08 April 2009

Cicero on the Stimulus Package

Several state governors have said that, in order to assert their position that the stimulus package is a bad idea, they will refuse all or part of the money. Cicero, however, recommends the opposite approach, in this anecdote from the Tusculan Disputations, Book III, Section XX, as translated by J. E. King for the Loeb Classical Library:
The famous Piso, named Frugi, had spoken consistently against the Corn-law [the Lex Frumentaria of 123 BCE, proposed by C. Sempronius Gracchus, and later called the lex Sempronia]. When the law was passed, in spite of his consular rank, he was there to receive the corn. Gracchus noticed Piso standing in the throng; he asked him in the hearing of the Roman people what consistency there was in coming for the corn under the terms of the law which he had opposed. ‘I shouldn’t like it, Gracchus, to come into your head to divide up my property among all the citizens; but should you do so I should come for my share.’ Did not the words of this serious and sagacious statesman show with sufficient clearness that the public inheritance was squandered by the Sempronian law?