While preparing for a class on the history of architecture and its evolution from Egypt to Rome, I read about villages created for Roman soldiers in lands far away from Rome. It occurred to me that there were similarities between what the United States is doing today and the final days of the Roman Empire.
The extent of the Roman Empire during the rule of Augustus.
What caught my attention initially was that there were small towns which were created to house soldiers in occupied countries in Europe, Greece, Turkey, part of the Middle East touching the Mediterranean and Africa. These towns were designed on a grid system. This was an innovation and would be considered the initial idea of “town planning” as we know it today. The streets were numbered or named and each house had a number that we would consider an address. It was easier with these designations to find a specific soldier. If you look at ancient towns in Egypt you see a labyrinth of pathways and streets. Not so with these Roman constructions.
The labyrinth of streets in ancient Cairo.
To house, feed, arm and outfit soldiers was expensive and with each conquered land came another occupation to the point where more Roman money was being spent outside of Rome rather than on Rome itself and its citizens.
From that viewpoint, it was the beginning of the implosion of an empire.
Let’s take a look at the United States today.
Below is a map of US military bases in 2007. Check out the interactive map that shows the expansion of locations and provides details of various locations. I was not able to find a map for any year after 2007. I suppose that’s top secret right now.
Today we have corporations and private interests continually pushing for more money to increase production of whatever it is that they make whether it’s charter schools or drones. When the market is saturated, these enterprises look elsewhere. For charter schools it extends beyond the US borders into Haiti, Great Britain and Australia. In terms of the war machine, we are turning it on ourselves, spending billions on surveillance systems and drones to be used on US citizens. The money spent on foreign “aid” which smooths the way for corporations and military bases to be established in a county, building NSA compounds for employees and their families around the world, building and maintaining military bases and the cost of the wars being waged around the world in the name of “democracy”, is far more than what we spend on our own infrastructure, education and the health and well-being of individuals and families in the United States, and it’s only getting worse.
When it comes to caring for our own, the politicians just turn out empty pockets.
To see a better view of the graphic below, go to Resources Research, click on the map. You can magnify various regions of the world for details.
The NSA is larger than the CIA and FBI combined. How much is that costing us? Of what real value is this behemoth of a government entity compared to its cost? Is it worth the loss of privacy for us and our children to now have the NSA spying on us as well?
This interview with James Bamford, author of “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America ” interviewed by Jonathan Landay might answer that question. Go 20 minutes into the interview to pick up the thread about the NSA following two of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 plot.
Almost 1/4 of our children live in poverty and families were threatened recently with reduced food assistance by the Farm Bill that didn’t make it through the House this June.
The child poverty rate in America is two to three times higher than that of other major industrial nations.
Childhood Poverty High In Detroit
A new report from Data Driven Detroit reveals that in spite of the many families with kids that left Detroit between 2000 and 2010 — much of the city’s population still consists of children living in poverty.
Sixty percent of children in Detroit live in poverty, per the “State of Detroit” report. This represents a 64.7 percent increase in child poverty in the city since 1999. Children account for 94,347 of Detroit’s residents, or 27 percent of the city’s total population.
A report created in 2011:
Democracy Now: Study: 37 Percent of Young Families with Children Were Living in Poverty Last Year
A new study from Northeastern University has found a record 37 percent of young families with children were living in poverty last year. The report comes just a week after the U.S. Census Bureau revealed the number of people living in poverty last year surged to 46.2 million — one in six Americans — the highest number since the Bureau began tracking such data more than 50 years ago. Northeastern Professor Andrew Sum said, “Young families with children are now six times as likely to be poor as elderly families. This is a major generational change. From a public policy standpoint, we should be very deeply troubled by this.”
You can watch this interview at Democracy Now.
Here is a state by state breakdown of child poverty in 2011:
The map above describes child poverty in the United States in percentages ranging from 12% to 32% with corresponding colors going from light to dark. The map and details are provided at Kids Count.
“The object of waging a war is always to be in a better position in which to wage another war.”
Resources are being spent on private armies provided with high wages and health benefits while in the United States approximately 26% of US citizens do not have health care insurance and there is inadequate care for our soldiers who return home wounded physically and emotionally from the wars waged to protect the empire.
Drones and other weapons of mass destruction are manufactured to cause death while people die in our country because they can’t afford health care.
A promise by Obama of $7 billion in aid to build infrastructure for African nations while our roads and bridges crumble. That aid by the way is to create inroads for more military bases and no doubt an opportunity to plunder the nations’ natural resources as we did in South America.
Schools established for military children have smaller class sizes while public schools are closed and districts squeezed due to the financial downturn of our economy.
Below is a chart of where the middle class of the United States stands relative to other countries as published by Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report. We rank #27.
Unless we start to say that enough is enough to this irresponsible spending that is causing damage and even death to our own citizens, we will continue down the same path as the Roman Empire. There are two choices that one needs to face as a parent. Either work at getting this country back on track or prepare your children for looking elsewhere, outside of the United States, for better opportunities in their future.
I’ll leave you with this video of Chris Hedges discussing his book “Empire of Illusion”.http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/empire/