Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Don't Forget the Donativum

From Wikipedia - remember that Pertinax was Roman Emperor for three months in AD 193, after the assassination of Commodus at age 31.

Ancient writers detail how the Praetorian Guard expected a generous donativum on his ascension, and when they were disappointed, agitated until he produced the money, selling off Commodus' property, including the concubines and youths Commodus kept for his sexual pleasures. He reformed the Roman currency dramatically, increasing the silver purity of the denarius from 74% to 87% — the actual silver weight increasing from 2.22 grams to 2.75 grams. This currency reform did not survive his death.

Pertinax attempted to impose stricter military discipline upon the pampered Praetorians. In early March he narrowly averted one conspiracy by a group to replace him with the consul Quintus Sosius Falco while he was in Ostia inspecting the arrangements for grain shipments. The plot was betrayed; Falco himself was pardoned but several of the officers behind the coup were executed.

On 28 March 193, Pertinax was at his palace when, according to the Historia Augusta, a contingent of some three hundred soldiers of the Praetorian Guard rushed the gates (two hundred according to Cassius Dio). Ancient sources suggest that they had received only half their promised pay. Neither the guards on duty nor the palace officials chose to resist them...
There is not going to be a sovereign debt crisis here tomorrow, but you can see how it is going to happen (Thinking About the Unthinkable Bond Bear Market):
All of the federal, state, and municipal governments are planning to borrow to cover their operational and pension shortfalls. They think it will be no big deal thanks to low interest rates.

After all, who cares about promising to pay $X next year if what that really means is that you are going to amortize $X over the next thirty years.
Instead of just one constituency that can't be disappointed, this country has many, many. Can a donativum be denied the Pentagon, defense contractors, public sector workers, public sector retirees, social security and medicare recipients?

We can see with Trump's tax plan (implausible tax cuts and no specific expenditure cuts) that the personalities no longer really matter to the ultimate outcome: sovereign debt crisis, inability to debt finance expenditure, followed by loss of legitimacy of government.


Taylor Conant said...

The lesson from Gibbons is clear: He said that Pertinax (well, really, earlier Roman emperors) made the mistake of allowing the Praetorians to encamp within the capital city and near the palace. Their close proximity not only "bred undue familiarity and the contempt that goes with it" (paraphrasing) in the sense that they realized their emperors were not immortals but flawed men such as themselves, but it also led them to see the extravagant lifestyles which they wanted for themselves, which corrupted their own morals and discipline. They became aware how dependent the emperor was on their good graces, at which point they decided to take a more ACTIVIST role in Roman politics.

Mein Trumpf said...


Everything about Trump from the beginning has always been in the bozo category. He speaks in bold generalities about things like “I will make it happen, and it really won’t be very hard either.” “I will have the best people working for me that you have ever seen.” “They will be really really great, just great.” “I will be the best jobs President God ever created.” “I will make China stop ripping us off. I know how to deal with them. I have been dealing with them for years. A lot of them rent space in my buildings and they just love me.” etc, etc, etc. He talks big. He talks bold. He makes huge promises. He also talks about things that are completely irrelevant like Chinese business people renting space in his building and “loving” him. That doesn’t translate one bit into they will bow down and do what he wants even if it costs them money. He is using “The Art of the Deal” tactics on the American people and they are buying it hook, line, and sinker. But he can’t back up even a single one of those promises or statements with any policy that shows how it could happen. I don’t know if he is partly delusional due to his huge ego or simply a pure con man regarding what he is promising, however his motivation is not really relevant.


High Plateau Drifter said...

et quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The police state is ultimately run by police, not oligarchs.

Steve said...

"The police state is ultimately run by police, not oligarchs."


Anonymous said...

Clinton was always a oligarchic puppet. He established his meat puppet credentials with NAFTA, WTO, PNTR with China, killing Glass-Stegall.

Look follow the money trail. The people promoting this line of thinking are globalists/neoliberals/Davos men whatever you want to call them. They like the notion of a borderless world because it destroys the value of labor and hence you can pay pennies where you used to pay dollars in terms of wages. The whole world would become one giant sweat shop or FoxxCon.

Politically it’s a boon as well. The masses will be at each other’s throats for scarce resources and no longer focusing on the elites that brought them this hell.

If it weren’t so attractive you wouldn’t have the richest men, all major foundations, think tanks and most powerful corporations in the world promoting this stuff. This isn’t about some BS ideology popular with a bunch of Leftist dolts, it’s about, wealth, power and control. This is why the TPTB are so into it.


CP said...

Taking a more "activist" role in Roman politics, lol...