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

 
 
 

23 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

2 weeks 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 (NewCo) and slas ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

2 weeks 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 ...
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

UN chief welcomes US assistance to fight Ebola
United Nations, Sep 17 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the US support against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and called for "bold and courageous" international efforts to fight the epidemic.
 
 
World's first water-based nuclear battery developed
New York, Sep 17 (IANS) Researchers at the University of Missouri have created a long-lasting and more efficient nuclear battery that could be used as a source of reliable energy in automobiles and space flight.
 
 
Meteorite that killed dinosaurs helped forests bloom
Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) A giant meteorite that wiped out dinosaurs along with evergreen flowering plants 66 million years ago gave rise to deciduous plants - plants that lose their leaves at some point during the year, a significant study reveals.
 
 
NASA selects Boeing, SpaceX to ferry US astronauts to ISS
Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) With a goal to end the US' sole reliance on the Russian Space Shuttle in 2017, NASA selected two American firms to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Mild earthquake hits New Zealand
Wellington, Sep 17 (IANS) An earthquake measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale jolted New Zealand's Wanganui region Wednesday, a media report said. The tremor hit the region at 7.28 am, New Zealand Herald reported citing...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Beyoncé and Jay Z had 'commitment ceremony'
Beyoncé and Jay Z had a ''special commitment ceremony'' on her birthday. The couple - whose marriage has been dogged by speculation it is on the rocks in recent months - reportedly decided to ''wipe the slate clean''...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Vatican car carrying drugs intercepted
Paris, Sep 17 (IANS/EFE) French police have confiscated cocaine and marijuana from a car with Vatican plates, after it entered the country from Spain, RTL radio reported. It said Tuesday police officers stopped the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Is Samsung ready with its first selfie phone?
London, Sep 17 (IANS) At a time when the world is going crazy over the selfie phenomena, Samsung is rumoured to have developed its first selfie-centric smartphone. The Galaxy Grand Prime reportedly has a 5MP front-...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Shooting for next James Bond film starts in December
Los Angeles, Sep 17 (IANS/EFE) Shooting of the next James Bond film, the 24th instalment of the popular spy series, will begin Dec 6 at Pinewood Studios near London, Variety reported. Sam Mendes is back to direct...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Meteorite that killed dinosaurs helped forests bloom
Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) A giant meteorite that wiped out dinosaurs along with evergreen flowering plants 66 million years ago gave rise to deciduous plants - plants that lose their leaves at some point during the...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling welcome a baby girl
Los Angeles, Sep 17 (IANS/EFE) Actors Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling became first-time parents last week when the Latina gave birth to a baby girl, the US Weekly has reported. Mendes, 40, and Gosling, 33, have had a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Spain may prosecute citizens who join jihadi groups
Madrid, Sep 17 (IANS/EFE) The Spanish government is thinking about amending the criminal code to allow Spaniards who take part in foreign conflicts, especially those in which radical Islamic groups are involved, to be...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Obama calls for gun control on anniversary of Navy Yard shooting
Washington, Sep 17 (IANS/EFE) US President Barack Obama renewed his call for "common-sense" gun control measures, one year after a shootout in a US Navy facility in Washington left 12 people dead. "One year ago,...
Read more on Politics Balla