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posted by LaminatorX on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:26AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Also:-Sky-is-Blue dept.

A study by Princeton and Northwestern universities shows that a small group of elite have control over the general population and the government only supports the rich and powerful while the masses have no say whatsoever. The 42 page report concludes "we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."

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  • (Score: 2) by unitron on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:39AM

    by unitron (70) on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:39AM (#32573) Journal

    ..."plutonomy".

    --
    something something Slashcott something something Beta something something
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Mike on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:37PM

      by Mike (823) on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:37PM (#32755)

      I don't what word was used in the article. But I believe the correct word is Plutocracy. Although, that is just a more specific form of Oligarchy.

      I do really wish I could find their findings even the least bit shocking.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by WizardFusion on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:43AM

    by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:43AM (#32576) Journal

    This just in, water is wet.
    Thanks Capt. Obvious.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Daiv on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:05AM

      by Daiv (3940) on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:05AM (#32579)

      While this has *been* obvious, this is actual documented research that has been published. There is a huge difference in knowing something and being able to point to concrete evidence of it.

      • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:24AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:24AM (#32582)

        Yes, I wish there would be more like this. I think it applies to most European countries as well. Time to do something about that...

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by enharmonix on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:28PM

        by enharmonix (1891) <enharmonix+soylentnews@gmail.com> on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:28PM (#32665)

        While this has *been* obvious, this is actual documented research that has been published. There is a huge difference in knowing something and being able to point to concrete evidence of it.

        And now that it's been proven, it will certainly be on the News at 11:00 and then the masses will rise up and do something about it, right?

        I would love it if this got media coverage, but I'm fairly it's not gonna happen and that even if it did, nothing significant would change. We've been powerless for decades and are still losing what little ground we have left.

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Silentknyght on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:53PM

          by Silentknyght (1905) on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:53PM (#32715)

          I would love it if this got media coverage, but I'm fairly it's not gonna happen and that even if it did, nothing significant would change. We've been powerless for decades and are still losing what little ground we have left.

          This is, depressingly, certainly how I feel. The modern news cycle--most of the modern, internet life--happens within intra-day timetables. This is news today, and maybe big news, but it'd have to be truly ENORMOUS in order to hold the enough people's attention in order to enact change before simple 'fatigue' sets in and people move on with their lives.

          And I'm just as guilty of that, too. It's going to take the commitment of the whole lifetime of each of hundreds of individuals to turn this boat around. Unabashedly, I've already dedicated my whole lifetime to the proper raising of my kids, and I'd bet that most of the general public (usually lambasted on this site and that other site as being apathetic to such worthy causes as from TFA) is in the same boat, having already dedicated their entire life elsewhere.

          Combine that with the financial luxury present in the oligarchy, enabling them to devote the time (otherwise needed for the usual 9-5 job) to causes furthering their own oligarchy, and you have the vicious circle in which we now find ourselves.

          Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my 9-5 job to ensure that my kids have a warm house & food to eat. I respect the problem and the issue, but I'll have to rely on other dedicated souls to fix it.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by c0lo on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:14PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:14PM (#32595) Journal

      This just in, water is wet.

      (an entry in the "a need-of-precision compulsive fit" folder) not exactly: in ice, water vapours and supercritical fluid states, water is not wet - given the temperature range [wikipedia.org] in which water still exists, the 100K part of it in which the water is wet is actually a small percentage, so you are mostly wrong.

      Thanks Capt. Obvious.

      You seem adjusted well with the idea, aren't you?

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 1) by thoughtlover on Tuesday April 22 2014, @11:01PM

        by thoughtlover (3247) on Tuesday April 22 2014, @11:01PM (#34632) Journal

        Thank you Captain Pedant! Not to burst your bubble, but most people think of H2O having three, standard states --which I'd think 99% of the population might say, too.

    • (Score: 2) by oodaloop on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:37PM

      by oodaloop (1982) <reversethis-{moc.ohoz} {ta} {ffonimakj}> on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:37PM (#32607)

      Yeah, we should never research things we already feel are true.

      --
      Many Bothans died to bring you this comment.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by number6x on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:30AM

    by number6x (903) on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:30AM (#32583)

    How soon before all of the major 'think tanks' put together studies that repudiate this study? Both the right and left wing think tanks have a vested interest in the status quo.

    Also, I expect to see a campaign to raise doubt and confusion about the studies' topics and its authors. 'Teach the controversy!', 'Give equal time to dissenting opinion', etc.

    My opinion?, this is socio-economics. A mix of sociology and economics. Both fields that are very non-rigorous scientifically. Adding the two fields increases the guess work exponentially moving the entire field more into the realm of pseudo science. Even when researchers try to be honest and rigorous in socio-economics, it is almost impossible to do any actual accurate testing beyond opinion polls. The best researchers in the field are more like accurate historians than they are like chemists or physicists. Most of this work is done to give credence to opinions that are already set one way or another.

    James Burke, in his television series 'Connections' [wikipedia.org], was a very interesting socio-economic historian.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:39AM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:39AM (#32586)

      A mix of sociology and economics. Both fields that are very non-rigorous scientifically. Adding the two fields increases the guess work exponentially

      If adding two things increases guesswork exponentially there is definitely something non-rigorous going on!

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 2) by Pslytely Psycho on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:31PM

      by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:31PM (#32604)

      "James Burke, in his television series 'Connections' [wikipedia.org], was a very interesting socio-economic historian."

      I loved that show, I watch very little television, but that was one of the exceptions.

      --
      Trump succeeds in making Nixon look respectable, Mission Accomplished!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:48PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:48PM (#32783)

        I loved that show
        Ditto.

        I watch very little television
        Turned it off for good in June 2009.

        but that was one of the exceptions
        ...and that was how many decades ago?
        Newton Minnow's "a vast wasteland" *may* have been hyperbole when he said it (e.g. "Harvest of Shame") but, like Orwell's date in the title of his book, it was only a matter of time before the truth caught up.

        -- gewg_

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Bot on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:42PM

      by Bot (3902) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:42PM (#32609) Journal

      > How soon before all of the major 'think tanks' put together studies that repudiate this study?

      That's not the only solution, it appears that the status quo does a lot to validate the study.
      Possibly the ones in charge have a plan B in case of a revolution, or maybe the next revolution is plan A, using the discontent to propel some new order which brings forth some welcome changes and screws up the promises. It happened with communism, fascism and the 68. The ideals died, the screw-ups had lasting effect.

      I, for one, would be wary of terms like "revolution", which in their original astronomic meaning is "to go orbiting around and end up in the same initial position", and "progress" which means a plan steps forward, without implying that the result is any good.

      OTOH if one assumes all rebellion is fake won't be able to partake a hypothetical true one.

      --
      Account abandoned.
      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @04:53PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @04:53PM (#32735)

        Are you suggesting that "Progressives" are making steps forward without concern that the result of their progress will be good? Blasphemy! Burn the Conservative at the all-natural, sustainable-growth stake!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:46PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:46PM (#32782)
        be wary of terms like "revolution", which in their original astronomic meaning is "to go orbiting around and end up in the same initial position"

        I would be comfortable with a robotic revolution, where we are the masters of our subservient robotic slaves.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:57PM (#32614)

      How soon before all of the major 'think tanks' put together studies that repudiate this study?

      Why would they bother, when our schools are already doing it? Everyone learns in their childhood civics classes that "democracy" means "everyone gets to vote." Everyone in the US can vote, therefore the US is a democracy. Mass media repeats this message regularly. Even more than just voting, anyone can be President: look at Jimmy Carter, son of a poor Georgia farmer, or Barack Obama, raised by a frequently-single mother. Anyone who claims something different must have a hidden agenda and is probably using words with carefully crafted definitions that are different than common, colloquial use.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by iwoloschin on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:35AM

    by iwoloschin (3863) on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:35AM (#32584)

    This sort of confirms something we've all already known. So now what do we do about it? I'm not sure I'd support an armed uprising, it could just as likely lead to something far worse, but could there be concerted grassroots efforts made to get "not-lawyers" into public office at the Federal level? Or at a minimum, maybe we could look at setting up term limits for Congress?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by geb on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:07PM

      by geb (529) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:07PM (#32592)

      Once you recognise the risks of revolution as being too great, the only other option is to fix problems one by one while trying to keep the greater structure intact.

      Reform individual parts of government and social structures by continually hammering away at them with small efforts, and even when you recognise that the structure is immovable because it's tied in with so many other problems, keep on going anyway. Attack a broken structure with so many attempts to fix it that at least some of them work, and from there continue trying to fix related problems, and work your way through the whole system. At all times be wary of evil bastards trying to exploit instability for their own purposes.

      It will be slow, tedious, requiring an immense amount of work, and will be discouraging as you see repeated failures.

      It doesn't have the emotional appeal of grabbing a weapon and shooting somebody you don't like, but it's the only method of reform that leads to good results.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Geezer on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:45PM

        by Geezer (511) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:45PM (#32611)

        Your solution presupposes that the structure will remain in passive stasis long enough for any incremental changes to be made and remain. The chances of any power structure 1. overlooking peripheral change and/or 2. allowing the aforesaid change to remain in effect and/or 3. not brutally repressing the agents of said change, closely approximate zero.

        No system is better than a bad system, because it is a fresh foundation for a new system.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by c0lo on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:06PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:06PM (#32621) Journal

        Once you recognise the risks of revolution as being too great, the only other option is to fix problems one by one while trying to keep the greater structure intact.
        ...
        It doesn't have the emotional appeal of grabbing a weapon and shooting somebody you don't like, but it's the only method of reform that leads to good results.

        I disagree with the last assertion, not with the "no violence" part of it (which I agree with) but with the uniqueness of proposed approach.

        Preliminary: the stages of evolution - survive the medium, adapt to the medium, change the medium. When taught, the last step is omitted most of the times.

        Strategy:

        1. admit that you are no longer controlling the game (unless you are part of the oligarchy), so the medium is no longer under your control;
        2. look at what is your strength and discover it: the numbers of you
        3. look at the game the oligarchy proposes to you: competition.
          The illusion: everyone competes equally.
          Actual state of fact: no longer a competition between the many of you, but one between you and the oligarchy - and they already won it and control you
        4. refuse as much as possible to play their game and choose others - there are too many of you-s for the small number of oligarchs to control every aspect of your life (short of killing you).
          There [wikipedia.org] are [wikipedia.org] many [wikipedia.org] games [wikipedia.org] that can be played [wikipedia.org]

        Finally, note that it is not necessary for the current system to be totally destroyed to get back enough control over your own destiny (e.g. just look at open-source: closed source continue to exists, yet the OSS developers are not powerless. And neither Salman Khan [wikipedia.org] is powerless, even if others charge an-arm-and-a-leg [wikipedia.org] for what they call education [wikipedia.org] and its actually just conditioning [wikipedia.org])

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 1) by JoeMerchant on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:37PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:37PM (#32606)

      Wasn't this designed in from the start? It's especially obvious in the electoral college, but all forms of representative government are a step away from "true" democracy.

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by umafuckitt on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:15PM

        by umafuckitt (20) on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:15PM (#32697)

        What is "true democracy"? There are many different sorts of democracies and not all are compatible with all societies. For instance, the ancient Athenian direct democratic model doesn't scale well to large societies. To keep it manageable even the Athenians had to bring in a more restricted definition of "citizen", and didn't allow women and slaves to participate. Also, individual Athenians didn't have "rights" in the way that we think of them today.

        The version of democracy you choose to run your country is inevitably and compromise between some ideal model and practicalities. This is OK. The problems occur when the model becomes tainted by corruption and skews toward and oligarchy and/or plutocracy, as is happening in the US today. Witness the recent campaign donations fiasco in supreme court. I was depressed for days after that. That decision takes influence yet further out of the grasp of the masses and places it deeper into the pockets of the rich few. It's really pretty sad how the constitution and "freedom of speech" are being twisted out of existence.

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by HiThere on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:12PM

          by HiThere (866) on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:12PM (#32793) Journal

          You have mistaken the reason that women and slaves weren't allowed to vote. The Athenian democracy came about when the majority of the population, in debt to a wealthy few, and threatened with slavery, rose in rebellion. After considerable death and destruction, a compromise was reached where no Athenians could be enslaved, and the male adult citizens were all allowed to vote. (There were a few other compromises.) This was known as the laws of Solon. Immediately after they were agreed to, rebellion broke out again, because both sides were unhappy with the compromise. I believe that Solon was also ostracized (i.e., banished from the city for 10 years). Eventually, though, the fighting died down, and both sides learned to live with the compromise. And THAT's why Athenian men were all allowed to vote. Women weren't involved in the fighting (not much) and didn't have anyone standing up for their rights, so they weren't given any. Ditto for slaves, who were already mostly foreigners anyway.

          There wasn't anything very idealistic about the origin of Athenian Democracy. The idealism came afterwards.

          --
          Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
          • (Score: 2) by umafuckitt on Thursday April 17 2014, @08:52PM

            by umafuckitt (20) on Thursday April 17 2014, @08:52PM (#32826)

            Thanks for the info, it's interesting.

    • (Score: 2) by velex on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:01PM

      by velex (2068) on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:01PM (#32615) Journal

      Something like this? http://www.wolf-pac.com/the_plan [wolf-pac.com]

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Thexalon on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:52PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:52PM (#32713)

      could there be concerted grassroots efforts made to get "not-lawyers" into public office at the Federal level?

      Out of 535 current Congresscritters, 211 are lawyers, and are outnumbered by the 214 businesspeople. The third-largest contingent is educators (teachers, professors, coaches, etc). The popular image of Congress being entirely filled with lawyers is actually incorrect: there are certainly more lawyers than the general population, but that's mostly at the expense of professions like plumbing and bricklaying.

      --
      The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:29PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:29PM (#32804)

        at the expense of professions like plumbing and bricklaying

        People who run for office tend to be financially successful and have spare time to dedicate to a political campaign.
        Sadly, Joe Average competing successfully is an anomaly.

        Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is that the Founding Fathers also stacked the deck from the very beginning.
        To vote, you had to be white, male, over 21, and own property (in most places, 50 acres).
        Additionally, senators were *appointed*.
        If you want to see a time when Egalitarianism made serious strides, it was at times when the incomes of the extremely wealthy were taxed at a marginal rate of over 50 percent. [firedoglake.com]

        So, how do the rich get away with it?
        "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves, not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." --John Steinbeck

        -- gewg_

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by geb on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:40AM

    by geb (529) on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:40AM (#32587)

    The error bars on the public opinion side of their data must be enormous.

    If you ask people which team they support... er... which party they vote for, then you'll get a fairly definite answer, but if you start asking about individual policies then most people won't be able to give a definite yes or no. There are untold thousands of conditions on people's support for any given policy, any of which could be hugely important to the individual, but opposed by or irrelevant to the rest of the population. Based on context, people's opinions change, and change rapidly.

    I seriously doubt that any of the representative sample of voters involved in this study read and understood a large enough number of legal documents to show their opinion on what was really happening.

    On the other side of the divide lobbyists who care about some individual issue are very likely to understand exactly what they're asking for, and have the time to examine minute details of proposals.

    To some degree this is desirable, as it's better to base a decision on knowledge than on guesswork or emotion.

    If you want the public to hold any real power in a highly complex democracy (complex by necessity as it is solving complex problems) then you don't just have to get involved, you have to put in a significant amount of effort educating yourself on what is going on, and the context for each action.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:34PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:34PM (#32605)

      I agree with everything you said, up until you said the government is "solving problems." ;-)

      Seriously. I don't see the role of government as solving problems, though it sometimes does that (polio vaccine springs to mind). In my opinion, government's purpose is to manage public resources: public lands, public funds, radio spectrum, water resources, etc. Unlike solving a particular problem, that's a job that can never be completed.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Geezer on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:06PM

        by Geezer (511) on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:06PM (#32620)

        One of the most ambitious government problem-solvers of all time, FDR, supported a private charity (the original March of Dimes) to solve that particular problem.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:48PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:48PM (#32812)

          The Salk vaccine that finally whipped polio wasn't available until 1953, 8 years after FDR died.

          FDR had a giant influence on the national economy when he put 15 million Americans on the public payroll after THE PRIVATE SECTOR HAD BEEN ROLLED UP IN THE FETAL POSITION FOR 4 YEARS.
          If it wasn't for his following the instructions of John Maynard Keynes, it is unlikely that "The Arsenal of Democracy" would have been economically strong enough to have supplied The Allies at a time when The Axis was overrunning the globe.

          -- gewg_

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:23PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:23PM (#32630) Journal

        up until you said the government is "solving problems."

        Oblig. demotivator [despair.com]

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:39PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:39PM (#32608)

      The theory goes that we educate the population sufficiently for them to be self-governing.

      The practice is... somewhat different.

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 1) by dioptase on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:18PM

        by dioptase (3290) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:18PM (#32658)

        The phrase "lead a horse to water" comes to mind. People are educated enough to be self-governing, but rarely take the time to be more than superficially involved (in either understanding or participating).

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:17PM (#32625)

      I think that's basically the point of the article. The People can be easily manipulated by wealthy special interest groups into supporting policy that they claim to oppose. We all know this. The NRA represent 1.5% of the population, while 90% of the population claims to favor expanded background checks: guess who wins? The AARP represent 12% of the population and they are so powerful that Congress won't even talk about social security. Nevermind corporate interest groups that may represent a few hundred or few thousand people. If policy diverges from popular opinion on big issues, it should be little surprise that there is greater divergence on smaller issues.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:15PM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:15PM (#32597)

    To paraphrase William, a serf by any other name is still just as poor and just as powerless. Today we are called citizens, but that is the inside joke.

    The last pages were a rich vein of despair for believing in the United States as a country of, by, and for the people (I read most of the paper).

    . 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.

    To simplify, if you are on the winning elitist team you win, but did nothing to really make it happen. If you are on the losing, don't matter if you're the majority, you still lost.

    . Americans do enjoy many features
    central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association,
    and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated
    by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s
    claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

    While we can argue the semantics of republic vs democratic society, this last sentence boils it down to this, the average citizen's vote does not matter. We enjoy our "rights" by the grace of our lords and masters. If they so desired, those rights can (and will) be taken away. What is even scarier, as the world super power, this thinking can be extended to world influence. Who's calling the shots and why on a global scale. We don't want to do anything with the Ukraine, but nevertheless We are starting to send our Navy and airforce closer to action. We are propagandized with ideas that Russia is Nazi Germany and if we don't stop him its Chamberlain and Hitler all over?

    We are but mere players on a stage, not of our making. THis is an insightful study and it will be buried. Clearly the Elite read 1984 as a playbook, not as a warning.

    --
    The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 2) by Geezer on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:09PM

      by Geezer (511) on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:09PM (#32623)

      Spot on. Very well-put.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:15PM (#32598)

    You might wanna clear out the funny CR+LFs from the copypasta.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by infodragon on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:15PM

    by infodragon (3509) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:15PM (#32599)
    Are often doomed to repeat it.

    The great experiment of the United States has failed. We are no longer a constitutionally protected democratic REPUBLIC but now are ruled by the few and interest groups. Having a research paper now just allows those who know what the hell is going on to point at it, refer to it and watch the drool drip from the lips of the bored audience as they think of the next iPhone they are going to get.

    The masses are incurably ignorant and in any sufficiently large crowd most are idiots. I warned against the DMCA back when it wasn't being debated in congress but nobody listened. These were well educated electrical engineers and software developers working for the automotive industry. Now they are all incredibly pissed off at the results of such terrible legislation. Nobody wants to get involved, and so stay ignorant so they don't feel guilty. Nobody wants to be informed because it's too much work and they want their iPhone 5000. Nobody studies history because it's boring, oh look the iPhone 5001!!!

    Except for a few exceptions this has been my experience across most socio-economic stratum. I am fortunate to be exposed to a majority of the spectrum and have friends and constant interaction in most. I have been from Detroit area, DC area, LA area, and NY area, one thing is constant is people are the same. They cannot or will not predict the consequences of their actions (extended to their government representatives) beyond their next paycheck (from either their employer or government)

    This is why Thomas Jefferson wrote that the tree of liberty must be freshened with the blood of patriots from time to time (about every 120 years) We must be reminded, forcibly, of the consequences of inaction and those that act KNOW this!
    --
    Don't settle for shampoo, demand real poo!
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:51PM (#32613)

      This is why Thomas Jefferson wrote that the tree of liberty must be freshened with the blood of patriots from time to time (about every 120 years)

      That cannot work if the weapons available to the government are far more advanced than those available to the people. Good luck fighting with a revolver against a guided missile.

      • (Score: 1) by infodragon on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:45PM

        by infodragon (3509) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:45PM (#32680)
        I'm not advocating armed revolution against the government. I find it curious that most people immediately jump to this conclusion.

        We must be reminded, forcibly, of the consequences of inaction and those that act KNOW this!

        --
        Don't settle for shampoo, demand real poo!
        • (Score: 2, Informative) by infodragon on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:49PM

          by infodragon (3509) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:49PM (#32684)

          I accidentally hit submit and will continue here...

          Action takes many forms, most of which are not violent. IF the population took action such as getting informed, getting involved and then voting, this country would quickly become what it was intended to be.

          Unfortunately it is looking more and more like inaction is the norm and the longer that goes on the more probable violence will be the last thing to provoke the masses to action. If this happens I doubt the outcome will be good.

          --
          Don't settle for shampoo, demand real poo!
          • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Thursday April 17 2014, @08:55PM

            by Hairyfeet (75) <reversethis-{moc ... {8691tsaebssab}> on Thursday April 17 2014, @08:55PM (#32829) Journal

            I'm glad to see everyone is having such a lively discussion of my submission, I had hoped it would spark a decent debate.

            But if you think voting and getting involved will do jack shit? I would point you to the run up to the Iraq war, where you had protests and petitions and none of it mattered. When you are talking about billions of dollars changing hands do you REALLY think that congress critter is gonna give a shit if you vote? he'll just get a job as a lobbyist and buy off the next guy that gets his seat, simple as that.

            Of course the bigger question is what is gonna happen when the bubble bursts [youtube.com] and the feds can't keep buying off the peasants with aid. The collapse is inevitable, the bubble has been blown to big to be slowly deflated, it WILL pop. As Romney pointed out in the last election 47% of the population is getting some form of aid and I would argue the ONLY reason the peasants are as passive as they are is because of government aid....what happens when it dries up? We have already seen what those in power want....fascism. This is why we have no left wing anymore, just right wing and the Ayn Rand fan club, because if there is one thing both sides can agree on its a more fascist government. More wiretaps, more police, more "constitution free zones", more power for them and less for the people.

            I personally think the people will riot and revolt first but we shall see. Mark my words we'll first have the financial aid bubble burst, which considering we have record levels of default its probably not far off now, and a couple of years after that the big stock market bubble will burst and the country in its current form, with all its bread and circuses and writing of blank checks, will end.

            --
            ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
            • (Score: 1) by infodragon on Friday April 18 2014, @03:16AM

              by infodragon (3509) on Friday April 18 2014, @03:16AM (#32948)

              In the run-up to the Iraq war there were few that were really informed. How many actually voted, then voted for the next elections? There was no follow through over the years it would take. Getting informed and involved is one thing, staying informed and involved is entirely different. It doesn't take much time or energy and a vote every two years. How much different world things be if we had 75% informed voter turnout?

              --
              Don't settle for shampoo, demand real poo!
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @04:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @04:17PM (#32721)

          I'm not advocating armed revolution against the government. I find it curious that most people immediately jump to this conclusion.

          Simple: It's the only way the blood of patriots would be involved.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:20PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:20PM (#32628) Journal

      This is why Thomas Jefferson wrote that the tree of liberty must be freshened with the blood of patriots from time to time

      In my opinion [soylentnews.org], he was wrong.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by infodragon on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:51PM

        by infodragon (3509) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:51PM (#32688)

        I was not agreeing or disagreeing with Jefferson. What I do agree with is that from time to time people must be reminded that inaction will destroy the country. Jefferson thought that armed conflict was the way to do this, it is one method however not the best. Please refer to my response to the AC above for a more complete explanation.

        --
        Don't settle for shampoo, demand real poo!
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by jimbrooking on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:25PM

    by jimbrooking (3465) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:25PM (#32602)

    The only body with the (constitutional) authority to change this sorry state is Congress, and most congresscritters have a vested interest in keeping things just as they are. The Supremes have the power to change this sorry state by throwing out the "corporate personhood, campaign-ontributions=free=speech" falacy. And good luck with that, too.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:18PM (#32626)

      Sorry to link this twice in the same discussion. The several states also have the authority to call a constitutional convention to get things changed. http://www.wolf-pac.com/the_plan [wolf-pac.com]

      - Velex

      • (Score: 2) by snick on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:44PM

        by snick (1408) on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:44PM (#32641)

        Not that I disagree with the goal, but the last time [wikipedia.org] there was a serious attempt to amend the constitution, the attempt died in the states. This was over that controversial declaration: "women are people too."

        The idea that the states provide an escape valve for broken federal government ignores the long history of broken state government.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @08:29PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @08:29PM (#32821)

          amend the constitution[...]"women are people too."
          Go back a very few years and the numbers regarding the decriminalization of cannabis were against it.
          In many places the tide has turned, with some having already changed their laws.

          The reason that alcohol prohibition was rescinded was for a similar reason:
          State and local governments refused to spend money having local cops assist Feds with enforcement of the Volstead Act.
          Kansas City became a Mecca for Jazz because the local authorities ignored Prohibition from the start.

          Times change; the majority position changes.
          If the Equal Rights Amendment was in play today, it would pass.

          When enough places say *Let's do things differently*, things change.
          Change always starts locally.

          -- gewg_

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Sir Garlon on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:45PM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Thursday April 17 2014, @12:45PM (#32610)

    mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence

    I don't believe that thesis is sufficient to explain:

    1. The Voting Rights Act of 1964
    2. The Americans with Disabilities Act
    3. The National Do Not Call registry
    4. The defeat of SOPA [wikipedia.org]

    The first example is irrelevant to business interests, though one could argue that in the segregated South white businesses perceived a financial interest in preserving segregation. The other three are all contrary to business interests.

    I'm not claiming business interests don't dominate policymaking. Only that the story is not as one-sided as that sentence seems to imply.

    --
    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by SuddenOutbreak on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:51PM

      by SuddenOutbreak (3961) on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:51PM (#32646)

      I don't believe that thesis is sufficient to explain:

      1. The Voting Rights Act of 1964

      2. The Americans with Disabilities Act

      3. The National Do Not Call registry

      4. The defeat of SOPA

      You raise some good examples, and I'm not sure why you got a down-vote.

      To counter a couple, the VRA was quite a while ago, the Do Not Call registry largely affects small business and has loopholes bit enough to drive a truck through, and while SOPA disappeared, it's coming back piecemeal anyway.

      The actual paper is pretty well-organized, and while a handful of counter-examples are interesting, the paper points out a pretty strong trend with correlation. Recent news stories alone have been getting a pattern: "while over 70% of all Americans want 'x', no bill has ever entered Congress" - gun control, minimum wage, marijuana legalization, abortion rights,... the list is pretty long.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Crosscompiler on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:17PM

        by Crosscompiler (516) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:17PM (#32657)

        They are not really counter-examples.

        1) Changes noting except pecking order among the serfs.
        2) / 3) Investigate exactly who made money off of each, who is excluded from compliance, and who is allowed to ignore with impunity. 911 and "internet to libraries and schools" were two examples I saw personally.
        4) Much of SOPA+ is in force. Informing the public what the laws are is so 1963.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by M. Baranczak on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:02PM

      by M. Baranczak (1673) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:02PM (#32650)

      If you have to go back 50 years for a contrary data point, that's not much of a refutation.

      Also, the defeat of SOPA was contrary to some business interests. Other businesses actively worked to defeat it.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:29PM

        by Sir Garlon (1264) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:29PM (#32667)

        One data point is never a refutation. It wasn't meant to be; it was meant to be a counterpoint to stimulate discussion. I certainly don't disagree with the report's conclusion that "...if policymaking is dominated
        by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."

        That politics have changed since 1964 is a valid point. Do you mean to imply the oligarchy has been established within the last 50 years? Maybe the full paper addresses this -- I haven't had time to read it.

        --
        [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by gallondr00nk on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:41PM

    by gallondr00nk (392) on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:41PM (#32639)

    Whether the situation is as bad as the study suggests or not, you could certainly make a case that our current economic inequality is inherently undemocratic. In a society where your wallet determines your ability to influence, some will have more votes than others.

    Since we're essentially living in that society now, even if we were to nitpick over how bad, the question is how to reform it.

    Sticking within a democratic system, I'd start with:
    - Proportional representation.
    - Taxpayer funded elections with a strict ban on any outside donations.
    - A wholesale devolving of powers to local municipalities, states, regions etc. In my opinion centralized government is anything but democratic, and the only way to have any real representation is to allow decision making at a local / regional level.

    Before we could tackle anything, I'd suggest the most vital and important thing to do is to remove the influence of money. If money equals free speech, as the US supreme court decided, then money essentially equals votes.

    As someone else here pointed out, we the masses have won substantial victories in civil rights, gender equality and so on. We're also gradually stopping the drug war. Stopping the influence of money in the democratic process should be our next civil rights movement.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by DrMag on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:55PM

      by DrMag (1860) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:55PM (#32690)

      - A wholesale devolving of powers to local municipalities, states, regions etc. In my opinion centralized government is anything but democratic, and the only way to have any real representation is to allow decision making at a local / regional level.

      This. Absolutely, this! Mountains aren't moved by poking at the top, but by pushing at the base. Local leaders will have far more (and better) impact on the actual lives of people than a central government, especially for a nation as large (in size, demographic, and population) as the United States. Government will always be broken as long as we keep viewing and treating local and state government as 'minor leagues'.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by hemocyanin on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:13PM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:13PM (#32696) Journal

      I was listening to one of my favorite political podcasts regarding the recent SCOTUS opinion on campaign finance reform ( http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/csarchive/Show- 273---Auctioning-the-Republic/corruption-money-pol itics [dancarlin.com] ).

      - Taxpayer funded elections with a strict ban on any outside donations.

      One potential alternative he suggests is instead of giving all candidates equal amounts from an election fund and limiting donations, make it so that all candidates get matching funds equal to their opponents' fundraising. This doesn't infringe on the idea that money is speech -- you can go out and get as many and as large donations as you want, and people can give you as much as they want. The only thing is, your opponent will then instantly get a check for a matching amount from a public election fund. Sort of kills the motivation to go out and get big money, but it infringes on no one's right to do it.

      More to the point though, he suggests that these kinds of reforms won't really mean much, because the people who are selected to run are all acceptable to oligarchy. They don't care who wins because they own both -- the elections are just a circus for our entertainment but they don't actually change anything of importance.

      • (Score: 1) by urza9814 on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:03PM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:03PM (#32852) Journal

        One potential alternative he suggests is instead of giving all candidates equal amounts from an election fund and limiting donations, make it so that all candidates get matching funds equal to their opponents' fundraising.

        Not a bad idea, but Obama raised $220 million for his reelection campaign in 2011 alone. For Dems vs. GOP that might not take a ton of money since both will presumably get the same amount...but then you've gotta cut a check for a quarter of a BILLION dollars to every single third party on the ballot.

        More to the point though, he suggests that these kinds of reforms won't really mean much, because the people who are selected to run are all acceptable to oligarchy.

        Only true of the two major parties. And it's not so much that only those acceptable to the oligarchy get to run -- rather, only those acceptable get enough funding to win. If you give a Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein the exact same amount of funding as Barack Obama, they might stand a pretty good chance!

        • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:28PM

          by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:28PM (#32866) Journal

          Only true of the two major parties. And it's not so much that only those acceptable to the oligarchy get to run -- rather, only those acceptable get enough funding to win. If you give a Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein the exact same amount of funding as Barack Obama, they might stand a pretty good chance!

          Totally with you -- I voted for Jill Stein. In fact I won't vote for either a GOP or DNC candidate ever. I only vote third parties, or if there is none available, for my cat (*).

          By the same token, I totally understand that what I'm doing is protest voting. Which is a valid use of one's vote, certainly more valid than voting for a "lesser evil" candidate because the fact is, you are still voting for evil. It's also better than staying home and getting lumped in with the apathetic. So I don't consider it a waste to vote for my cat or a third party candidate while it certainly would be a waste to vote for someone I hate only because he or she has a chance of winning. Still, I also recognize that until at least a third of the vote shows up as a protest vote like mine, the DNC and GOP won't care. If protest votes hit 20-30% though, they might start to cater to protest voters.

          (*) If you want to vote for my cat, his name is "Boris" btw. "Boris the Cat" would be our best president ever -- he likes sleeping by a warm fire in the late fall/winter/early spring, and in a sunny spot during late spring/summer/early fall. That's about all he would do for 4 years besides eat and use the litter box.

    • (Score: 1) by anyanka on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:15PM

      by anyanka (1381) on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:15PM (#32772)

      Sticking within a democratic system, I'd start with:

      - Proportional representation.

      - Taxpayer funded elections with a strict ban on any outside donations.

      - A wholesale devolving of powers to local municipalities, states, regions etc. In my opinion centralized government is anything but democratic, and the only way to have any real representation is to allow decision making at a local / regional level.

      These are good points and they used to be the norm in Europe (with some counterexamples, like the UK). Unfortunately, we seem to be moving in the US direction on the latter two points lately.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by jimbrooking on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:52PM

    by jimbrooking (3465) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 17 2014, @01:52PM (#32647)

    As a resident of North Carolina, I have watched Koch money, along with our own home-grown Koch, Art Pope, buy the governorship and both houses of the state legislature. NC is all-Rethug for the first time since Reconstruction, IIRC. States are cheaper to buy and you only need a few of them to block US constitutional amendments. The first thing the new regime did is redistrict the state to ensure the permanence of their rule. The teabaggers' agenda items are state law now. Welcome to Dystopia.

    • (Score: 1) by linuxrocks123 on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:59PM

      by linuxrocks123 (2557) on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:59PM (#32717) Journal

      The South has been transitioning from Democrat -> Republican for decades. Moneyed interests in North Carolina may have accelerated the trend, but Republicans were bound to eventually kill off the last Blue Dogs.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by MrGuy on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:20PM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:20PM (#32660)

    There's a lot of social science (economics especially) that predicate themselves on humans being rational actors with well defined preferences.

    Advertisers laugh their asses off at these people. It's an entire industry dedicated to proving people don't make decisions rationally, and that they can be manipulated to make the decision you want if you do it right.

    What this study is effectively saying is that the advertisers are right. If people were truly rational, independent actors, money wouldn't matter for political campaigns. There would be no influence to buy, because money and advertising couldn't buy you votes. People would vote the right people into office every time.

    But that's NOT what happens. The people who can donate the big dollars DO have influence. The politicians with the biggest war chests DO win. Not every time, but often enough. Dollars DO swing votes. As long as this is true, politicians will play the game that's in front of them.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by zafiro17 on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:45PM

    by zafiro17 (234) on Thursday April 17 2014, @02:45PM (#32682) Homepage

    I spent three years researching poor governments and countries when I wrote The Dictator's Handbook: a practical manual for the aspiring tyrant (http://dictatorshandbook.net/ [dictatorshandbook.net]) and that book's conclusions and findings are equally valid for the wealthy world as for the poor world. Good governments respond to the same stimuli as bad ones; they just have more effective checks and balances. Have a look at Congress' deafness to its abyssmal ratings, the performance of the lobbying industry, the average wealth of your average politician, and so on and you'll see a lot of what happens in poor countries happens in rich ones too. Is the USA an oligarchy? Sure as hell seems like one. Pitchforks and torches, now!

    --
    Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis - Jack Handey
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:37PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @03:37PM (#32709)

    every government that has ever existed in the world is an oligarchy by this definition. it is the nature of the world/beast.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18 2014, @02:11AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18 2014, @02:11AM (#32929)

    Gentle Revolution worked for Prague.. but the beer went to piss.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_Revolution [wikipedia.org]