A study that will appear in the Fall 2014 issue of Perspectives on Politics, a very highly regarded academic journal, concludes that the U.S. is no longer a democracy. Instead, we have become an oligarchy, and a pretty corrupt one at that.
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.”
The study provides pretty conclusive evidence that the US government does not represent the interests of the majority of our country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by the rich and powerful. As the Telegraph reports:
After sifting through nearly 1,800 US policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile) and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the United States is dominated by its economic elite.
That domination helps to explain another recent study, this one by French Economist Gabriel Zucman. Zucman looked at international data on what economists call investment positions (each country reports its assets abroad and foreign-owned assets at home). He found that the numbers don’t add up: globally, according to the reports, liabilities substantially outnumbered assets. But that’s mathematically impossible.
Zucman investigated further; He eventually concluded that the only way to explain such a result is if a lot of money is run through offshore havens, and the ownership doesn’t show up in any country’s national statistics.
Zucman estimates that the world’s wealthy are using tax havens, including Swiss banks, to hide at least $4.5 trillion but more likely $6 trillion from the tax collectors. That’s $6,000,000,000,000—close to six percent of the entire world’s gross economic output for one year. In other words, as one pundit noted, not chickenfeed.
Not only are we being governed by wealthy oligarchs, for all intents and purposes–they aren’t even beneficent oligarchs. What’s ours is theirs, what’s theirs is theirs–and they aren’t sharing.
Welcome to our brave new global economy. The American republic was nice while it lasted.