Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome, Part IV

Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome, Part IV

See here for Part III

Now to gratify the Druids among you.

Soil exhaustion, deforestation, and pollution—which abetted plagues—were problems for Rome. As was lead poisoning, in that the metal was widely used for eating and drinking utensils and for cookware. None of these things could bring down the house, but neither did they improve the situation. They might be equated today with fast food, antibiotics in the food chain, and industrial pollutants. Is the U.S. agricultural base unstable because it relies on gigantic monocultures of bioengineered grains that in turn rely on heavy inputs of chemicals, pesticides, and mined fertilizers? It’s true that production per acre has gone up steeply because of these things, but that’s despite the general decrease in depth of topsoil, destruction of native worms and bacteria, and growing pesticide resistance of weeds.

Perhaps even more important, the aquifers needed for irrigation are being depleted. But these things have all been necessary to maintain the U.S. balance of trade, keep food prices down, and feed the expanding world population. It may turn out, however, to have been a bad trade-off.

I’m a technophile, but there are some reasons to believe we may have serious problems ahead. Global warming, incidentally, isn’t one of them. One of the reasons for the rise of Rome—and the contemporaneous Han in China—may be that the climate cyclically warmed considerably up to the 3rd century, then got much cooler. Which also correlates with the invasions by northern barbarians.

Economy

Economic issues were a major factor in the collapse of Rome, one that Gibbon hardly considered. It’s certainly a factor greatly underrated by historians generally, who usually have no understanding of economics at all. Inflation, taxation, and regulation made production increasingly difficult as the empire grew, just as in the U.S. Romans wanted to leave the country, much as many Americans do today.

I earlier gave you a quote from Priscus. Next is Salvian, circa 440:

But what else can these wretched people wish for, they who suffer the incessant and continuous destruction of public tax levies. To them there is always imminent a heavy and relentless proscription. They desert their homes, lest they be tortured in their very homes. They seek exile, lest they suffer torture. The enemy is more lenient to them than the tax collectors. This is proved by this very fact, that they flee to the enemy in order to avoid the full force of the heavy tax levy.

Therefore, in the districts taken over by the barbarians, there is one desire among all the Romans, that they should never again find it necessary to pass under Roman jurisdiction. In those regions, it is the one and general prayer of the Roman people that they be allowed to carry on the life they lead with the barbarians.

One of the most disturbing things about this statement is that it shows the tax collectors were most rapacious at a time when the Empire had almost ceased to exist. My belief is that economic factors were paramount in the decline of Rome, just as they are with the U.S. The state made production harder and more expensive, it limited economic mobility, and the state-engineered inflation made saving pointless.

This brings us to another obvious parallel: the currency. The similarities between the inflation in Rome versus the U.S. are striking and well known. In the U.S., the currency was basically quite stable from the country’s founding until 1913, with the creation of the Federal Reserve. Since then, the currency has lost over 95% of its value, and the trend is accelerating. In the case of Rome, the denarius was stable until the Principate. Thereafter it lost value at an accelerating rate until reaching essentially zero by the middle of the 3rd century, coincidental with the Empire’s near collapse.

What’s actually more interesting is to compare the images on the coinage of Rome and the U.S. Until the victory of Julius Caesar in 46 BCE (a turning point in Rome’s history), the likeness of a politician never appeared on the coinage. All earlier coins were graced with a representation of an honored concept, a god, an athletic image, or the like. After Caesar, a coin’s obverse always showed the head of the emperor.

It’s been the same in the U.S. The first coin with the image of a president was the Lincoln penny in 1909, which replaced the Indian Head penny; the Jefferson nickel replaced the Buffalo nickel in 1938; the Roosevelt dime replaced the Mercury dime in 1946; the Washington quarter replaced the Liberty quarter in 1932; and the Franklin half-dollar replaced the Liberty half in 1948, which was in turn replaced by the Kennedy half in 1964. The deification of political figures is a disturbing trend the Romans would have recognized.

When Constantine installed Christianity as the state religion, conditions worsened for the economy, and not just because a class of priests now had to be supported from taxes. With its attitude of waiting for heaven and belief that this world is just a test, it encouraged Romans to hold material things in low regard and essentially despise money.

Today’s Christianity no longer does that, of course. But it’s being replaced by new secular religions that do.

Editor’s Note: Most people have no idea what really happens when a government goes out of control, let alone how to prepare…

See here for Part V

Healthcare collapse: Aetna leaving exchanges in 11 states due to Obamacare

Obamacare collapse

(NaturalNews) Healthcare providers are increasingly unable to survive unforeseen costs associated with Obamacare. In June, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas announced its plan to significantly increase health insurance rates, hitting the pocketbooks of some 600,000 residents.

Now, healthcare insurer Aetna has announced that it will completely pull out of the Affordable Care Act individual public exchanges in 11 states, due to millions of dollars in losses. The provider said that it will still offer coverage in Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska and Virginia, but will cease operations in 11 other states beginning next year, as reported by Breitbart.

A statement released by Aetna Chairman and CEO, Mark T. Bertolini, said that the company suffered “a second-quarter pretax loss of $200 million and total pretax losses of more than $430 million since January 2014 in our individual products.”

Aetna reports huge financial losses under Obamacare

Of the 11 million Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, 838,000 were Aetna customers, according to data compiled in June. Aetna is the third large insurer to scale back services under Obamacare.

UnitedHealth Group said it will also exit most exchanges next year, after it too suffered huge losses to the tune of $1 billion in 2015 and 2016. And Humana Inc., which covers about 800,000 people, will leave an estimated 1,200 counties in eight states in 2017.

Aetna stated that it will reconsider entering the market in the future, but for now plans to limit its services.

“We will continue to evaluate our participation in individual public exchanges while gaining additional insight from the counties where we will maintain our presence, and may expand our footprint in the future should there be meaningful exchange-related policy improvements,” said Bertolini.

Government: Just raise the premiums and you’ll be fine

The Obama administration says it’s the insurance companies’ own fault for losing money because they set their premiums too low, adding that despite major scale backs from insurers, the system will continue to provide good quality coverage to many.

“Aetna’s decision to alter its Marketplace participation does not change the fundamental fact that the Health Insurance Marketplace will continue to bring quality coverage to millions of Americans next year and every year after that,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of HealthCare.gov.

Customers who are now forced to obtain insurance or pay a hefty fine that grows more costly over time are being left in a difficult position. Americans are essentially stuck between a rock and hard place, either losing coverage entirely, or having to cough up money for a plan they can’t afford.

“Something has to give,” said Larry Levitt, a healthcare law expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Either insurers will drop out or insurers will raise premiums.”

Is a healthcare collapse on the horizon?

Others question whether a healthcare collapse may be on the horizon. “While analysts expect the market to stabilize once premiums rise and more young, healthy people sign up, some observers have not ruled out the possibility of a collapse of the market, known in insurance parlance as a ‘death spiral,'” reports The Hill.

A March report published by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, said that new enrollees under Obamacare experienced 22 percent higher medical costs than people with coverage through their employer. The report drew immense controversy, highlighting the disaster that Obamacare has become.

Last year, a top doctor issued a dire warning about the possibility of a “catastrophic collapse” of the U.S. healthcare system. The former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons said that the result “will leave Americans clamoring for medical attention, medical supplies and hospital care,” according to WND.

“Catastrophic collapse due to a ‘doctor death spiral’ will occur when we drop below a critical number of practicing physicians,” said Dr. Lee Hieb, a practicing orthopedic surgeon and author of Surviving the Medical Meltdown.

“As our population ages, it requires more physician man-hours of medical care. But as our population ages, so too do our physicians. More than half of the surgeons who cover emergency rooms are over 50.

“And although they are some of the most productive physicians, they are being overloaded and overstressed, and are beginning to burn out. Many are retiring early; others are dramatically reducing their patient loads.

“Recent surveys suggest up to 60 percent of physicians are preparing to do one or the other within two years,” said Hieb.

Sources:

Breitbart.com

TheHill.com

NPR.org

AustinSentinel.com

WND.com

Science.NaturalNews.com

 NATION to NATION my-?????-FOOT!

Shechaim's News of the Day

Merriam Webster Dictionary – 1- a  [count] :

A large area of land that is controlled by its own government :

country

The United States is a Nation.

Mexico is a Nation.

Canada is a Nation.

Cuba is a Nation

Brazil is a Nation

southamericalarge[1]

What do you suppose

the United States of America

would do if,for instance,

any of these Nations (Countries),

came across our Borders

and

started blasting our land

for a toxic, crude oil pipeline?

You can bet that we would be at war to stop them in a heartbeat!

Merriam Webster Dictionary

  2 – Nation [count] :

A tribe of Native Americans or a group of Native American tribes

that share the same history, traditions, or language

The United States of Americas idea of a Native Nation.

Get them off of Land Claims that we own them

and

the murdering of their old men, women and babies

View original post 79 more words

Failed Coup in Turkey, Escalating War in Ukraine, The Battle For Aleppo, Freedom for Saif al-Gaddafi in Libya

Global Research, August 18, 2016
Middle-East-Map-460x319-400x277

Sometimes events speed up and begin to spiral out of control. This is definitely one of those times. So much has happened since my last article on Syria that I’ll never be able to do it all justice. The Battle for Aleppo continues of course a brutal struggle for the future of Syria and the world. There was the failed coup in Turkey. There was good news from Libya where Saif Gaddafi was finally released raising hopes that Libya may someday regain it’s independence. In Crimea there was a failed terror plot that was narrowly foiled.

First I’ll deal with Libya. Last year Saif al-Gaddafi was sentenced to death by the Libyan Dawn faction of Libya’s then 2 competing governments locked in civil war. This provoked protests by supporters of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya the government overthrown by NATO’s criminal 2011 war…

View original post 1,487 more words