In case you were unsure whether the United States is now a banana republic, this Associated Press story should disabuse you of any overly rosy notions:
Astounded by the U.S. government's failure to resolve the financial crisis threatening the foundations of the global free market, fingers of blame are pointing at America from around the planet.
Latin American leaders say the U.S. must quickly fix the financial crisis it created before the rest of the world's hard-won economic gains are lost.
"The managers of big business took huge risks out of greed," said President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, whose economy is highly dependent on U.S. trade. "What happens in the United States will affect the entire world and, above all, small countries like ours."
In Europe, where some blame a phenomenon of "casino capitalism" that has become deeply ingrained from New York to London to Moscow, there is more of a sense of shared responsibility. But Europeans also blame the U.S. government for letting things get out of hand.
Amid harsh criticism is a growing consensus that stricter financial regulation is needed to prevent unfettered capitalism from destroying economies around the globe.
And leaders of developing nations that kept spending tight and opened their economies in response to American demands are warning of other consequences — a loss of U.S. influence globally and the likelihood that the world's poor will suffer the most from greed by the biggest players in global finance.
"They spent the last three decades saying we needed to do our chores. They didn't," a grim-faced Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Tuesday.
China's influence in the outcome of all this could be profound because it is a huge investor in U.S. debt. It is already calling for strict new international regulatory systems to apply to globalized financial markets.
Liu Mingkang, chairman of the Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission, said Saturday before a weeklong bank holiday in China that debt in the United States and elsewhere has risen to dangerous and indefensible levels.
The rest of the world is taking notice. Many newspapers made references Tuesday to China's increasing importance in global finance. In Algeria, a large cartoon on the front page of the newspaper El-Watan showed Uncle Sam at prayer: "Save us!" he says, kneeling before a portrait of China's Mao Zedong.
NOW ALL WE NEED is a gruff and impetuous generalissimo in charge of things -- or perhaps a charismatic figure with a Messiah complex and a personality cult -- to complete our climb up the Chiquita food chain.
OH . . . CRAP.