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View Diary: A Failed Experiment (136 comments)

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  •  This reminds me (5+ / 0-)

    of the situation during the decline of the Roman Empire.  As urban areas grew congested and full of poor people, foreign merchants, and slaves, the wealthy spent more time at their private country-homes.  Decades of civil unrest, warring would-be emperors, and then barbarian invasions intensified this trend.  Cities were strategic targets and inviting to would-be looters; country villas were less concentrated and therefore stood a better chance of avoiding attack.  Cities were prone to food shortages and riots when transport was temporarily cut off; country homes had their own fields and gardens.  Cities were breeding grounds for plagues, country homes avoided transmissible infections.  The rich retreated from the cities, built their country homes into fortresses, and slowly accumulated all the niceties they needed to maintain civilization: skilled tradesmen to perform repairs, complete stocks of agricultural equipment, limekilns, potteries, smithies and woodshops; planted the forests and orchards that take a lifetime to grow.  Then gradually they moved into their villas permanently and left the cities to rot.

    When public services are falling apart, individuals are forced to make shift for themselves.  Once they have done so, they have little incentive to assist in maintaining public services.  So the spiral continues.

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