US an oligarchy, not democracy, finds scientific study

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
A study has found that 'mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence' on US government policy.

"A new study by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern Universities finds that America's government policies reflect the wishes of the rich and of powerful interest groups, rather than the wishes of the majority of citizens," Gawker reported on April 15.

Gawker said: "The researchers examined close to 1,800 U.S. policy changes in the years between 1981 and 2002; then, they compared those policy changes with the expressed preferences of the median American, at the 50th percentile of income; with affluent Americans, at the 90th percentile of income; and with the position of powerful interest and lobbying groups."

In their piece to be published in a coming issue of the US academic journal Perspectives on Politics, the researchers conclude: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."

The study notes "the average American will see their interests represented—as long as their interests align with the interests of the wealthy ... to the extent that special interests groups have political power, they are driving our government's decisionmaking process away from the interests of the average American."

A Common Dream article concluded that the study "finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy" -- meaning the rule of the few.

From GLW issue 1005