Lessons From the Fall of Rome

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by Simon Black: Questions:
Health, Taxes, andCitizenship

 

 
 

In 43 BC,
over 2,000 years ago, warring consuls Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian
were duking it out with each other over control of Rome following
Julius Caesar’s assassination the prior March.

Each had legions
at his disposal, and Rome’s terrified Senate sat on its hands
waiting for the outcome.

Ultimately,
the three men chose to unite their powers and rule Rome together
in what became known as the Second Triumvirate. This body was established
by a law named lex Titia on this date (give or take depending on
how you convert the Roman calendar) in 43 BC.

The foundation
of the Second Triumvirate is of tremendous historical importance:
as the group wielded dictatorial powers, it represents the final
nail in the coffin in Rome’s transition from republic to malignant
autocracy.

The Second
Triumvirate expired after 10 years, upon which Octavian waged war
on his partners once again, resulting in Mark Antony’s famed
suicide with Cleopatra in 31 BC. Octavian was eventually rewarded
with rich title and nearly supreme power, and he is generally regarded
as Rome’s first emperor.

Things only
got worse from there. Tiberius, Octavian’s successor, was a
paranoid deviant with a lust for executions. He spent the last decade
of his reign completely detached from Rome, living in Capri.

Following Tiberius
was Caligula, infamous for his moral depravity and insanity. According
to Roman historians Suetonius and Cassius Dio, Tiberius would send
his legions on pointless marches and turned his palace into a bordello
of such repute that it inspired the 1979 porno film named for him.

Caligula was
followed by Claudius, a stammering, slobbering, confused man as
described by his contemporaries. Then there was Nero, who not only
managed to burn down his city but was also the first emperor to
debase the value of Rome’s currency.

You know the
rest of the story – Romans watched their leadership and country
get worse and worse.

All along the
way, there were two types of people: the first group were folks
that figured, “This has GOT to be the bottom, it can only get
better from here.” Their patriotism was rewarded with reduced
civil liberties, higher taxes, insane despots, and a polluted currency.

The other group
consisted of people who looked at the warning signs and thought,
“I have to get out of here.” They followed their instincts
and moved on to other places where they could build their lives,
survive, and prosper.

I’m raising
this point because I’d like to open a debate. Some consider
the latter idea of expatriating to be akin to u201Crunning away.u201D I
recall a rather impassioned comment from a reader last week who
suggested that “leaving, i.e. running away, is certainly not
the proper response.”

I find this
logic to be flawed.

While the notion
of staying and ‘fighting’ is a noble idea, bear in mind
that there is no real enemy or force to fight. The government is
a faceless bureaucracy that’s impossible attack. People who
try only discredit their argument because they become marginalized
as fringe lunatics.

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