Class War

The NY Times head for its National section today (July 24, 2012) tells it all: "GOP PLAN WOULD RAISE TAXES. Senate Republicans will press a plan to extend tax cuts for affluent families scheduled to expire Jan. 1, but allow a series of cuts for the working poor and the middle class to end."

I am currently reading Francis Fukuyama's excellent The Origins of Political Order in which he describes the recurring struggle in China between aristocrats and commoners. Anyone familiar with my book about The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets will recognize the same pattern as it befell the late Roman Empire. A powerful central government bases its legitimacy on popular support. But elites gradually capture the government, and extract favors and exemptions from common obligations. The government ends up helping them gain power over the rest of the population, using it to impose onerous burdens and restrictions. In the end, either revolution or invasion destroy the weakened central government, and a period of chaos and warfare follows until a new cycle begins.

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