Learn From The Fall of Rome

The US government is on a �??burning platform�?? of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country�??s top government inspector has warned:

David Walker will soon be replaced by someone who understands the importance of “staying the course”.

And that will take care of that.

Healthcare underfunding? We spend more than anyone else.

Damn it, GDollars, I was just about to post the exact same article.

The comparison of the American hegemony and the Roman Empire has been perhaps overstated by a number of historians, and by myself as well, particularly in the fiscal arena. The Romans debased the gold aureus and the silver denarius, bringing about crushing inflation unequalled until the advent of the printing press.

The fall of the Roman Empire was caused primarily by the government’s tax-and-spend policies, an over-extended military, restless barbarians on all frontiers, an overreliance on imports (including food), uncontrolled immigration of disparate races who refused to assimilate, a fall in the birth rate of “real” Romans, and a huge impoverished population on welfare. All it took for the Goths to bring down the greatest empire in the world was to blockade the Tiber and starve the Romans out.

It isn’t possible for the barbarians to bring down America by blockading the Potomac, or even the Hudson or the Mississippi, but perhaps, as the Comptroller General implies, it will not be necessary for them to do so.

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
It isn’t possible for the barbarians to bring down America by blockading the Potomac, or even the Hudson or the Mississippi, but perhaps, as the Comptroller General implies, it will not be necessary for them to do so.[/quote]

Let’s just hope that, when the time comes, it goes in a whimper, not in a blast.

[quote]lixy wrote:
Varqanir wrote:
It isn’t possible for the barbarians to bring down America by blockading the Potomac, or even the Hudson or the Mississippi, but perhaps, as the Comptroller General implies, it will not be necessary for them to do so.

Let’s just hope that, when the time comes, it goes in a whimper, not in a blast.[/quote]

The people who run our country are well aware of all the problems mentioned. They created them purposely. Now, why’d they do that?

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
Damn it, GDollars, I was just about to post the exact same article.

The comparison of the American hegemony and the Roman Empire has been perhaps overstated by a number of historians, and by myself as well, particularly in the fiscal arena. The Romans debased the gold aureus and the silver denarius, bringing about crushing inflation unequalled until the advent of the printing press.

The fall of the Roman Empire was caused primarily by the government’s tax-and-spend policies, an over-extended military, restless barbarians on all frontiers, an overreliance on imports (including food), uncontrolled immigration of disparate races who refused to assimilate, a fall in the birth rate of “real” Romans, and a huge impoverished population on welfare. All it took for the Goths to bring down the greatest empire in the world was to blockade the Tiber and starve the Romans out.

It isn’t possible for the barbarians to bring down America by blockading the Potomac, or even the Hudson or the Mississippi, but perhaps, as the Comptroller General implies, it will not be necessary for them to do so.[/quote]

Varq, I have always been curious about this parallel, but the area in particular that doesn’t get enough discussion is the “home-grown-food-as-national-security-issue”.

[quote]Varqanir wrote:

The fall of the Roman Empire was caused primarily by the government’s tax-and-spend policies, an over-extended military, restless barbarians on all frontiers, an overreliance on imports (including food), uncontrolled immigration of disparate races who refused to assimilate, a fall in the birth rate of “real” Romans, and a huge impoverished population on welfare. All it took for the Goths to bring down the greatest empire in the world was to blockade the Tiber and starve the Romans out.

quote]

You’re right, sounds very familar. Who do you foresee our as our “goths?”

Or will we just implode and fracture into dozens or hundreds of smaller regions and cultures?

It would be more accurate to say that we have a health crisis than underfunded healthcare. Everything else is on the mark.

These types of predictions have gone from conspiracy to mainstream. Yet, nobody vindicates the so-called “conspiracy theorists” who told you for years that this was coming.

[quote]Nominal Prospect wrote:
It would be more accurate to say that we have a health crisis than underfunded healthcare. Everything else is on the mark.

These types of predictions have gone from conspiracy to mainstream. Yet, nobody vindicates the so-called “conspiracy theorists” who told you for years that this was coming. [/quote]

It hasn’t happened. I think it is more of a case of the regular media seeing how much play the sensationalizing of stories gets, and them lowering themselves to the LCD.

It has happened in spades with the MSM, and now it has reached the financial sector as well.

People were writing us off in the 70’-80’s when the dollar fell so low.

“Rumors about my death have been grossly exaggerated”…

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
The fall of the Roman Empire was caused primarily by the government’s tax-and-spend policies, an over-extended military, restless barbarians on all frontiers, an overreliance on imports (including food), uncontrolled immigration of disparate races who refused to assimilate, a fall in the birth rate of “real” Romans, and a huge impoverished population on welfare. All it took for the Goths to bring down the greatest empire in the world was to blockade the Tiber and starve the Romans out.
[/quote]

Tax and spend… check.
Over extended military… check.
Restless barbarians worldwide… check.
Reliance on imports… check.
Uncontrolled immigration… check.
Population on welfare… check.

[quote]new2training wrote:
You’re right, sounds very familar. Who do you foresee our as our “goths?”
[/quote]

Emo kids in funny makeup.

Duh.

I think that the comparison - a very popular one that has been around for while - is accurate in some cases and overstated in others, but a few things:

  1. One of the primary drivers of Rome’s collapse was that Romans stopped believing their was anything worthwhile in being “Roman”. Affluent, bored Romans no longer believed there was anything particularly special about the society they enjoyed.

Fast forward to now - very much a problem. Post-Romans thought their prosperity and civil society were mere silly historical accidents. There is plenty of that sentiment floating around today - many Americans who enjoy immeasurable material comfort and personal freedoms think such benefits weren’t purchased at a high cost, rather they think such a life is natural and ubiquitious and people shouldn’t “make a big deal” over a society that really spent nothing securing all of those benefits, since they are mere “historical accidents” anyway.

  1. The problem of empire: now that the world is finite and smaller, it is very difficult for a democratic superpower who wants to protect its values to truly disengage from the world. Many complain that the US is “overextended” like Rome was - and I agree to an extent - but it is impossible to withdraw in a way that Rome presumably could have.

If America doesn’t have a presence in key places in the world, what entity will fill those shoes? What would it mean to the US for a totalitarian USSR or China to penetrate into the Persian Gulf? We could sit back and say “not out problem” - but, the short answer is, totalitarian states are expansion-minded precisely to make it our problem.

Same with Islamism - we could sit back and let the Muslim nations implode, but the likely result is not a flowering Enlightenment, but rather a rise in a barbarian empire that spreads like a virus. Should America have a role in strangling this movement in its cradle? Or is America better served by saying “not my problem” and dealing with the beast after it grows and has the power to cripple us long before it actually attacks us?

The point is, if the American military is overextended - and, again, I think it is to a degree - the comparison to Rome falls short because national security in an age of power projection unseen in the Roman days cannot be based on merely having mounted guns on the opposite coasts. Something more is needed - and as long as there is “something more needed”, someone will complain that America is an overextended empire like Rome was.

In my view, the biggest lesson to be learned from the fall of Rome is the loss and appreciation of Roman citizens of what it took to build the fantastic society they were privileged to have - and as it is for many Americans today, the idea that a prosperous and free America is anything but a cheap and disposable birthright is as dangerous now as it was then.

[quote]nephorm wrote:

Emo kids in funny makeup.

Duh.[/quote]

Their armies are growing. We must act now, lest we be enslaved to really bad music and recycled teen angst.

[quote]nephorm wrote:
new2training wrote:
You’re right, sounds very familar. Who do you foresee our as our “goths?”

Emo kids in funny makeup.

Duh.[/quote]

Good answer. LOL

Those goths are usually pussies though, so I don’t think there’s much a threat there.

By the late 2nd century, only about 2% of the legionnaires were Romans. Pannonians and Spaniards filled the ranks. The perception among these troops was that they were suffering and dying so fat cats could stay at home with their 20 female slaves.

Currently, there is no such a disconnect between our troops and the people at home. But if the troops begin to see that we’re here banging their wives and partying, that our leaders use them as pawns in an electoral process, the divide will grow. If it becomes wide enough, guess what’s next.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
The people who run our country are well aware of all the problems mentioned. They created them purposely. Now, why’d they do that?
[/quote]

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives - Abba Eban

Queue the comments about Lixy the antisemite quoting a Jew, in 3, 2, 1…

[quote]vroom wrote:
Restless barbarians worldwide… check.[/quote]

Hmm. I’d be important to note the vast technological gulf that exists between “the best army” and the “barbarians” in these modern times.

In Rome’s time, while Rome had better tactics, weapons, commanders, etc. the difference with what the barbarians were fielding was not that wide. Swords, spears, arrows… better tactics could offset superior numbers, but only up to a point.

When you can obliterate millions (hell, billions) of people in a few instants, the situation is much different.

Add to that the possibility to view any spot on the globe rather easily (the disappearance of “the fog of war”) and I think that drawing parallels between the Roman era and our current times is going to lead to pretty suspect conclusions.

It’s a pretty low proportion of the entire population. Corporations on welfare is probably a worse problem.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
The perception among these troops was that they were suffering and dying so fat cats could stay at home with their 20 female slaves.

Currently, there is no such a disconnect between our troops and the people at home. But if the troops begin to see that we’re here banging their wives and partying, that our leaders use them as pawns in an electoral process, the divide will grow. If it becomes wide enough, guess what’s next.[/quote]

I don’t know… I think a lot of people see Washington as being full of fat cats staying home and living the good life while they send the troops off to fight wars on what turned out to be trumped up falsehoods.

None of the people playing “win at all costs” politics have clean hands. This is just another way to spread the cost out over time and see who is willing to push closest to the brink.

Hopefully sanity will prevail before the edge gets too close - but historically large decision making processes have been bad at handling risks appropriately.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
By the late 2nd century, only about 2% of the legionnaires were Romans. Pannonians and Spaniards filled the ranks. The perception among these troops was that they were suffering and dying so fat cats could stay at home with their 20 female slaves.

Currently, there is no such a disconnect between our troops and the people at home. But if the troops begin to see that we’re here banging their wives and partying, that our leaders use them as pawns in an electoral process, the divide will grow. If it becomes wide enough, guess what’s next.[/quote]

There is a disconnect, and it’s growing.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats have sought any kind of sacrifices from the population; after 9/11 Bush famously told Americans to go out and spend money.

It’s not about “banging their wives and partying.” The saying “the Army is at war, the country isn’t” is heard a lot these days, and it’s true.

In a volunteer military, a tiny percentage of the population will bear the cost of war. That’s the strongest argument for a draft, in my book, despite all the problems it would cause the military, that it could lead to a regeneration of civic virtue and responsibility.