The story behind The Fall of Rome

Born in Kings Park, New York, Keith Leedham has been a songwriter and musician since he was a teenager. A seasoned veteran of stage and studio, his influences range from rock to country, metal to bluegrass. He has been a huge fan of concept albums since he first heard Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as a boy. Since all his favorite albums seem to be concepts, it’s no real surprise that he would write a concept piece himself one day.

Keith now makes his home in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Keith felt the need to write and tell this cautionary tale in wake of current events. While this is a fictional story, it contains historical lessons that should be heard.

Throughout the piece, you hear excerpts from a fictional radio broadcast by the story’s main character, John. The part of John is voiced by Stefan Molyneux, a Canadian blogger, essayist, author and host of the Freedomain Radio series of podcasts.

Stefan recreates a speech entitled “The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels” from which these excerpts are taken. The speech was originally written and given by Lawrence W. Reed while he was serving as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Northwood University in 1979. Mr. Reed is now president of The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Prior to that, he was a founder and president for twenty years of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught Economics full-time and chaired the Department of Economics at Northwood University from 1977 to 1984. While the story is fictional, the lessons are not.

A transcript of the complete speech can be seen on the FEE website
Stefan’s reading of the full speech can be heard on

The Fall of Rome


The New Authority FlagJohn could barely believe what was happening. Since The New Authority had taken power, he had seen the economy decline with each new initiative and program they had forced into place. For some reason, they were either unwilling or unable to realize that it was their initiatives that were causing the decline. John knew this because, in addition to being a radiotalk show host, he was also a student of history. John knew that all these mistakes had been made before, in ancient Rome.

While his modern society may not seem anything like Rome thousands of years ago, he knew different. Because the common dominator in both societies was people. The citizens of both moments of time had fallen into a trap. A trap of thinking that the state was the answer to every perceived unfairness or inequity. They seemed to forget a very old saying of unknown origin: life is unfair. In fact, John not only knew that life was unfair, but he had learned from studying history that life was supposed to be unfair. It was this unfairness that forced societies to adapt, overcome, and advance. When societies became comfortable or felt “taken care of”, society ceased to advance. Some argued with John that the “security” that the state provided was an example of an advancement of society. John knew differently. Example after example throughout history has proven that the state can never collect enough taxes to provide cradle-to-grave security for its citizens for any prolonged amount of time. The reason is simple: the more the citizens feel “taken care of”, the less likely they are to take care of themselves. As citizens stop producing wealth, the pool of taxpayers gets smaller and smaller. Soon the state must take more from those who are still producing. This is primarily business owners and entrepreneurs. Eventually, the ever-increasing taxes force the business to close and the entrepreneurs to give up. Economies crash, and society collapses.

The New Authority LogoThe New Authority were making all these same mistakes: demonizing those who produce, claiming that the reason their initiatives had failed was because they hadn’t gone far enough, and taking control of more and more businesses as the owners were unable to keep up with their tax liabilities or just gave up trying. After a town hall meeting where John was dismissed by a representative of The New Authority as a selfish malcontent, he decided to use the only tool he had left to oppose The New Authority: the airwaves. Using Rome as his example, he draws the parallels between the two societies for his listeners. All the while hoping it’s not too late…

“Prelude To A Fall” – John sees the coming storm and fears the fall of the society in which he lives. He can almost sense the gradual chipping away of the system around him. He takes to the airwaves to tell a cautionary tale.

“Enough” – There is a public conflict between John and an official of The New Authority. At first John simply keeps his thoughts to himself and lets The New Authority official have his say, but he finally can not put up with what he knows is a dangerous direction The New Authority wants to take. He speaks his mind and is dismissed by The New Authority as a selfish malcontent. He decides to use his radio show to try and stop The New Authority.

“The Weight of The World” – John then tries to convince business leaders and other productive members of society that it’s not too late to stand up to idealogical direction of The New Authority.

“Confiscate” – As The New Authority takes more and more control from the people, John reluctantly sees everything he feared and warned against coming to fruition. As The New Authority confiscates more and more from those who produce, the collapse begins, and John’s radio show is forced off the air.

“The Fall of Rome” – As the economy fails and society collapses, John takes account of the aftermath of the fall and mourns the loss of what once was.

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