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Sunday, May 07, 2017

Palpatine From Palatine...

You recognize the old, old children's rhyme, used by generations of kids skipping rope:

Palpatine from Palatine
pals around with plutocrats!

and so on with its catchy beat: PAL-pa-tine from PAL-a-tine PALS around with PLUT-o-CRATS!

where the last word "plutocrats" is evenly accented on both syllables, but can be sung a bit quicker than the preceding words and sort of brings it all to a close... or not.
I suppose "Palatine" refers to the Palatine Hill in Ancient Roma, a rise in the land where all the Roman swells had their palazzi. All very much wealth, power, Rome - rise as well as decline and fall - and an implication by omission of poverty, marginalized peoples, slaves, and somebody from Nazareth.

It was brought to mind this morning by the headline below:

Kushner Family Woos Wealthy Chinese Investors With “$500,000 Investor Visas” Pitch
The EB5 immigrant investor visa program allows wealthy foreign investors to invest in U.S. projects that could create jobs here, and then those investors can apply for citizenship.

Earlier Saturday, the family of Jared Kushner held a presentation in Bejing for the purpose of enticing wealthy Chinese investors to America.

Over several hours of slide shows and presentations, representatives from the Kushner family business urged Chinese citizens gathered at the Ritz-Carlton hotel to consider investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a New Jersey real estate project to secure what’s known as an investor visa...

I do not mean to imply any wrongdoing to Mr. Jared Kushner. However, I always wonder exactly how long it takes for an entity - like the Roman Empire or the USA - to seriously decline, to allow its laws to fall into desuetude, to restrict the democracy to fewer and fewer, and to hand the state over to the wealthy plutocrats.
According to Gibbon's account of Rome, it took a while. But I read Gibbon when I was in my teens and sitting out on the river sunning my adolescent body, dipping into the cool waters every now and then; O, rise Belisarius! , O, go down Belisarius! ... rise Justinian, rise Irene, go up and come down the Iconoclasts! ... what-ho! and my mind vacillated between the common interests of guys and dolls and the rise and fall of empires!

It is obvious that the country may be handed over to the wealthy very quickly. It is clear that commercial interests of wealthy families and groups may predominate the public forums, and the change may happen within months.

So what took Rome so long?


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