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Why Failing Civilizations Usually Destroy Their Own Middle Classes

September 25th, 2012

The following is a guest post from Larry Kelley. If you are interested in guest posting at Geek Politics, check out the guidelines here.

Like the Britons of Edward Gibbon’s day, most Americans are instinctively coming to understand that the fall of Rome contains ominous warnings for own declining Empire.

The Sack of Rome

During the winter of AD 408-409, Alaric’s growing army of Goths once again moved north into the Italian peninsula. The army swarmed and pillaged its way south until it arrived at the gates of the West Coast city of Portus, the harbor city that supplied Rome with food and goods from its overseas trading partners. Encountering little resistance, the Goths captured the city and cut off all food shipments to Rome. Over the next eighteen months, Alaric’s army mounted three sieges of Rome, each ending in a stalemate. The Emperor, Honorius, cowered in Ravenna, whose defenses amounted to disease-ridden swamps and marshes that surrounded the city. There he was able to make only the feeble gesture of sending a small contingent, some 4,000 troops, to aid in manning Rome’s walls. Some sources tell us these troops were ambushed and massacred on their way. But it may very well be that they deserted. No one knows. What is clear is they didn’t show up. (An excerpt from the new book, Lessons from Fallen Civilizations)(aff.)

For the first time in 800 years, on August 23, 410 AD without food or a professional garrison to man its walls, the city elders of Rome elected to surrender. The Goths entered the city for a three-day sack. When news of it reached them, the inhabitants of the entire civilized world went into shock. The city of Rome which had long been a symbol of permanence, prestige, and mankind’s most advanced civilization was gone. Chaos in the west ensued.

For much of the fourth century leading up to the fall of Rome, the western European half of the Empire had gone about the task of destroying its middle class. In AD 161 under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, there were about 3,000 officials in the imperial government. By the abdication of Diocletian in 305 there were 35,000. Taxes rose from what a small farmer could produce in two days a month to half his monthly output. The empire exacted such an onerous level of taxation that many of its citizens defected, abandoned their lands or the legions in which they served and joined the barbarian invaders.

The Fall of the American Middle Class:

While Obama claims he is working to improve the lot of the American middle class, the runaway cost of his government has begun the beginning stages of destroying it. Stop to consider what has happened to the middle class in just the three and a half years since Obama has assumed office.

Median Income: The median income has fallen from $54,983 near its zenith in January of 2009 to $50, 964 by June of 2012. Over the past 3 years and during a supposed recovery median middle class net income after inflation fell by $4,019 or approximately by one-month pay.

Median Net Worth: Early this year, the Federal Reserve released a report that due to collapse of the housing market, lack of gainful unemployment, and vast new regulations on business, over the first three years of this administration American median net worth fell by a staggering 39%.

The Coming Cost of Crushing Indebtedness: Obama recently told David Letterman that he wasn’t aware that nation’s official debt had passed the $16 trillion This was a lie. But the number is important because it means our debt has now eclipsed our entire gross domestic product, a benchmark that is generally viewed by economists as unsustainable. But the more ominous fact is that the country’s total debt including our unfunded liability is twice the size of world GDP or something approaching $120 trillion or just over $1 million per taxpayer, an unpayable sum for the coming generation.

One in Seven Americans Are Now Unable to Feed Themselves: Relative to the fall of the American middle class, perhaps the most damning statistic for this administration is rise of food stamp recipients. In November of 2008 there were 31 million food stamp recipients. In June of 2012, there were 45 million. This statistic show that 14 million Americans have fallen out of the middle class and into poverty.

Obama has so institutionalized out-of-control spending that unless we remove him from office, gain a majority in congress, (that is, run the table), and significantly downsize government , the country is faced with encumbering its citizens with trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. And although the top 1% of the income earners now pay 37% of the income taxes, the managers of our governmental leviathan, like the senatorial elites of the late Roman Empire, will soon be forced to devour more and more of the earnings of its middle class as well. The real tax burden of an oppressive failing state always falls on the middle class because that is where the vast majority of country’s taxable income is generated.

In our president’s world of the Saul Alinsky radical, it is both necessary to make the middle class believe that he is on its side while at the same time working to destroy it. Obama clearly believes what leftist totalitarians have always taught—a burgeoning American middle class will produce fewer leftist voters. A declining impoverished middle class will produce vast numbers of new ones. Since the FDR administration, it has long been the goal of creating a enough dependence on the government so that the nation could be governed by a permanent Democrat majority…by a permanent Marxist majority.

But as we approach this election, more and more Americans are coming to understand that taxing the rich and the promise of free health care and “shared prosperity” for all is simply part of a familiar con. They’ve awakened to the fact that individuals making $200,000 a year are hardly rich, nor are there enough of them to feed Obama’s welfare state. The middle class has been his target all along. In his second term, its obvious that he will extract the money from them in a myriad of ways—fees, hidden taxes, higher Medicare deductibles, penalties and fines, carbon taxes, special assessments to cover failing hospitals and school districts, crony capitalist value-added taxes, the Obamacare mandate and the biggest hidden tax of all—inflation.

By the end of a second Obama term is not conceivable that a much enfeebled America might be confronted by an emboldened consortium of enemy allies—China, Russia, and Iran, all nuclear armed? And like the Roman legions sent to defend the capital of a dying empire, might underpaid, dispirited rank and file middle class American soldiers simply refuse to show up?

Larry Kelley earned his BA in English Literature from the University of California at Santa Barbara and operates his own small business. Since 9/11 he has written over 100 articles on terrorism and resurgent militant Islam (http://larrykelley.com/). His new book is Lessons from Fallen Civilizations(aff.).

Author: Derek Clark Categories: 2012 Election Tags: