Some say the United States is no longer a superpower – such a distinction can only be defined by history, one’s perception, or a theoretical comparison thereof.
There’s an old adage that says: “When in Rome, do what the Romans do.” Well, there’s a widely held belief Rome fell in 476 A.D. Some say since Rome still exists it never really fell. A few prefer to say Rome adapted rather than fell – that’s no doubt a politically correct pry.
The Roman Empire was a superpower at the time and failed, yet many in society today are staunch to say: “The United States is too big to fail.”
I beg to differ; there are many similarities linking the fall of Rome to the path the United States is upon.
Historians of ancient Rome have long been fascinated with the fall of that powerful empire.
Rome started out as a small settlement by the Tiber River in the heart of Italy.
America started out as a small uprising against tyranny.
The Roman Empire reached its greatest extent in the second century, but Rome had become too big to easily control.
For a long time, the Roman Empire functioned well and was successful. It amassed power and wealth and survived for centuries. However, the Empire was more than the top echelon and like a bone with osteoporosis that still looks alive it was disintegrating from within.
The Fall of Rome lay mainly in financial difficulties. For those looking for a single cause, the best single explanation would be poor leadership rather than military failure. Causes of the Fall of Rome included economic decay, a lack of circulating currency from hoarding and looting of the treasury, inflation, trade deficits, environmental change, decaying infrastructure, poor management, and military decay through attrition and disorganization from the lack of an effective military leader.
The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay.
The other side of Roman decadence was the dole. Millions were spent on food and public spectacles, called circuses, for the non-working poor.
There were adherents to single factors, but many think a combination of decadence, imperial incompetence, monetary trouble, military problems, the rise of Christianity, and rampant corruption caused the Fall of Rome.
Does any of the shortcomings of the Roman Empire, which it inflicted upon itself, sound familiar to that which politicians have vexed our nation with?
Since 1937, 629 municipalities have filed for bankruptcy protection in America.
Since 2010, Jefferson County, Alabama; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Central Falls, Rhode Island; Boise County, Idaho; San Bernardino, California; Mammoth Lakes, California; Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan have filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
Other US cities on the verge of bankruptcy are Washington D.C., Honolulu, New York City, Chicago, Cincinnati, Camden, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Citizenship granted to all in the Roman Empire reduced the incentive to join the army and gradual transformation took place – hence, a correlation to amnesty could no doubt be adhered.
Massive trade deficits served to stifle growth in Rome and the Empire was split geographically and culturally with a Latin Empire and a Greek one; division became the norm.
I daresay “Class Warfare” is at the pinnacle of the current administration’s ambitions.
The extensive Empire put such a strain on Roman coffers that Emperor Honorius sent letters to the Roman cities in England to tell them they’d have to fend for themselves.
The similarities that vexed the Roman Empire and now America are simply too great to ignore.
Dissension in the ranks of the Roman citizenry was met with swift retaliation and even death. Public floggings and crucifixions were commonplace and were often carried out on public byways as a deterrent for all to see. But these days most think we’re a little more civilized than that, although our jails and prisons are overcrowded and murder is rampant in some American cities.
Although there’s no public floggings it would appear the current administration has chosen to combat discord with the strong arm of government agency control.
Many felt the Roman Empire could never fall, as some claim about America, but I say the path to purgatory’s gate is all too real.
Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, has been published bi-monthly since 2009. He’s an author, nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit in Jamestown, Indiana, a non-profit organization aiding the poor. He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org or followed on Twitter @GregAllencolumn.