How The Rich Rule US Democracy
Via Social Europe Journal, Dani Rodrik points to both a perennial question on economic self-interests and elections:
Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, have recently produced some stark findings for the United States that have dramatic implications for the functioning of democracy – in the US and elsewhere.
When viewed in isolation, the preferences of the “average” voter – that is, a voter in the middle of the income distribution – seem to have a strongly positive influence on the government’s ultimate response. A policy that the average voter would like is significantly more likely to be enacted.
But, as Gilens and Page note, this gives a misleadingly upbeat impression of the representativeness of government decisions.The preferences of the average voter and of economic elites are not very different on most policy matters.
To carry out that test, Gilens and Page ran a horse race between the preferences of average voters and those of economic elites – defined as individuals at the top tenth percentile of the income distribution – to see which voters exert greater influence. They found that the effect of the average voter drops to insignificant levels, while that of economic elites remains substantial.
As Gilens and Page emphasize, their evidence does not imply that government policy makes the average citizen worse off. Ordinary citizens often do get what they want, by virtue of the fact that their preferences frequently are similar to those of the elite. This correlation of the two groups’ preferences may make it difficult for voters to discern politicians’ bias.
“They found that the effect of the average voter drops to insignificant levels, while that of economic elites remains substantial.”
No surprise there!
Money buys legislation.
well, from the article as printed here, it’s hard to tell what there is to shout about. the rich and the average want the same thing?
the rich are more influential?
what is there to be unhappy about in that?
NOTE. I am NOT saying I favor the rich, or even the average, OR that I think the United States is well governed or even honestly governed, or even that the honest rich have much of a say it how it is governed. I am just saying the present article makes no case at all that I would bother my silly little head about.
now lets look at some policies… laws… that are ill informed, pernicious, or favor–establish– the criminal rich… then we might have something to talk about.
Rather than comparing what the average voter and the elite voter want, I would be more interested in comparing the methods of achieving what they want. I suspect you would see more differences.
Jobs for example. Tax cuts versus government stimulus/incentives.
Indeed, Jerry, I suspect that in that instance the top 10% would disagree markedly from the 0.1% for which they are being used as a proxy.
The top 10% know that they would be getting the tax cuts, but the top 0.1% know that they (through their companies) would be getting that stimulus money!
I don’t think I understand your point.
Here, for what it’s worth is what I think:
as long as “the deficit” is a political hot issue, we don’t need tax cuts. indeed, it might make more sense to enact a “patriotic deficit emergency surtax” of between 3 and 10%.. “progressively.”
I am all for stimulus that creates jobs either directly or indirectly. I am completely against stimulus that just gives the banks more money to keep along with what they already have that they are afraid to lend.
I don’t think it matters much whether that stimulus is paid for by borrowing or by taxing those with idle money. Economists may differ, but I haven’t been impressed with their honesty or results over the last fifty years.
And then, just to remove myself from consideration entirely, I am not sure that more “growth” is what we need. Everybody wants “more.” So does a cancer.
My point was only that using the top 10% as a proxy for the top tenth of a percent is highly questionable — their income sources and taxation rules are completely different.
You might note that, after the full implementation of the Bush Tax Cuts in 2003, the deficit declined for four straight years, until the dems took control of Congress. In their first year, they nearly tripled the deficit. In their second year, they did triple it, for an eight-fold increase in the deficit in only two years.
I am generally against stimulus spending. It is very difficult for government spending to stimulate anything — you might as well take money out of one pocket and put it in another. (Worse, they drop some between pockets.) To spend money in one place, they must take it from somewhere else. If they sell bonds to get the money, then the bond purchaser is not putting that money into some other investment.
Look at Obama’s signature $787B stimulus package. Even assuming every job gained since the bottom of the recession (10,034,000) is the result of that stimulus, that’s $78,000 spent per job created.
We do not tax only those with “idle” money — we tax those who are investing in capital improvements, too. We tax those who would spend that money elsewhere if it were not taken from them. Those who buy the bonds would invest their money elsewhere if those bonds were not available.
i am of the opinion that the Obama stimulus was spent in the wrong place… giving money to the rich to stimulate investment that was not occurring because the banks were afraid of themselves.
Otherwise I think you are quite wrong about stimulus spending. even deficit spending. your reasons sound like something you read somewhere and not based on the actual historical record.
there is no lack of money available for capital investment. that’s why so much “investment” money is spent on gambling schemes.
and, while i am not sure of this… i believe that if you check you will find that for every 40k earned by a worker, about another 40k goes to his boss… or at least to someone else’s boss in the form of purchases, so i am not sure the 78k per job is about what you’d expect.
Any chance you could put a little perspective into ”
“You might note that, after the full implementation of the Bush Tax Cuts in 2003, the deficit declined for four straight years, until the dems took control of Congress. In their first year, they nearly tripled the deficit. In their second year, they did triple it, for an eight-fold increase in the deficit in only two years.”
I am particularly interested in what the Dems controlling Congress did to increase the deficit and how they forced Bush to go along with it.
“Look at Obama’s signature $787B stimulus package.”
That would be a good idea for you. Then you would know how much of that package were tax cuts.
You got another couple of hours to answer the question regarding your totally insane comments.
After that, you will get a two letter reply to all of your posts.
Times up, AH.
“I am particularly interested in what the Dems controlling Congress did to increase the deficit and how they forced Bush to go along with it.”
In jacking up the Minimum Wage, they priced a lot of people out if their jobs. The Great Recession was the result.
Bush was too spineless to veto it. (I also fault him for “Medicare Part D” and “No Child Left Behind”.)
Seriously. That may be the most stupid comment I have ever read in my entire life.
while I can’t remember the stupidest comment i ever read, I have to agree with EMichael that yours is in the running.
The Great Recession was likely caused by … oh, say, bank fraud… or an economy that has nothing to run on except bubbles… or the cocaine of “tax cuts’ (stimulus)…. all of this is no doubt arguable
but blaming it on the minimum wage seems beyond the pale and bespeaks a mindset … set in cement…. set to hear, see, and speak nothing that does not confirm its desperate commitment to the idea that paying people enough to live on will lead to an early death.
while i don’t want to join some of my friends in harsh language, i think your usefulness here is over and you need to find someone else to talk to.
And for all that, there is not one word refuting the theory.
One rule of economics is that when prices are raised, demand falls. That rule applies to labor, too, not just to the goods and services such labor produces.
I do not know about fraud, but most of the sub-prime mortgages were made to sub-prime debtors — those just barely able to make the payments. My neighbors are such — FOUR full-time incomes to support the mortgage. If just one of those four had lost his job, they would have gone into default.
Well, those job losses started the cascade. That’s not to say that the Minimum Wage increase was the primer and powder too, but it was the hammer.
You know nothing about the housing bubble. Don’t even bother with a discussion on that topic.
The idea that a minimum wage raise of a teeny tiny amount(btw, not in all states) had anything to do with the recession is absolute insanity.
Let me know when you find a more stupid statement than Jack’s. I will shudder, but I will read it.
Let me know when you come up with a refutation of the theory.
It is interesting how Jack has diverted the discussion from the topic of the post (influence of the rich) to the cause of the “Great Recession” (minimum wage in his opinion).
That is called thread hijacking which normally I boot a person off of the thread for and after a warning. I would not try it Jerry. I have low tolerance for it.
Jack’s views are anti-poor and exhibit class bigotry. The poor have a disproportionate percentage of minorities. I am not the only one who has noticed it about Jack.
Sorry about that — Coberly just got onto deficits and stimulus, and it went downhill from there!
And if I may ask, what have I said that is in any way “anti-poor”?
everything you say is “anti poor”. that you can’t see it it troubling.
but nothing you have said is “racist”.
I am as responsible for the comments drifting “off topic” as Jack is. Probably more.
I couldn’t see where the topic of the original post meant anything or led anywhere and was in fact trying to invite the author to explain what he meant or why we should care about it. Of course the rich have more influence. And as long as they control “the media” the “average” voter will think he agrees with the rich. It’s called politics and is a fact of life since the Greeks invented democracy.
Other than that the topic drifted of its own weight just like in ordinary conversation. You may not like Jack or his opinions… I don’t… but accusing him of “hijacking” is a bit of a stretch.
Unless what you mean is that “of its own weight” turned into a repetition of Jack’s one idea beyond the endurance of the other people in the room… i’d agree with that. But there is some danger on AB of “hijacking the thread” meaning “disagrees with me” and that is something we see everywhere and i would prefer to avoid it here.
Really? It is “anti-poor” to say that God charges each of us to care for the poor? It is “anti-poor” to say that I am not poor only by the Grace of God? Is it “anti-poor” to say that all that I am and all that I have is because of Him and not me?
Is it “anti-poor” to say that taking what you have no right to take is STEALING? Is it “anti-poor” to say that being jealous of what others have and you do not is COVETOUSNESS?
Is it “anti-poor” to point out that the Minimum Wage causes those who cannot produce the new minimum lose their jobs?
Is it “anti-poor” to point out that the purpose of the Minimum Wage was to price Blacks out of the labor market?
Is it “anti-poor” to point out that Social Security is unfair to Blacks because they marry less and have shorter lifespans?
To my way of thinking, it is anti-poor to trap them in government programs that create dis-incentives to their getting ahead.