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September 26, 2005

My Day in DC

Sorry I've been so out of touch this afternoon, was at a Heritage event on The Lessons of the Roman Empire for America Today. Fairly banal stuff, save for a puzzling assertion that the ancient Romans only worked two days a year to pay taxes (ever heard of tribute?) and a peculiar, though I guess standard for Heritage, insistence that Rome possessed a remarkably lean and efficient civil bureaucracy that only began bloating as their empire crumbled. So there ya go -- bloated, inefficient bureaucracies are the harbingers of doom, which makes Bush, Rumsfeld, Chertoff and Brown the four horsemen of America's apocalypse. Best question of the day, "Why did the West create such a brilliant Empire as Rome while all the East could furnish was Genghis Khan?"

Uh,
ok.

The speaker's answer, for those interested, is that the West learned from Greece and Khan didn't. Praise Jupiter! Once the bizarro history lesson wrapped up, I went out to the lobby, got a bunch of folks mad at me for being an anti-torture, pro-universal health care hippy, gorged at Heritage's fine buffet, and left. Normal posting resumes now.

September 26, 2005 in Life | Permalink

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Comments

I follopwed your link to short quotes about Islamic civilization. I just wanted to add the whole China thing.

Posted by: David Margolies | Sep 26, 2005 2:35:35 PM

I'm not sure how much the Romans taxed their citizens, but I believe they were pretty efficient at the pillage, plunder and subjugate stuff. The GOP tries to follow that model, but the big money seems to wind up in the hands of the Centurions like KBR without ever making it back to Rome, er, D.C. The Romans used to exact crushing taxes on subjugated nations, then force their chieftains to accept loans in order to pay the taxes. When the tribal leaders couldn't pay back the loans, guess what happened to the lower ranking members of the tribes? A GOP win in 2008 may bring slavery back.

Posted by: J Bean | Sep 26, 2005 2:39:19 PM

Boss, what is it with the new fonts? Did you explain this somewhere? Is it to make sure everybody knows when it's you and when it's one of your weekenders? (It doesn't seem entirely consistent.)

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Sep 26, 2005 2:45:45 PM

It's not -- I've just been trying it out, as I think I like it better. What do you think?

Posted by: Ezra | Sep 26, 2005 2:59:58 PM

The arabs learned from the greeks, so mentioning the arabs doesn't really refute anything.

Posted by: dan | Sep 26, 2005 3:27:49 PM

Other harbingers of the collapse of the roman empire included having the military align strongly with one party.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Sep 26, 2005 3:34:35 PM

Harbingers of the collapse of the Republic, not the empire, wouldn't you say, Nicholas Beaudrot?

Posted by: TJ | Sep 26, 2005 4:24:35 PM

It's not -- I've just been trying it out, as I think I like it better. What do you think?

It's too small and not as legible as the default font.

Posted by: Thad | Sep 26, 2005 4:52:10 PM

As was pointed out on the HBO "Rome" series the other night (even though that was the waning days of the Republic, same strategies still used during the Empire), enlightened despots would declare a few rich folks "enemies" and seize all their wealth to help fund the treasury. Sometimes they were really enemies and sometimes they weren't.
Plus conquering and subjugating other countries helped too. Geez, don't these guys read their own New Testament? Particularly "in those days a decree went out from Augustus Caesar...."

Posted by: lou | Sep 26, 2005 5:40:19 PM

I like the old font, but I'll give some time for the new one to grow on me. Maybe making it a little bigger would help.

Oh, and, about the Marsha Blackburn Redstate piece you cited on TAPPED -- someone's making it his duty to expose Redstaters to the wisdom of Yglesias :-D

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Sep 26, 2005 6:00:17 PM

Other harbingers of the collapse of the roman empire included having the military align strongly with one party.

That's interesting. Can you give a link? Wasn't aware of that.

Here are some other similarities of our culture to Rome's last days:

*Rampant Crime
*Inflation
*Breakup of families
*Acceptance of homosexuality
*Increase in divorce
*Bloated bureaucracies
*Decline of patriotism
*Welfarism
*Womens' rights

Circuses and free bread became more important than hard work and nationalism.


Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 26, 2005 6:17:08 PM

Ezra, you might find this post from Metrocurean helpful.

Posted by: Greg | Sep 26, 2005 6:43:31 PM

Greg, if he's found free buffet already, he can make it anywhere.

Posted by: TJ | Sep 26, 2005 7:19:59 PM

I like the new font, but then I would.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 26, 2005 9:49:19 PM

No, I'm Spartacus.

Posted by: Roxanne | Sep 26, 2005 11:09:47 PM

I see you've experienced your first punishment for coming to DC--the obligatory trip to a Heritage Foundation symposium.

Posted by: bulworth | Sep 27, 2005 12:36:29 PM

Acceptance of homosexuality

Actually, freddy, this was part of the Greek culture import package that came to Rome before it became an Empire.

See Suetonius on Julius Caesar:

I have only to add that the elder Curio in one of his speeches calls him "every woman's man and every man's woman"

Which didn't prevent JC from becoming the first emperor of the Roman Empire, BTW.

Posted by: The Dark Avenger | Sep 28, 2005 5:21:10 AM

Best question of the day, "Why did the West create such a brilliant Empire as Rome while all the East could furnish was Genghis Khan?"

This would be the Genghis Khan who created the largest contiguous empire ever in the course of one lifetime, of which it was said a virgin carryong a sack of gold could ride from one end to the other unomlested?

Posted by: Phoenician in a time of Romans | Sep 29, 2005 2:15:06 AM

This would be the Genghis Khan who created the largest contiguous empire ever in the course of one lifetime, of which it was said a virgin carryong a sack of gold could ride from one end to the other unomlested?

We could employ the same harsh methods to accomplish this as well......is that what you want, or are you just running your mouth?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 29, 2005 9:03:56 AM

The comparison was between Temujin's empire and Rome. Since Rome did employ similarly harsh methods (not quite on the same scale, but crucifing six thousand slaves along the Via Appia isn't tender-hearted) the comparison is warranted.

Of course, the Mongol Empire failed to endure, being built on people rather than institutions. The Roman Empire is still going today, at least in part.

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