Bread and Circuses

... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions - everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses

(Juvenal, Satire 10.77-81)

Early this week came the news that the NFL network and Time Warner (alternate story) couldn't come to an agreement concerning the airing of football games on Time Warner cable. This lead to several long discussions of bread and circuses; the NFL being the modern day equivalent of Roman gladiator games when it comes to distracting the masses. Politicians at the state house are assuring the voters that they will get their football, even if it takes legislation to achieve this goal.

Strange, but the government was no where in sight when Paramount yanked my (at the time) favorite entertainment off of the syndication market and insisted that a local affiliate for their national network had to step forward in order for Austin to be able to see the next season of Voyager.

Obviously, one man's entertainment is another man's waste of time.

On Friday, as I'm listening to the same talk program, the subject seems to revolve around the latest farm bill, the billions wasted on farm subsidies so far, and the billions more that our beneficent DC politicians are willing flush down the toilet next year.

[Ostensibly to aid in ethanol production. An ill founded idea, to say the least. There isn't enough arable land in the US to grow sufficient corn to meet the requirements for a real ethanol fuel economy]

As I'm listening to self-proclaimed farmers stand and deliver on why their handouts are better than those demanded by everybody else, the phrase bread and circuses floats through my mind, once again. This is their bread, they've sold their votes, their very existence, to the government in exchange for a few measly handouts from the government.

But, more than that, the whole basis of cheap, plentiful food and cheap mindless entertainment (bread and circuses) revolves around government subsidies to agriculture and government interference in the media.

No one believes that we will starve to death if agriculture subsidies were ended; just as the availability of the NFL network on Time Warner cable by itself does not affect the quality of life of the average citizen. But the lack of cheap food and entertainment will eventually lead people to question what it is we need all this government for; and that is a question that those in power would rather we didn't ponder.

Rest assured, the Bread and Circuses will continue for as long as Caesar has the means to fund them.

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