Monday, October 27, 2008

res publica argentarii principis

The Republic of the Central Banker.

Brad DeLong has an excellent new piece in the American Prospect detailing "philosopher-prince" Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the history of the Federal Reserve. He concludes:
Cicero said that the problem with his political ally Cato was that he thought they lived in the Republic of Plato while they really lived in the Sewer of Romulus. It is either our curse or our blessing that we live in the Republic of the Central Banker.
The relevant text is a letter from Cicero to his friend Atticus:

Cicero Epistulae ad Atticum 2.1
Nam Catonem nostrum non tu amas plus quam ego; sed tamen ille optimo animo utens et summa fide nocet interdum rei publicae; dicit enim tamquam in Platonis πολιτείᾳ, non tamquam in Romuli faece, sententiam.

You do not love our dear Cato more than I do; but that man, although employing the finest mind and greatest trustworthiness, occasionally does harm to the Republic; for he gives his judgment as if in the Republic of Plato, and not in the filth of Romulus.

Highly recommended.

*Latin faex, faeces is the root of English "feces"

No comments: