May 18, 2017

Where We Stand

     Social Security's budget for the current fiscal year declined by $60 million from the previous year. By contrast, NASA received an increase of $226 million for outer planet exploration. I've got nothing against outer planet exploration but still ....


Anonymous said...

...and the Department of Defense budget was increased by $X.XX billion trillion dollars for nothing! We have no need to spend all that money! On anything! Didn't Rome run out of money?

Anonymous said...


Rome went through multiple debt crisis, but they resolved in time. Rome struggled with two forms of debt; financial and land. Rome collapsed generally due to the latter, not the former. The roman military, which in addition to defense (and offense) was responsible for rural infrastructure development, was promised land upon retirement. Obtaining land required increased military spending, which in turn required promising more land.

In regard to Rome's financial debt which generally stemmed from food subsidies and bailouts of lenders (that's familiar), these rarely were resolved with lengthy austerity periods but more commonly with punitive seizure of tax-dodgers land which they then auctioned off. Austerity measures were generally limited to the Latium region (i.e. The city of Rome and the surrounding countryside) because it was the only area where significant financial spending occurred. Think of an ancient New York financial collapse, but instead of leaning on the national treasury, Rome just spiked tax rates in New York, but allowed for reasonable delay in actually paying the taxes. The obligation to give land to retiring soldiers made the practice of auctioning off land less feasible as time went on, as a roman politician who auctioned off land rather than give it to veterans would be a scandal, so the two forms of debt were to some degree were linked, but comparing the United States debt and the Roman Empire's debt is a stretch. The United States is spending significantly more than it brings in willingly. The Roman Empire's financial structure, just their military was overcompensated.