Scam Complete: The US Government Takes A Page From Diocletian’s Book...

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

Early in the 4th century, Emperor Diocletian issued an infamous decree to control spiraling wages and prices in the rapidly deteriorating Roman Empire.

As part of his edict, Diocletian commanded that any merchant or customer caught violating the new price structures would be put to death.

This is an important lesson from history, and a trend that has been repeated numerous times. When nations are in terminal economic decline, governments will stop at nothing to keep the party going just a little bit longer.

I thought of Diocletian’s desperation a few days ago when I read about the recent sanctions imposed on US rating agency Egan-Jones. It’s a similar story–

For years, major rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch) have championed the outright fraud of our financial system by pinning pristine credit ratings on insolvent governments and their heavily inflated currencies.

In doing so, the rating agencies are effectively claiming that the greatest debtor that has ever existed in the history of the world is nearly ‘risk-free’.

Clearly this is a ridiculous assertion. With a debt level over 100% of GDP, the US is so broke that the government must borrow money just to pay interest on the money it’s already borrowed. They’ve lost over a trillion dollars a year since 2008, yet they still spend money on things like drones and body scanners. It’s crazy.

As with any good scam, the government must maintain public confidence.  The moment someone says ‘the Emperor has no clothes,’ that shallow, fragile confidence will come crashing down and expose the scam. Dissent must be vigorously and swiftly pursued.

So when S&P finally downgraded the US one notch in August 2011, the SEC and Justice Department announced that S&P was under investigation, just two weeks later.

Egan-Jones, a smaller rating agency, has been even more aggressive, downgrading the US credit rating three times in 18 months. And while the federal government may not have imposed Diocletian’s death penalty, they are just as willing to squash dissent.

In a country that churns out thousands of pages of new regulations each week, it’s easy to find a reason to go after someone. As you read this letter, in fact, you are probably in violation of at least a dozen regulatory offenses.

In the case of Egan-Jones, the SEC brought administrative action against the agency within two weeks of their second downgrade. And a few days ago, the case was settled.

I’m sure you have already guessed the ending: Egan-Jones is banned from for the next 18 months from rating US government debt. They’ve effectively been silenced from telling the truth.

The lesson here is obvious. Just as in Roman times, bankrupt nations today will stop at nothing to keep up the scam just a little bit longer.

Given that all this is happening at a time when Congress is voting to suspend the debt ceiling entirely, these actions are the clearest sign yet of just how desperate the government has become.

Could the warning signs be any more obvious?

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ACP's picture

Party on Ben!

Party onTim!


hedgeless_horseman's picture



Banned?  Death?  They just fine the economists in Argentina for telling the truth about inflation.

Consumer prices rose 9.7% in May from a year ago, according to the national statistics agency, Indec. But virtually all economists say annual inflation surpasses 20%—one of the world's highest rates—angering government officials who dismiss inflation as a problem.


"They fine us for saying how much prices have risen," Mr. Ferreres, director of his eponymous firm, said. "They could seek criminal charges against all of us. We don't know how far they're willing to go."

Inflation is and always will be  the money printers' nemesis.

ACP's picture

And take the guns away from everyone but law enforcement and government officials. Government officials?


Next thing you know, US government officials will have blue emergency lights just like all the corrupt Russian officials:

FUCK FEINSTEIN. FUCK THEM ALL. I've fucking had it.

kralizec's picture

I'll take revolution & civil war instead.

TruthInSunshine's picture

All the world is a stage. Abracadabra!


$6 Trillion in Fake US Bonds Seized by Italian Police


Or this:


To top it off, spot Krugmanrand** prices are skyrocketing!


**Krugmanrand: A gold colored powder-coated round, composed of 3% tungsten and 97% compressed sawdust, bearing the slogan "In Diocletian We Trust" and "To Infinity & Beyond!" on one side, alongside "CTRL+P," and having the other side enscribed with "What, Me Worry?" alongside an engraved likeness of one Ben S. Bernanke (Shakey McShakester).

Pure Evil's picture

I went to the mall for lunch today, it was business as usual. Those people were blissfully unaware of the economic catastrophe facing them. It had the feeling of what it might have felt like right before the Little Boy atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Everything felt quasi-normal, next all hell breaks loose, and those that survived envied the dead.

Miramanee's picture

@ NPE - I don't think that "economic catastrophe" is sufficiently accurate. I was thinking the other day about inflation. There's a scene in Ghostbusters when "Ray" takes out THREE mortgages on his house in order to fund the new enterprize. "Egon" reports that, the interest alone (at 17%) will amount to $95K over three years. $95K!!!! THAT'S CHICKEN FEED!!!! Nowadays a trip to the grocery store costs $100 and fills two bags. The crisis will not, in my opinion, come in the form of collapse; it will be a slow burn, followed by a global conflict manufactured as way to both distract and kill off those who would eventually turn on their overlords.

Pure Evil's picture

That's what I was telling my friend at the mall. Exactly how are these people going to cope if the grid goes down, or the grocery stores are no longer stocked with food items, or fuel deliveries are cut off.

It was just somewhat strange that these folks haven't spent even one second thinking about what will happen in a collapse. I guess its easier to continue to delude yourself than allow reality to penetrate your fantasies that things will continue as always.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Paging WilliamBanzai... pick up white courtesy phone... need Photoshopped pic of Obama in a toga, STAT... 

economics9698's picture

Everything is normal until it isn’t. 

trav777's picture

"rapidly declining Roman empire"??? the FOURTH fucking CENTURY?  It held on for decades, centuries even after that!

These idiots and I must have dramatically different understandings of the meaning of the word "rapid"

CPL's picture

There was a young lady named Bright,

Who could travel quite faster than light.

She went off one day,

In a relative way,

And came back the previous night.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

You're simply forgetting the mangnifying power of the exponential function. Comparing time frames of collapse in the Roman empire to the time frames of collapse to the American empire is comparing chalk and cheese. The warning signs are flashing neon red all over the ship. I would have once thought along similar lines to yourself but I am now reasonably convinced that the collapse will happen so instanteneously as to take our collective fucking breaths away. When individuals, companies, councils, municipalities, states and entire soverigns are levered multiple and many multiples of one, all concurrently, all relying at the same time on ultra low rates, I mean to say, all it takes is one lousy butterfly to flap its wings.  

willwork4food's picture

I tend to agree. With massive wage cuts and layoffs happening every day, it's only a matter of time before we have people fighting over $10/hr jobs just to keep their home. When they can't, there's gonna be a LOT of really, really unhappy campers out there. The other black swan could be the US gov's forced nationalization of 401Ks. That alone could start a major civil war. Why? Because as soon as they did that, millions of people would be broke overnight. No last chance, no safety net, no hope until they reached 70 or whatever assinine age the fuckers in Congress said was legal.

 Possibly a reason they invested in a few rounds of hollow points, eh?

NotApplicable's picture

Ignorance has been a successful strategy thus far, so there's no sense abandoning it now.

Hell, I wasted a good part of my morning writing a rebuttal to the local newspaper editor's ignorance, as he wrote an article on the future growth of the city.

Not only do they not understand money, the idea of entropy's affect on complex systems is completely foreign to them.

It's like people understand that their wages aren't keeping up with inflation (and its ramifications), but then expect the entities that they fund to bail EVERYONE out.

Oh well, guess I'd better get back to work reviewing proposals for the software that will replace me.

Parrotile's picture

Hope & Change

I think you really mean "still hoping for change"

Along the lines of "hope springs eternal!"

yogibear's picture

Their still hoping to steal everything including your change.

falak pema's picture

sorry, this car has white ones! oops! 

falak pema's picture

any car with blue lights gets special rates in the red light district; old rule from Diocletian Rome, price is fixed for those blue lights and its rock bottom! 

onthesquare's picture

Blue lights are for snow ploughs

Now there for snow jobs!

AgAu_man's picture

Thank you for the gun info, ACP!

A lunchtime "out & about" and a visit to a local sports store chain, had almost empty shelves for ammo.  Even common ammo like 9 mm.  Lots of Bolt-Action guns though. 

As many gun safety class teachers advocate:  Make sure YOU (a) oppose these Demo-Fascist ploticians, and (b) provide $$ support to local initiatives to fund legal fights in state legislatures.  The Demo-Fascists must be warned that they WILL be voted out.

And let's keep that "laser focus" on the real gun-debate:  This is a pre-emptive disarming of the populace (that might/will revolt) for what's to come, and not a safety issue.  The Neo-Feudal Lords want the people to have 'pitchforks' (bolt-action or low-capacity magazine guns) against their endless might.

And what a shame that a couple of the items on her X-Mass List were lost years ago, during the numerous trans-national and international moves we've made in the past 15 years.  Bummer.  Thieving, minimum-wage movers!  That ever happen to you?

Totentänzerlied's picture

"The Demo-Fascists must be warned that they WILL be voted out."

Never gonna happen.

It's a game of Pong.

Divine Wind's picture

They have an inside source who says the REAL target is ammo. Soon you will see bills, EO's and other regulation put through that will jack the taxes up on every step of the supply chain (just as they have done with coal fired power plants) to drive the manufacturers out of business.

ZeroAvatar's picture

I feel that you are right, Divine Wind:  we face a future of permanent ammo 'shortages'.

mkhs's picture

Then the Mexican cartels can ammo walk back for a profit.  Prohibition deja vu.

petolo's picture

War on Ammunition and PMs ?

LawsofPhysics's picture

She looks pretty excited about trying the dark meat, just saying...

Wasn't Egan Jones recently gagged?

centerline's picture

Not inflation in general.  Too much or too little is the nemesis.  I know - splitting hairs.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Off topic - Hedgeless can you tell me how to insert a picture into a post. I have a picture that must be shared with the ZeroHede community . . . . . MUST BE SHARED.

ReeferMac's picture

Well said Mr. Black.

NotApplicable's picture

So well said, I actually forgot it was Simon!

He must've forgot his "find a better government" pitch in his haste.

Bon Hagar's picture

Nothin' to see here folks...move along.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Those who denounce the coin of the realm are enemies of the state. So if you know what's good for you then turn your head, avert your eyes and keep walking or you too will be considered persona non grata.

There will come a point when dissent of any sort will not be tolerated.

mkhs's picture

Will come? Try keeping up with current events.

lolmao500's picture

The spice must flow!

BTW, I've just come up with a plan to screw with the banks...

Step 1 : print a list of foreclosed homes in your area.

Step 2 : Add this to it :

    Adverse possession is a principle of real estate law that gives anyone who possesses the land of another for an extended period of time in an 'actual, open, hostile and continuous' manner the right to claim legal title to that land.

    The exact elements of an adverse possession claim may be different in each state. In Florida, the law prescribes continuous possession of at least seven years. In New Jersey, a squatter must be in possession of the property for 30 years, while in New York it's 10 years.

    In some states, the trespasser must have paid taxes on the property during this time period. Other states don’t require payment of property taxes, but will apply a shorter time requirement for occupying the land if the trespasser has paid taxes.

Step 3 : Print a lot of these.
Step 4 : Go to several homeless shelters, distribute.
Step 5 : Laugh your butt off!

GOSPLAN HERO's picture

We own nothing ... we only rent land from the state.

... stop paying your property tax ... you'll be evicted by the state.

lolmao500's picture

Totally agree... but :

Other states don’t require payment of property taxes, but will apply a shorter time requirement for occupying the land if the trespasser has paid taxes.

Chump's picture

That's in reference to establishing color of title, and doesn't require paying taxes unless the State statute specifically calls for it.  You could just record a deed or a plat at the Register of Deeds claiming the property is your own, 30-50 bucks on average for either one.  It would get thrown out in an instant if challenged, but if it's not challenged then you've established color of title.  This then shrinks the statutory period for claiming adverse possession, sometimes drastically (e.g. 20 years without versus 7 years with).

CheapBastard's picture

Many are not paying their property taxes already:


Many longtime East Austinites have sold homes or are delinquent on taxes, report finds


"...close to 1 in 3 of remaining homeowners are delinquent on their property taxes, according to a new study...."

Room 101's picture

Adverse possession is the poor man's TARP.

BooMushroom's picture

California it's 5 years, and you HAVE to pay the taxes.

But there's a lot of tax delinquent auctions coming up, too...

reader2010's picture

I come, I See, I Scam.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"When nations are in terminal economic decline, governments will stop at nothing to keep the party going just a little bit longer."

Whether because of complacency, fear, denial or just a lack of imagination, most of us simply fail to grasp how much worse it can and will become nor what draconian steps the government will take to remain in power.

Trust me on this one, there will be no failure of imagination on the government's part.

Pure Evil's picture

And, when the imagination runs out of ideas, they'll resort to good ole fashioned violence.

centerline's picture

Not sure what scares me more... the truth that you are mentioning here or outright chaos (mad max scenerio).