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Opine Needles

The Blog

We Have Seen This Movie Before!

                              The Emporer/Dictator Julius Caesar

Before launching into a solemn comparison of the decline of great past civilizations to the precarious state in which we now find ourselves here in the United States, it behooves us to remember all those who have sacrificed to preserve our liberties. It was ten years ago that radical Islamists wrought their havoc in NYC, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. This author was at the WTC on that horrible day. Today’s roll call was a solemn reminder of the wide path of destruction caused by the terrorists. It was also a blessed reminder of why the United States remains the most noble experiment in the annals of mankind. For among those nearly 3,000 people who perished, there were literally thousands of immigrants from dozens of countries; first, second, or third generation Americans, all here to pursue their dreams, in the land of the free, and the home of the brave. No amount of terrorist murder will destroy that dream. Only we, as a people, are capable of losing the plot, and forgetting how we have come to be the greatest nation in history. And so we segue into today’s blog.

A study of civilizations on the rise reveals a combination of intellectual (public and private sector) and military prowess working in tandem to create a superior life for the impacted population. A review of the decline of those civilizations exposes societies mostly bereft of intellectual or military leadership, a public sector political class that has become a parasite (living off the industry of the people it is meant to serve) and, perhaps most horrific of all, a people who don’t know or appreciate the difference.

It is more than just a little depressing to note that in the recorded history of mankind, no great civilization has ever managed to maintain its greatness. To pile on to that heap of depression, it is also actually not very difficult to track the macro reasons for the decline of all superior examples of man at his finest. Let’s just look at two formerly outstanding societies; the Romans and British. For centuries in their respective times these nation-states ruled the world as they knew it. They ultimately were reduced to mere shadows of their former selves because of:

–arrogance,

–greed (stretching their boundaries to points beyond which they could exert effective control, and milking once productive peoples and lands until both were dry),

–laziness,

–loss of a sense of destiny, and

–the emergence of an expectation of outcomes, earned or not.

The biggest reasons for loss of greatness did not lie outside the natural borders. The cancer grew within. The more affluent the countries became, the more the politicians began to take (aka tax) from the producers in society, and distribute these ill gotten gains to the non-productive classes. This was their way to pacify the people and curry favor. You see, populism has been around a long time. It didn’t just start with Barack Obama.

The Roman Empire (long since having eclipsed the Roman Republic, by way of several insidious civil wars, and continual erosion of a government of checks and balances that had once existed) actually implemented a system called “panem et circenses”. In Wikipedia you may find this explanation. “Bread and Circuses” (or bread and games) …is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man.

In modern usage, the phrase has become an adjective to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life.”

Does that ring any bells for you? Let us pose a latter day analogy for your consideration. Our welfare state is the bread, and the Kardashians are the games. We have lost our way. Our people no longer know what a work ethic is, and the majority of Americans think their wellbeing is society’s responsibility. The democrat party represents the “panem et circenses” governing philosophy at its best; or actually, its worst.

Here is some irony to ponder. At close to the height of Britain’s greatness, British historian Edward Gibbon published Volume I of his tome “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.” The timing of his study was not wholly coincidental. More and more of the intellectual class in the UK were concerned that the Empire was exposed to social and financial stresses it could not withstand. Perhaps more interesting to you should be the date the epic narrative was released: it was 1776.

From that time forward, of course, the British enjoyed nearly another 150 years of relative greatness. It all came crashing down in WWI. Britain has fundamentally been bankrupt since that time, nearly 100 years ago. Don’t get us wrong. We respect the Brits. We like their resolve and stiff upper lip when the chips are down. Here is the fundamental take-away; whilst the centuries of over-stretched empire set them up for the economic destitution that was brought on by WWI and hammered home by WWII, the fundamental reason they have never been able to dig meaningfully out of the hole is because of the social welfare state they instigated and have perpetuated for over a century.

As with the rest of Europe, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal (you get the point) liberal pseudo-socialist politicians have designed and implemented their various versions of “panem et circenses” plans. What exactly have they created? A look at the markets tells one that the EU is near financial ruin. And so we find ourselves standing before the entrance to the great hallway of destitution.

The President’s pandering, populist, highly political speech before Congress last week leaves us concluding one or more of four things. He is:

–clueless,

–philosophically misguided,

–too stubborn for words, or

–fundamentally committed to socializing our great country, and irreparably destroying our once great economy.

You choose.

For a quick review of President Bush’s reading (today, at the WTC Memorial site) of Abraham Lincoln’s letter to a mother who lost five of her sons during the Civil War, you may click on the link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJAb4xfivNg

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