April 22, 2014

"Do the Rich Call the Shots?"

The New York Times wonders:
Do the Rich Call the Shots? 
A recent study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page examining 30 years of opinion surveys and policy decisions by the federal government found that, “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.” The average voter has little influence on government, the study found, but the well-to-do hold tremendous sway. 
Has the United States become more of an oligarchy than a democracy? 

Perhaps the NYT should ask its second-largest shareholder, Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim?

Not surprisingly, there's no mention of immigration in these discussions, even though that's the most obvious case of Billionaires United, e.g., Rupert Murdoch, Carlos Slim, Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers, and Michael Bloomberg using their money and power to demonize opponents of their greed for more immigration to push down Americans' pay -- and, in the case of Slim, to profit exorbitantly off his monopoly power over phone calls between the United States and Mexico.

In other advanced countries, immigration restriction is in the ascendance in the legislatures, but in America we continue to have this bizarre stalemate with the elites pushing amnesty, a pre-2008 policy if there ever was one, against the disorganized, underfunded, demonized, but massive resistance of the public.

Here's an oldie from the Center for Immigration Studies:
Elite vs. Public Opinion: An Examination of Divergent Views on Immigration 
By Steven A. Camarota, Roy Beck December 2002

While it has long been suspected that public and elite opinion differ on the issue of immigration, a new poll provides the most compelling evidence yet that there is an enormous gap between the American people and "opinion leaders" on the issue. ...
This Backgrounder is based on the findings of a recent national poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in May through July of this year. The Council is a non-profit policy organization that sponsors polls and events on a host of foreign policy issues. The Council has a long tradition of polling to find differences between the public and opinion leaders. 
The polling of the public was based on 2,800 telephone interviews from across the nation. The council also surveyed nearly 400 opinion leaders, including members of Congress, the administration, and leaders of church groups, business executives, union leaders, journalists, academics, and leaders of major interest groups. 
The results of the survey indicate that the gap between the opinions of the American people on immigration and those of their leaders is enormous. The poll found that 60 percent of the public regards the present level of immigration to be a "critical threat to the vital interests of the United States," compared to only 14 percent of the nation’s leadership – a 46 percentage point gap. 
The current gap is even wider than that found in 1998, when 55 percent of the public viewed immigration as a "critical threat," compared to 18 percent of opinion leaders – a 37 percentage point gap. 
The poll results indicate that there is no other foreign policy-related issue on which the American people and their leaders disagreed more profoundly than immigration. Even on such divisive issues as globalization or strengthening the United Nations, the public and the elite are much closer together than they are on immigration. 
When asked a specific question about whether legal immigration should be reduced, kept the same, or increased, 55 percent of the public said it should be reduced, and 27 percent said it should remain the same. In contrast, only 18 percent of opinion leaders said it should be reduced and 60 percent said it should remain the same. There was no other issue-specific question on which the public and elites differed more widely. 
The enormous difference between elite and public opinion can also be seen on the issue of illegal immigration. The survey found that 70 percent of the public said that reducing illegal immigration should be a "very important" foreign-policy goal of the United States, compared to only 22 percent of elites. 
Also with respect to illegal immigration, when the public was asked to rank the biggest foreign policy problems, the public ranked illegal immigration sixth, while elites ranked it 26th. 
The very large difference between elite and public opinion explains the current political stalemate on immigration. For example, supporters of an amnesty for illegal immigrants have broad elite support ranging from religious to business and union leaders. Normally elite support of this kind would lead to policy changes, but on this issue public opposition is so strong that it creates a political stalemate. 
   

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Samuel Huntington in his 2004 article "Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite":

http://nationalinterest.org/print/article/dead-souls-the-denationalization-of-the-american-elite-620

"The gap between public and elite is especially great on America's economic relations with the rest of the world.

In 1998, 87 percent of leaders and 54 percent of the public thought economic globalization was mostly good for America, with 12 percent of the leaders and 35 percent of the public thinking otherwise.

Four-fifths of the public but less than half of foreign policy leaders think protecting American jobs should be a "very important goal" of the U.S. government.

Fifty percent or more of the public but never more than a third of leaders have supported reducing economic aid to other countries. In various polls, 60 percent or more of the public have backed tariffs; comparable proportions of leaders have favored reducing or eliminating them. Similar differences exist with respect to immigration. In two 1990s polls, 74 percent and 57 percent of the public and 31 percent and 18 percent of foreign policy elites thought large numbers of immigrants were a "critical threat" to the United States.

...Governmental policy at the end of the 20th century was deviating more and more from the preferences of the American public."

jody said...

NYT asks if the rich call the shots. meanwhile, they probably wrote a few articles lauding michael bloomberg for starting his disarm americans initiative in earnest with an initial 50 million dollar investment.

gotta outspend the stupid NRA and their dumb ideas about citizens being allowed to own small arms.

leftist conservative said...

before america can become a better place, the liberal base must understand that immigrants are used as a economic weapon by the elite against the american worker. The liberal base understands --in general-- that the corporations and the plutocrats are the enemy of the worker. But the liberal base--IN GENERAL--have been propagandized so that they cannot see the evil that immigrants bring, that immigration is our enemy.

Now in general the conservative base understands that the immigrants are our enemy. But they do not understand--in general-- that the corporations and plutocrats are our enemy as well.

In general the conservative base does not see the man behind the curtain in immigration policy, that man being the corporations and the plutocrats.

Neither side, in general, sees that the the corporations and the plutocrats are using mass immigration as an economic engine, an engine that is creating a race to the bottom.

I commend steve sailer for linking the two and showing the causative forces behind immigration.

He has linked the corporations and the plutocrats to mass immigration.

That association is critical, and until the base of both parties understand this association, we are helpless to stop mass immigration.


countenance said...

The recent study about oligarchy the NYT discusses was co-authored by a professor at Princeton.

Mark Caplan said...

Included in the pro-amnesty organization Billionaires United for Immigration Reform are the Koch brothers.

Anonymous said...

The reason immigration reform has not occurred is that amnesty would make public sector jobs available to immigrants who would now be citizens who could apply for government jobs. As long as immigrants are depressing wages of non government employees there is no problem. Both the wealthy and government workers benefit greatly from mass immigration so it continues. So in short I do not think 'public opinion' really matters much.

Anonymous said...

The whole "debate" over immigration is the most bizarre public policy spectacle I have ever seen in the United States. That is not hyperbole: Outside of totalitarian countries, I can't think of any other example where a nation's elites have acted so brazenly against the will of the people, and where they've so flagrantly pushed their own interests at the expense of the general public.

It's not that I don't think our crummy elites are always looking out for number one — I'm sure they are. But they are usually careful to restrict themselves to things that have a broad base of support among some respectable chunk of average voters.

With immigration, they don't even bother with that fig leaf. Heck, they no longer even bother with astroturfing it (probably because every time they've tried in the past, the whole project is ruined by a bunch of people showing up waving Mexican flags).

Immigration is an issue with no sizable constituency to speak of among regular voters, yet you would never know that from the way it's covered in the media. There, it's always the Single Most Important Item on the national agenda, even though it's the ONLY issue I can think of where I can't go down to the local barbershop on a Saturday and find at least five average guys who'll argue in favor of it.

Anonymous said...

1. " “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.”

In my personal experience, the organized financial business interests are extremely disorganized. At least in the sense that very frequently different segments of an industry or industries that want to 'take over' another industry are constantly fighting each other. It doesn't happen everywhere, I'm sure. But I have seen it in finance. Investment banks hate commercial banks and vice versa. Banks hate insurance companies and vice versa. Small firms hate big firms. Without vicious competition between organized interests, the public would be doomed.

2. I don't get the immigration issue. The iron curtain was very effective in keeping people walled in (much more difficult than walled out) for decades. Nobody gets in Switzerland. With the proliferation of electronic records for every damn thing, even the homeless have (bad) credit ratings.

3. I have to put up with idiotic harassment to board a commercial flight. Put the TSA guys on the border and have huge, uncomfortable lines, demand two forms of picture ID's, make them take off their shoes (if they have any), X-ray them, put them through a metal detector, toss in some drug sniffing dogs, make em throw away liquids, finger nail clippers. For their own safety, of course.

Eric Rasmusen said...

Look at how that last paragraph quoted is framed:
"The very large difference between elite and public opinion explains the current political stalemate on immigration. For example, supporters of an amnesty for illegal immigrants have broad elite support ranging from religious to business and union leaders. Normally elite support of this kind would lead to policy changes, but on this issue public opposition is so strong that it creates a political stalemate. "

It could equally well have been written like this:
"The very large difference between elite and public opinion explains the current political stalemate on immigration. For example, supporters for stricter enforcement of the laws against illegal immigration have broad voter support ranging from poor to rich, Democrats to Republicans, urban to rural, and across the entire country. Normally massive voter support of this kind would lead to policy changes, but on this issue elite opposition is so strong that it creates a political stalemate."

Anonymous said...

To follow up on my point about competition among organized business interests, it seems like there isn't a single constituency with sufficient money and power to compete with the pro immigration interests.

Where are the labor unions when we need them? Or even welfare recipients should jump on this -- There are only so many Section 8 vouchers. Plus, Latino gangs are kicking the hell out of our American gangs.

Anonymous said...

3. I have to put up with idiotic harassment to board a commercial flight. Put the TSA guys on the border and have huge, uncomfortable lines, demand two forms of picture ID's, make them take off their shoes (if they have any), X-ray them, put them through a metal detector, toss in some drug sniffing dogs, make em throw away liquids, finger nail clippers. For their own safety, of course.

Not even an illegal Mexican would put up with that crap.

Anonymous said...

1. " “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.”

In my personal experience, the organized financial business interests are extremely disorganized.


But certain organized ethnic interests are extremely organized. They are probably the real movers behind these nation destroying, open borders policies we are suffering under.

Yet it is easier politically to scapegoat big business when advocating for strict border control.

Auntie Analogue said...


Our glorious holier-than-thou Enemedia-Pravda are owned by the rich who want massive legal immigration, visa-scamming, "refugee" resettlement, and illegal immigration-invasion-colonization to continue. Thus do Enemedia-Pravda (including and, arguably, especially the illegal immigrant-loving PBS) feed the public nothing but sob stories puff pieces on illegals, "refugee" resettlement, visa scammers "enriching" our tech sector, and on the huge "contribution" to "vibrancy" and "Diversity" supposedly made by legal immigrants. Enemedia-Pravda drumbeat monotonously the "We Are A Nation of Immigrants" slogan and the propaganda bullsh_t about bringing illegals "out of the shadows."

If media changed their tune (do not hold your breath for that to happen) and showed the deleterious consequences to Americans of massive legal and illegal immigration, the poll numbers of citizens absolutely opposed to legal and illegal immigration and to the Shamnesty of so-called "immigration reform" would skyrocket well above the roughly 60% of Americans who now oppose them.

David said...

In other news, a bear was spotted s------g in the woods.

Anonymous said...

The case of the UK is very instructive here.
Back in the day - during the hey-day of Blairite bullshit around the 2000s, in fact, the UK government was even fanatically more immigrationist than any US government has been in history - yes it's true the statistics and per capita rates back this assertion up.
Ironically it was a purported 'Labour' government - believe it or not, the Labour party was founded in the 1900s with the exclusive mission to fight for the poor and the working class - a very, very difficult notion for the modern observer to get into their head I know, but that's what the historic record tells us - just in the same way that Eton college was originally established to cater for the children of the poor, that wa fanatic and swivel eyed about importing the entirety of the third world.
- And, strangely enough, the right-wing, pro-business force in British politics, the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher the most right-wing leader Britain ever had, was opposed to mass immigration and restricted it as far possible.

Now enter UKIP, the backlash. The rising force in British politics, set to sweep the board of May's Euro elections and giving the entire political class the willies. Basiaclly, the immigrationists HAVE to accomodate UKIP - a genuine, popular mass revolt - whether they like it or not. The moral of the story is that America needs a US Independence Party, ironically enough. Also the fact that the popular, mass-market tabloid press in the UK is generally strongly immigration sceptic - money power hasn't corrupted them, there still is a spark of patriotism burning in them somewhere.

leftist conservative said...

quoting Anonymous:

The case of the UK is very instructive here. Back in the day - during the hey-day of Blairite bullshit around the 2000s, in fact, the UK government was even fanatically more immigrationist than any US government has been in history

The Democratic party did much the same for the white working class for decades in america. It was no accident that FDR was elected 4 terms and that the Democrats dominated american politics for decades, rendering the GOP as an afterthought. Then it changed. Why it changed is what interests me. No one else seems to care about why, however.


quoting Anonymous:

- And, strangely enough, the right-wing, pro-business force in British politics, the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher the most right-wing leader Britain ever had, was opposed to mass immigration and restricted it as far possible.


Absolutely untrue. When Thatcher died recently, I posted--in the comments right here-- links to charts that showed that immigration into Britain slowed only the tiniest bit during thatcher's regime.

That is a fact and it is true. You can go back to the date of her death and read the comments here to find my links, if you wish.

quoting Anonymous:

Now enter UKIP, the backlash. The rising force in British politics, set to sweep the board of May's Euro elections and giving the entire political class the willies. Basiaclly, the immigrationists HAVE to accomodate UKIP - a genuine, popular mass revolt - whether they like it or not.



What is probably happening with the Farage/UKIP is the GOP-Dem dynamic all over again, at least to some extent: Farage, just like the GOP, will pretend to stand up for whites, and then in reality will cater to the corporations and rich investors. The Labor party, just like the Dems, will have a base of fully propagandized "educated" whites and nonwhites who have been indoctrinated into anti-white beliefs via school. This anti-white base will push most whites away from Labor and into the arms of the UKIP, even though the UKIP will in its actions do nothing.

The fact is that Farage, the leader of UKIP, had not been much of an anti-immigrationist until very recently, and only presented an anti-immigrationist stance when he had to.

Fortunately the british governmental structure will come to the aid of the white majority there. The real power of the parliamentarian govt puts most of the power in the hands of the lower house members. That is a very democratic structure.

The upper house has little power. The prime minister, who will almost certainly be Farage within time, serves at the behest of parliament. They can oust him. So what is important is that the immigrationist idea in the UK come to the fore. Farage and the UKIP are doing that. Once that issue becomes dominant and enters the public debate, the structure of the UK govt will allow that expression of the will of the white majority to enter policy.



quoting Anonymous:

The moral of the story is that America needs a US Independence Party, ironically enough. Also the fact that the popular, mass-market tabloid press in the UK is generally strongly immigration sceptic - money power hasn't corrupted them, there still is a spark of patriotism burning in them somewhere.

I disagree. The structure of the US govt will not allow the expression of the will of the white majority to have its way at the federal level, at least not where it conflicts with the interest of the rich and powerful.

You can have as many parties as you want, but the structure of the govt holds sway. The american govt was designed --structurally--to prevent the majority from having its way.

You have to first move some of the power to the states before anything can happen. Strangely enough the un-democratic supreme court went a ways down that path yesterday with the Schuette Decision allowing states to ban affirmative action. A huge victory for the white working class, even college is something most white males should generally avoid these days.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it'd be possible for any government to be more fanatically pro-immigration than America.

AMac said...

> The whole "debate" over immigration is the most bizarre public policy spectacle I have ever seen in the United States...

Great writing at 4/22/14, 7:56 PM.

Author: please pick a pseudonym so that I don't inadvertently skip past your remarks (not all "Anonymous" comments are worth a scan).

Shouting Thomas said...

You've lost if your focus is on winning political battles.

If you are focused on personal and domestic life, it's a different story.

There is always a way to carve out a personal and domestic life divorced from the public sphere, where you can live according to your own desires and values.

Anonymous said...

Folks, keep increasing your investment assets. Your mind will change accordingly.

You only understand it when you get there.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing new, I really think there is nothing we can do on the issue except to prevent people being legalized. The automation and robots that can destroy farm workers, or day laborers, or maids and janitors is about a decade away, and politicians will not develop a system to penalized big and small business for using them..

Mr. Anon said...

"leftist conservative said...

before america can become a better place, the liberal base must understand that immigrants are used as a economic weapon by the elite against the american worker."

That would be aa great way to win over Democratic voters,......in some alternative time-line. Be sure to relate your ideas to Harry Truman, when you return to the year 1948 in your time machine.

The "liberal base" of todays Democratic party are the kind of people who write and read the New York Times - well-heeled coastal liberals who work in finance, media, public administration, and education, or who are the wives of men with money, and thier various minority clients.

The Democrats long ago ceased to be the party of the working man.

And, by the way, you must be a callow youth to have given yourself such a non-sensical handle as "leftist conservative". You can't be both. You really can't.

keypusher said...

Public opinion appears to be shifting to back the elites on immigration issues.

http://news.yahoo.com/poll-many-let-illegal-immigrants-stay-us-202242261.html

keypusher said...

Here's the key language from that link.

Sixty-two percent of Americans now favor providing a way for illegal immigrants in the U.S. to become citizens, an increase from just 50 percent in the summer of 2010, the last time the AP polled on the question.

In an even earlier poll, in 2009, some 47 percent supported a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Further boosting the president on the issue, Democrats have opened a 41 percent to 34 percent advantage as the party more trusted to handle immigration, the first time they've held a significant edge on the matter in AP-GfK polling. In October 2010, Republicans held a slight edge over Democrats, 46 percent to 41 percent, on the question of who was more trusted on immigration.

Much of the increase in support for a path to eventual citizenship has come among Republicans. A majority in the GOP — 53 percent — now favor the change. That's up a striking 22 percentage points from 2010. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents like the idea, similar to 2010.

Anonymous said...

The reason why the rich are getting their way is that there is a fundamental split between the American people. Without this to exploit they couldn't play us off against one another, and I think the endgame is that America inevitably breaks up.

David said...

keypusher

Such polls are worthless. They are notorious for scewing results by asking carefully rigged questions.

"Do you support a path to citizenship with rigorous immigration enforcement?" gets loud affirmations and hosannas.

"Do you want 30 million more Mexicans here and open borders?" gets safety catches thrown back on revolvers.

The latter question, accordingly, is not asked by any poll touted by the junkmedia.

Drawbacks said...

Not entirely on topic, William Browder:
I think that people’s political careers need to end. People need to be disgraced for their support of Ukrainian and Russian kleptocrats, in the United States and in the UK. So that the next guys who come around won’t want to be disgraced and have their careers ruined.
I think he's worrying more about recent disgraceful behaviour rather than going all the way back to the 90s, but maybe I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

“When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.” The average voter has little influence on government, the study found, but the well-to-do hold tremendous sway.

Has the United States become more of an oligarchy than a democracy?


This is interesting, but situations in which organized, monied interests get their way over the explicit opposition of a majority of the public are just the tip of the iceberg.

The more interesting and subtle issue is the degree to which the ruling class can shape public opinion in the first place. When the people who matter in government, media, business, education, etc. tend to share values and interests that are different from that of the general public, the electorate can be propagandized, indoctrinated, bullied, or otherwise induced to espouse the desired viewpoint.

Thus, one can have a regime that is simultaneously an oligarchy and a democracy--i.e., democratic in form and oligarchic in function. Indeed, one could make the case that the ideology and mechanism of democracy are well suited to such subversion, inasmuch as they allow power to be "laundered" through a nominally egalitarian system. This is, of course, one of the practical functions of Cultural Marxism.

Anonymous said...

I know it's a Lebanese name, but I've always thought Carlos Slim sounds like it should be the nickname of a Chicano gang leader in a TV cop show.

Anonymous said...

"Normally massive voter support of this kind would lead to policy changes, but on this issue elite opposition is so strong that it creates a political stalemate."

Yes, this version is definitely better. I thought the original wording was very odd and not what I had expected to read.

Anonymous said...

Actually, during the Thatcher/Major administration gross immigration into the UK ran at something like 50,000 persons per annum. Net immigration hovered aroun zero and in many years was negative.

Now, I realise that 50,000 per annum is rather big by pre-1939 British standards, but it was a genuine residuum of the various legal treaties the UK signed and in particular the subcontinental habit of bringing in spouses from their homelands - that singular fact prevented immigration from being ground right down to the ground. Unfortunately so-called 'human rights' legislation prevented any serious curtailment of this widespread form of abuse.

Now consider this. Under the Blair/Brown regime gross immigration into the UK regularly topped 500,000 persons per annum, approaching 600,000 in some years.
This is no less than 10 x the Thatcher rate. Believe it or not this was 3 x the US per capita rate, yup, the USA that land of immigrants, the open frontier and endless acerage, compared to tiny grossly over-crowded Britain.