Monday, May 23, 2016

US is an oligarchy, not a democracy



Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy
BBC News

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." Read more

Oligarchy Wikipedia

Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term. Read more

Bernie Sanders
Wikipedia

Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2016 election. He is the incumbent junior United States senator from Vermont. A member of the Democratic Party since 2015,[2] Sanders had been the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history, though his caucusing with the Democrats entitled him to committee assignments and at times gave Democrats a majority. Sanders became the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee in January 2015; he had previously served for two years as chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Sanders is pro-labor and favors greater economic equality.

Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt
Wikipedia

The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt was the executive branch of the United States government from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909....

...Owing to his charismatic personality, his extremely high energy levels and span of interests, and his reformist policies, which he called the "Square Deal", Roosevelt is considered one of the ablest presidents and an icon of the Progressive Era...

...He distrusted wealthy businessmen and dissolved 44 monopolistic corporations as a "trust buster." He took care, however, to show that he did not disagree with trusts and capitalism in principle, but was only against their corrupt, illegal practices...Read more on PBS

TR Center - Theodore Roosevelt - The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 became law while Theodore Roosevelt was serving on the U.S. Civil Service Commission, but it played a large and important role during his presidency.

Opinion: We also live in a Republic, not a Democracy. Recall your Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

We live in a Republican Oligarchy. 

Link to free PDF of the study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.

US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study, Common Dreams

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

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