Looking at news outlets from around the world really gives you a perspective on what people think about the US government shutdown. It doesn’t take much reading to see that we’re on our way from being the world’s economic superpower to the world’s laughing-stock.
Giving its reaction Spiegel Online said: “A superpower has paralyzed itself.” But it added that politicians were working in Washington to solve the crisis and said there was still hope for an agreement.
The Welt newspaper warned of “fatal consequences” stating the “unthinkable has happened.” The shutdown puts the world economy in danger, it added. “The fear is real that the tender US recovery will be damaged,” it said.
The newspaper described the US president as being between a “rock and a hard place”. “Either he breaks the law and no longer pays teachers, firefighters and FBI agents, or he ignores the debt ceiling, which would also be illegal,” it said.
“A small group of uncompromising Republican ideologues in the House of Representatives are principally responsive for this disaster,” it said. “They are not only taking their own party to the brink, but the whole country. Unfortunately the leadership of this party has neither had the courage nor the backbone to put them in their place.”
For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, US budget policy was often “extremely dubious”. “For years the financial year has begun on October 1st without an orderly budget adopted by Congress and signed off by the President,” it said.
The French newspaper Le Monde posted an editorial whose name translates to “Jefferson, awake, they have become insane!”. The BBC reported “That leaders of one of the most powerful nations on earth willingly provoked a crisis that suspends public services and decreases economic growth is astonishing to many.” I could go on, but it’s safe to say that others are looking at us in a worldwide WTF??? type of way.
We have nobody but ourselves to blame for this. We held the elections that put these people in office. We’ll be the ones voting to determine whether they stay in office. Looking at the fact that, historically, elected members of Congress have a re-election rate that hovers near 85%, I think it’s safe to say that this won’t be the last time our elected officials embarrass us.
It will be interesting to see how people in the world respond to us after this is said and done. We’ll likely hear whining from both sides about who was at fault. Nobody in DC seems to be addressing the fact that we’re undercutting our having the world’s reserve currency. If they think our debt issues or the PPACA are bad, just imagine our issues would multiply if we were no longer the world’s reserve currency.
You can’t talk about being the example for democracy when you can’t even fund basic government operations. Even where countries are in turmoil, they still fund and keep the government open. I think many Americans would be offended if we had United Nations observers here to watch our next election, but maybe we need a slap to the face like that. Instead of being so high on our hubris, we may need to come down a notch or two so that we can see what we have and learn to appreciate it instead of allowing others to destroy it.
It’s bad when our allies have issued travel warnings to the US, but Germany and the UK both issued such warnings this week as a response to the shutdown.
- Shutdown Spectacle: ‘America Is Already Politically Bankrupt’ (spiegel.de)
- What does Germany make of US shutdown? (thelocal.de)
- How The Rest Of The World Views The Shutdown (yourfaceispolitics.wordpress.com)
- International observers express fear, optimism on shutdown (washingtontimes.com)