This sort of headline is a perennial.

Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned

What we have here is yet another comparison between modern America and ancient Rome. The usual spiel goes like this: ‘Rome fell. We are like Rome. Repent!’

There is a problem with such historical analyses. Which ‘fall of Rome’ is meant? Usually the moralist means some vague ‘Roman Empire’ that he learned from re-runs of Spartacus and Quo Vadis on late night TV.

Some questions arise, such as: Does the writer refer to the fall of the Roman Republic (133 – 30 BC)? Or the fall of the Empire in the West (378 – 476 AD)? Or the fall of Constantinople (1261 – 1453)? He does not say.

Our Cassandra is David Walker. He is a high-level career bureaucrat at the very entertaining and exciting US Government Accountability Office. He was appointed to this 15-year position by ex-president Stain-Dress. As such it is odd that he volunteers to lecture the rest of us on morals and history. One would think that his ex-boss would provide ample fodder for his moralistic outbursts.

The US government is on a ‘burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon.

Walker’s list of evils encompassess the usual liberal complaints against this Republican administration—immigration, ‘sustainability,’ Iraq, health care and so on.

Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”.

This very trendy analysis includes—but of course—the fall of that bridge in Minneapolis.

Billions of dollars will be needed to modernise everything from highways and airports to water and sewage systems.

Walker has offered his services to all presidential candidates. Very good of him.

When one looks closely at Walker’s advice, it looks suspiciously like the platform of the Democrat Party: More government everywhere and all the time. In other words, Walker advises the US to adopt exactly those policies that doomed the empire in the West. It was killed by taxes and a parasitical government aided and abetted by uncontrolled immigration.

Other things that to Walker spelled the end of Rome—health care costs and a decline in government services—are completely irrelevant. Rome scarcely had a government until the 1st century AD. Indeed, it is the era of corruption, vote buying and political slander of the late Republic that most resembles our own, not the fall of Rome in the West.

To put matters plainly, Rome began as a free republic in 509 BC. She had a natural hatred of despots and never allowed any one man much power. As she began her career of overseas conquests after the 2nd Punic War (218 – 201 BC) she fell into corruption both moral and political. Only men like the Caesars could possibly have held the thing together. Though it lasted 500 more years in the West and 1500 in the East the freedom that had characterized the early Romans vanished. They started as freemen and ended as slaves.

And that is exactly what is happening to us. The more we look to government for what ails us—literally in the case of health care—the more power we turn over to the state and the less free we become.

We are becoming like the Romans but not for the reasons Walker laid out. One day—maybe quite soon—we will cry out for a Caesar.

I am sure that the wife of Walker’s old boss would like to volunteer.