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October 3, 2013

So Which Country Is in a Place to Laugh at the U.S. Shutdown?

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The latest “wisdom” about the government shutdown—“slowdown” really, since lots of federal employees have been deemed “essential”—is that the impasse is making the U.S. a laughing stock around the world.


And exactly who is laughing?  Would that be Germany, whose finances are the best in Europe, but which recently held and election and has been unable to form a government?  Is a country whose government’s in limbo laughing at the U.S.?

Or is it Spain that’s chuckling?  The county has only recently had its first positive economic growth in years, with massive unemployment and government cutbacks.

Or is it France?  The socialist government is once again looking at raising taxes because the previous tax hikes didn’t fix its budget shortfalls.  And the country is doomed to many years of slow economic because its labor laws make it virtually impossible to fire or lay off employees.

Ah, it must be Italy.  Come to think of it, with the former prime minister in jail and the country in a government standoff it probably isn’t Italy.

Japan, then?  That would be the country that has become synonymous with the term “the lost decade,” because its economic policies brought growth to a standstill.

Lots of countries face serious budget challenges, the U.S. included.  And they are almost all caused by bad economic policies, again, the U.S. included. 

Trying to reverse the country’s big-spending addiction—like trying to break someone of a drug dependency—produces strong reactions.  The interveners have to have a stronger will than the dependents, and the confrontation can lead to standoffs.  No one laughs about that.

If there is any country laughing at the U.S., it’s either a hypocrite or it hasn’t looked at its own financial situation—or that of many other countries.  

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