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DON’T BE SO ARROGANT, MR. PRESIDENT

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.

Big operations and even bigger government led to large scale unemployment, particularly in our larger cities where people had nowhere else to go.

In the afterlife, I hear everybody from Henry the 8th to Julius Caesar debating the merits of leadership. Even Elvis weighs in which brings me to my next point…

Politicians who focus on surviving threats from each other lose sight of the nation they serve and their people.

We never got this right. You have the chance to do so. Today…now….before it's too late.

Here’s what you must understand…

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

About the Author

Keith Fitz-Gerald has been the Chief Investment Strategist for the Money Morning team since 2007. He's a seasoned market analyst with decades of experience, and a highly accurate track record. Keith regularly travels the world in search of investment opportunities others don't yet see or understand. In addition to heading The Money Map Report, Keith runs High Velocity Profits, which aims to get in, target gains, and get out clean. In his weekly Total Wealth, Keith has broken down his 30-plus years of success into three parts: Trends, Risk Assessment, and Tactics – meaning the exact techniques for making money. Sign up is free at totalwealthresearch.com.

Read full bio

  1. Andrew Maggard | July 22, 2013

    It is evident that many citizens of this once prosperous and great economy are reacting to what may be described as a general unease, many are beginning to notice the gradual increase in prices for the essentials, food, clothing, fuel, energy are all increasing at an alarming rate, meanwhile the Federal Reserve continues the stimulus when austerity should have been initiated months if not years ago. It is a given that those within government that are responsible for the coming debacle will remain mute rather than begin to warn the people of what they have wrought. Forget the conspiracy theories and the illuminati – this is the real thing and it is no secret whether or not it is alluded to by government. As repeatetedly cautioned by the great Austrian Economist, "Ludwig von Mises, Continued inflation inevitably leads to catastrophe", that catastrophe is rapidly approaching.

    • Steve Murphy | July 22, 2013

      Sorry Andrew, austerity has never provided any relief. Here's the problrm.

      Your president, Barak Obama and all your elected leaders must understand that they have been voted into office by the people for the people (whoops, I meant for the Corporation.

      They must not fail. This is their watch.

    • DD | July 22, 2013

      this once prosperous and great economy – The British Empire was once that too and was far superior for its day than the US is. Perhaps it's about time the US had the integrity and stepped aside and let someone else take the helm. The US had her chance with many thanks to Engalnd and blew it – easy come, easy go as they say!

    • Giuoco Piano | July 23, 2013

      With the Federal Reserve having a dual mandate, it has had to fire up the printing presses to make up for the fiscal deriliction of duty by the Obama administration. It is unfortunately creating a problem for the next president. Wage inflation is being kept under control by the lack of jobs. What happens when we have a president that removes the uncertainties of Obama's policies, companies invest, create jobs, and get the country working again? My opinion is that as companies have to compete for employees that wage inflation will kick in, interest rates will increase, and the amount of money needed to service the national debt will increase to unsustainable levels. Stock market investors will long for the Obama era with the easy money and rising stock market propped up by the 'Fed.' It will take some time to undo the damage done by Obama's fiscal policies.

      • PAM | July 27, 2013

        The easy money policy ( $85 billion per day) by the Federal Reserve, is funding the 1 %. Banks and companies have all the money they need, borrowing at 1 %. They have a huge pool of employees. They can hire them all at minimum wage and pay no benefits, and everyone is happy to work for them, just to have a job. This is what the 1 % wants to be able to hire at minimum wage, and keep the masses groveling. The Federal Reserve is independent of the Federal Government. Funny it is called the "Federal" Reserve . Banks have gotten money virtually for free The Federal Reserve, though has kept the nation from falling on its backside, pumping money into big banks and big business. I wish they would have pumped half of the $85 billion per day into the hands of the poor, who would then be able to buy more, which would really have pumped up the economy! That is where the economy will grow. — If companies would start hiring and paying a decent wage again like in the 80's and 90's, we can have our robust economy back. People would be able to buy like they did in the 80's and 90's and our problems would be solved. It was in the 2000's that the big businesses started hiring contractors and part time workers so they did not have to pay benefits. They laid off thousands of workers, unions were deemed as the enemy of the economy, wages dropped to minimum wage, jobs shipped overseas for cheap labor. Of course nobody could no longer afford to buy anymore, with no jobs , or minimal wages, and part-time work.

        Wall street has only had the huge run-up in stocks due to the cheap money the Federal Reserve is giving out. Banks have gotten out of their debt and are using the cheap money to loan to the Fed. Reserve at 2%. This is money they borrowed for free or got loans at 1 % from the Fed. Reserve ( from us the Taxpayers).

        • John Thomas | August 17, 2013

          Pam, that's 85 Billion per month, not per day. If it were per day, the Fed would be buying $2.55 Trillion of US bonds per month. That would approximate $51 Trillion over the past 20 months. If that were the case the US credit rating would now be ddd rather than AA.

  2. Conan the Bachelor | July 22, 2013

    None of your analogies to the Roman Empire apply to a real example. Ancient Rome didn't certify its currency with the full faith of its government. Neither did the Weimar Republic. Nor present day Greece. In contrast, the USA holds several notes for outstanding foreign country debts to the USA that we can call at nytime we need them. Rome was a slaveocracy, a corrupt one, and not even a democracy for Roman citizens if the true history be known. Your historical analogy may be way off base, however your concerns for this country's currency are based in reality. Technological innovation, as well as innovative investment strategies, seem to be the best remedies, based on our industrial history.

    • Slodden | July 22, 2013

      Well, one response close to reality.

    • Marvelmyra | July 22, 2013

      Conan, If you think that countries (who by the way are only able to pay the interest on those loans you count on) will not default if full payment is demanded you are living in a fool's paridise. Albeit one a bit different than those who think our government can spend their, (and our) way out of debt. The only thing that can save us from total disaster is some very hard and painfull choices that no-one appears willing to make. A complete change of personal in government is nessesary starting with the very next election.! If we do not save ourselfs soon it will be to late. Obama is making the Fed put off much needed changes until after he is out of office.! The hand writing is on the wall. The Democrats think waiting will put blame for the disaster on the Republicans, after all they,re in office now it must be their fault right.? The economy is like a freight train, it takes a long time to get started in a choosen direction and on heck of a lot longer to stop and even more to turn around. Enron was the largest early warning of what was going on. We should have done a lot more then.! Instead we let the foxes check the hen house. Of course they called it an isolated incident, punished a few people and said all's fine now. We're safe, it's ok. The watch dogs can go back to sleep. We listened and now we are paying for it. WAKE UP ! IT CAN NOT BE FIXED. ! We need a radical change and we have to start now.! Find honest people and elect them in the very next election. Do Not except mud silinging and distractions.! Ask the important questions and demand real answers.! The Presidency, Congress and the Senate are serious jobs not beauty contests and we deserve real answers to hard questions not the same old feel good I'm better than the other guy B. S. !

      • DD | July 22, 2013

        Marvelmyra – It's already too late for the US. The US had passed the point of no return about two years ago.

        • Buck OFama | July 24, 2013

          This very much depends on what exactly do you call "the US". MUCH OF THE COUNTRY IS STILL ROBUST MORALLY, and maintains those traditional American qualities that have made this country great. Fierce individualism, traditional values, pull yourself up by your bootstraps attitude and the like. It's the liberal intellectuals, the gay and feminist militants, and the ghetto mamas brimming of racial hatred that are pulling everyone else down. Which they did, both in 2008 and in 2012. It can still get better if the victimized majority decides at some point to cut the bums off. Hopefully they will do in good time. God Bless.

      • Jim | July 22, 2013

        Obama is not MAKING the Fed do anything! The Fed is not part of the govt and is not answerable to it. It's a private for profit corporation.

        • Tony | July 23, 2013

          The banks are also private corporations.

          GM was a private corporation.

          The student loan program was pretty much a private affair.

          If you think the prex cannot control a private corporation, you are wrong.

          always,
          tony

      • marie | July 22, 2013

        Well said, Marvelmyra. When government borrow more than half of what they spend, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that we are in deep dodoo, and yet our elected officials are still spending millions in their vacations and travels, go figure? The way our government fund their budget is crazy, and no one seems to understand that we are a BANKRUPT country. We won't be able to pay the trillions that we owe other countries even if we tax everyone 100%. We can't hardly pay the interest.Government need to tighten their belts and also find ways to release permits for the technologies that are waiting to feed our economy, but no one seems to listen to them. Are people in DC deaf, mute and blind? We are in the brink of economic collapse. Listen to economic analysts and wake up…

    • Dale | July 22, 2013

      Do you really think that this empire can't fall like Rome? Read history closer. They supported their people (Roman citizens) on a welfare system. Their senators and representatives in their Congress did exactly what has been done in the last 40 years here. They got lazy and wasteful of their resources.

      They were evil, we have many evil ways. We don't raid other countries and demand tribute – we target our working class- which diminishes as foreigners and illegals get more and more jobs. Resources coming in from other countries diminished because their military became lazy and respect for Rome diminished after whacko leaders like Nero and Calligula raped the land and destroyed any integrity left. Caesar worship was replaced with Papal worship after Rome collapsed on itself.

      I will give you this fact – how long can this go on?: Someone print a Billion dollars (1000 million – a trillion is a million million – think about that) and put that in billion in circulation via a bank. The bank loans it to you. It is a loan that is supposed to be paid off. Your company only makes a profit of a billion a year (it is unreal but follow the logic). The product made is only circulated in the market place a year, no longer. The overhead of the company is 1/2 billion to manufacture and market and pay salaries and overhead expenses. You pay the bank back 1/2 billion.

      The problem is that you have to run back to the bank next year and they would decline to help you – not so in DC, just print more money. Because the value of the dollar is diminished the next year operating costs go up so for another billion dollar loan you can't even pay back 1/2 billion.

      The cycle keeps going on and propped up by running the money printing presses. How long do you think that this trend of loss can be propped up before it collapses??? Welcome to our illustrious DC idiots who play this game as if outgo can be greater than income and survive.

      If we spend more than we make then we end up in jail or in poverty or debt up to our eyeballs. How do you think that the government can survive without consequences for us all?????

    • Peter O. | July 22, 2013

      Hey Conan ,
      What about the debt the USA owes to everyone out there . Do you not think those countries aren't going to call out for their monies at some point ?
      Are you aware that the Federal Reserve is not owned by the Feds ?
      Are you aware that this administration is trying to bring this Country down ?
      "Technological innovation as well as innovative investment strategies . . . " Have you seen how well this administration has done with the billions spent on "Innovation" ?
      Solar etc. etc.

  3. John | July 22, 2013

    Keith,

    Very good piece…. but haven't we already reached the tipping point where the majority of people vote to entitle themselves? We can not afford our current entitlements at the Federal level, and I'm sure many local state and municipalities are trying to come to terms with the same issue. Until these "promises" are broken and society has a 'fiscal revival', I do not see the serfdom path being broken. Has a society ever changed course once the entitlement society has been in power? It would take a strong leader and media cooperation to pull off such a long-shot. In reality, it would take our nation to find favor with the Lord of this world… as did our founding fathers. Ever since we have been removing the Lord from our nation in direct correlation to our entitlement mentality.

  4. maddog 81 mm | July 22, 2013

    It is true , history is replete with the same old , same-o !!! History always repeats itself, and the leaders of the day, never pay attention to their past !!! The old adage, " Nero fiddled, while Rome burned," is no truer today !!! We've drunk from the well of prosperity so long , we've depleted it , our indulgence has caught up with us , and we're on the verge of collapse !!! Yet our leadership keeps draining the well , and not replenishing it with fresh water, so slowly it has become a fraction of what it used to be !! Think of that well as our economy, keep taking out , and not replenishing it , eventually how long do you think it will last ??? As a free people we need to make the change in the way the government represents us , or we'll also go by way of all past great civilizations!! First thing is to slow the outflow of our resources , and money to nations that don't give a flip about us , who call themselves our allies, and yet they rail against us, and refuse to act like allies. Why is it, " we feed the dog that continues to want to bite us ", when we feed it ??? Take care of the home front first, rebuild our economy, in a time honored way, like the capitalistic, measures we employed in the early days of our industrious nations history! We became a super power, because of our moral , and work ethics , and not what this entitlement government is expecting of us today. Our demise is just down the road , with OBama-care !! Biggest farce ever perpetrated on America ever !! You're forced to buy something you don't want, or you have to pay a penalty, if you don't !!! What the heck is that all about ??? No competition, therefore , prices will rise with these monopoly based " exchanges ", and enforced by the IRS ( and you know what , and who they are ), our biggest brother. Last but not least ,our indilgent Liberal MSM, working right along with the POTUSs plan to immasculate this nation , destroying our economy , our freedom, with his socialistic machinatiions causing our inevitable ruination !! People wake up , heed history, because it's all there !!! There is also plenty of explaining to do about all of the coverups ,and controvedrsies this administration, is responsible for !!! We're going by the way of all the other great societies , and nothing is being done to rectify it !!! Sorry !! Just had to vent !!!!

    • Darryl Hanson | July 22, 2013

      maddog,
      You hit the nail on the the old bean! Why the hell people don't wake up to the facts surrounding us is beyond comprehension. Too many on the take. Example: It costs $320 billion annually for supporting illegal aliens in this country: and for many years too. How stupid is that?

      Keep talking to your key points and maybe somebody will listen. I am mailing this article to my U.S. Senators and Congressmen from Wisconsin. Maybe kicking some ass will get some action before it's too late. Mitt Romney was the guy to turn this around, but to many takers (and corrupt illegal voters) prevented the turnabout. Sad.

      • DD | July 22, 2013

        Darryl Hanson- If you think illegal aliens are a drain on the system, then take a look at this web site – ifamericansknew.org

        $8.5 million (it just went up from $8.2m) is given everyday to this country and has done so for many years now and few even blink at this fact! England and Germany has also given billions over the years.

  5. michael | July 22, 2013

    When more and more people rely on the govt, for handouts, whatever their shape or form; then the individual is being robbed of his hard earned dollars.
    Dollars that do not go to re generate more wealth, but only to keep more and more people in a lower standard of living
    An endless cycle that will not be broken by Barry and his administration Indeed, they seem content to perpetuate this cycle.
    Which of our senators will vote for less wages for themselves and less handouts to the masses ?
    None
    Welcome to the new Greece…. it is here already See Detroit and other large cities Bankrupt because of greed and un sustainable pension obligations to the public employees

  6. Johnny Guido | July 22, 2013

    OMG! This is everything that is going on NOW!! We gotta stop these people from ruining a pretty good and once powerful nation.
    We must remove, and not re-elect the same lecherous pond scum that inhabits the halls of our government.

  7. Don W. Pendley | July 22, 2013

    GOOD LUCK on this one.
    We are here because we are humans, and therefore ONLY concerned with
    our own individual, short term interests.
    I suggest you go back and read the BIBLE. The final chapter (Revelation) tells
    us how this will end, not only for the "good ole U.S.", but for all of mankind,
    and it is NOT PRETTY until you get to chapters 20 & 21 – WHICH WILL ONLY
    APPLY TO A 'VERY FEW'.
    NOTE: I will NEVER understand why there was even one Jewish family left in
    Germany after 1936. A picture of Berlin in the summer of 1945 says it all, but
    here we go again.
    Don

  8. mistel | July 22, 2013

    Your comments are valid and it's well-written. However, since obama's goal as a communist is the destruction of our country, I would not anticipate his pondering what when wrong, but instead, would expect him to maintain his arrogance and defiance, the in-your-face reveling in the extravagant family trips. Perhaps your next story could be about Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

  9. Arnold Kirschner | July 22, 2013

    The comment that austerity should have been started a while ago is NOT the answer. Look at Europe. The ran to austerity and it failed in a major way. That doesn't mean that intelligent and focused non-lethal cuts should not be made, they should be done. It also means that there is a place for Government spending as an investment in our country. Private companies do not repair bridges, highways, airport upgrades, high speed rail and a host of much needed infrastructure and education. Government does and that time for Government to step in is now when the economy is down. History shows that is what works. Private companies do the work by government contract at the local and state level. Wise and well policed Government spending has a place. A reliance on either spending or austerity will not work. All we need do is look at what is going on now to learn that lesson. The real, working answer is we need both, NOW. That can only be done by a Government run by different trains of thought do so in good faith and not the BS we have going on now. Our economy will be fixed when the ideologues, who DON"T work in good faith are out.

    By the way, we don't live in the time of the Roman Empire. This is 2013 and the world is a very, very different place. To compare today with then and use that as a model for operating our system or the world now is incomprehensible. If the person who thinks that way wants things to be that way, I'd say go back in time and see how you would like that. Todays problems require today's solutions. If it were that easy a high school student will figure it out.

    • Ian Lewthwaite | July 22, 2013

      Until the balance between any countries spendable income and its pensions and other hand-outs to those who cannot/will not work is reduced the West will decline at a rapid rate. When slothfulness pays better than working for your family in a producing job rather than a Govt./Federal/state/council job which is supposed to make the production of Goods easier/cheaper for the benefit of the paying consumers who actually pay for that Service out of taxed Income, the others are merely parasites sucking the efforts of the real workers.
      The west is full of these parasites who demand their "RIGHTS" but forget that they have an OBLIGATION to the others really working

    • mistel | July 22, 2013

      Arnold, this was written in Rome in the 1st or 2nd century. Recognize any similarities? Hint: think entitlements and Snooki. The more things change, . . . .

      "'It is scarcely possible that the eyes of contemporaries should discover in the public felicity the latent causes of decay and corruption. This long peace, and the uniform government of the Romans, introduced a slow and secret poison into the vitals of the empire. The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was extinguished, and even the military spirit evaporated.' Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things—-Bread and Games!"

  10. Hank Hettinger | July 22, 2013

    Conan, Tell me about these notes from foreign contries that we can call anytime we need the money. Which countries? How much in each country? I didn't notice these notes on our balance sheet, all I saw was debt, but Conan says we got money so, bring on the circus, let's
    orge!
    Meanwhile back in Obamaland, the printing presses run constantly putting unbacked paper into circulation, further devaluing what was printed yesterday and the years up to today. A copper penny has doubled in value, while paper dollars aren't worth an 8 oz bottle of water at the convenience store.

  11. john snow | July 22, 2013

    Alexis de Toqueville – on a tour here from England- in the 18th century, said that democracy was the best form of government until the people discovered that they could vote themselves money.

  12. panhd74 | July 22, 2013

    Here is another analogy. "as the USA burns Bernanke prints". I believe the world currency will change from dollars to some other currency once the majority of precious metals is under control by a majority of other countries. Russia, China, India and even Iran are full speed ahead in gaining precious metal wealth. Our politicians are to busy soliciting for votes by offering more entitlements. The mob will rule as the government continues to give. I think much of your analogies are dead on. Lets hope the people figure it out before it is too late. The children of this great country may be living a much different life than what we experienced. I hope it is for the better however at this time I believe we are in the down slide of the S curve.

  13. Steverdude | July 22, 2013

    A govt of the people ,for the people,by the people shall not perish from this earth. Well, thats dead in the USA. People are so unaware that daily there are executive orders that hold the strength of law that bypass the balance that was created by our forefathers. Thats why there were 3 bodies of the govt so that what is taking place in the white house now couldnt happen. The constitution is dead. Its now illegal to unlock your cell phones, why? Its now illegal for a court of law to ban the sale of gmo seeds, why? Because everyone is saying, just like in Nazi Germany , its not so bad, they wouldnt dare , etc. Wake up America its not just conspiracy theories, or illuminati , its your politicians. Where is your voice? Where is your freedom?

  14. Durwood | July 22, 2013

    People are telling others we need to wake up. A lot of us were awake before BO was elected the first time. Didn't anybody read about this guy's background? I remember reading him quote to his cronies, "Just get me in there and I'll take care of the rest". Boy, if that's not a statment, I don't know what is. Granted, Bush wasn't the best president, but in all of his 8 years he didn't try to drag America through the mud like this cat's gearing up to do. Folks, you voted for a black, white, muslim that worships another god; not the one true God. Plus hates Americans. Oh, wait a minute, Obama is the puppet. Someone else really runs the country. Is that what some of you think? Obama knows exactly what he is doing. Is what he grew up to do. Take America to it's knees. We can talk all we want about what needs to be done but we have a long row to hoe before anything good comes out of this. And speaking about Obamacare and all of our congress men and women that want for them and their families to be exempt from the plan; they will most likely have to wait in line like everyone else because of shortages of doctors. Though, it's still not too late for impeachment and we can stop all of this crap and try to get back to the America of the free enterprise.

    • PAM | July 27, 2013

      Ha, ha! YOU THINK GEORGE W. BUSH didn't drag America through the dirt! He is responsible for the 12 year War, the longest war in U.S. history!! We have spent Trillion on this needless war. He and his cronies, take care of the 1%–Wall Street , big business, the Big Banks. All legislation is favored toward the 1 %. How can the common man make a decent living on the minimum wage, which has been kept low by the 1%, saying raising the minimum wage will decrease hiring. You have big businesses hoarding billions of dollars, not paying a living wage to workers, not hiring as they are working their skeleton crews to death. They being happy just to have a job at minimum wage with no benefits. Obamacare is trying to help these people with no benefits from work, to at least have decent Healthcare. I remember the 80's and 90's almost every employer offered a affordable medical benefits. In the 2000's they started lay offs, and hiring only contractors and part-time people, and taking away benefits. President Obama is the only one working for the common man, the middle class ( which has not become the lower class due to corporate greed in their not hiring full time workers, not paying benefits, and not paying a living wage).

      • James | July 28, 2013

        Pam,
        This is like the blind leading the blind. Quit drinking the proverbial "kool-aid" and get a clue about what made us the greatest country on earth. Obama is destroying the very fabric of this nation by creating divisive factions using false assertions. It is astounding so many like yourself believe what comes out of his mouth! Regarding employers offering affordable healthcare: It was the norm until Hillary came along and started meddling with healthcare. Nobody elected her then — and heaven help us, hopefully she'll never spend time in the W.H. ever again!

  15. Rob Porter | July 22, 2013

    In all candour, the United States has already passed the point of no return. There doesn't any longer exist the leadership, national spirit and belief systems to reverse the downward spiral – and while exacerbated by the feckless, out of his depth Barack Obama – who the American people nevertheless elected (thus demonstrating their own state if decadence) – this did not begin with him. The rot of corruption and greed, and rejection of values that made America great began decades back and now does not pervade only the presidency, it pervades Congress in D.C., State legislatures, local government, Wall Street and banks. What the U.S. now has is not a leader, just a silly-minded, overwhelmed meddler who involves himself in petty, relatively insignificant things such as black Harvard professor with racist attitudes getting into dispute with police who were doing their duty; who meddles in a case of relative insignificance such as the Zimmerman case. Why does he do this? Because race is an obsession. Further, in his mind he is going to right all social and international wrongs – as he sees them – marginalize people who once made the country great and elevate those he sees as victims – even those illegally sneaking into the country over the Mexican border. He wants to bury the old America. That is his mindset. Meanwhile the country as a whole rots at the seams. He behaves like a first-year university undergraduate without any experience in life and harbouring a host erroneous and feckless ideas about the world and ideology. The utter failure of Marxism, the more than one hundred million lives it destroyed, passes him by, so in it he still sees merit. The mindless intolerance, hatred and violence that characterizes Islam and its Qur'anic teachings does not bother him, so insidiously he promotes its advancement at home and abroad. Weak political opposition seems incapable of stopping him and his very evident contempt for Congress, the Constitution and other things what contributed to making the country what it became. No doubt he knows all of this, and with it his haughty, stupid arrogance grows. Thus he thinks he can make agreements with Russia without consulting the American people's representative, Congress, but conforms with his warped world view. In this he is aided by a host of like minded individuals who like Susan Rice for her dishonesty and ineptitude gets promoted – and once again the divided Republican opposition seems incapable of stopping the insanity. Hillary Clinton, a liar over many things, not least Benghazi, fades out of the picture for now, but the pathetic mainstream media talks enthusiastically about this poor specimen becoming president. How can all of this be possible? It can when old values that formed the foundation upon which a great American was founded have been rejected, with that good judgment and wisdom have not be replaced by anything other than superficial thinking, let alone anything substantial (were that possible), and when the whole edifice is in a state of rot.
    Only very, very special leadership with massive character and great wisdom would have a chance of turning such a circumstance around.

    • Mark Alexander | July 23, 2013

      Rob, OMG! You said everything I was thinking! The thing is, I still have hope but the only way we are going to succeed is to inform the low information voters and takers. After all, THEY are not reading these blogs, but are busy watching sports and sitcoms and "reality tv shows" and have no clue how much one trillion dollars is never mind 17 trillion. How about running the national debt clicker on billboards accross the country and then send them to a website that explains what this country is turning into, and very soon the entitlement money they depend on will dry up.

  16. JEFFCRI | July 22, 2013

    See these pescient comments:

    "Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and mechanical products, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalised, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism"

    Karl Marx, Das Kapital, 1867

    "The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
    public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be
    tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should
    be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to
    work, instead of living on public assistance."

    – Cicero – 55 BC

  17. Mark | July 22, 2013

    A little off subject, however I think the recent IRS scandel will lead to an impeechment. When Nixon was in trouble he went to China to dissappear, Obama went to Africa. I think this will blow up very soon. It will end Obama care for good. I think Biden and Holder will also be caught up in this and Kerry will be the Prez for the last year and a half. The corruption is so blantant now. Kerry will pardon them all. So no jail time for any. Hillary's Bengazi will prevent her from ever being elected again. I'm thinking there will be a Chris Christy, Condolisa Rice ticket next Presidential election and they will win, and things will get better unless Chris Christy has a heart attack. Anyone else thinking the same thing? Plese comment!!!

  18. mhs | July 22, 2013

    An interesting read, both the article and many of the comments. However one element that is conspicuously absent is the fact that – like Rome – the US suffers from the burden of an outrageously oversized, overbearing military establishment. To put it bluntly: Almost all past empires have fallen in part because they became over-extended, and the US seems clearly to be on the same track. Sadly, many in the US refuse to acknowledge that the US even IS a present-day empire, but as an American living abroad, I can assure you that most folks outside the States are under no illusions about this. Attempts to control the size of the government will fail unless Pentagon spending is also on the chopping block.

  19. Bob Johnson | July 22, 2013

    I don't think anyone questions the role of Government in spending for infrastructure improvements when needed, but our Government has chosen instead to expand various entitlement areas, including food stamps. I strongly suspect this is being orchestrated specifically to ensure that sufficient recipients are available to guarantee future electability, in this case, for a continuation of liberal/progressive policies. If not, why does our Government pay certain of its employees a bonus to sign more recipients? This is no longer a program for the needy, it's a program to guarantee re-election.
    To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, "when the number of people standing in the free cheese line is greater than the number of people making the cheese, our Republic as we know it will no longer exist".

  20. Ian Lewthwaite | July 22, 2013

    That's why Yanks should uphold the right to bear arms, because eventually they will be needed against the USA Government, and their continued benefits without effort program, only a big mouth

  21. Eileen | July 22, 2013

    History does repeat itself, although the outcome does depend upon what a civilization does about the event. It is true that we don't live in the Roman Empire; what is true, though, is that the moment you start debasing currency, it eventually ceases to function in the way that it was designed. What is true though is that countries collapsed when the population ceased to care about the existence of the nation and cared more about themselves.

    Although this whole cycle started long before Obama became President, it does not follow that he can't do anything about it. The characteristic of a true leader is the willingness to say and DO things that are uncomfortable if doing so leads to a better outcome. The fact that we don't live in ancient Rome does not make the analogy irrelevant. Both nations suffer from the same syndrome: poor leadership who cares more about personal gain than they do about the nation they serve and a population that cares more about WIIFM than they do about the welfare of the nation. When neither the nation nor the population cares, how can a nation survive?

  22. Conan the Bachelor | July 22, 2013

    Hettinger: let's start with WWI, our notes held from France, the Netherlands, Belgium and England. Or notes from the UK held from Land Lease. The free world owes the United States a great deal more than our present imbalance of trade, or debt. As one Chairman of the Joint Chiefs once said, we don't want to police the world, but when countries are in conflict, who does one side usually call? Expect more conflicts as some natural strategic resources become scarce in some overpopulated, mineral rich parts of the world! Expect more calls to our nation's main office. And by the way, we'll need Romney/Fitzgerald's "takers"to take the call. And even if you compare what Romney et al takes to what they take from the "makers" the so-called "takers" keep taking less and less while Romney et al takes more.

    • DD | July 22, 2013

      Conan – The US only got where it is today with many thanks to England hence, the US OWES England more than any country owes the US. Plus imho, the US wants to police the world, the US has always wanted to be in control and have power over others – just like the British Empire did back in its day – and to exploit the lesser countries for it natural resources etc.

      No country owes the US anything!

      • mistel | July 23, 2013

        DD, theoretically, you're right that no country owes us. But lesser countries are very much aware of their own plight should the US continue on this self-destructive course, eventually unable to help anyone. Why you would think we owe our historic lifeline to England escapes me, but so do your next comments.

      • Brad M | July 26, 2013

        Seriously DD !? Thanks for the Rothschilds! I think you would be speaking German right now if not for the USA. But, like England and the Roman empire before it, the USA is headed down the same couse of oblivion…. just too much greed and corruption, a currency being systematically destroyed, and a populous buying every attempt made to distract it and keep it in denial from where it is rapidly heading by those who desire to see the end and that will benefit from that end. BTW.. there are reasons many chose to come across the pond to the USA. Much of Europe is also close to the same fate as well.

  23. toshi nobe | July 22, 2013

    Keith, Your concerns are valid on the current entitlement culture. But comparing our economy to the Roman empire? Let's be realistic here in terms a valid comparison. The historical analogy related to the cultural part of human behaviors maybe but not the systems we developed. Besides, we are the cause of the problem, not based on one person but a generational one. It has been going on for a long time. You can alert us by "we told you so" but it is an old adage that may not be heard…we need solutions that require perseverance and persistence on the right road to a better future. Lets work on that on an individual basis and collectively in a right frame of mind.

  24. Barry Worshoufsky | July 22, 2013

    Keith,
    Maybe if the Republican party would do what's right for the American people instead of what's politically best for them, we would be a stronger and more prosperous nation.

    • DD | July 22, 2013

      Barry – I highly doubt it! Too much selfishness and greed involved.

  25. Rhea | July 22, 2013

    Your very well done article gives the imperesison we have some time to fix this, or to prepare; after all it was generations before the barabarians over ran Rome.
    My concern: The barabarians are amongst us stealing behind closed doors, trying to sell us on trickle down econmics and supporting unbelievable market manipulations.
    It seems many (small individuals and LARGE corps) want and are taking their's first.

  26. H. Craig Bradley | July 22, 2013

    Detroit has crossed that line, as did Greece, Rome, the Ottoman Turk Empire, and the British Empire. However, it took about 400 years for Rome's spending excesses to catch up with them in the end ( Visigoths "sacking" Rome). It took little Detroit, Mich. about 60 years for the music to stop (default). Now, firemen in Detroit are protesting proposed wage and pension cuts. Its too late for these guys (they all should have "Left Dodge" a long time ago).

    President Obama and other politicians live in the moment. Tomorrow is not just "another day", it does not yet exist in their view of the world. Elected officials don't care what happens in 50 years. If we completely collapse in 40 years, the current President would be the last to be concerned.

    See, everyone hopes they will be long gone when the music stops. However, someone must be left to "hold the bag". There is always a dupe in every nation and society throughout history. We all think we will be "lucky". Who cares about the next guy? ( or the children). We are very selfish as a culture. In reality, we are all "on our own". That's life in the city.

  27. H. Craig Bradley | July 22, 2013

    IT ALL STARTED WITH PERICLES and OBAMA

    Pericles, the famous Greek statesman, initiated Greece's first income tax inorder to construct civil works projects ( Parthenon). He backed the Peloponnesian War and other wars, which eventually led Greece to defeat and poverty.

    One of the manager's at Trader Joe's told me that about 10% of their customers pay for their food purchases with EBT cards (food stamps). This is especially true at the beginning of each month. Other retail grocery stores such as Safeway and Kroger have the same customer pattern (food stamp purchases and WIC payments), as well. This is common in most American cities today.

  28. Louise | July 22, 2013

    As I've read your quotations and pseudo-quotations from a world history that is both real and imaginary, I've concluded that there are a lot of you out there who are suffering from paranoia as severe as my own! We, like our elected leaders, lack the expertise to improve our economy. All that we know to do is complain about it.

  29. Sheila Slaughter | July 23, 2013

    Remember when Ross Perot warned against the trading policies that were adapted in the
    80's. Do you hear the sucking sounds of manufacturing base drained from this country? With
    the combination of a country that no longer make its goods and relying more and more on
    service industries a very unstable economic condition was created. No longer are we in control
    of our destiny. Global corporations have the control showing allegation only to profits and not
    country. Too many politicians have the same mentality. They are loyal to their own self interest
    not interested in the welfare of those who voted them into office.
    Remember when Enron caused an uproar by its corruptible policies. It was only an
    indication that such business practices would play out eventually in the housing industries,
    banking and loan industries which bought our economy to its knees. Today we still have
    banking industry playing Russian Roulette with our economy where we have only six banks
    controlling trillions of our U.S. dollars. The instability of our economy is not caused by
    its citizens, but by politicians who think corporations are people my friend!
    The calculated destruction of the middle-class has placed this country on the fast
    track to third world status. The buying power of the middle class bought this country
    to greatest. The greed of the corporations and politician will bring this country to ruin.

  30. Conan the Bachelor | July 23, 2013

    DD: Churchill would disagree with you! Besides, we didn't ask for help in WWII from England. It came to us! So did France and Russia! Next time the UK needs another country's army in a pinch, it should call on one from the British Commonwealth!

  31. Jim | July 23, 2013

    What a sad bunch of posts! I am embarrassed to be a subscriber. Durwood, Rob, sad and unsupported comments. Nothing like the lie that Obama is a Muslim; might as well throw in the birther nonsense as well. We have the standard references to Nazism and Communism as well. Rob, you may not like the Democrats, but who stands out among the Republicans — most do not even understand how government works, like Rand Paul. And Mark, there is no IRS scandal. If you listened to the last dog and pony show with Chairman Issa, even he has backed off his irresponsible comments regarding Obama's involvement because there is no proof. Unless you only listen to Fox news, you would know that. Yes, we have a lot of problems, and in the current political climate, it is not apparent we are going to address them. It is more than ironic that most think democracy and elections are great, unless you lost the last election.

  32. Keith Fitz-Gerald | July 23, 2013

    Hello everybody!

    Thanks for the engaging discussion; your insights make Money Morning a great place to be.

    This article, in particular, was fun to write because I got to re-examine history I thought I understood. There were a lot of surprises along the way, incidentally. I'll share those in upcoming columns – the parallels and the lessons are just too good not to.

    Best regards for a great afternoon wherever this finds you,

    Keith :-)

  33. poohbear | July 27, 2013

    I think americans take a lot for granted

  34. Kristin B | July 27, 2013

    I agree with you moslty. But uh…how naive are you to think that any politician can and does think of "the people". that statement is so …astoundingly innocent of the actual playing field. The kind of money it takes to even be in the race can only be supplied by large interests and like any of us if we gave millions we'd be angry if that person chose policies that hurt us. And with so many cooks in the kitchen…do you really think a blog with genreralisms like "remember you are elected by the peopel for the people"….kind of patent cliches means anything?
    I sure wish I lived in your field of daisies. Not sure I can understand how you can think those words acutally had weight. It hasn't in my life time.

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