May 01 2014

TDS/TCR (Notre-Dame de Paris)


Affordable Shooters Act

The Sanctity of Traditional Infidelity

Extended Interview below.

William D. Cohan

Guests for the rest of the week-

The Daily Show

The Colbert Report

American Oligarcy

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens (.pdf)

Martin Gilens, Benjamin Page

April 9, 2014

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

A possible objection to populistic democracy is that average citizens are inattentive to politics and ignorant about public policy; why should we worry if their poorly informed preferences do not influence policy making? Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does. Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support.

But we tend to doubt it. We believe instead that – collectively – ordinary citizens generally know their own values and interests pretty well, and that their expressed policy preferences are worthy of respect.50 Moreover, we are not so sure about the informational advantages of elites. Yes, detailed policy knowledge tends to rise with income and status. Surely wealthy Americans and corporate executives tend to know a lot about tax and regulatory policies that directly affect them. But how much do they know about the human impact of Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, or unemployment insurance, none of which is likely to be crucial to their own well-being? Most important, we see no reason to think that informational expertise is always accompanied by an inclination to transcend one’s own interests or a determination to work for the common good.

The problem with Gilens and Page’s “possible objection” is that our elites are doing a terrible job.  From economics to defense to the environment to politics their “superior” knowledge and judgment has been consistently and constantly WRONG for over 30 years now.

Even politics ek?  But they always win.

Have you looked at their approval ratings?  Have you looked at voter participation?  This country looks more like 1789 every day and their odds are 99.9 to 0.1.  No wonder they’re so scared and whiny.

Audra McDonald is a singer and actress.  She’ll be on to talk about Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill in which she portrays Billie Holiday.


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  1. ek hornbeck
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  5. TMC
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  7. TMC

    like people finding out WTF you’re doing

  8. ek hornbeck
  9. BobbyK
  10. ek hornbeck
  11. TMC
  12. ek hornbeck
  13. TMC
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  15. ek hornbeck
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  18. TMC
  19. TMC

    but labor is underrepresented  

  20. ek hornbeck
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  22. ek hornbeck
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  24. BobbyK
  25. ek hornbeck
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