Nicholas Kristof has spent a lot of time in Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, and China recently, talking up the virtues of democracy. “But if Congressional Republicans actually shut down the government this weekend, they will be making a powerful argument for autocracy,” he writes in the New York Times. If a student council shut down activities—yet continued to pay themselves, as Congress is threatening to do—a school board would probably end the experiment in democracy, writes Kristof. “But I can’t imagine high school students acting so immature.”
Shutting down the valuable services federal workers perform every day is, as humorist Andy Borowitz tweeted recently, “like eliminating the fire dept. and sending checks to the arsonists.” But it's worse than that, Kristof says: In prematurely slashing spending and shuttering the government, the GOP is playing Russian roulette with our fragile economic recovery. Imagine the consequences: "Unpaid federal employees would cut back on shopping. Some would miss house payments. The IRS might not be able to deliver some tax refunds. Small businesses would stop getting government loans. In sum, after the Democratic stimulus, we would have the Republican drag." If the shutdown happens, Kristof concludes that Congress "shouldn't just have their own pay docked. They should also learn the discipline of a market economy and be fired by the public that they are betraying."