Our Congress is making us a global laughingstock

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By the time this is published, someone in the legislative branch may finally have gone through puberty. We can only hope.

Whatever the situation is on this Debt Ceiling Day, we've been seeing what happens when you inject into the government people who don't think we need to be governed. It's like choosing as your doctor a crunchy New Age hippie friend who thinks medicine is a corporate sham and what you really need is crystals and herbal tea, whether you've got a cold or your arm's come off.

Let's try a little quiz: What word is defined thus by Webster's? "Absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal."

Utopia? Heaven? Well, close. It's "anarchy."

And although the United States of America enjoys having its own room, it is not, as it often likes to imagine, alone in the house. We can close the door and turn up our music as much as we like. Others are watching. And we're freaking them right out.

Whether we bang our heads on the debt ceiling today and default on our obligations, we'll be sure to run that risk again sometime soon. We're apparently trying to make Kick the Can an Olympic sport and immediately take the gold -- and then get cash for it.

Do you know who's paying its bills? Syria. Syria, the most notorious open wound on the planet, with a government willing to gas its own people into submission, has too much self-respect to be a deadbeat.

We like to tell everybody our particular brand of democracy is the best, but right now I'm pretty envious of the many parliamentary democracies, like the U.K. and Canada. When the parliament seizes up and ceases to function, it's dissolved. The squabbling legislators are sent home, and new elections are held to replace them. Boom. Do your job or lose it. You know, like the rest of us.

Other countries have overheard our domestic dispute, and their media are not admiring. The Huffington Post recently provided a roundup of our reviews. Keep in mind that this is what our FRIENDS are saying about us.

From the UK: "... a system apparently quite incapable of rational action and thought."

From Canada: "For a country that fancies itself the greatest democracy on Earth, the fact that a small band of outliers in one party can essentially shut down the federal government over a petty political brawl seems woefully undemocratic."

France: "Something from science fiction, or simple madness."

Japan: "It's just another sign of the declining U.S. influence around the world and a sign of the very divisive extremist politics that have become prominent here."

Norway: "We laugh about it."

That's right. People who tolerate six months of darkness, and lutefisk, are laughing at us.

Perhaps we should recall the words of an American president from the past who knew the folly of failing to raise the debt ceiling.

"Unfortunately, Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility -- two things that set us apart from much of the world."

Who said that? Ronald Reagan. An actor who knew when to drop the theatrics.


Samantha Bennett, freelance writer: sambennett412@gmail.com. First Published October 16, 2013 8:00 PM


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