A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
On June 19th I wrote about the false notion of "obscence profits" in a blog entitled The Latest Rant About Oil. This posting can be considered part two of that article.
In the hedonistically debauched days of Imperial Rome, Emperors like Lucius Aurelius Commodus (likeness above) staged wildly exotic and violent spectacles in the Coliseum in order to placate and divert their citizenry. Before the carnage began, horse drawn carts drove along the earthen floor of the stadium, as minions of the Empire dispensed free bread to the screaming hordes. Such scenes of mayhem and largess were transcendantly captured in Ridley Scott's film, Gladiator; one of the few movies of the last twenty years that I would preface with the descriptive "great".
Last week's announcement from the Presidential Campaign trail of a plan to extort money from Exxon and her corporate sisters, the proceeds of which would be distributed to America's families at the rate of one-thousand dollars per (this despite the fact that many of those families are already the owners of said proceeds), harkens us back to the days of the world's first Senate - that of ancient Rome. It represents such tawdry pandering that it does not even warrant the label policy. And it clearly illustrates that most pandemic of Washington afflictions - the ignorance of basic economics.
Now in fairness, "Robinhood-ism" as public policy is hardly a new phenomenon, and ignorance of economics has plagued both sides of Washington's political aisle for decades. And certainly many politicains have used oil companies as easy press conference fodder. But this latest gambit is so brazen that it needs to be challenged for what it is.
By all means let's debate the issues of Exxon's profits and our energy predicament. But if this is the result, perhaps our candidates would be more honest to begin construction of a coliseum in our nation's capitol.
And right next door to it - an enormous bakery.