The US government closed Tuesday -- America is in a pickle. A political pickle created by those elected to serve the people -- not to serve their own ends and a select few but the electorate.
It is easy to cast a glance across the Pond to the USA and view their current financial crisis as "their problem". However it is not -- it is a global problem. Many western economies are only just getting by and in spite of many words spoken about the green shoots of economic growth appearing, economic stability and growth is proving elusive.
Here in the UK we should remember that the USA is one of our closest allies. At times it may hardly feel the case but it is. Where the US goes the UK tends to follow-- be it bad weather, fashion trends, conflicts or economic downturns. The US sneezes and we get flu.
The UK coalition government has implemented austerity measures which some may view as creating a huge difference between the two countries. However the UK still wastes too much money and the coalition fails to get to the heart of the problem.
It does however have a right-wing led government that cares little for the hardship it may inflict on ordinary citizens.
There is no doubt that political parties and their leaders dance to the tune others play, and not the electorate. In both the UK and the US there are big banks, corporations, the so-called 1% who control wealth, the Unions, the Royals, the gun lobby, the political elite, weapons-makers and more.
People however no longer fall for the spiel that the poorest in society have caused the financial collapse and must pay the price. Trying to lay the blame for the economic downturn at the door of the vulnerable and poor in society is obscene. It would be better to blame those who have a hand in shaping western policies and politics -- our politicians.
Consider money wasted at summits and official dinners -- in times of austerity do they have to be so costly?
What about the perks and salaries of politicians?
As Congress in the USA fails to agree on a way forward those who will suffer the most will be the vulnerable and poor. The likes of John Boehner leader of the House of Representatives will be able to withstand a short rocky financial ride. This will not be the case for many Americans who live on a day to day basis with little disposable income and nothing in reserve.
Blackmail by politicians should surely be illegal? The Washington shutdown is after all blackmail -- holding a nation to ransom until politicians get their own way over policy-making. Obamacare is at the heart of the problem -- health-care for all, not just those with money to pay.
From across the Pond a great deal looks like sour grapes by the Republicans, who did not manage to win the 2012 election, in spite of a costly campaign by their man Mitt Romney. He is another who will not feel the pinch from a protracted disagreement over the US budget.
As all sides try to get something for nothing it is plain that Republicans do not care about their country nor their poor. Boehner will dig in his heels to satisfy his backers and on it goes.
Images of federal workers in the US locked out of work, some still working but without pay, does not paint a pretty picture of the American dream.
Whilst politicians with money in the bank, an axe to grind and their own agendas fight it out bringing a country to the brink of civil unrest is madness. That may seem an exaggeration but many countries are currently a hairs breadth away from revolution. The BBC reports that John Kerry fears the "shutdown" may affect America's world standing. That must surely go without saying?
Trade talks between Cameron, UK PM, and President Obama have been put on hold which obviously is bad news for Britain.
Countries are so closely tied these days the domino effect is always possible.
Yet a few weeks ago the USA and western partners were considering spending vast sums of money interfering, or intervening, depending on your opinion, in Syria. How would that have been possible? Obviously the answer is because the country is not out of money, in real terms. Hell anyway wars help the weapons industry, create jobs, thin out the population and more. It could be just what the doctor ordered to improve the wealth of some in this increasingly cycnical and selfish world.
As American people, and the world, watch and wait for the political posturing to end, Senators and Congress, men and women, are sitting pretty. Perhaps the lights should be dimmed in the hallowed halls of government. The heating turned off, refreshments banned, salaries of politicans who cannot agree stopped, bank accounts of those holding the US to ransom temporarily frozen and financial penalties put into play until agreement is reached.
Saturday there is a little good news for federal workers:
Saturday, when a broad bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives passed a bill granting back pay to federal employees who have been furloughed during the shutdown.
Back pay will not help in the short-term though. Employees who earn the lowest salaries will have little in reserve, and of course politician's incomes will be safe also. No surprise they agreed on this one.
The fairest and quickest way to ensure that budget differences are resolved in a timely and sensible fashion has to be financial penalties for Senators and members of Congress.
Without such safeguards selfish individuals in either House are able to posture and pontificate, all but following Nero's lead and fiddling whilst Washington burns.
The fools in Washington may sit on their high horses spouting their political spin and loving the attention but hit their bank balances and they would soon reach agreement.
Perhaps they should be suspended without pay until they can reach agreement -- after all they are not doing the job they are paid to do, are they?
Any guesses how soon they would agree? My money would be on less than an hour -- in fact much less.
What a farcical situation.
Related reading at ft.com:
Peter Schiff: Market-Crushing Treasury Collapse To Hit Around 2013