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Monday, December 09, 2002

Bread and Circuses and War

iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli vendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim imperium fasces legiones omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses.

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 circuses.

Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis AKA Juvenal (ca. 60 A.D. - 140 A.D )

With a mail-in rebate you can now buy a personal CD player for something like $14. It is truly an amazing age of technology we find ourselves inhabiting in these first years of the new millennium. Perhaps this globalization thing really is panning out for the average American. You would think this until you read that there has been a 67% increase, in the last four years, in the number of American households that spend over half of their income on rent or mortgages.

This is only one indication amidst a tidal wave of evidence that points to this nation’s rapid adoption of a class system that will soon make the old European monarchies look like the salad days of democracy. In the past two decades we have been dismantling the safety mechanisms established during the earlier years of the past century that were put in place to further equality and care for the citizenry. The New Deal has been replaced by the new slogans of Winner Take All and All For Yourselves.

We have been told for so long that government is bad and private industry is good that some of us now believe this simplistic aphorism. More are the citizens who have been brainwashed into thinking that their vote doesn’t count, that they are no longer required to participate as voters.

The wealthy and powerful have convinced some of us that they stand for morality and decency. They oppose abortion but wealthy women will always have access if something should occur. They are tough on crime unless it is they who are brought in as defendants. When that is the case, usually a well-paid lawyer is all that is required for them to circumvent the laws that most of us never think to break. Instead of jail time, rich drug offenders (The President’s niece, for example.) opt for rehabilitation—the Liberal’s answer to all of our drug problems—which they claim is being soft on crime.

The rich send their children to private schools as we let our public educational system deteriorate. We are very family-oriented these days. Nothing but the best for our children but best keep them away from the lower elements. Why bother supporting public schools when we have so many prisons to build?

Our popular entertainment today is hardly as sophisticated as the Roman Circuses. The gruel of pop culture is watered down with celebrities and our fascination with their personal lives. The low paying jobs that are unhindered by benefits is the price so many of us are willing to pay for reality TV and professional sports. Just when we are angry enough to sit up and take notice we receive another offer for a credit card with a 19% financing.

And now we are told there looms the threat of war. We are told our own military needs to be strengthened to defeat an enemy who defected in droves the last time we faced in the oil fields of the Middle East. Who can speak of expensive social programs when we have a constant threat of terrorism from every airline passenger with a penknife? Forget about an unemployment rate of 6 percent, we have real problems that can only be solved by a strong and unquestioned executive branch.

While we are content with bread and circuses, a few in this nation gain personal wealth that defies comparison, defies the imagination, defies decency.

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