When All Else Fails

The Roman Empire & The Power of Money

by Robert Fitzwilson, President & Founder of The Portola Group

March 4 (King World News) – There have been many analogies drawn between the United States and Rome. We think that to be historically inaccurate. The new Roman equivalent is a strip of discontinuous land stretching roughly from Charlotte, North Carolina to New York City on the Eastern coast of the Continental United States.

Rome in the days of the Republic was a city-state, not an empire. Their army was comprised of citizen-soldiers, called to duty in times of peril. The afterglow of their system of government can be seen incorporated into the founding documents of the United States such as the Constitution, particularly the checks and balances. The Romans biggest fear was a dictator, although they ironically allowed for one when there was extreme danger.

In a tale told all too often, money and conquest corrupted the original foundations of their government and the social fabric that held them together. It was called “Mos Maiorum”, roughly “the way of the ancients” as we understand it (apologies to both Latin experts and historians if necessary). The strong sense of civic duty that worked so well for centuries crumbled as the wealth of the East came pouring back to Rome, conquest after conquest..

In the early days of the Empire, Emperor Nero created a particularly nasty estate tax. He was rumored to have burned down wooden Rome to replace it in his own image and one made of marble. As he ran out of money, he raided the temples and the churches. He still needed more, so he created the Roman version of Legalzoom.com. He required everyone to write a simple will leaving wealth to him. An epidemic of “premature” deaths ensued, particularly those with large sums of wealth. These “proscriptions” might sound familiar to some taxpayers in the current era.

Rome became the political and financial hub. Romans did not make much of anything. Manufactured goods were imported from Gaul. Food was “outsourced” to North Africa. The political activities revolved around the management of the empire. The army engaged in conquest, control, and then ultimately defending the borders against barbarian incursions.

All of this cost lots of money.

Read more here.