Was noodling around my copy of The D&F last week....my take on Gibbons ground work synopsis of a crucial chapter. Yes the comparison between Rome and the US can be strained, but what the hell...its always been my feeling that the decline of Rome began when they created their first province, Sicily, in 241 after they got entangled in the native-Carthaginian struggle there, and pushed Carthage out. What came with it, the administration of such, the taste for gross mercantilism and movement of specie to and from, the fabulous wealth that it created surfaced an 'identity' problem (crisis) that began to erode the Republican process that they had ruled themselves there by previously. They never worked it out really and the civil wars in the run up to their great civil war that created the Imperial admin. of what Rome had been took time, but 'the die had been cast' 240 years earlier ( pun intended) imho. Gibbons synopsis. Edward Gibbon - The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire Volume 1 The Founding Fathers, with a small army of farmers and artisans achieved their freedom, 236 years have elapsed. During the first 200 years, in the laborious school of agrarianism and an awakening of invented Industrial invigoration, cemented by Judeo-Christian tenets, the US practiced on the whole the virtues built of sound legislation of government by the vigorous exertion of those tenets & virtues, there by they had obtaining a preeminent position in the world. In the course of the last generation, those founding tenets have been rendered inert via overabundance of apparent prosperity concomitant with an internal decrepitude and decline. The nation of artisans, builders and legislators, who composed the bedrock of the American people have been dissolved into a vulgar society, self confounding itself with the 10s of millions of servile disinterested citizenry, who have received the name, without adopting the animating spirit, the melting pot has now become a race to balkanization. The form is still the same, but the animating health and vigor have fled, discouraged and exhausted by a long series of self serving doles that reach citizens earning almost twice the national average of income, coupled with a chase for immediate gratification. Every State or Nation, as like a living thing has an Arc, from the apex, we have clearly over the last generation rode over the summit into the back side slide of ours.