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By TheophileEscargot (Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 10:30:11 PM EST) MLP, Reading, Listening (all tags)
Reading: "Barefoot Gen". Healthcare followup. Why the fall of the Roman empire is the Swiss army chainsaw of intarweb debating. Web.


What I'm Reading
Read another comic (seem to down on the comics this year) Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima vol 1. It's a semi-autobiographical account of the bombing of Hiroshima by a cartoonist who was there.

Found it even more depressing than I expected. Was expecting the usual idyllic beginning, the better to be shattered by the bomb; but it turns out Gen's father was an opponent of the war, for which his family are victimized. Their cornfield is trampled; the daughter is falsely accused of theft, stripped-searched at school, the kids are beaten up, and the father arrested. After that they're nuked and things get really bad.

Artwork is nothing special, but the content makes it pretty compelling. Worth reading. Not sure if I'll look out for the next three volumes though.

Tip: avoid the introduction as it gives away the ending.

Listening
Halfway through the Teaching Company's Early Middle Ages course by Philip Daileader. It conveniently starts off where the Ancient Rome one finished, with the final stages of the Roman Empire.

Surprisingly for such an unsexy period of history, it's fascinating stuff so far. Partly that's because it's a very high level overview which doesn't spend too long on any one topic. But also Daileader is a superb lecturer with a dry wit and a knack for relating things to the present. Found myself chuckling out loud a couple of times. Apparently he's a difficult grader though: haha, systematic education suckers.

One thing that annoys me about the regular articles that pop up on Metafilter on Why The American Empire Is Doomed Just Like The Roman: nobody knows why the Roman empire actually fell. The decline of Rome was an incredibly protracted process stretching a millennium from the Third Century Crisis to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In many places it didn't fall so much as evolve into the modern world, as barbarians were assimilated into the Roman way of life. Ask a dozen scholars Why Rome Fell and you can get a dozen different opinions.

In such a long, complicated process, it's very difficult to disentangle cause from effect from reaction. Did external barbarian attacks weaken the central government, or was it that a weakened central government could no longer resist and counterattack against external threats... or both, or neither? There was increased taxation, military spending and rigid control from the third century onwards: was that a cause of decline, or something that slowed the decline?

As such, the Decline of Rome ia a useful ground for arguing absolutely anything. Want to build up defence spending? Argue the Roman empire fell because it didn't secure its borders against the barbarians. Don't like immigration? Argue that their mistake was letting Visigoth asylum-seekers settle inside the Danube border after fleeing the Huns. Like free trade? Argue like Pirenne that the Arab restriction of trade routes did for it. Don't like religion? Follow Gibbon and say it was weak-minded Christianity that softened it up.

Healthcare
So, I was reading Herring's healthcare diary and this thread in particular. Unsurprisingly, I tend to agree with R Mutt that the UK and the US systems are both pretty broken and we ought to look elsewhere.

There's a nice introduction to French healthcare here. Other articles here, here, here.

Fundamental points:
1. It's not free at the point of entry like the NHS. You pay and are reimbursed.
2. There is a generous state provision which reimburses most of the cost of essential treatments.
3. Most people have top-up private insurance to fund other treatments and the non-reimbursable portion.

That system works well in quality terms because you have a genuine market. Not a pseudo-market, not a government monopoly on providing the services, not a government monopsony on buying the services. Both providers and consumers have incentives for both quality and cost.

That system is unacceptable to UKians as it would be seen as a dog-eat-dog capitalist privatisation. It's probably unacceptable to USians as it would be seen as Socialist Medicine.

I think the main problem with it is that if the level of state provision is generous, which it is, there's little incentive to keep costs down. The consumers are only paying a fraction of the true cost, and are further distanced by private insurance: they have an incentive to reduce costs, but not a very strong one. So, in choosing the level of state provision you have an inevitable trade-off: too low and the poor start to suffer, too high and costs become unpayable. I think that's inevitable in any system though.

The irony is that I think the US and UK could actually manage that kind of system very well. Our first-past-the-post governments are relatively good at making tough trade-off decisions, so I don't think costs would escalate as dangerously as in France. Shame we'll never get it.

Web
Danish Bunny Steeplechasing, video. Gentlemen, the web doesn't get any better than that.

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I pimp this book a lot by MillMan (4.00 / 2) #1 Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 10:46:25 PM EST
because it is worth a read.

The sections on the Mayans and the Romans are both fascinating.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?


Looks interesting by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 11:29:52 PM EST
Have stuck it on my Amazon list, but it's pretty expensive.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]

Hmmm by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 12:27:13 AM EST
This page seems to summarize some of it, though the site it's on looks a bit wacky (Comic Sans MS?)
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]

That is horribly hard on the eyes by cam (4.00 / 1) #8 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 04:46:05 AM EST
thank god for Firefox's no style option.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

that is a decent summary by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #17 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 08:18:59 AM EST
The book is popular with the peak oil crowd which is why it was reviewed on that site. The doom aspect of peak oil attracts a lot of uh, odd tinfoil-hat characters.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?
[ Parent ]

Same by cam (4.00 / 1) #7 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 04:41:57 AM EST
stuck it on my list as well.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Romans by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 03:07:00 AM EST
Peter Turchin went as far as arguing the Byzantines should be considered a completely different empire, with a separate rise and fall. I assume he's following a scholarly tradition there, though it conveniently makes his own theories work out a bit better. Similarly with the Chinese imperial dynasties as I understand it, he considers the Tang Empire as replacing the Han, and so on. (Other scholars say dynasties are a useless way to partitioning the history.)

The French and Australian health systems are pretty similar. From my statistically meaningless personal experience, the UK system in London was dominated by ration books and queuing. This seems like a pretty straightforward side effect of centralised command and control. The standout personal experience was the farcical experience of attempting to see a GP, all in all very similar to the bureaucratic goose chase of attempting to get an NI number.

As UK + US + Canada (basically an NHS clone) make up a vast majority of English language speakers, and all of their health systems are rooted, watching this particular debate from the sidelines can be rather infuriating. This is not to claim things don't go wrong in the Australian system, but by following a continental European model we seem to have avoided the more desperate corners of nature's own extortion racket.

Of course, as a lot of the time you have to pay up front and then claim back, you have to have both enough cash in your pocket to fork out, and confidence you'll get paid back in a timely manner. In this context I find it interesting that both France and Australia have a much higher minimum wage and level of unemployment benefits relative to the cost of living than the US or UK. (As I understand it French benefits are a proportion of last salary; I personally find this insane, but that's another discussion.)

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo



Sailing to Byzantium by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #5 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 03:33:25 AM EST
The term the Byzantine empire was apparently coined around the 16th century: they always just called themselves Romans and their empire the Roman Empire.

IIRC their institutions didn't change much from the Roman empire, but the big difference was that they did stop using Latin in favour of Greek.

However, by the time of the split the Roman empire had already become much more centralized and autocratic (Augustus' Principate had been replaced with Diocletian's Dominate). So, the Byzantines never really had a functioning senate or any quasi-democratic institutions left over from the Republic.

I'm not aware of any tradition regarding them as being completely separate though: the Eastern half seems to have at least as strong a case for being the "real" Roman empire as the Western.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]

it's not so much that they 'stopped using Latin' by nathan (4.00 / 1) #19 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:33:52 AM EST
As it is that ethnic Italians were a minority in Constantinople. Constantinople was a Hellenistic city with a mixed population (eg, Justinian was a Dalmatian Latin, there was a 250-year-long Macedonian dynasty, individual emperors were sometimes Armenians by blood, by the end the imperial families were modern Greeks.) After the fall of Rome, there was really no reason for the Eastern Empire to continue to use a legal language that almost none of its citizens spoke as a first language.

It's kind of like how the Vietnamese are no longer particularly concerned about speaking French. When was the last time you saw a Frenchman in Vietnam?

[ Parent ]

Also, use of Latin was in decline even in Rome by lm (2.00 / 0) #29 Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 09:15:18 AM EST
By the time of Augustus Caesar, the Roman nobility Frequently (not always) favored speaking in Greek over Latin and use of Latin by the vulgar was already morphing into a multitude of dialects that would eventually become other languages.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]

Gore Vidal has Julian the Apostate say by nathan (2.00 / 0) #31 Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 10:37:02 AM EST
That he never bothered learning Latin because it only had one good poem, and even that was a ripoff of Homer. Quite a thing for a 'Roman' emperor to say about the Aeneid! I wonder if there's anything behind the remark, besides the fact that Julian was in fact known not to speak Latin well.

[ Parent ]

Inventing Byzantium by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #24 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 03:49:18 PM EST
I'm not any sort of expert on the Byzantines, but it seems to me there are lots of differences between them and the Romans. Certainly they called themselves Romans and inherited things from them - even territory and armies. But there are a great many differences - different language, different religion, different ethnic composition, different attitudes to war and diplomacy (the Byzantines were happy to buy off enemies), different economy and plenty of different institutions ... they even had an entire bureaucracy of eunuchs at the imperial court. A lot of names were carried over to claim the Roman mantle.

Of course plenty of these differences are just because of evolution over time. More important for Turchin is the way that the Eastern Empire collapsed, then expanded under the Byzantines. That process of expansion and collapse of territory marks an imperial lifecycle in his little accepted but fascinating theory.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]

Little accepted, certainly by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #26 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:49:07 PM EST
Fascinating: that's in the eye of the beholder. If I want wacky theories, rejected by the mainstream, created by someone with no qualifications in the field, I've got the whole works of Erich von Daniken to get through.

The Eastern and Western did not have a different religion or economy at the time of the sack of Rome. "Different attitudes to war and diplomacy" seems pretty nebulous. The certainly had a more cavalry-based army, but the Western half had also by that time: infantry alone wasn't a lot of use with all these barbarians zooming around Europe. It's true that the early Roman Republic and empire didn't do much bribery, but I'm not sure who they could have bribed: they had a huge amount of manpower but not a particularly big tax base, while their rival states in the East were very rich indeed.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]

Theories by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #27 Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 02:39:39 AM EST
I wasn't trying to build up Turchin's stuff into something it isn't; it certainly hasn't set the scholarly world alight like such empirical masterpieces as Fukuyama's The End of History and The Last Man. But it's peer reviewed work, hasn't been utterly rejected by historians, and we might see some consensus on its expressiveness eventually, or a more fashionable or explanatory successor.

On war and diplomacy, I was thinking of the bribery, and ancient Rome's greater focus on declarations of war, rather than the complicated great power diplomacy of Byzantium. Organisations get defined by their enemies.

I can see how they could be defined as separate entities or as as different ends of the same organisation. Even Turchin's is just an extreme version of existing positions. I guess it depends what you want to focus your explanation on. if you want to emphasise the significant differences between the two, talk about Byzantines. If you want to emphasise the similarities, talk about the Really Really Late Roman Empire.

Either way it's a long way from a fratricidal wolf boy to the happy snaps of Byzantine emperors with their mate Jesus in the Hagia Sophia.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]

language, religion, diplomacy by lm (2.00 / 0) #30 Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 10:32:50 AM EST
Language is a red herring. Use of Latin was in decline even in Rome well before Constantine moved the seat of the empire to Constantinople. Scholars generally agree that the wide array of dialects known as Vulgar Latin were already in widespread use by the 3rd century AD and often differed differed from Latin in both vocabulary and grammatical structures. Further, many (not all) of the Roman nobility preferred Greek which was a sign of being `learned.' So on the linguistic frontier, Constantinople wasn't very much different from Rome as Rome herself was.

Religion is also a red herring. By the fourth century AD, Christianity was the dominant religion in both east and west. In the fifth century, Augustin of Hippo felt compelled to write The Two Cities as a response to charges that Rome fell because Christianity had become the dominant religion. And you can't even divide Christianity along eastern and western lines at this point. The various schisms between eastern and western Christianity wouldn't start to take off until far later in the eighth and ninth centuries.

Ethnic composition is yet another red herring because for the most part, ethnicity wasn't much more than a curiosity to the Romans and was certainly secondary to being Roman whether eastern or western. For example, one of the most powerful factions of the imperial guard, the Varangian Guard, was originally composed of Scandinavians and by the time of the fourth crusade was composed mostly of Anglo Saxons and Danes. Yet they were considered to be no less `Roman' than the rest of the army.

Your strongest point is probably over matters of war and diplomacy. But even there, we're stuck with comparing the Roman Republic or the Early Roman empire to the middle aged Roman empire from Constantine on. Aside from the ebb and flow of the military prowess of Rome, I'm not certain that this change is indicative of two distinct empires as much as it is indicative of an older, mature empire vs. a younger one. You'd see a similar difference in the approach to foreign relations if you compared the US in the early eighteen hundreds with the US of today.

It seems to me that the most important criteria of continuity are culture, laws and administrative bodies. The eastern empire was just as Roman as the western empire with regards to these three facets. Take large provinces such as Sicily or Thessaloníki. Both retained the same culture, obeyed the same laws and were administered identically whether the emperor was in Rome or Constantinople. Variations of the Justinian code, which was very much in the Roman tradition, effectively lasted right up until Constantinople fell to the Turks.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]

The Herring Internationale by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #33 Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 07:43:42 PM EST
Finally able to get back to this.

I don't see how the use of vulgar Latin versus vernacular Greek discredits the language point.

I won't go to Gibbon and claim Christianity brought down Rome, but certainly the Western Empire was not terribly good at being a Christian empire, seeing as they collapsed, whereas the Eastern / Byzantine empire thrived.

We can leave ethnicity aside, as like most expanding empires the Romans were pretty enthusiastically diverse.

Actually, the US in the 18th century followed a more Byzantine form of diplomacy, playing off great powers against one another, which is entirely appropriate for a small power amongst more powerful than itself. Whereas the US in the 21st century has, convinced of its power, tried to use Roman diplomacy on Iraq.

I don't think culture or law are particularly strong forms of imperial continuity. If you're saying the Ottoman empire was a continuation of the Roman, you may as well say that the United States is simply an extension of the British Empire, and that Georgia and Ukraine are continuations of the Russian empire.

I see your point about institutional continuity in the provinces. But isn't that more about the Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans all being fairly content to not muck with a working system?

In the capital it seems to me there was much less institutional continuity. And the Justinian code was of course put together by an emperor based in Constantinople; it certainly drew on the Roman tradition, but it also set the reset the legal parameters for a new empire in the east.

Obviously there was transition going on, but many of the conditions which let the empire based on Constantinople thrive made the western empire shrivel.

I can see how it's important for a student of the Byzantines to emphasise their self-identification with Rome, though. The movement east reminds me of the movement south that happened at various points in Chinese history under the pressures of invasions from the north. Eg, the Northern Song dynasty being driven from Kaifeng, and then the Southern Song dynasty being established at Hangzhou. Was the Jurchen Jin dynasty that replaced the Song in the north a Chinese empire?

As I said in one of the other comments, it's very close to becoming a debate about language. So that becomes a question about what you want to emphasise; cultural continuity or cycles of territorial control; political institutions in the capital or everyday life in the provinces.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]

A few clarifications by lm (2.00 / 0) #34 Sat Feb 17, 2007 at 03:50:40 AM EST
First, I'm not claiming that the Ottomans were the continuation of the Roman empire. My only point with regards to the Ottomans was that there is a stronger historical argument that they are the continuation of the Roman empire than there is that the Roman empire fell when Rome fell to the Barbarians. Your analogy to the US and Britain doesn't even begin to hold because the (a) Britain still exists, (b) neither George Washington  nor his successors as president ever claimed to be the lawful successor of King George. Nor did the US move the parliament from Britain to the New World. The same goes for the post-Soviet republic analogy . No one (that I'm aware of anyway) is claiming to be the modern successor to the Tsar. Let me ask this, if Canada swept down and took New York, Pennsylvania, D.C., Maryland and both of the Virginias and the US moved the capital to Salt Lake City and over time became a predominantly Spanish speaking nation, would it still be the United States of America?

Second, vulgar Latin was far closer to a collection of languages than the collection of dialects of vernacular Greek was. Further, Latin was never ubiquitous throughout the empire except, maybe, for the rather limited version of a handful of commands that were taught to almost all soldiers (foreign or not) who joined the army. By the days of imperial Rome, Greek was at least as widespread as Latin, the language of much of the Latin upper classes, and the lingua franca of much of the empire outside of Rome. Language is just a bad metric to measure an empire that defined itself politically rather than linguistically. Unlike the Greeks who considered anyone who didn't speak Greek to be a barbarian, Romans had no such qualms.

But let me ask this. At precisely which point did Constantinople cease to be the seat of the Roman empire and become the seat of the Byzantine empire? If we're going to divide the empire into two and say that half the empire was really Roman and the other half wasn't so that when the Roman part fell, the other half was no really longer the Roman empire, we should be able to see when the non-Roman half was no longer Roman.

Lastly, I think this is bad reasoning: the Western Empire was not terribly good at being a Christian empire, seeing as they collapsed, whereas the Eastern / Byzantine empire thrived. Not only does this not take into account external factors (see Machiavelli for an excellent discussion of how even the best prince who does everything right can be devastated through bad fortune) but it absolved the emperor, who resided in the east, from his role in losing the western provinces of the empire to the barbarians.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]

Continuity by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #35 Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 05:00:14 PM EST
I've ended up defending a thesis I'm not totally convinced of here, but let me be more specific about Turchin. He uses applied maths techniques for ecology to build theories about the history of agrarian empires. He builds on a number of predecessors for this, particularly Ibn Khaldun. His model is both fantastically ambitious and not well accepted or known amongst historians. This all counts against him, but on the other hand all mathematical modelling of large scale history was going to provoke a fairly skeptical response, so really it needs some more time for data and quantitative critiques to come in.

One of the most crucial measures for Turchin is the territorial size and economic nature of the empire. In his model agrarian empires go through dramatic booms and busts, including a long process of rise and fall. Ethnic composition also comes into the model - not in a master race way, but in the contruction of an imperial nation which provides most of the elites.

Unfortunately I don't have the book with me, but I couldn't swear blind he even does set the fall of Rome as 476. More important to him, as I recall, is the collapse of the Roman/Byzantine empire to a size about that of modern Turkey around 717. The subsequent resurgence of the Byzantines is explained by a newly invigorated elite nation, speaking Greek and professing Christianity, who happen to call themselves Roman. Under this new leadership the Byzantines have several centuries of expansion and success.

Changing the facts to fit the theory? Maybe. I take the point of the US example, and Salt Lake City is actually two thousand kilometres further from DC than Istanbul is from Rome. So sure, there was legal continuity.

However, it's also like the case of a corporation which undergoes radical transformation over time. Say you have a manufacturer of lightbulbs and other electrical equipment. They start as an industrial concern, but develop a lot of retail customers too. They expand and are successful. They sell toasters and aircraft engines. Over decades, they find a nice sideline in offering financing for retail purchases like insurance and payment plans for televisions. This becomes big business, bigger than the manufacturing arm in fact. After an economic downturn, they decide to sell off the manufacturing arm entirely, which later collapses. Except the last sentence, this is much like GE.

There is legal continuity, you could even trace the share purchases through. But from an investor's perspective, it's a totally different company. You would be foolish to treat the financial services company the same as the manufacturer which precedes it; the fundamental metrics and risks will be different. It is from this sort of perspective that makes Turchin suggest the Byzantine empire be treated separately to the Roman.

Otherwise I think we may have argued to a standstill.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]

Fall by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #32 Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 07:20:50 PM EST
The traditional date of the fall of the Roman Empire is September 4, 476 when Romulus Augustus, the de jure Emperor of the Western Roman Empire was deposed by Odoacer. wk

I'm not sure what tradition they mean though. It goes on to say that lots of historians think that date is rubbish.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]

dynasties are a bad metric for the Romans/Greeks by lm (2.00 / 0) #22 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 03:09:11 PM EST
This is a bit of an oversimplification, but for the most part succession to the throne wasn't decided by birth rite so much as whoever had the political capital to get the Senate to appoint one to the throne and the military might to enforce that decree.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]

I'm sure you're right by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #23 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 03:20:46 PM EST
Turchin also doesn't tie it to dynasties in the Greek/Roman world. But he considers the Roman empire as ending around the fall of Rome itself rather than the fall of Constantinople more than a millenia later.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]

I think that's just a silly argument by lm (4.00 / 1) #28 Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 04:27:53 AM EST
Rome had ceased to be the seat of the emperor long before Rome fell. Not only did Roman laws, culture and administrative structures all remained the same in the eastern empire but large swaths of western Europe remained under control of Constantinople for quite some time.

I would buy the argument that the empire did fall prior to the Turkish conquest of Constantinople. By the time Mehmet the Conquerer took the city in the fifteenth century, Constantinople was essentially a city-state rather than an empire. I would argue that the twilight of the empire began in the thirteenth century.

Also, there are some that argue that the Roman empire really only fell with the modernization of Turkey under Attaturk. Various Muslim dynasties had already been heavily influenced by Graeco-Roman administrative practices and once the Turks took Constantinople, Mehmet II took for himself the title of Roman Emperor. So a case can be made that the Ottomans were the last dynasty of the Roman empire. (Not that I find this case particularly cogent, but I do think it has far more historical support than the argument that Roman empire ceased to be when Rome fell.)


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]

The "things are doing fine" article. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #6 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 03:44:21 AM EST
Does anybody ever write a "we won't collapse because we're nothing like the Roman Empire" article? Or do you think they're only evoked when it is time for dire predictions?



But then by TheophileEscargot (1.00 / 1) #13 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:02:19 AM EST
We're obviously doomed like the Mayans, or the Easter Islanders, or...
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]

1453 n/t by gzt (4.00 / 1) #9 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 05:12:20 AM EST




D'oh! [nt] by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #11 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 05:53:00 AM EST

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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]

Given the continued failures with cost control... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #10 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 05:33:07 AM EST
in the French system it might be productive to consider the Danish example as well.



Dunno by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #12 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:00:14 AM EST
That might work fine in USia, but Danish healthcare seems to rely heavily on local and regional governments.

Here in UKia local and regional government is very untrusted, has very little power, very little tax-raising power in particular. I think you'd have to reform the hell out British local government before that could work.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]

Local and regional governments by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #14 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:08:57 AM EST
In the US, it looks like that at least some of the states are moving into health care precisely because of federal refusal to do anything substantive.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]

Fall of the Roman Empire by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #15 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:14:55 AM EST
The annoying arguments are the ones in which causes for the fall that definitely are bogus are proposed. The most common one of these is "The Roman Empire fell because the Romans became decadent!" theory, or even sillier, "The Roman Empire Feel because the Romans were Godless!". Both tend to invoke Nero in order to cement their historical ignorance.

The biggest problem, though, with all such debates is that given that the Roman empire lasted longer than just about any other, saying "The US (or whoever) is just like the Roman Empire" seems toothless. Nothing lasts forever in this world, and if anyone who is on par with the Roman Empire is doing damn well.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman


bunnay! by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 1) #16 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 06:39:40 AM EST
nick and i watched the video on CO last night, and now i want another bunny.

i think the cutest part is after the first jump they show, when he bends down to get his bunny, it stands up to be picked up. "ooh, i get petted now!"
---------
Dance On, Gir!


Fall Of The (western) Roman Empire by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #18 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:19:12 AM EST
My understanding is that basically once it stoppoed expanding it no longer paid for itself through conquests and chaos outside the Empire from the mid 250s led to increasing military expenditure and thus a huge tax burden. Coupled with some bad emperors in the late 300s and some bad luck.



Problem of timing by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #20 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:39:22 AM EST
First, I don't think it's true that most of its income came from conquest.

There was a big economic crisis as part of the 3rd century crisis: in particular a big inflation problem due to tendency to react to a lack of money by coining a lot more money.

However, the economic crisis was eventually solved, and Rome didn't start getting sacked till the 400s. Also, when Romanized Goths took over the Empire in Spain and Italy, they kept the bureaucracy intact, kept raising taxes and maintaining infrastructure for quite a while longer.

If it was lack of expansion, why didn't that affect the Byzantine eastern half? If it was the financial crisis, why did it take effect centuries later? The Pirenne thesis Wikipedia link is worth a look.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]

*The* reason by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #21 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 10:37:05 AM EST
Much of the problem is that everyone wants *the* reason for the fall when at least IMHO, there were many factors that went into it. I think that pretty much every scholarly theory as to what caused the fall is true in the sense that it was part of it and false in the sense that it was the whole of it. I also think you can invoke a bit of modern mathematics and say that history is a chaotic system and that something as complex as the fall of the Roman Empire is impossible to discover. One question that interests me: Was the thousand years that separated the fall in the West and the fall in the East due to some difference between the two empires, or was it merely the dumb luck of geography and random movements of peoples?
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]

Lead plumbing gradually by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #25 Sat Feb 10, 2007 at 09:22:36 PM EST
making a society of retards.

Plausible enough for me.

You can't handle my complete attention.


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