Thursday, September 8, 2011

Et tu, Brute?

So I've been posting a lot about America and it's problems, and that trend will continue until probably after the 10th anniversary of 9-11.  I've been in a volatile political mood recently, incited and incensed by the left and the right, and because I'm not quite ready to commit acts of sedition against the government of the United States, I'm using this useful "blog" that I have control over to thrust my ideas to the dozen or so people who read this on a regular basis (recently surpassed 100 followers.  Pretty cool.  Wish I had a dollar for every follower.  Thanks to everyone who contributed to this point).  I sympathize, because I know quite a few of you are goddamn foreigners with your own goddamn problems in your own goddamn countries, so you may not give a shit about how we've fucked everything up over here.  But, it's my goddamn blog, and I'm bored and need to put these ideas out away from my idiot friends.  Be my sounding board, blog bros.  Let me erupt my crazy ideas all over your face like a bukkake of truth.  Yeah, that was kind of a gross image.  I apologize for that.  I could delete it, but I don't censor myself.  Fuck censorship.

I have two academic focuses to which I do the best in: my first love, literature, and my occasional mistress, history.  Not too much of a science or math person.  I can do well in those subjects, but I'm not exceptionally adept at them.  Guess I was just born to make no money in my life.  So recently, in conjuncture with my exceptional amount of free time, I've been boning history.  I mean boning up on my history.  Freudian slip.  (Look out history.  I'm going to plant my quivering rod deep within your darkest recesses).  Which, because I don't do things methodically, I'm all up in ancient Rome's history at the moment.  Then, i had what could only be referred to as a profound (albeit heretical) idea.  One of the glorious things about ancient history is how most people who have completed a basic education understand it.  Europe, North America, we both draw from the same ancient well.  (Fun history fact: Russia pre-Soviet Union considered itself the heir of Rome after the fall of Constantinople.  The Russian title Czar is a re-appropriation of Caesar.  HOORAY)  So I've been re-familiarizing myself with Rome, from the mythical birth of the original city-state, to the fall of Byzantium.  It's a pretty wicked read.  Fucking Plutarch and everyone else rolling deep.

So, every student in western society knows who Gaius Julius Caesar was.  The "first" Roman Emperor (technically his adopted son Augustus was, because he was the first to impose the lifetime rule and the more straight forward succession to the position than Julius.  Augustus fought against Marc Antony, Julius's cousin and second-in-command and won, ending Rome as a republic and beginning Rome as an Empire.  Julius Caesar was more of a short-term dictator than anything.  Created the office to foster Rome forward and away from the political squabbles of the Senate), Caesar expanded Rome's borders to include most of France and Germany, fought successful campaigns in both countries, and when was ordered to give up his position of magistrate, and instead he crossed the Rubicon and started a Civil War against then-consul Pompey.  While it is mostly believed to have been ambition and desire for power following the death of political co-conspirator Marcus Licinus Crassus (aka, the wealthiest  Roman ever and possibly the wealthiest man of all time), most accounts of the Roman government during that time paint a picture of Rome in not that great of shape.  But we know how the story goes.  Julius Caesar was appointed "dictator," not the first ever, as it was a position created by the senate following the creation of the Roman Republic, but instead of operating within the pre-determined 6 month term, he declared first a ten year term, and when he was going to expand to a lifelong appointment, he was killed on the Ides of March.

So there's your history lesson today, but it would be much amiss if I didn't write why I brought it up to begin with.  Let's face it: history is cool and all, but lessons of history to be utilized by modern times to avoid mistakes is really the way to go.  Yet, we forget the lessons of the past.  What did the Soviet Union learn in the 70s and 80s?  Don't go to war in Afghanistan.  What is the United States doing now? Fighting a war in Afghanistan.  But I digress.  We can look at Rome, and find a possible solution to America's problems.  It's going to hurt, but then again, so will everything and every idea that has been spit-balled to solve these issues.  IT WILL HURT.  We have to cut out the infection to let the wound breathe and heal properly.  It'll happen.  But it'll hurt.  It's unconventional, but in theory, it'll work.  We just need to amend the constitution to support it in the long term, or hang the part of the constitution that prevents it.  If you haven't established the idea yet, allow me to unveil it.  Drum roll please.  Create an executive position that supersedes both the legislative and executive branches of the US government for the purpose of take a knife through America's finances to get the country on the right track out of the debt crisis.  A sort of Financial consul, Caesar if he focused on carving up Rome's budget.  Make him (or her) answerable only to the Supreme court to ensure that there is no gross overstepping of boundaries.  Give a time period, sit him down with a copy of all the tax codes and expenditures, get some assistants to help him understand it, and let him cut the fat, raise revenue, and ignore the bitter partisanship that has taken this country hostage.  Of course this is something of a pipe dream.  No one would go for it, let alone any politician, let alone any person.  It's a pipe dream, and extreme measure that could solve the problem.  And it's better than the alternative that I fear: another Civil War.  Look at Spain from 1936 to 1939 if you want an example of a government that was in decline and two bitter sides that existed within a republic and ripped the country apart.  Franco's Nationalists versus the Republicans.  I doubt that America would face that issue within the next ten or twenty years, but I do believe that even if spending and debt comes under control, with the rhetoric between the Republican and Democratic parties growing harsher and harsher every day, including threats of violence, how long before it degrades?  It would be like the North versus the South (the American Civil War) except more so.  The lines are less divided.  And it worries me.  I almost welcome a general crossing the American Rubicon (probably the Potomac River, because it runs the Southern edge of Washington DC) to reassign Congress and establish a protectorate and himself as a dictator of sorts.  I really don't because of the bloodshed that would inevitably be involved, but I worry.  I wonder how long it will be before I feel that revolutionary rhetoric burn within my veins again and I go off to do as I once did.  In 2008, I attended the Republican National Convention with a couple of friends in St. Paul, Minnesota.  We were among the 300+ people who were detained by police, but we didn't receive any charges or anything similar.  We discussed going to Toronto in 2010 for the G20 Summit, but I'm partially glad we didn't because of how that turned out.  Undoubtedly, I would have ended up in the black bloc that formed.  That rhetoric has cooled considerably in recent times, after feeling like I've been kicked around by the government and special interests, but deep down, I know that if something insane happens, I'll feel that old call to action.  But I digress.  These problems need to be fixed.  It's going to hurt.  But cutting only entitlement benefits while refusing to raise taxes isn't the answer.  And only raising the taxes on the top 5% isn't the answer either.  Tax increases need to happen, based on income levels, while cutting the fat from government programs and reigning in spending.  Especially defense spending.  Because it is absurd the amount of money we spend on defense programs that do nothing.


  1. First off cheers for the history lesson. I love history and Rome is one of my favourites. I agree that we need to learn from the lessons of the past, and we sure as Hell ain't. Most foreigners take a vested interest in the antics of America, especially England because we seem to get dragged in with you. As much as America likes to act like they're the best country in the world, and everything revolves around them, the sad truth is that it partly does. When Americas economy went down the toilet, so did everyone elses. I do hope though that America doesn't have another civil war, I know things are getting bad there, but I didn't think that bad. People will always refuse tax rises, which is why politicians refuse to bring them in. Unless you're English in which case they don't give a fuck. Very few sentaors are willing to vote in for tax increases because no one will vote for them if they do. I'd like to think that if I ever became a politician, I'd rather go out doing what I thought was best for my country, than letting it burn so I can stay in power. I think you have a good idea, I've had some myself, and they are all sadly pipe dreams, because, again, politicians are too out of touch with what people actually want, and for the most part they won't do whatever hurts their chances of re-election. I can stand behind anyone who's willing to kick up a fuss, one of my favourite lyrics from a song is "When the revolution comes, I'll be the first in line". I'm charming, charismatic, and some say I have leadership qualities, and fuck I'd love to do it sometimes.

  2. God DAMN that was a long comment.

  3. i love both the post, and Mark's comment. lmao

    So true though. Just taxing the rich isn't going to do shit

  4. History is pretty cool; politics - not so cool. And it's true, over the course of time we've made the same mistakes over and over again; like Voltaire said 'History never repeats itself. Man always does.'
    It's a shame that people avoid extreme solutions, because sometimes they're the only way to solve problems. The point is people indulge themselves in this shitty situations rather than act and make a change.
    RATM are an awesome band; I used to listen to their music a lot, now I kind of got over them..

  5. Gee it sounds like moneys the problem.
    Resource based economy anyone?

  6. Nice post, very well written. But I'm not sure if i agree with that pipe dream of yours. Look at the Emergency Financial Managers in Michigan, that didn't work too well either. And I'm not sure how well we can compare Caesar to all this; Rome may have been glorious, but it was built on slave labor and institutionalized corruption. I'd like to think we're at least a little better off over here, although as Mark said most politicians only care for reelection and the current political system is ill fit to deal with such a crisis even without partisan bickering.
    What I WOULD like to see is letting specialists of their respective fields actually use their expertise. When the economists say there's a big bubble, deflate it; when the climatologists say emissions are too high, regulate polluters; when the military proposes a strategy for saving money, consider it. Our congress apparently has no trust in the people that probably know best.
    Also, when economists say that taxing the rich does not in fact hurt the job market substantially they are simply ignored for whatever reason.
    All this leads me to conclude that we're letting a bunch of self-centered, short-sighted dipshits run this country.

  7. @ Astaroth
    Well, I guess if you focus on only the negatives of Rome, then yeah. I was more using it as an example of a republic appointing emergency executive powers. Now yeah, that turned less than ideal when nutjobs like Caligula and Nero got involved, but America needs someone to just rise above the fray here, and be above the mudslinging and general bullshit to begin to solve the problem, because neither party is correct at the moment, and none of them seem willing to get along. It's like recess at school; someone needs to get a teacher to put them in line. And it can't be the recess supervisors, aka the voters, because they're doing the same things among themselves. The thing about the Emergency Financial Managers in Michigan is that they were appointed through partisan lines. The Republican governor appointed them to act exactly like a Republican Financial Manager would: deep cuts, low taxes. A catch 22. This is all speculation, obviously, but one person who can rise above the fray of partisanism could accomplish a lot in a similar position, as long as they recognize that neither party has the answers.

    Also, Rome experienced its most prosperous ages when it was an Empire. Also it's worst. It was more of an allegory than anything. We've had a few hundred years of this republic thing, are hitting a rough patch that will jeopardize the future, possibly even more than the Civil War. This is roughly were Rome was when Caesar took control. I'm not saying abandon democracy; as much as I'm angry at my choices at the moment, I still enjoy being able to make that choice. It's more that we, as a nation, need to take drastic action to circumvent a brewing disaster.

    And yes, we're letting a bunch of self-centered, short-sighted dipshits run the country.