360° Coverage : Are The Views Of America's Wealthiest Undermining Democracy?

2 Updates

Are The Views Of America's Wealthiest Undermining Democracy?

Apr 2 2014, 3:57pm CDT | by

Is there an oligarchy in the United States that makes important political decisions for the rest of the country? According to a new paper by professors at Northwestern and Vanderbilt, the top one-...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

21 weeks ago

Are The Views Of America's Wealthiest Undermining Democracy?

Apr 2 2014, 3:57pm CDT | by

Is there an oligarchy in the United States that makes important political decisions for the rest of the country? According to a new paper by professors at Northwestern and Vanderbilt, the top one-tenth of one percent of the wealthiest people in the U.S., those who have assets worth $40 million or more, hold undue sway over the positions politicians take on issues ranging from health care to global warming to defense spending. The wealthiest Americans, contends the paper, are more conservative than the public as a whole on many issues, and U.S. public policy reflects that.

The paper, published in the March issue of the journal Perspective on Politics and covered by blogger and Bloomberg contributor Barry Ritholtz, was written by Benjamin Page and Jason Seawright of Northwestern, and Larry Bartels of Vanderbilt. They set out to poll a sample of the wealthiest Americans in the Chicago area. General population surveys to date have only captured a slice of what the richest Americans believe. One such poll, the Survey of Consumer Finances, has looked specifically at economic questions. The new paper’s authors were interested in a broader range of issues: What do the wealthiest Americans think about federal spending on environmental protection, farm subsidies and job programs? How do they feel about funding scientific research?

To answer these questions, the authors have launched something called the Survey of Economically Successful Americans (SESA). They are working with colleagues across the U.S. to put together a robust data set. The just-published paper reports on findings from a SESA pilot study compiled in the Chicago area in the winter and spring of 2011. Through cross-referencing several lists, the researchers believe their sample represents the wealthiest one-tenth of 1%, or those with more than $40 million in assets. They wound up doing interviews, each lasting around 45 minutes, with 104 very wealthy people. It’s a small sample size from one region of the country, but the results are intriguing.

Those polled tend to be very active in politics with 68% contributing an average of $4,600 to political campaigns in the last year and 99% voting, compared to the 58% of the general population that turns out for federal elections. A striking 21% of survey respondents “bundled” other people’s political contributions, not something ordinary Americans do. Many of the respondents said they were on a first-name basis with local politicians like “Rahm” (Emmanuel, who was President Obama’s chief of staff at the time) and “David” (Axelrod, the President’s then-chief political counsel.) Just under half of the respondents said their contacts with Rahm and David had to do with narrow economic self-interest like “to try to get the Treasury to honor their commitment to extend TARP funds to a particular bank in Chicago.”

When the researchers asked respondents to prioritize 11 different issues, including education, terrorism and child poverty, the greatest share, 87%, said they cared most about budget deficits. Many also said they cared about unemployment and education, but only 11% said those issues were the most important facing the nation. The least important issue, according to those polled: global warming. Though the researchers didn’t poll average Americans, they made use of general population surveys from organizations like Gallup and CBS . Example: a CBS survey found that only 7% mentioned the budget deficit as the most important problem facing the country. Another general population study revealed that 68% of the general public believed the government “must see that no one is without food, clothing or shelter.” Only 43% of the very wealthy agreed with that statement. Not surprisingly, when asked whether the government should redistribute wealth by imposing heavy taxes on the rich, only 17% of the ultra-wealthy liked that idea while a 2009 Gallup poll showed that 52% of the general population did.

Some more findings: Only 40% of the very wealthy want to raise the minimum wage, versus 68% of the general public, just 13% of the wealthy want to raise the Earned Income Tax Credit, versus 49% of the public. Not surprisingly, the rich want to lower estate taxes and they don’t want to raise taxes on high-income earners. They oppose heightened regulation of Wall Street, the health care industry, small business and especially big corporations.

The authors express some humility about the pilot study’s findings. “[T]he distinctive policy preferences of wealthy Americans may reflect better information, deeper thinking about the problems facing the country, and a clearer-headed understanding of economic and social reality than most citizens have,” they write. But there is no question that the views of the very wealthy in this study conflict with the beliefs of the general population.

The authors’ conclusion:  If the polling results of the pilot hold true across the nation, then it’s clear that the very wealthy hold different political views from the general public. It also seems clear that the one-tenth-of-the 1% has greater political power than ordinary citizens and that they are backing policies that only some of us support.  That “raises a serious challenge to a core democratic value, i.e., the idea that government policymaking should be attentive to the interests of all citizens.”

 
Update
2

14 hours ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (N ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

1 day ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 and MH17 ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Mysteries of space dust unlocked
New York, Aug 30 (IANS) A new analysis of space dust has revealed that the cosmic particles, wich are likely to have originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than previously imagined.
 
 
Global road mapping to balance development and conservation
Washington, Aug 30 (IANS) Did you know that over 25 million km of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, encircling the earth more than 600 times? Keeping the above fact in mind, a study has created a global map for prioritising road building across the planet to balance the competing demands of development and environmental protection.
 
 
India, Japan sign Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement
Kyoto, Aug 30 (IANS) India and Japan Saturday signed the Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement, an official said.
 
 
Experimental Ebola drug cures infected monkeys
Toronto, Aug 30 (IANS) In what appears to provide new hope for people infected with the deadly Ebola virus, scientists have successfully treated all the Ebola infected monkeys with an experimental drug called Zmapp.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Ukrainian cargo plane crashes in Algeria
Algiers, Aug 30 (IANS) A Ukrainian cargo plane crashed Saturday in Algeria's Tamenrasset province. According to rescue officials, the crash occurred at 1.40 p.m and no survivors were found, Xinhua reported. The...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Mysteries of space dust unlocked
New York, Aug 30 (IANS) A new analysis of space dust has revealed that the cosmic particles, wich are likely to have originated from beyond our solar system, are more complex in composition and structure than...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Suri Cruise reunited with lost dog
Los Angeles, Aug 30 (IANS) Actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter Suri has reportedly been reunited with her lost dog Honey. The eight-year-old was devastated when her new Chihuahua named Honey disappeared in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Global road mapping to balance development and conservation
Washington, Aug 30 (IANS) Did you know that over 25 million km of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, encircling the earth more than 600 times? Keeping the above fact in mind, a study has created a global map...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Blind leaves Ajax for Man-U
The Hague, Aug 30 (IANS) Ajax and Manchester United have reached a deal for the transfer of Daley Blind to the latter, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf and national broadcaster NOS reported Saturday. According to the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Tough away games for Barca, Real Madrid
Madrid, Aug 30 (IANS) FC Barcelona and Real Madrid both face testing away trips as they play their second game of the Spanish Primera Liga season Sunday. Barcelona, fresh from a comfortable and moral boosting 3-0 win...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
India, Japan sign Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement
Kyoto, Aug 30 (IANS) India and Japan Saturday signed the Kyoto-Varanasi partnership agreement, an official said. The partnership, which focuses on how to preserve heritage while building smart cities, was signed...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Gremio bans fans over racist abuse
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 30 (IANS) Brazilian club Gremio have banned five fans from attending home matches after their involvement in the latest racism scandal to hit South American football. Santos goalkeeper Aranha was...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Pato attracts Galatasaray interest
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 30 (IANS) Former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato could be headed to Galatasaray before Monday's European transfer deadline. But the Turkish club must meet the 24-year-old's 15 million euro release...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Colombia recall Falcao for Brazil friendly
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 30 (IANS) Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has recalled Radamel Falcao for his team's international football friendly against Brazil next week. The Monaco striker missed Colombia's World Cup campaign...
Read more on Sport Balla