Trying to understand deficiencies in democracy and capitalism
“The central point that emerges from our research
is 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
[Emphasis added.] This is the killer conclusion of a paper last fall by Gilens and Page.
Based on the
study of almost 1,800 policy issues for which income breakdowns were available, and defining the
“Elite” generously as those above the 90th percentile, it finds that “majoritarian electoral democracy”
is largely a thing of the past.
To keep the review of this study short, it is probably only necessary to point out that the average bill in
the U.S. Congress has a 31% chance of passing; this chance falls to 30% when the proposed legislation
is hated by average citizens and rises to 32% when they love it! In contrast, love from the economic
elite, although not absolutely guaranteeing success, raises the chances of its passing to 60%.
the elite truly detest an issue, it is like passing a death sentence: About 1% of these bills pass
It would be helpful to know one day whether it is the 1%, the .01%, or only the top 2,000 or so who
really drive this data, for it is surely not the top 10%. Other than that, the data speaks for itself: It would
seem that “government of the people, by the people, for the people” has indeed, for practical purposes,
“perish(ed) from the Earth.” Lincoln would no doubt urge us to try to resuscitate it.