THE WISE heads in Washington seem to have agreed that we are headed for a government shutdown. Some folks have concluded that this outcome isn’t so bad, because it will make clear to the American people who the bad guys really are, or because once those mischievous legislators get the troublemaking out of their system they will settle down and steer the country away from even worse outcomes down the road.
Count us out of any such sophisticated complacency. Yes, defaulting on the U.S. debt would be worse than shutting down the government. But both represent such recklessly, breathtakingly, wastefully irresponsible derelictions of leadership that the people who run this town ought to be ashamed of themselves if either comes to pass. Moreover, we are not reassured by the argument that a shutdown would make a default, which could come in mid-October, less likely. As the habits of normal compromise and negotiation become ever more frayed, further deterioration strikes us as at least an equally plausible alternative to the hoped-for wake-up call that shocks the capital back to common sense.