Friday, December 6, 2013

Why Augustus Caesar invented the pension

Augustus Caesar, in 13 B.C., worried that retired soldiers might rise up against the empire. So he came up with a clever solution: after twenty years in a legion and five years in the military reserves, a soldier would earn, in a lump sum, a pension that worked out to about thirteen times a legionnaire’s annual salary. Pay the veterans off, the reasoning went, and they’ll be less inclined to overthrow you.
--Vauhini Vara, New Yorker, on the enduring political power of retirees