As the United States approached a budget crisis that will shut down many federal services and affect more than 700,000 workers, other countries looked on with a mixture of puzzlement and dread.But for how much longer? Maybe the rest of the world will start to get the idea that having us as the "leader of the free world" is not such a good idea.
For most of the world, a government shutdown is very bad news - the result of revolution, invasion or disaster. Even in the middle of its ongoing civil war, the Syrian government has continued to pay its bills and workers' wages.
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.
American policymakers "are facing the unthinkable prospect of shutting down the government as they squabble over the inconsequential accomplishment of a 10-week funding extension", Mexico's The News wrote in an editorial.
In the United States, however, government shutdowns - or the threat thereof - have become an accepted negotiating tactic, thanks to the quirks of the American federal system, which allows different branches of government to be controlled by different parties. It was a structure devised by the nation's founders to encourage compromise and deliberation, but lately has had just the opposite effect.
Elsewhere in the world, such shutdowns are practically impossible...."Constant-shutdown, permanent-emergency governance is so destructive that no other serious country engages in or could tolerate it," James Fallows writes in the Atlantic. "The United States can afford it only because we are - still - so rich, with so much margin for waste and error."
And see: 'Why I gave up my US passport' (BBC) I wish I could get a job in Europe. Of course, so do a lot of Europeans.
BONUS: How The World Sees The Government Shutdown (ThinkProgress)