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America and Rome

The head of the GAO, David Walker, has been writing and speaking about how American risks repeating the fate of the Roman republic. I think it’s an important insight. Just for the record, here’s an article in the FT, and here’s a transcript of a talk he gave.

Among the points he makes in the FT article:

  • While short-term federal deficits are coming down, they are still too high, and
  • Longer-term, the Medicare prescription drug benefit has increased Social Security and Medicare liabiities from about $20,000 billion to $50,000 billion.

Like Rome, in the US:

  • There has been a decline in moral values and political civility;
  • The military is overextended; and
  • There is fiscal irresponsibility.

George Washington said that we should avoid “ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burdens that we ourselves ought to bear.”

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