Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Before It's Too Late

"The national budget must be balanced.  The public debt must be reduced:  the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled.  Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if Rome doesn't want to become bankrupt.  People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106BC - 45BC)

Cicero was a well-known lawyer and orator, but he himself considered his most important achievements to have come in politics.  He thought of himself as a "Constitutionalist," and we might refer to him today as a "strict constructionist." 

The last half of the first century in Rome was disfavored with various wars and suffered under the dictatorship of Julius Ceasar.  Cicero fought against that politically with philosophy, education and advocated the participation of the people in the gubment process. 


His letters were found by Plutarch, who preserved them, and in the 14th century, because of these letters, Cicero's influence is said to have spurred the Renaissance.  His popularity peaked during the 18th century period of Enlightenment, and he had great influence on such political thinkers as John Locke, David Hume and Montesquieu.

Therefore, by transference, Cicero's philosophies had great influence on our Founding Fathers, and, in particular, one Thomas Jefferson.  The well-read Mr. Jefferson was very familiar with one Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Cicero warned often of the fall of the Roman Empire, unable to sustain itself as it got increasingly pre-occupied with the growth of gubment and its bureaucracy.  He saw that growth in gubment as, his word, "unsustainable."  Does this sound familiar?

Cicero warned often against budget deficits, advocating a balanced budget, by law if necessary.  He saw such deficits as, his word, "unsustainable."  Does this sound familiar?

Cicero warned often against gubment spending, which he called "arrogance," and a gubment which would eventually become financially, and morally, bankrupt.  He saw such spending as "unsustainable."  Does this sound familiar?

Cicero warned against the "entitlement" society of his era, and coddling those who would receive public assistance instead of working.  He saw the increasing growth of this segment of society as "unsustainable."  Does this sound familiar?

Cicero warned against piling up a debt that would get foisted upon the next and then following generations!  He saw this at a time when the Roman population growth was diminishing.  Fewer citizens would be required to "support" more and more debt and those from previous generations receiving gubment assistance.  He saw this eventuality as "unsustainable."  Does this sound familiar?

Cicero warned against not protecting Rome's borders and against a citizen population becoming more interested in entertainment and less interested in education and economics.  He saw that these empty interests would create the unraveling of a culture and the collapse of the society he knew.  He saw the preservation of Roman society up until his time as "unsustainable."  Does this sound familiar?

And our "leaders" seem uncaring and unfamiliar with this, learning nothing from history, and still stained and filled with the same arrogance as has brought down societies before.  They please themselves by growing the size and power of gubment and its bureaucracies, and spend money as if it is there, knowing that a future generation or generations will be responsible.  But like so many societies that have gone down before, this pattern will also fail.  And these policies will be unsustainable, and fail. 

And like the frog in a pan of slowly heating water, that does not know to jump out, the society will end up cooked.

What would Cicero be doing today?  He would be a firebrand, and a warning voice in the wilderness.  He would be trying to get others to understand what the future of today's political and economic arrogance holds and take back the society with the same teachings that buoyed up and stimulated the Founding Fathers.



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