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Old 06-27-2019, 03:24pm   #1
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Default Pay attention folks...... [Political]

Home | Wire | How to Destroy a Civilization
How to Destroy a Civilization

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06/24/2019Jeffrey Harding

There are lots of ways to kill off a civilization. Wars, politics, economic collapse. But what are the actual mechanics? It might be a useful thing to know whether or not we are killing ourselves off.

Ancient Rome is a good place to start. They had an advanced civilization. They had running water, sewers, flush toilets, concrete, roads, bridges, dams, an international highway system, mechanical reapers, water-powered mills, public baths, soap, banking, commerce, free trade, a legal code, a court system, science, literature, and a republican system of government. And a strong army to enforce stability and peace (Pax Romana). It wasnít perfect, but they were on their way to modernity.

One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer (106-43 BCE):

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.

If that isnít a mark of a civilized society I donít know what is.

But Rome collapsed. I often wonder what would have happened if it hadnít. Could we have avoided a thousand years of the Dark Ages. Could we have been flying airplanes and driving cars in the year 1000?

What the hell happened to Rome?

Dictators. After 500 years, the famous Roman Republic ended with the dictator Julius Caesar taking power. Four hundred years later his progeny and usurpers ran the Empire into the ground and Rome fell to invading barbarians.

The standard explanation for Romeís decline and fall is that they devolved into dictatorships (true, but not the cause of their fall). Or they became decadent and corrupt (true, but not the cause of their fall). They fell to barbarian invasions (true, but not the cause of their fall).

Rome fell because the dictators ruined the Roman economy and the institutions that had made it prosperous. Rome was falling apart before the barbarian invasions.

How did the Caesars do that? They were profligate spenders. As emperors with absolute power usually do, they thought big: infrastructure (roads, temples, palaces), a huge bureaucracy, and, as the key to maintaining their power they had a very large, loyal, and well paid army. As a consequence, massive government spending far outstripped revenue. They had what today we call a deficit problem.

They did two disastrous things to solve their deficit.

First, they kept raising taxes which became punitive. Not caring much about the consequences to the merchants, small farmers, and peasants, they came up with new ways to squeeze money out of their citizens. Onerous taxes led to tax evasion. The governmentís response was to double down and implement laws that restricted economic freedoms in order to raise even more taxes. Heavy taxes forced property owners, small and large, off the land. Large feudal estates run by political cronies arose in their place. Laws were enacted that forced peasants into virtual serfdom. Business owners and their children were prevented from changing jobs or towns. And, taxes had to be paid either in gold or in kind or they would lose everything. Gold became scarce. Gold money was only lawfully available to the government, army, and bureaucrats.

Second, they debased the currency which led to inflation. It was the equivalent of printing money to pay for things. The resulting bouts of high inflation destroyed much of commerce and agriculture. Like most dictators they thought they could stop rising prices by implementing price controls, but that just led to gold and goods disappearing from the economy. Black markets grew despite threats of capital punishment. Unemployment and homelessness rose. Their large welfare system kept running short of money. Commercial, legal, and moral institutions were falling apart. Corruption was endemic. The resulting booms and busts and depressions were destroying the economy.

By the time the Goth and Visigoth invaders came along, Rome was so weakened that they could not hold back the waves of invasions. At the end, Roman citizens saw the government as the enemy and the invading barbarians as their saviors. Rome fell in 410 CE. What emerged was what we now know as the Middle Ages ó it lasted for a thousand years. You know what that was like. They didnít call it the Dark Ages for nothing.

Much of Romeís economic history is quite familiar in modern times. Even after thousands of years of evidence of repeated failure, bad ideas simply donít die. Proponents of bad ideas are either ignorant of history or just ignorant. Or they are politicians (as Mark Twin said, ďBut I repeat myself.Ē).

One bad idea with ancient precedents is Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). MMT is the New Thing among Progressives in America. Politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Bernie are quite excited about MMT. They think they have discovered the Holy Grail of economics.

Progressives believe that government can and should cause economic growth and prosperity. They believe government can do this by various controls, regulations, spending programs, and monetary manipulation. They believe proper government spending will stimulate demand, generate consumer spending, kick-start production, and, voila! we have full employment and prosperity. Along the way we can solve various social problems.

The idea of MMT takes this one step further. They believe that the government can spend/buy whatever it wants and print pieces of greenish paper to pay for it. Government doesnít need to tax us or borrow money to do this ó it can print whatever money it needs to pay for it. Deficits donít matter because by printing money to pay for stuff they instantly solve the deficit problem. MMTers claim, with no shortage of arrogance, that they, Oz-like, can fine-tune the mechanics of how the economy is to be run and generate prosperity, prevent inflation, end inequality, and save the planet.

In other words, everything will be perfect; ďjust trust usĒ to run things. It sounds too good to be true.

AOC and Bernie Sanders and their supporters heartily embrace MMT. They want to break free of old-fashioned concepts such as fiscal integrity, balanced budgets, and monetary stability because they want no limits on their utopian schemes.

MMT is a crackpot idea. It is the monetary equivalent of the Perpetual Motion Machine ó it ignores the laws of economics. Itís like asking third graders to invent money. (ďIím gonna print me a bunch of money and buy me a Ferrari aní a jet aní all the coolest video games aní ÖĒ). Proponents confuse pieces of greenish paper with wealth and, as history has repeatedly proven, you canít print your way to wealth and prosperity.

There is nothing ďmodernĒ about Modern Monetary Theory. It has been tried many times over the centuries and it has never worked. In every case where governments have printed money to pay for things, the result has been cycles of boom and bust, inflation (and hyperinflation), economic stagnation, and social disorder. MMTers simply donít understand what money is or the mechanics of the business cycle or the concept of malinvestment and the destruction of capital.

Why is it not possible that we could go the way of Rome? Franklin D. Rooseveltís New Deal resulted in 25 years of economic stagnation. Only post-FDR deregulation, more economic freedoms, capital investment, and fiscal and monetary sanity led to economic growth.

AOCís Green New Deal plus MMT would be worse than the old New Deal in that it places no limit on governmentís ability to spend which means government can command economic resources and control the direction of the economy. History has shown that governments arenít very good at that. Absolute power in the hands of the few is a bad idea.

How much destruction could MMT and utopian Progressive schemes like AOCís utopian Green New Deal inflict on our civilization? It is hard to tell, but I hope we donít have to look back some day and say the end started now.

Jeffrey Harding is a real estate investor in Santa Barbara, California. He currently writes at An Independent Mind. His articles have beencited, republished, or linked to by popular investor sites such as Zero Hedge, Seeking Alpha, and Minyanville, as well as media sites such as Huffington Post, Real Clear Politics, Real Clear Markets, Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, Business Insider, Yahoo! Finance, The Street, and Forbes.com. He has also appeared on Fox Business News and NPRís Marketplace Money. He currently is an adjunct professor at Santa Barbara City College where he teaches real estate investment
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:28pm   #2
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Those of us who have studied history are doomed to watch as those who didn't repeat the same mistakes.
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:01pm   #3
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Good opening post! Found this political cartoon from the early 30's
with much the same warning. Commies unmasked.
Attached Thumbnails
OBAMA PLAN.jpg  

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Old 06-27-2019, 07:41pm   #4
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Americans are spoiled. Even the poor are considered rich in many other countries. What happens when a rich country forgets or doesn't even know how hard life is in a third world country? Time will tell. And it may not be pretty.
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Old 06-28-2019, 08:18am   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VITE1 View Post
Those of us who have studied history are doomed to watch as those who didn't repeat the same mistakes.
That holds true, and it will hold true for the United States. I don't care what kind of patriot we think we are, this train has already headed down the tracks too far to make it back to the station. When it turns bad, it will happen in a very short time, and it will be worse than any of us have ever imagined. I hope I'm 100% wrong, but all the indicators are there. Sooner or later, humans and their greed turn things into a bucket of flaming shit. It's coming, just when......Disclaimer...not trying to be a pessimist, just a realist.
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Old 06-28-2019, 09:04pm   #6
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Ammo. Stock up.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:13pm   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BADRACR1 View Post
Ammo. Stock up.
The new money will be bullets WTSHTF

Third brick in the last two weeks yesterday because of the Comifornia laws going into effect 7/1 (background checks for ammo)

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Old 06-28-2019, 10:29pm   #8
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In the book series "One Second After" that's what happens. .22 ammo becomes currency.
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Old 06-28-2019, 10:35pm   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BADRACR1 View Post
In the book series "One Second After" that's what happens. .22 ammo becomes currency.
Those are only .22's
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