiscal year under the current system), 1989, 1995 and 1997.”
Human nature being as it is, every decade or two someone has to write a book to set us straight and cheer us up. People all too readily overlook astonishing improvements as they rapidly become parts of daily life, and swallow uncritically assertions that disaster waits right around the corner. The books are the works of scholarship, sometimes dry and sometimes sly, that debunk the doomsayers and remind us how fortunate we are to be alive in these times.