The news: A new scientific study from Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn’t a democracy any more. And they’ve found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.
An oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military.
For their study, Gilens and Page compiled data from roughly 1,800 different policy initiatives in the years between 1981 and 2002. They then compared those policy changes with the expressed opinion of the United State public. Comparing the preferences of the average American at the 50th percentile of income to what those Americans at the 90th percentile preferred, as well as the opinions of major lobbying or business groups, the researchers found out that the government followed the directives set forth by the latter two much more often.
It’s beyond alarming. As Gilens and Page write, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.
That might explain why mandatory background checks on gun sales supported by 83% to 91% of Americans aren’t in place, or why Congress has taken no action on greenhouse gas emissions even when such legislation is supported by the vast majority of citizens.
This problem has been steadily escalating for four decades. While there are some limitations to their data set, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez constructed income statistics based on IRS data that go back to 1913. They found that the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is much bigger than you would think…
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(i didnt know this was the name of a band when i typed this) my friend bernie and his family used to camp in alaska every year around the iditarod but one year he got separated from them and ended up wandering around for a few days hungry and thinking he was gonna die. he eventually found one of those trendy ice hotels that were popular at the time, like where all the shit is made of ice. he goes in, no one’s around at all, he finds a room with a vcr and a tv running off a generator and a little box on the table. he sits on the couch made of ice and takes a little rest, wondering what hes going to do, when he hears a noise and fuckin shaquille o’neal is there for some promo event, haha. shaq doesnt say anything tho, he just hands him a vhs tape and nods at the vcr. bernie puts it in, its rewound to that scene from star wars: empire strikes back where luke has to cut open that animal, the tonton or whatever, and sleep inside its warm dead body for warmth to just stay alive. shaq whispers “you know what you have to do.” bernie opens the little box and finds a scalpel
david found my favorite beer in prague and he’s bringing it back to me I’M IN LOVE DO YOU HEAR ME THE BOY IS BRINGING ME REAL CZECH BEER FROM THE REAL CZECH PLACE