“Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt” Juvenal c. 100 A.D.
Prescient: adj. prophetic, psychic, clairvoyant, perceptive
Juvenal, the Roman satirist and poet spoke these words and exhibited the fact he was not only a keen observer of the human condition but a student of the fact all history is cyclical. His actual statement was “panem et circenses” (bread and circuses) were the only things remaining that a state subsidized populace care about and in opposition to the need to recognize its historical birthright and responsibility to be politically activity. In other words the spoilage of the one was never noted as long as the bread was fresh, the wine potent and the entertainment mind numbing. But, his admonition wasn’t entirely correct. Eventually too much of the “good times” can kill you.
The modern “welfare state” was born with Lyndon Johnson in the mid-60s. Major spending programs were enacted addressing education, medical care, social/urban problems, and transportation as well as Civil rights, environmental protection and rural development. The program and initiatives were promoted and heavily pushed in the Congress by both Johnson and his Democrat Party allies. This effort of government subsidization initially was modeled after Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, but since its inception has made the New Deal seem pale in comparison. The New Deal was eventually modified downward somewhat while we endure greater and more economically dangerous under the Great Society today.
Johnson’s initial success was a tribute to his political power and ability to bully his Congressional colleagues into submission and compliance. In addition to his powers of persuasion (some claimed bordered on the edge of political brutality) the Democrats exploited a landslide in the 1964 election phase bringing many new liberals to Congress. It made the House of Representatives the most liberal House since 1938 at the time.
With the Great Society, governmental interference in areas formerly controlled by the states were pushed and crammed under the all-encompassing umbrella of “protections” reminiscent of a Tokyo Subway car at rush hour. You’ll be going somewhere but it won’t be comfortable, you won’t enjoy it and eventually you’ll come to understand all of the negative affects the trip is causing you in your life.
The Great Society slammed its heavy hand down onto such social problems as Civil Rights (segregation was a construct of the southern Democrat Party and held firmly in place by the military wing of the party; the Ku Klux Klan), Education (where the teachers and Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) worked locally with elected school boards to direct educational goals; was set up to become a cabinet level post under the Carter Administration. Johnson developed Medicare which drew its funds from the Social Security system and making it the victim of rapine attitudes leading the Social Security system to the near bankrupt state it’s in today.
In 1964 the Food Stamp Act became permanent. Funds for this were pulled from Social Security coffers and the hemorrhage of dollars continued from the program. Congress dedicated 6% of collected monies for maternal and child health and mandated it should be spent on family planning. The federal government required state health departments to make contraceptives available to the poor. The national school breakfast/lunch program (under the Child Nutrition Act) was born.
Interstate Commerce and Transportation was seriously affected by increasing federal regulations and retail prices climbed. The “loving hand” of the federal government exercised dominion over Consumer Protection, the Environment (assuring every “Mud Skipper” and other protected species were protected to assuage the collective consciences of the Sierra Club members and increased cases of Malaria world-wide). Housing was controlled by developing “public projects” assuring low-cost, low interest, and low desire to excel in their populations by trying to homogenize people’s desires to live comfortably without being taxed too badly in their pursuit of the hand-out versus the drive and desire to grab a hand-hold of affluence.
Rural areas received money sent to them to grow infrastructure would grow and assure votes continued flowing for the Democrats like river water to a reservoir to be tapped in the future. Labor organizations grew under the direction of closet Marxists and Radicals intent on gaining power through the labor force and gaining personal wealth and power for the hierarchy.
This ever-tightening noose was instrumental in developing the dysfunctional, bloated government now running roughshod over the Constitution because egomaniacs in government believe they’re omnipotent and omniscient. They aren’t either but they are incompetent.
Where these Congressional trolls fight daily to assure they’re the “high hanging fruit” commands the daylight and the nourishing rains first, it has to be remembered the higher the fruit the greater the sun’s wilting heat. If they keep producing nothing but “bread and circuses” they’ll suffer the collapse the Romans eventually did. You just can’t keep giving it away without running out of resources eventually.
Juvenal really was prescient wasn’t he?
Thanks for listening.