Close to 200 years ago, the English novelist-historian Edward Gibbon commented that,
"The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight.Historians will write that the American Empire, in its final days, experienced many of the phenomena that plagued The Roman Empire.
The empire of Rome was firmly established by the singular and perfect coalition of its members. The subject nations, resigning the hope, and even the wish, of independence, embraced the character of Roman citizens.
But this union was purchased by the loss of national freedom…and the servile provinces, destitute of life and motion, expected their safety from the mercenary troops and governors, who were directed by the orders of a distant court. The happiness of a hundred million [people] depended on the personal merit of one or two men [emperors] perhaps children [in Rome], whose minds were corrupted by education, luxury, and despotic power…
The multiplication of oppressive taxes was countered and evaded by the rich, who shifted the burden to the poor, who in turn also dodged them and fled to the woods and mountains to become Rome's rebels and robbers...”
Roman senators formed their own wealthy class of landowners who rarely attended senate meetings but enjoyed the privileges of their office. Consider that most U.S. Senators and Representatives spend most of their time outside of Washington soliciting contributions from corporations. One does not need a time machine to actually witness what was occurring in Rome during its tumultuous decline. William Langer, in his tome An Encyclopedia of World History, writes "the lethargy" of Rome resulted from "the unwieldy and inflexible system and…the poor mental caliber of the rulers."