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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

April 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Vote: Are we an oligarchy?

Abraham Lincoln, like many of the Founding Fathers before him, knew that government of the people, by the people and for the people, “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” was something new in the world, especially for a continental empire.

Throughout history, democracies had existed in small places and not for long. Human history was one where people were ruled by monarchs and oligarchs. It was still true in the American Civil War. We were a rarity, but would we remain novus ordo seclorum, a new order of the ages. At Gettysburg, Lincoln said, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.”

But according to a new study from Princeton, the United States is no longer a democracy. Authors Martin Gillens and Benjamin Page marshal considerable data to show the nation’s evolution into an oligarchy. And much of the research predates Citizens United and McCutcheon.

“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.”

With the markets closed for Good Friday, perhaps you will contemplate the research and vote:

This Week’s Links:

The neo-liberal turn in health care | Jacobin magazine

Innovation: The government was crucial after all | NY Review of Books

The British want to stop Starbucks from dodging taxes; it won’t work | Wonkblog

Americans aren’t ready for the future Google and Amazon want to build | Wired

Labor shortage threatens to bust the (burn the planet) shale boom | Bloomberg

The U.S. financial showdown with Russia is more dangerous than it looks, for both sides | The Telegraph

The crisis in medical research and how to fix it | The Incidental Economist

Matt Taibbi: ‘Hands down’ Bush was tougher on corporate crime than Obama | Talking Points Memo

Are we headed for a credit market crash? | House of Debt

Not just the long-term unemployed: Those unemployed zero weeks are struggling to find jobs | NND

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Wal-Mart in banking

What could possibly go wrong?

Rough Dimons here

Comments | More in Politics and the economy | Topics: Citizens United, McCutcheon

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