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Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy

biostud

Lifer
Feb 27, 2003
15,416
723
126
The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

This is not news, you say.

Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

"A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time."

On the other hand:

When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.

They conclude:

Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn't surprised by the survey's results.

"American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's "news" media)," he writes. "The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious 'electoral' 'democratic' countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now."

This is the "Duh Report", says Death and Taxes magazine's Robyn Pennacchia. Maybe, she writes, Americans should just accept their fate.

"Perhaps we ought to suck it up, admit we have a classist society and do like England where we have a House of Lords and a House of Commoners," she writes, "instead of pretending as though we all have some kind of equal opportunity here."
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

Link to the scientific preview paper:

http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens homepage materials/Gilens and Page/Gilens and Page 2014-Testing Theories 3-7-14.pdf

Does it hold water?
 

alcoholbob

Diamond Member
May 24, 2005
6,200
283
126
Its pretty obvious based on the vast gulf between public and elites in polls on immigration policy that what 80% of what Americans want does not affect the policy position of the government.
 

blankslate

Diamond Member
Jun 16, 2008
8,495
436
126
Look at the TPP. That's an example of things that the very very rich would want but that the average citizen would object to.

Basically another free trade agreement that would allow corporations to sue countries who sign it if regulations negatively impact their profits.

Ask random people on the street if they no about it. doubt you'd find more than a couple.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaZ27jqrSVg&t=13m27s


Like the interviewer or not at least least to what his quests are saying and then look at other sources to decide for yourself.


Also consider the result of the citizens united and the potential GOP candidates who visited billionaire Sheldon Aldelson
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-29/republican-presidential-hopefuls-in-vegas-to-woo-donor-adelson.html

He made his money in gambling. What unique insights does he have that others who spent their entire adult lives starting with studying public policy in college don't have about politics?

TLDR: Of course. Everybody knows that "Money talks, s$% walks"



....
 

z1ggy

Diamond Member
May 17, 2008
9,945
56
91
I believe this is a Repost. But if it's not, I already read this report many weeks ago when I saw it talked about on Reddit.

Obvious government is obvious.
 

Jaskalas

Lifer
Jun 23, 2004
30,093
3,628
126
Its pretty obvious based on the vast gulf between public and elites in polls on immigration policy that what 80% of what Americans want does not affect the policy position of the government.
And we can't change it when Republican and Democrat are the only two choices that win at the ballot box. America needs third parties, it needs to shake things up.

Failing a better Democracy at the Federal level, what we need are State's rights. Stronger States would achieve more than a third party.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
72,500
23,421
136
Its pretty obvious based on the vast gulf between public and elites in polls on immigration policy that what 80% of what Americans want does not affect the policy position of the government.
I'd be interested to hear what you think this gulf is.
 

GTaudiophile

Lifer
Oct 24, 2000
29,773
11
81
And we can't change it when Republican and Democrat are the only two choices that win at the ballot box. America needs third parties, it needs to shake things up.

Failing a better Democracy at the Federal level, what we need are State's rights. Stronger States would achieve more than a third party.
Go take a look at how the coalition government works in Germany. Look at their laws regarding campaign duration and funding. It's all beautiful stuff.
 

glenn1

Lifer
Sep 6, 2000
25,383
1,013
126
And we can't change it when Republican and Democrat are the only two choices that win at the ballot box. America needs third parties, it needs to shake things up.

Failing a better Democracy at the Federal level, what we need are State's rights. Stronger States would achieve more than a third party.

It wouldn't matter if you had third, fourth, or any number of parties. If the prevailing mentality is that the government is supposed to be a wellspring of goodies for "the public good" then this result is basically assured. Only the most naive of fools would think you could have a leviathan central government distributing trillions of dollars and at the same time believe you could limit the gravy train to just the poor or those you think are deserving.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
72,500
23,421
136
It wouldn't matter if you had third, fourth, or any number of parties. If the prevailing mentality is that the government is supposed to be a wellspring of goodies for "the public good" then this result is basically assured. Only the most naive of fools would think you could have a leviathan central government distributing trillions of dollars and at the same time believe you could limit the gravy train to just the poor or those you think are deserving.
Did you really believe that 47% nonsense? I didn't think anyone actually did.
 

Zorba

Diamond Member
Oct 22, 1999
9,398
3,343
136
I'd be interested to hear what you think this gulf is.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/1660/immigration.aspx



Looks like 93% of Americans think halting the flow of illegal immigants into the country is at least "moderately important." 77% think it is at least "very important."

The gulf is businesses want a ton of cheap labor, that wont demand good working conditions. Most Americans are against this.

Also only 22% of Americans want an increase in immigration, but congress keeps looking at increasing the number of H1Bs, temporary work permit programs, etc.

 
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unokitty

Diamond Member
Jan 5, 2012
3,346
1
0

Existing campaign finance reforms, particularly donor disclosure and contribution limits, have done as much harm as good, leading to “a corruption practiced by decent people” and legitimizing what Mr. Lessig calls “a gift economy.” Disclosure of the identities of contributors has made the venal routine. The system “normalizes dependence,” Mr. Lessig writes. “There’s is no shame in the dance.”

...There is strong evidence of the corrupting effects of political fund-raising, and Mr. Lessig has amassed it. In a November interview with Boston Review he noted that in the first quarter of 2011 Congress — awash in special interest money from banks attempting to push through a bill allowing them to collect per-transaction debit-card fees — spent more time on that issue than on unemployment, the deficit, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, health care or global warming.

... More important, however — and regardless of the outcome — the legislative battle has not been a struggle to determine what is in the best public interest, but rather a titanic war of special interests.

On one side are office holders beholden to the deep-pocketed donors whose profits depend on open Internet access, like Google, Oracle and other Silicon Valley tech giants (along with less obvious allies like civil-liberties and human-rights groups). On the other side are House and Senate members beholden to campaign contributors like the powerful content providers NBC, Fox, Disney, music companies, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon — as well as the United States Chamber of Commerce.
...defining corruption as “the economy of influence.” By that, he meant the overpowering—by outspending—of the will of the many by the will of the few, a corruption he describes as “the banal evil of second-rate minds who can’t make it in the private sector and who therefore turn to the massive wealth directed by our government as the means to securing wealth for themselves.

The single issue that congressmen spend the most time on is obtaining money for their own reelection. If you are not one of the campaign financiers, you don't have a seat at the table. That is, the funding of Congressional elections is a legal but corrupt system.

Uno
 

AyashiKaibutsu

Diamond Member
Jan 24, 2004
9,306
3
81
Go take a look at how the coalition government works in Germany. Look at their laws regarding campaign duration and funding. It's all beautiful stuff.
buh buh ZEH germans! we can't emulate them; we're 'murecians and totally completely different in every way conceivable by man and god and fish. No good ever came from anyone who attempted to copy ideas from the modern German/Prussian nation-state.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
72,500
23,421
136
Looks like 93% of Americans think halting the flow of illegal immigants into the country is at least "moderately important." 77% think it is at least "very important."

The gulf is businesses want a ton of cheap labor, that wont demand good working conditions. Most Americans are against this.
And then of course you ask people HOW they want to stem the flow of illegal immigration. Then watch the answers fragment and explode in a thousand different directions.

This is akin to the ACA debate, where the percentage of those who 'disapprove' of it are comprised party of those who want the whole thing repealed and partly of those who want the thing taken even further. They might share a basic outlook but the actual implementation has nothing to do with it.

I'd be very interested to see polling on an actual plan to do this. My guess? It will show nothing even remotely close to that level of support... which is of course my whole point.

Also only 22% of Americans want an increase in immigration, but congress keeps looking at increasing the number of H1Bs, temporary work permit programs, etc.
I doubt Americans are talking about H1B's, and temporary work permit programs are a way in which to actually limit immigration as you can track and control who is coming in and out more easily.
 

Zaap

Diamond Member
Jun 12, 2008
7,162
422
126
And then of course you ask people HOW they want to stem the flow of illegal immigration. Then watch the answers fragment and explode in a thousand different directions.
LOL! Spin, spin, spin your top...

Yeah, "enforce the laws and punish those that hire illegal labor" is "thousands!!!!" of different directions, and of course such a great excuse for government to ignore its own laws.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
72,500
23,421
136
LOL! Spin, spin, spin your top...

Yeah, "enforce the laws and punish those that hire illegal labor" is "thousands!!!!" of different directions, and of course such a great excuse for government to ignore its own laws.
Use your head. Spell out a specific enforcement method for what you want to have happen and watch your consensus disintegrate.

Its dishonest people such as yourself that are trying to spin this by implying a consensus where none exists. Lie, lie, lie.
 

Zaap

Diamond Member
Jun 12, 2008
7,162
422
126
But see, the brilliant 100+ year (or is it 1,000 year?) plan is that the bigger and more indebted to green the government gets, it will turn on that growing chunk of green in favor of raining money on people with no money who aren't even on that chart.

Of course, right now, those people just get the BILL for all the overspending while govt and those with the green laugh at them. But you know, after the big 100+ year plan kicks in they'll reap the rewards....
 

Jeff7

Lifer
Jan 4, 2001
41,599
17
81
This is a shock. Seriously. A huge surprise.




Your vote counts, and you can vote as many times as you like. No bills smaller than $20 though, thank you.



The candidates you get to vote for are the ones who get the funding. They get the funding by avoiding things that will piss off wealthy donors. Funding pays for advertising, and advertising works. People are surprisingly easy to manipulate and influence, especially if you've got good datamining capabilities at your disposal.
(Yes, there are write-ins. I've done that, mostly because we don't have a place for "These options are corrupt. Please try again.")



An additional problem is that there are people out there who don't believe that billionaires exist, or specifically, they don't understand just how much money that is.
"These people could build a runway on their own land and buy a private lavishly-outfitted 747 to get them there."

"Bullshit. No one has that much money."
That's something I've heard already.


These are people who can throw $10M at a political candidate and not miss it, though they're of course doing that because they expect a proper return on their investment. I think that right there is a sign of corruption.
("Bullshit. No one has that much money.")

And some people don't know the difference between millions and billions. Plenty of them will get that glazed-eyes look if a number exceeds a thousand. Meanwhile you've got companies wielding tens or hundreds of billions of dollars. Buying out a few Congressmen or regulators is dirt-cheap to them.

But we're not about to see any kind of real campaign finance reform. That is equivalent to Congress voluntarily taking a severe paycut.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
60
91
I thought it was a democratic republic?

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, . . . . ."
 

glenn1

Lifer
Sep 6, 2000
25,383
1,013
126
What do you mean by deserving?
Is English not your first language that you need a common word defined for you? The entire premise of this thread is that the rich are somehow not worthy of petitioning their interests to the government or their views should someone be discounted in favor of the poor. Why should the rich bother to support the "democratic" process if you'll simply subject them to the tyranny of the majority anyway? If your premise is that the poor are so easily manipulated by political ads they can't make their own independent decisions then perhaps the country is better off with the oligarchy.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
72,500
23,421
136
Is English not your first language that you need a common word defined for you?
It's more like I distrust your ability to communicate effectively so I'm trying to get clarification of what you're trying to say.

The entire premise of this thread is that the rich are somehow not worthy of petitioning their interests to the government or their views should someone be discounted in favor of the poor.
That's not what this thread is about at all, actually. It's saying that rich individuals exert an outsized influence on our government that was ostensibly created to give every citizen a roughly equal voice.

Why should the rich bother to support the "democratic" process if you'll simply subject them to the tyranny of the majority anyway?
Non-sequitur.

If your premise is that the poor are so easily manipulated by political ads they can't make their own independent decisions then perhaps the country is better off with the oligarchy.
It's interesting that you're attempting to argue that if it's possible to manipulate people that we should just hand power directly to those who wish to manipulate others. This sounds more like angry thanksgiving uncle rage.
 

Knowing

Golden Member
Mar 18, 2014
1,522
13
46
It never was a democracy. Neither democracy nor any of it's root words appears in the constitution, which guarantees every state a republican form of government. Having a popular vote doesn't make something a democracy. Populism and faction are the cancers killing western politics.

Democracy is crap, and I support having more methods of direct democracy at the state level.

With that said, let's start the clock on people completely missing my point.
 

Zorba

Diamond Member
Oct 22, 1999
9,398
3,343
136
Use your head. Spell out a specific enforcement method for what you want to have happen and watch your consensus disintegrate.

Its dishonest people such as yourself that are trying to spin this by implying a consensus where none exists. Lie, lie, lie.
I think 78% and 93% are about as large of a consensus as you are ever going to get out of the American people. 93% thinking it is important to "halt" illegal immigration is pretty specific. However, congress/federal agencies are making no real effort to "halt" illegal immigration.

I agree, I doubt any one specific plan would get 93% of people, but I am sure most of the 93% would be okay with "catch them at the border and send them home."
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY