THE BLOG

Fiscal Cliff Solution? United States of CanAmerica

01/04/2013 08:38 am ET | Updated Mar 06, 2013

As an American living in Canada, I cannot help but view the current machinations of Congress with alarm. Yes, they have enacted a last-minute, stop-gap measure to avoid the worst aspects of the so-called Fiscal Cliff. But commentators all agree on one point -- averting the cliff on January 1st changed little. The wrangling will continue ad-nauseam, far into the future. The ideological split between parties -- and between Red and Blue states -- is so deep and intractable that no one can conceive of a way out. This is not just an American problem -- the collateral damage spreads quickly to Canada and beyond. So what to do?

When I worked at IBM and when things seemed stuck... we reorganized! Sometimes the realignment was around products or lines of business; at other times it was geographic, rearranging and reassigning responsibility for countries or whole continents. And it seemed to work like a charm. Most everybody got fancy new titles (and got to run away from their previous unit's targets, plans and results.) Why can't North America do the same?

We are in the midst of marking the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Despite what it might say in some American textbooks, this conflict was not a victory for the U.S. (nor for the British, other than reaffirming their dominion over what would later become Canada). What better time to affect a more definitive realignment, one that would put an end to wrangling and political discord in both countries? The solution is simple enough -- take the United States and Canada, briefly combine the various provinces, states and territories...shake vigorously... and then pour them off into three distinct vessels...one Red...one Blue...and one White.

Let's start with the new Red nation, which would roughly correspond to the U.S. Republican states of America's heartland and Deep South ... combined with the oil, gas and grain-rich provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. This would be a land of low taxes, energy and agricultural self-sufficiency... and "family values." Let's call it "Heartlandia." The capital would be in Fargo, North Dakota (although the name would be changed to "District of Rand"). Heartlandia would adopt (or retain) the Queen as Head of State...and Newt Gingrich would be the new nation's first prime minister, owing to his physical resemblance to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (and the firm knowledge that Newt will find nothing ironic in the use of the name "Heartlandia").

Next we have Librovia, which would consist of the U.S. Blue states in the northeast; the west coast states of California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington; and several bluish states, like Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, clustered around the Great Lakes. To this would be added the provinces of British Columbia; Ontario; much of New Brunswick; and all of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. (Canadians are probably wondering about Newfoundland and Labrador -- not to worry. Former Premier Danny "Billions" Williams will buy it lock stock and barrel...and take it private.) Librovia's capital would rotate on a six month basis between Berkeley, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Toronto, Ontario -- a solution necessitated by both the somewhat unique geography of Librovia and by the earlier selling off of Washington, D.C. to a Chinese destination tour company to help pay down the residual national debt. Librovia will feature strict environmental regulations, punitive taxes on anyone making over $50,000 a year... and mandatory Volvo ownership. The first President of Librovia? That's easy -- Justin Trudeau, son and heir to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau legacy. He's as cute as a Kennedy...without all the baggage.

The third, "white" entity (after the color of the fleur-de-lies on the Quebec flag) would be called New New France and would be comprised of Quebec, the Arcadian and francophone areas of New Brunswick, as well as Louisiana. The capital in the summer would be in Quebec City; in winter, New Orleans. Civil law would prevail, as would the somewhat unique political, business and procurement norms prevalent in both major jurisdictions. The key benefit to Quebec would be access to warm weather in winter... and an opportunity to root for both an NFL and BCS football team. The key benefit for Louisiana would be unlimited access to maple syrup... and an NHL hockey team (if hockey ever resumes). New New France's first Premier? Either Mario Lemieux or Celine Dion.

The beauty of all this is that like-minded people would be grouped together. There would be little discord or rancor. Everybody in Librovia, for example, would watch MSNBC or CBC...and belong to the Sierra Club. Everybody in Heartlandia would watch Fox or Sun TV... and belong to the NRA. And in New New France they'd mostly watch Drew Brees... or Iron Chef, en francais. Problem solved. Wrangling over. Cliffs permanently closed. Collateral damage averted. The War of 1812 finally resolved.

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