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Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius (Photo credit: Google Images)

“It is the fate of princes to be ill-spoken of for well-doing.”

Marcus Aurelius credits Antisthenes (c. 445 BCE- c. 365 BCE) for stating that “it is the fate of princes to be ill-spoken of for well-doing” (Meditations, VII, 36).

Exceptions to the above quotation are so numerous that its validity is mostly lost.  Moammar Gadhafi of Libya has just been deposed and, earlier, Saddam Hussein of Iraq met an end he never expected. Earlier still, we had Hitler, Mussolini and similar tyrants.

But there have been good princes.  Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius was a good Emperor, one of only five good Roman Emperors.  And Lincoln was a good President, but he faced severe difficulties when he became President of the United States.  Seven States seceded between the day of his election and the day of his inauguration.  These are the circumstances that led him to sign an executive order emancipating the slaves of these States.

In the more recent past, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (30 January 1882 – 12 April 1945), also battled huge obstructionism from Republicans in having the New Deal approved.  The New Deal meant taxation and far too many rich Americans did not want to pay their fair share of taxes.

Sally Kohn (CNN, 14 September 2011) reports that “anti-tax extremism is nothing but blatant greed masquerading as lousy economics?”  Besides, the rich are taking too many jobs away from the United States.  If a product can be manufactured less expensively abroad, the product is manufactured abroad.  This is unenlightened capitalism or corporate behavior, and it eventually leads to “policies that help the rich cheat the middle class[.]” (Sally Kohn).  Does this sense to anyone?

There is nothing wrong with having a Japanese automobile maker manufacture vehicles in a US plant.  American workers are usually remunerated adequately.  There are times, in other words, when a nation shares markets with other nations for the benefit of its citizens.

But it is obvious that “anti-tax extremism” is making the rich richer and that, as Sally Kohn writes, it is time “to realize that class warfare isn’t a liberal goal but in fact a conservative reality, advanced through decades of policies that help the rich cheat the middle class[.]” The US is becoming a two-class nation: the rich and the poor, and may, as a result, soon cease to be a democracy.

Democracy demands equality and it also demands fraternité, or brotherhood, between the citizens of a country.  At this time, “anti-tax extremism” so benefits the rich that they will support political candidates, who, once they are in power, will reward their affluent benefactors with tax cuts.  Tax cuts take money away from the people and lead to gross inequality.

To make matters worse, money used to support political candidates is tax-deductible. It would therefore seem reasonable that persons who have invested tax-deductible money in a political campaign should not also reclaim their money by expecting tax cuts and other privileges.  Their money would be better used if they paid taxes commensurate with their earnings.  Money levied through taxation is money that allows an administration to serve the nation.  It is essential money.

Nor should the rich support political campaigns in the hope that they will be allowed to pollute the environment!  It is worth remembering that Michele Bachmann claimed that the planet was not melting.  Global warming has long ceased to be a matter of opinion. I would ask therefore that hardline Republicans not pull the wool over the eyes of Americans by re-arranging reality to suit the needs of the affluent.

It may be in the best interest of hardline Republicans to blindfold the electorate.  But kindly refrain from selling to the nation the seeds of its own destruction.  If extremists like Michele Bachmann and other hardline Republicans are willingly selling damaged goods to the American people, shame on them!

On the other hand, if the electorate can see that hardline Republicans are playing games to the point of manipulating reality so the rich can buy “more yachts and luxury villas” (Sally Kohn) and nevertheless vote such people into office, the nation might well deserve its sorry fate.

If the rich support political candidates that will allow further harm to the planet, fund-raising borders on corruption.  As I wrote in a previous blog, a nation does not eat its children’s bread.  Moreover, doing so by keeping the electorate in the dark is debasing and manipulative in the extreme.

Not only will hardline Republicans who fight taxation eat away at democracy, but unrestrained capitalism will run the economy amuck.  Capitalism was aimed, originally, at pooling money to build businesses and factories.  These businesses or factories hired people locally and, having earned their salary, workers usually spent it mostly locally. Current well-heeled citizens do not create jobs.

Initially, capitalism was not aimed at concentrating money in the hands of the rich and the privileged.  On the contrary!  Capitalism was aimed at putting an end to the concentration of money in the hands of the few.  We are therefore seeing the rich getting richer and the middle-class rapidly losing ground.  As for the poor, well, “let them eat cake,” as Marie-Antoinette is purported to have said, which is probably apocryphal.

No wonder, hardline Republicans look like wax museum versions of themselves: they’re intellectually dead.  It is as though they had stood still since the Civil War of 1860.


In short, President Obama is being “ill-spoken of for well-doing.”  President Obama needs a stimulus package that will create jobs, and citizens who have jobs will spend their money and boost the economy.

I hear that some Americans are considering moving to Canada to flee the economic perils of the United States:  a disappearing democracy and thwarted capitalism.  Canada is a nation of refugees, so Americans seeking an escape are looking in the appropriate direction, except that Canadians also fear a recession because of the ill-conceived policies of Tea Party Republicans.

Let me ask those who are considering flight to give the US another chance.  Let me ask that you to support President Obama.  There is a great deal of cash equity in the United States.  In fact, I would surmise that, at this very moment, there is sufficient wealth in the US to pay in full the debt incurred by the former Republican administration.  That debt might well be the proverbial drop in the bucket.  Help President Obama put into place policies that will make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.

It would be my opinion that President Obama has read Marcus Aurelius and knows that he is “ill-spoken of for well-doing.”  He is, therefore, not fully, but partly, protected, which does not mean, people should prevent him from his “well-doing.”  But do note that, except for the wealthy, the people of the US are very much at risk.

Sally Kohn, please allow me to quote you again.  Your message is my message, but you are the economist:  “But in light of the depth and breadth of our economic crisis, continuing to put the interests of a few wealthy people and big corporations ahead of the needs of millions and millions of struggling and suffering Americans isn’t just insane.  It’s immoral.”