Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Public Opinion Has Zero-Impact On U.S. Law

upworthy |  Their study took data from nearly 2,000 public-opinion surveys and compared what the people wanted to what the government actually did. What they found was extremely unsettling: The opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America has essentially no impact at all.

Put another way, and I'll just quote the Princeton study directly here:

“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

Really think about that for a second.

If you've ever felt like your opinion doesn't matter and that the government doesn't really care what you think, well … you're right.

But, of course, there's a catch.

...unless you're an "economic elite."

If there's one thing that still reliably gets politicians' attention, it's money. While the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a "statistically non-significant impact," Gilens and Page found that economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence.

How could it be that our government, designed to function as a representative democracy, is only good at representing such a small fraction of the population? Just follow the money.

Why? Because purchasing political influence is 100% legal.

For example: Let's say a big bank wants a law that would force taxpayers to bail them out again if they repeat the exact same reckless behavior that crashed the global economy in 2008.

It's perfectly legal for our bank to hire a team of lobbyists whose entire job is to make sure the government gives the bank what it wants. Then, those lobbyists can track down members of Congress who regulate banks and help raise a ton of money for their re-election campaigns. Its also perfectly legal for those lobbyists to offer those same politicians million-dollar jobs at their lobbying firms.


Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas), shown speaking at an event in 2012, recently attached language originally drafted by lobbyists for CitiGroup to a financial services appropriations bill. Members of Congress who voted "yes" on the bill received, on average, 2.8 times more money from the PACs of CitiGroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase than members who voted "no." Image by Information Technology Innovation Foundation/Flickr.

They can also literally write the language of this new bailout law themselves, then hand it off to the politicians they just buttered up with campaign money and lucrative job offers. And it's perfectly legal for those politicians to sneak the lobbyist-written language through Congress at the last second.

If that example sounds oddly specific, that's because it happened in December 2014. And it happens all the time, on almost every single issue, with politicians of both parties.

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