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Rome\'s decline and the U.S.
#31
Yes. I agree that our spending on defense is not as great a share as welfare programs; medicare ect. Fiscal crisis is more worrying. Sad

I began this thread just thinking of the parallels between Rome and the U.S. So far, nobody has commented on how our Society has decayed moraly and socially. This is where I feel we have fallen.

We value Kim Kardashian and Sports figures, actors. Political debates are graded on 'entertainment' value as opposed to content.... :?

Sad, indeed. Sad
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#32
All this talk about military spending and overreach reminds me of Kennedy's thesis in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. I was always disappointed he didn't talk about ancient civilisations in that book.
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
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#33
Quote:The "fall" of the Late Empire in the West was more of a slide than a fall. It didn't happen in just an afternoon, it took fifty years or so, and many of the people who lived at that time scarcely noticed, since they were busy with the matters of life and had little time for theorizing.

A lot of them couldn't help but notice, if they lived in places targeted by barbarians--and there were many besides Rome and Carthage. And while personal matters naturally were paramount, they must have wondered--where the heck is the army that was supposed to prevent this?? It may have occurred to some it was their own fault for not serving.
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#34
Quote:Unfortunately (for us Americans), I believe that is an oversimplification of a more complex issue. Although the US does spend more on military expenditures than any other nation on the planet, our defense budgets have often been exaggerated in comparison with other types of US government spending. I tried to find something a bit more recent, but as you can see in the pie chart attached, military spending in the US in 2010 was at about 20% of the entire federal budget. I believe this ratio, if anything, has already been shrinking in the past 2 years. Without steering this conversation too far off the "historical analysis" path over to the dark side (politics), I think it is quite clear to anyone with a cogent mind, on both sides of the aisle (or Atlantic for that matter), that the US is going to need to decrease spending on a wide range of programs in the years to come...unless we simply default.

Sure, it's fashionable among some people to blame defense spending, and politically popular to blame anything except those truly at fault--the masses themselves. The people want costly social spending, and that's the bulk of the problem.
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#35
Quote:Yes. I agree that our spending on defense is not as great a share as welfare programs; medicare ect. Fiscal crisis is more worrying. Sad

I began this thread just thinking of the parallels between Rome and the U.S. So far, nobody has commented on how our Society has decayed moraly and socially. This is where I feel we have fallen.

We value Kim Kardashian and Sports figures, actors. Political debates are graded on 'entertainment' value as opposed to content.... :?

Sad, indeed. Sad

Well what do you expect of a democracy and capitalist system, fully oriented toward pleasing the average joe? It's real dumb to put actors and entertainers on such a high pedestal, but that's what the present system ensures. I doubt there will be real change until a severe crisis shakes up this fantasy world, and forces people to realize we've got to value those who can actually accomplish something in the area of statecraft.
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#36
Quote: Yes. I agree that our spending on defense is not as great a share as welfare programs; medicare ect. Fiscal crisis is more worrying. Sad
I agree there, because although the collapse of Rome in the West during the 5th century cannot be compared to any modern state in crisis, there are elements that are worrysome for any society. When at some point public funds are no longer sufficient to guarantee a ceratin level of security, society can slip downwards. Trade was far more vulnerable 1500 years ago than it was today, but than modern markets as a whole are far more vulnerable today. But when a central government does no longer have the means to 'look after' the population, people might look to their own region first. This certainly did happen in the Late Roman West, and there are similar trends in modern US society. I cannot help but wonder how the US would react to situations now developing in the UK (Scotland), Belgium (Flanders) and Spain (Catalunya)?

Quote:I began this thread just thinking of the parallels between Rome and the U.S. So far, nobody has commented on how our Society has decayed moraly and socially. This is where I feel we have fallen.
Although I'm not rejoicing about modern society as a whole, I'd be careful there when you start thinking so negative. Comparing modern society, whether in Europe or in the US, to Late Roman society (or even the Republic) hsa ours come out on top, shing, miles ahead of the Romans. We are way better off, even at this very moment, especially where the rights of the indivudual are concerned. Enlightenment and other developments have seen to that, and even some 'moral setbacks' of the past years do not cancel that out. Ans as long as enough people ask themselves questions about all this, we are crtainly not 'fallen'.

Quote:We value Kim Kardashian and Sports figures, actors. Political debates are graded on 'entertainment' value as opposed to content.... :?
Well, not much has changed there, people always go for quick entertainment. Gladiators were also revered by the masses, right? Hammurabi already complained about the younger generation growing up without any respect - 3600 years ago!
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#37
Quote:And while personal matters naturally were paramount, they must have wondered--where the heck is the army that was supposed to prevent this?? It may have occurred to some it was their own fault for not serving.
I think that would call for an individualism within society that may not have been there at the time. The 'duty to serve the state' may have been there, but more in the sense of 'the duty to one's patron.
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#38
Quote:All this talk about military spending and overreach reminds me of Kennedy's thesis in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. I was always disappointed he didn't talk about ancient civilisations in that book.

It's straight from where I got it. One of the best history books I ever read on any topic, immensely learnt and insightful. He also was largely right in predicting the rise of China and India in the last chapter.
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
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#39
Quote:Unfortunately (for us Americans), I believe that is an oversimplification of a more complex issue.

The Iraq War alone did cost the US hundreds of billion dollars. With this money alone, the USA could have renovated its society from scratch. The Romans, by contrast, did not have the luxury to decide where best to allocate their money because the enemy was already at their gates, making defense spending a matter of 'national' survival.
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
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#40
Quote:So far, nobody has commented on how our Society has decayed moraly and socially. This is where I feel we have fallen.

I was tempted to give my five cents, but felt it may take us too far into dark (=political) fields. I'll say, however, as much that I consider the rise of group egoism and identities to be an important factor.
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
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#41
The question of how a society chooses to spend its resources is an important one.

You can not fight two wars and give everyone a substantial tax cut, ALL with borrowed money and not have an adverse impact on the economy.

At the risk of slipping even deeper into modern politics I would ask this one simple question: How will we add $2 Trillion to the Defense Budget without raising taxes or increasing the debt?

However, and more to the point, I would recommend Adrian Goldworthy's lecture about the fall of the Western Empire. (Given at the Kansas City Public Library a few years ago.) Indeed, the Empire did not "fall" all of a sudden, nor was it caused by one factor. The lecture runs about an hour and is time well spent. You can load it on your iPod and listen to it as you take the train to work.

http://www.kclibrary.org/event/adrian-go...-rome-fell

:wink:

Narukami
David Reinke
Burbank CA
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#42
I am sure you are all aware that Alexander Demandt, German historian, found 210 reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire cited in literature when researching this topic.
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
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#43
Actually ...

Goldsworthy makes reference to that very list in his lecture.

Thanks for the link.

:wink:

Narukami
David Reinke
Burbank CA
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#44
Quote:You can not fight two wars and give everyone a substantial tax cut, ALL with borrowed money and not have an adverse impact on the economy.

At the risk of slipping even deeper into modern politics I would ask this one simple question: How will we add $2 Trillion to the Defense Budget without raising taxes or increasing the debt?

One huge difference between America and Rome is the size and sophistication of the financial sector. America has almost unlimited borrowing capacity, and despite credit rating cuts, is still viewed by investors as the safest debtor in the world. Right now, inflation over the past year is 2.0%, while the American government can borrow for two years at 0.3%. This means, in real terms, the US is actually being paid to borrow money for some debt issues. The real yield is negative.

If cash-strapped late Roman emperors had such financial firepower, things probably would have been very different. The best Rome could do was either raise more money via taxes, cut spending in other areas, or else to devalue the currency. They didn't have the capacity to borrow like this.
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
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#45
Quote:The Iraq War alone did cost the US hundreds of billion dollars.

It was a vast, foolish waste, but the national debt was a major problem long before the war of 2003 or even 1991.

Quote:With this money alone, the USA could have renovated its society from scratch.

Sure, besides taking care of infrastructure, we could've put a lot of money into fusion research, with a possible nice payoff.

Quote:The Romans, by contrast, did not have the luxury to decide where best to allocate their money because the enemy was already at their gates, making defense spending a matter of 'national' survival.

There were times in the early Imperial period when money could've been spent on things other than wars, such as Trajan's eastern war of 114.
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