Writing for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels discusses a forthcoming study in Perspectives in Politics by fellow poli-sci acedemics Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page. Their research provides stunning new evidence of the hegemonic dominance of the rich in our democracy.
Looking at 1,779 national policy outcomes in the United States over a period of over twenty years, Gilens and Page found that:
... economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. ...
The differences between the influence of average people and moneyed elites on the policy-making process were not small, either. Bartels says that the preferences of economic elites (defined here as citizens at the 90th percentile or above of the income distribution) were fifteen times as important in affecting the government policies that were enacted on the national level.
I don't know what's "stunning" about it. Anybody with half a brain can see that the Top Tiers pretty much get their own way. ...
Just a few examples from the recent past:
* In California, entertainment labor unions are fighting hard for a tax incentive bill that will largely benefit (wait for it) ... large entertainment conglomerates.
* The Affordable Care Act subsidizers private insurance plans and is pilloried by Republicans, even as they work to turn the government's single page plan (Medicare) into a version of ... the Affordable Care Act.
* The Federal Government bails out General Motors and Chrysler when they teeter on bankruptcy.
* The Federal Government bails out the Large Banks when they're sliding into insolvency. (And also fails to criminally prosecute bank officers for money laundering and fraud.
I concluded long ago that we are, like it or not, the United States of America, Inc. The Republicans want to remove the crumbs the riff raff consume at the dinner table, while the Democrats want to add a few crumbs. (Which is why I'm a Democrat.)
But face it: By and large, it's the same. We're a corporatist state, so live with it.