Editor's Note: Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of Rome, had a lot of time to think about what went wrong to cause the fall of the greatest empire in history. Here, for the first time, in this exclusive essay he tells the full story of the fall and gives Obama sage advice to our Chief Investment Strategist, Keith Fitz-Gerald on how to avoid the same fate in the US. Please forward this to interested friends or family members.
My name is Romulus Augustus. I was the last Roman Emperor. Though I only ruled a few years before giving up my throne on 4 September 476, I lived for at least another 25 years according to the tax records. I drew a pension until at least 507 according to Cassiodorus. And, in doing so, had plenty of time to think about what went wrong.
I have made the journey through time to offer my counsel and perspective lest your country repeat the same damning mistakes that ended centuries of Rome's greatness.
Let's begin at the top.
When I took the throne, the puppet masters held sway over the citizens. Theoretically, the citizens ruled Rome but sadly, true power was held by those who served as their representatives. The concentration of power is very real when it is the diffusion of power that best serves liberty.
Do not let your representatives take this for granted.
America, like Rome, will cross the most dangerous lines once voters figure out that they can entitle themselves. You will go from a nation of makers to a nation of takers.
We learned the hard way as our treasury became a proxy for a handout. Our citizenship changed radically and so did our elections. Towards the end, our political process was not about who would build a better future for the Empire, but who would be least likely to take away the handouts.
We tried giving the people free wheat as the progressive minds of our time thought that would change things. In reality, it made them worse.
Morsi Conspiracy: Obama's Strange Support of the Ousted Egyptian Tyrant
After days of heated demonstrations washed over the streets of Egypt, the Egyptian military removed Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday.
Since Morsi's election in June, 2012, the Obama administration has been strangely supportive of Islamist leader, forking over $1.3 billion in military funding to Egypt annually. It's the Morsi conspiracy.
I say "strangely supportive," because conspicuous red flags dot Morsi's political career.
A few years prior to his presidency, Morsi delivered a speech urging Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" of Jewish people. A few months later, he described Zionists as "descendants of apes and pigs" in a television interview.
The US is, of course, the closest ally of Israel.
But ostensibly, the Obama administration has been throwing so much monetary and PR support Morsi in order to show our backing of a democratically elected government in Egypt.
Morsi was democratically elected in a tight presidential race last year, and maintains that he is the country's legitimate leader.
But Egypt's highest-ranking military officer, General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, said that Morsi "did not achieve the goals of the people" as he became increasingly authoritarian and non-democratic.
Although Morsi hasn't been in power long, he already has quite the history of "removing" his opposition.
Obama Finds A New Way to Strangle US Economy
The scary question is, is he continuing to wound this recovery on purpose or by accident?
And which answer is worse?
Last Tuesday, President Obama announced his "Action Plan on Climate Change."
One of main "actions" is to kill a core piece of the US energy sector.
Among other things, he promised to use the Environmental Protection Agency regulation of carbon emissions to phase the U.S. out of coal fired power, even for existing stations.
Of course, environmentalists praised this move as a bold step against global warming.
Unfortunately, they're not very good at the economics of this.
So, I ran the numbers. And what I found was infuriating but not surprising: Regulations like this are the principal things slowing U.S. economic growth.
Did the Math
Obama Sells Us Down the River Again
After all the excesses and fiascoes the financial community (and country) has undergone - and continues to undergo - you would think that Washington would be more than motivated to keep the foxes out of the hen house.
Especially when it comes to Wall Street's love of building derivatives that fall just shy of being illegal, but certainly self-serving. You would think that this populist-sounding president would be keeping his regulatory Cerberus, which guards the Securities and Exchange Commission (stocks and bonds) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (futures, derivatives, options), hungry, alert and only well-fed on investor injustice.
Well, the fact is, not so much. Seems Wall Street has thrown a juicy steak over the fence of the CFTC... again.
As proof of the Washington axiom that no good regulator goes unpunished, President Obama appears set to nominate an inexperienced Senate aide to replace current CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler.
Even though President Obama nominated Gensler, whose term isn't up until year-end, rumors are flying that Amanda Renteria, the former chief of staff to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, will be nominated as the next head of the regulatory agency that oversees the $630 trillion derivatives markets.
Obama's Latest "Bad Bet' is About to Cost Taxpayers $180 Million
Talk about clean-energy boondoggles. Here's the latest one from the Obama administration.
Electric hybrid car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. is now on the verge of bankruptcy and owes the U.S. government more than $180 million - which would be the biggest waste of taxpayer money since the Solyndra fiasco.
According to PrivCo, a New York-based researcher, Fisker has not produced a car since last summer and has gone through more than $1.3 billion in private investment capital and government loans.
Minimum Wage Increase: Obama's Proposal and Realities
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama urged Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9, saying the move would reduce poverty and stimulate the economy.
"Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour," President Obama said. "This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank, rent or eviction, scraping by or finally getting ahead.
"For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government."
What the Last Roman Emperor Would Tell President Obama Today
Over the course of 700 years, the ancient Roman Empire grew from a small republic to one that stretched from London to Baghdad at its peak.
As one of the world's first true superpowers, the Empire's achievements included the world's first standing professional army, economic prowess, intellectual growth and governance principles that are commonly regarded as the basis for modern society.
But it is also remembered for its spectacular collapse in less than a century under the weight of bad debt, an overextension of the Empire, a collapse of morals that led to a deluded and self-absorbed political elite and reckless public spending that far outweighed collections.
Given the parallels to our situation, I can only imagine what Romulus Augustus, widely considered to be the last of the Roman Emperors, would tell President Barack Obama today about how to prevent the wholesale destruction of our own "Empire."
But it would probably go like this...
Cara praeses Obama, (Dear President Obama)
Like mine, your world is changing fast. No doubt it's very different from the one you thought you'd inherited. Your success will depend on new thinking and an eye to the future taken from lessons of the past.
I wouldn't be offended if you have never heard of me.
I oversaw the dying days of what you know as the Classic Western Roman Empire. My fall in September 476 marked the end of centuries of greatness and the fall of ancient Rome.
Some historians consider my departure as the beginning of the Middle Ages. I understand the nature of collapse: how it begins, how it progresses, and where it all ends.
As a historical footnote to a once great empire, here's my advice to you, Mr. President.
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Five Things Obama Didn't Want You to Hear in His State of the Union
Seeking to put the best possible spin on his message, President Barack Obama took some liberties with the truth in his State of the Union address.
Although the president never actually lied, he repeatedly left out facts that contradict his claims of success.
President Obama hadn't yet left the House chamber when the reality check started. And it didn't take long to find some pretty big the holes in the State of the Union address.
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U.S. Nears Colombia Trade Deal, Strengthening Economic Ties with Latin America
The United States has resolved labor issues with Colombia, paving the way for approval of a stalled free-trade agreement (FTA) and strengthening economic ties between the countries.
The United States and Colombia were expected to announce the agreement this week after months of talks, people familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush first signed a U.S.-Colombia FTA in November 2006 with then-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. The legislation stalled in Congress because Democrats refused to ratify the agreement until the Colombian government improved labor standards.