Water and bread – panem et circenses

The old Romans already knew that it was up most important to keep the poorest part of the population happy. The roman writer Juvenalis (60-140 AD) already wrote panem et circenses. In his writings he used this phrase sarcastic, to show that the citizens were ignorant about the already declining status and importance of the roman empire in the world. As long as there were games and bread for free, the nation was “happy”. It seemed to him that the citizens were unable/unwilling to see the real problems.

The same can be seen these days. As long as citizens have entertainment (TV/Internet) and social welfare (food stamps / social housing etc.) politicians do not have to fear the population. But as soon as one of these historically secured “rights” disappear, the politicians have a problem. Yesterday in this has already happened on a very small scale when the US food stamp systems crashed. The Washington Post already indicated that if the debt ceiling would not be raised that “the Obama administration will have to decide whether to delay — or possibly suspend — tens of billions of dollars in Social Security checks.” I’m actually afraid of what will happen when the population do not have their “panem et circenses” any more…

It seems that the current American citizens have more in common with the roman citizens then they would think themselves.

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