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The New Gilded Age

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malchior
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

noxiousdog wrote:
malchior wrote: What leads to you assume that? Job growth / GDP growth in general has been below the norm. This has been the longest jobs recession since the Great Depression. We still don't have as many jobs as before the bubble. Population has been growing so just on the average there is likely less opportunity.
According to Isg's chart, nearly 85% of people are fully employed. That's a good start.
I can't see his charts - probably blocked by Websense but in any case this is simply not true. The labor participation rate hasn't been lower in decades. There is a huge change going on in the economy right now. This is all people in the workforce 16 and older.

Image

Maybe it is baby boomers retiring (55-64 shown here)?

Image

Nope - surprising - their participation rate has been the highest we've seen in decades. Let's look at 25-54.

Image

and 20 - 24

Image


and 16 - 19

Image

Seems like there are a whole lot less people working than ever before. The data is right there. Less people working means less jobs period. Despite the U-3 and U-6 tracking down - they are tracking down because large portions of the workforce have given up. I guess they could all be Mitt Romney's 'takers' but my bet is on something else going on. I'm not even saying I'd advocate for change until we truly understand what is going on -- in spirit of 'We shouldn't do things just to look like we are doing something' - but there are a lot of hints that something is very far off track despite what our individual experiences are.

Here is a parting graph that always brings it home to me.

Image

That is the number of men 25-54 in the labor force.

And it isn't just because women are displacing men either though lower education attainment correlates pretty highly with the number of men leaving the workforce. Here are women 25 - 54 over the same time.

Image

*Edit: Fixed graph links
Last edited by malchior on Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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LordMortis
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by LordMortis »

noxiousdog wrote:Seriously? I'm supposed to feel sorry that someone has put in a whole 2 years worth of work and hasn't achieved the "American Dream"?
I think that is where she's at now. Not the whole of her experience.
Isgrimnur wrote:It's certainly not going down nearly as quickly as unemployment. Great, we have more people with massive college debt working at the new gas stations and Starbucks that are popping up.
Mortoned.

Though to some small degree this reinforces ND's thought on working hard. "The better life for my children" (distinctly not ND's point) isn't we're where going. While it won't be enough for full employment, there is a need for Mike Rowe's Dirty jobs. There is a need for skilled physical labor. But we want "better" lives, so we accumulate college debt and then think college was the goal, so "You owe me." rather than "I owe you."
The median pay of millennial college graduates was $45,500 -- not that much more than the $43,663 that young adults made two decades ago and the $44,770 earnings of people ages 25 to 32 three decades earlier.
Now my check doesn't look so good (as a college grad from 95) as a college grad looking to get break in to teaching, they were offering $18,000 at the time for the schools I could get in to. Maybe as much as $30,000 in an exclusive, you've got to blow the right people, position. Using my degree to get a job not in teaching got me about the same pay ($18,000 a year out of college).
$43,663.00 in 1994 has the same buying power as: $68,634.29 in 2013.
So as 20 year degree holder, I make less than the median college grad today. My sympathy is shrinking.

RunningMn9 wrote: I just cringe at the notion that children should grow up in this world with the goal to ignore being what they want to be in favor of turning themselves into an "asset" for someone else. It just sounds gross when you put it like that. :)
Aye. It does sound that way. Where is that cracked editorial on "You are an object and are what you can offer other people" in response to why you can't a girlfriend?
malchoir wrote:Less people working means less jobs period.
But that could also mean more people living he life of Riley. I don't think that's the story here but wouldn't it be nice if it were.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

LordMortis wrote:But that could also mean more people living he life of Riley. I don't think that's the story here but wouldn't it be nice if it were.
It'd be nice - but the number of people on food stamps, unemployment, etc. tell a different story.

The only reason we didn't have soup lines like the Great Depression was the safety net. [sarcasm] Maybe it would have been better to have them to make the situation appear as serious as it is was(is)... [/sarcasm]
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Isgrimnur »

LordMortis wrote:Now my check doesn't look so good (as a college grad from 95) as a college grad looking to get break in to teaching, they were offering $18,000 at the time for the schools I could get in to. Maybe as much as $30,000 in an exclusive, you've got to blow the right people, position. Using my degree to get a job not in teaching got me about the same pay ($18,000 a year out of college).
$43,663.00 in 1994 has the same buying power as: $68,634.29 in 2013.
So as 20 year degree holder, I make less than the median college grad today. My sympathy is shrinking.
As nd pointed out, those numbers were already inflation adjusted. My calculations were wrong.

That $43,663 is in today's dollars. In 1995, that would have been $28,564.

Inflation calculator
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geezer
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by geezer »

RunningMn9 wrote:
geezer wrote:If you study stuff you like in college instead of what makes you an asset
I feel like that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer hires Dominicans to make Cuban cigars...where talking about people, right?

I don't disagree with your point that their strategy will necessarily result in lower pay. That's the way the world works. I just cringe at the notion that children should grow up in this world with the goal to ignore being what they want to be in favor of turning themselves into an "asset" for someone else. It just sounds gross when you put it like that. :)
FWIW, I agree with you, and I would strongly encourage people to do what makes them happy vs. what guarantees the largest paycheck. That comes with the seemingly obvious caveat, though, that what makes you happy may not provide the standard of living that you aspire to, yet generally speaking, some millenials seem to have a problem with making that connection.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by geezer »

LordMortis wrote:
RunningMn9 wrote: I just cringe at the notion that children should grow up in this world with the goal to ignore being what they want to be in favor of turning themselves into an "asset" for someone else. It just sounds gross when you put it like that. :)
Aye. It does sound that way. Where is that cracked editorial on "You are an object and are what you can offer other people" in response to why you can't a girlfriend?

But isn't that fundamentally true? The thing is that my belief is that just about everyone has something to offer someone, but the problem is that some people expect the second party to operate on what's offered, instead of what's needed, and that just irrational. The cool thing, though, is that if you're industrious enough you can generally either find another 2nd party that DOES want what you are offering, OR you can create the demand/need for your offering if you're willing to put in the risk.

That said, the tragedy of it is that many young people (not just millenials, but much younger children) are not taught how properly "offer" what they have, whether via parental neglect, failing schools or simple lack of guidance. Essentially, my own caveat to my beliefs is that it's critical to remember that people that are failed by the system as children are at a serious disadvantage as adults.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by RunningMn9 »

My problem is that the way it is being talked about is very dehumanizing IMO. Human beings are more than their economic utility to someone else.

Aren't they?
And in banks across the world
Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews
And every other race, creed, colour, tint or hue
Get down on their knees and pray
The raccoon and the groundhog neatly
Make up bags of change
But the monkey in the corner
Well he's slowly drifting out of range
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LordMortis
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by LordMortis »

geezer wrote:
LordMortis wrote:
RunningMn9 wrote: I just cringe at the notion that children should grow up in this world with the goal to ignore being what they want to be in favor of turning themselves into an "asset" for someone else. It just sounds gross when you put it like that. :)
Aye. It does sound that way. Where is that cracked editorial on "You are an object and are what you can offer other people" in response to why you can't a girlfriend?

But isn't that fundamentally true? The thing is that my belief is that just about everyone has something to offer someone, but the problem is that some people expect the second party to operate on what's offered, instead of what's needed, and that just irrational. The cool thing, though, is that if you're industrious enough you can generally either find another 2nd party that DOES want what you are offering, OR you can create the demand/need for your offering if you're willing to put in the risk.

That said, the tragedy of it is that many young people (not just millenials, but much younger children) are not taught how properly "offer" what they have, whether via parental neglect, failing schools or simple lack of guidance. Essentially, my own caveat to my beliefs is that it's critical to remember that people that are failed by the system as children are at a serious disadvantage as adults.
Yes, but that doesn't make us cringe less. Maybe that's why it's not being taught to "then next generation" like it should be.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by RLMullen »

RunningMn9 wrote:My problem is that the way it is being talked about is very dehumanizing IMO. Human beings are more than their economic utility to someone else.

Aren't they?
Not when we are talking about the economy.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by RunningMn9 »

And that's the problem. :)
And in banks across the world
Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews
And every other race, creed, colour, tint or hue
Get down on their knees and pray
The raccoon and the groundhog neatly
Make up bags of change
But the monkey in the corner
Well he's slowly drifting out of range
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by noxiousdog »

Malchior, your last two graphs pretty much assure me that this isn't new.

Also, the number of Americans on disability has risen to 9 million workers. That's a lot of workforce people in your numbers.
Black Lives Matter

"To wield Grond, the mighty hammer of the Federal Government, is to be intoxicated with power beyond what you and I can reckon (though I figure we can ball park it pretty good with computers and maths). Need to tunnel through a mountain? Grond. Kill a mighty ogre? Grond. Hangnail? Grond. Spider? Grond (actually, that's a legit use, moreso than the rest)." - Peacedog
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Kraken »

Fresh fuel for the fire

Enlarge Image
WASHINGTON — The earnings gap between young adults with and without bachelor’s degrees has stretched to its widest level in nearly half a century. It is a sign of the growing value of a college education despite rising tuition costs, according to an analysis of census data released Tuesday.

Young adults with a high school diploma earned 62 percent of the typical salary of college graduates.

That is down from 81 percent in 1965, the earliest year for which comparable data are available.

The analysis by the Pew Research Center shows the increasing economic difficulties for young adults who lack a bachelor’s degree in today’s economy that is polarized between high- and low-wage work. As a whole, high school graduates were more likely to live in poverty and be dissatisfied with their jobs, if not unemployed.

...

The report found that not only does a college degree typically yield much more inflation-adjusted earnings than before, but a high school diploma also is now worth less. That adds to a widening earnings gap that Pew researchers found mirrors the US gap between rich and poor.

For instance, college graduates ages 25 to 32 who were working full time now typically earn about $17,500 more annually than employed young adults with a high school diploma ($45,500 versus $28,000); those with a two-year degree or some college training earned $30,000. In 1965, before globalization and automation wiped out many middle-class jobs in areas such as manufacturing, the inflation-adjusted gap was just $7,449.

Meanwhile, median earnings for high school graduates have fallen more than $3,000, from $31,384 in 1965 to $28,000 last year.

Young adults with just high school diplomas now are also much more likely to live in poverty, at 22 percent compared to 7 percent for their counterparts in 1979.
tl;dr: Due to the disappearance of mid-level jobs, you're boned if you don't have a college degree.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by noxiousdog »

Kraken wrote: tl;dr: Due to the disappearance of mid-level jobs, you're boned if you don't have a college degree.
For that to have any real value you need to be able to screen out skilled labor and unskilled labor. Electricians, for example.
Black Lives Matter

"To wield Grond, the mighty hammer of the Federal Government, is to be intoxicated with power beyond what you and I can reckon (though I figure we can ball park it pretty good with computers and maths). Need to tunnel through a mountain? Grond. Kill a mighty ogre? Grond. Hangnail? Grond. Spider? Grond (actually, that's a legit use, moreso than the rest)." - Peacedog
malchior
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

I'm not saying this is a new trend. It is a continuing trend that is only getting worse and has long-term ramifications. My point was that if the number of jobs is decreasing in an absolute sense then there is generally less opportunity. We're seeing it all over the place in the data. There is absolutely no way to say these kids have the same or more opportunity.

As to disability - I agree - that has been an increasing problem and it increasingly looks like it has become a backdoor way in a lot of states to deal with the persistent unemployment. There are counties in the south where 25% of the population is "disabled". I don't see how anyone could take it as a non-fictitious phenomenon. I also see that as a symptom of the larger "jobs" problem. This American Life did a good segment on it last year that was a little flawed but illustrated a lot of the labor market distortion that has occurred due to the program. For example, during the recession a influx of people suddenly became disabled...why? Probably because many of them couldn't find work. Not saying that is right but it is all tied up in the same problem. We have an economy that is not creating jobs and hasn't been able to right itself.

Edit: And when it creates jobs - they tend to be lousy low-end service jobs..
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by LordMortis »

panem et circenses
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by noxiousdog »

malchior wrote:I'm not saying this is a new trend. It is a continuing trend that is only getting worse and has long-term ramifications. My point was that if the number of jobs is decreasing in an absolute sense then there is generally less opportunity. We're seeing it all over the place in the data. There is absolutely no way to say these kids have the same or more opportunity.
\

I'm not sure the number of skilled labor jobs is substantially different. There were allegedly 30,000 electrician jobs created from 2011 to 2012, for example.

However, that being said, it's a given that before we are dead (of natural causes) there are likely to be no unskilled jobs. Zero, nada.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least. "lack of skills" could very easily qualify you for being disabled.
Black Lives Matter

"To wield Grond, the mighty hammer of the Federal Government, is to be intoxicated with power beyond what you and I can reckon (though I figure we can ball park it pretty good with computers and maths). Need to tunnel through a mountain? Grond. Kill a mighty ogre? Grond. Hangnail? Grond. Spider? Grond (actually, that's a legit use, moreso than the rest)." - Peacedog
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LordMortis
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by LordMortis »

noxiousdog wrote:It wouldn't surprise me in the least. "lack of skills" could very easily qualify you for being disabled.
How much do disabled people get to collect?

Runs off to the Internet

http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/how-much-in-ssd.html
Most SSDI recipients receive between $300 and $2,200. The average SSDI payment in 2014 is $1,148. The maximum disability benefit in 2014 is $2,642.
If you can get me to the Max, I'd be cooking with gas but I think I can survive on the average if we can hold off until my house is paid off.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

Kraken wrote:tl;dr: Due to the disappearance of mid-level jobs, you're boned if you don't have a college degree.
And we don't have enough supply of higher education to supply all the demand as is.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Combustible Lemur »

Last edited by Combustible Lemur on Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by PLW »

malchior wrote:
Kraken wrote:tl;dr: Due to the disappearance of mid-level jobs, you're boned if you don't have a college degree.
And we don't have enough supply of higher education to supply all the demand as is.
I don't know what this means. Do you mean supply is less than demand at the old price? That sounds right to me, and it's the reason the price went up.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

PLW wrote:
malchior wrote:
Kraken wrote:tl;dr: Due to the disappearance of mid-level jobs, you're boned if you don't have a college degree.
And we don't have enough supply of higher education to supply all the demand as is.
I don't know what this means. Do you mean supply is less than demand at the old price? That sounds right to me, and it's the reason the price went up.
Think throughput not price. If we need more College degrees to sustain the middle class and we can't pump enough educated folk into the workforce then we have a long-term imbalance. It hasn't shown up in wages yet but it might if the economy were to pick up again and there was a demand for entry level work suitable to degree holders.

Thinking about the price too -- forming a degree-granting institution takes quite a long time so they aren't going to pop up in mass if at all. Some of the private "training" institutions eventually get themselves accredited but still not at a very fast rate of growth. And they tend to have poorer reputations. Instead we are seeing growth at existing institutions and they are by their nature cautious about expansion.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Kraken »

Something's wrong here...

Uh oh, bitly couldn't find a link for the bitly URL you clicked.
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Combustible Lemur
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Combustible Lemur »

Kraken wrote:
Something's wrong here...

Uh oh, bitly couldn't find a link for the bitly URL you clicked.
Oops and stuff, fixed.

Driving Porsches require more skill and effort than taking the bus.

Sent courtesy of the Galaxy.... note2.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Little Raven »

Larry Summers warns that the US in danger of becoming a Downton Abbey economy.
A generation ago it could reasonably have been asserted that the overall growth rate of the economy was the main influence on the growth in middle-class incomes and progress in reducing poverty. This is no longer a plausible claim.

The share of income going to the top 1 per cent of earners has increased sharply. A rising share of output is going to profits. Real wages are stagnant. Family incomes have not risen as fast as productivity. The cumulative effect of all these developments is that the US may well be on the way to becoming a Downton Abbey economy. It is very likely that these issues will be with us long after the cyclical conditions have normalised and budget deficits have at last been addressed.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by noxiousdog »

Anyone that references the top 1% is giving you a trite soundbite and isn't interested in conveying details. It's becoming increasingly aggravating to me. Go look up top .1% and .01% and you'll see what I mean.

Anyway.....

re disappearing workers...
The Hidden Good News on Jobs
By Kopin Tan
MARKETWATCH — 02/15/14
THE MYSTERY OF our diminishing workforce is the stuff of policy debates, but the fact is, globalization and technology have spawned a new economy with fewer jobs. Despite commanding similar market values, Twitter(TWTR) has just 2,300 full-time employees -- or 3.4% that of Deere(DE) (DE). A Philadelphia Federal Reserve study also suggests the labor force is shrinking because boomers are retiring. And 1.5 million boomers will turn 65 in each of the next 15 years. They're not coming back to work, no matter how much the economic cycle improves.

Graying geezers are just part of the exodus. The number of younger Americans ages 25 to 54 who have quit and don't want a job increased 5% last year. David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, paints a persuasive picture of an economy rife with mismatched job skills: Some 23% of small businesses have at least one position open that they cannot fill, the most in six years. Unemployment among college graduates is just 3%, so access to education -- preferably without crippling student debt -- would help. Skilled-labor shortages abound in manufacturing, construction, transportation services, and technology, and the crop of job openings nationwide recently climbed above four million for the first time since March 2008. "The problem is that this is not translating into new hirings," which are growing just 1.7%, Rosenberg writes. If all four million openings are filled, our unemployment rate would fall to 4%
Black Lives Matter

"To wield Grond, the mighty hammer of the Federal Government, is to be intoxicated with power beyond what you and I can reckon (though I figure we can ball park it pretty good with computers and maths). Need to tunnel through a mountain? Grond. Kill a mighty ogre? Grond. Hangnail? Grond. Spider? Grond (actually, that's a legit use, moreso than the rest)." - Peacedog
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Kraken »

Godwinians rejoice: NASA-sponsored study foresees "inevitable" collapse of civilization.
By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."

...

Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:

".... appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature."

Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that "with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites."

...

The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:

"Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion."
So we'll just get busy changing those two simple things. No problem!
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by PLW »

Not entirely off-topic. This graph showed up on the NPR Planet money blog today. I would have guessed artist were much more likely to be the children of the well-off. One thing to keep in mind is that the job dots aren't all the same size. There are way more construction workers than doctors.

Image
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Kraken »

Science!
A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, "Who governs? Who really rules?" in this country, is:

"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. 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, ..." and then they go on to say, it's not true, and that, "America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened" by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead "the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.
The actual research paper is linked in this summary if anybody has the time and gumption to plow through it.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

I'll eventually get around to reading the paper. I'm sympathetic to the result though because it is pretty clear that something is drastically wrong. That they are claiming an oligarchy makes sense - in states as small as NJ we see it -- the optics are easier. We have a guy (Norcross) in south Jersey who essentially rules his part of the state and has never once faced an election. He is having his brother installed into Congress this year in the mid-terms as well. And he is not even quiet about it.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Kraken »

Their conclusion falls into the "well, duh" category for me. I'm curious whether the authors started with that conclusion, cherry-picked data to support it, then cloaked that in "science," or if their methodology was more legitimate than that. (It can be hard to tell in the social sciences where most data is necessarily soft). If it's being touted as scientific proof that the trappings of democracy in America are a sham, I need to know if it's good science.

Also, I'm too lazy to read it and come to my own conclusion. Maybe later tonight.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

Based on a quick read they are building on someone's else methodology for ranking political influence and how different models of democracy map into them. Their innovation was approximating the influence of different interest groups into that methodology to track a wide range of political interests (almost 1800 different issues). One of the results was that they have good data (via extensive polling) on the American public's policy preferences and they believe that they conclusively found that it is little to no impact on policy formation.
The failure of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy is all the more striking
because it goes against the likely effects of the limitations of our data. The preferences of
ordinary citizens were measured more directly than our other independent variables, yet they are
estimated to have the least effect
They are pretty sure the "power" lives somewhere else. Seems about right to me. From there they dig in a bit further.
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Rip
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Rip »

I fail to see how individual apathy and a tendency to be susceptible to marketing makes it not a democracy. I would say it is a democracy that is so apathetic and uninformed as to be subject to the whims of the rich and powerful. Rest assured if the public suddenly became engaged and stopped taking advertising at face value it has as much democratic power as any nation. Failure to properly use the democratic power doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Pyperkub »

Rip wrote:I fail to see how individual apathy and a tendency to be susceptible to marketing makes it not a democracy. I would say it is a democracy that is so apathetic and uninformed as to be subject to the whims of the rich and powerful. Rest assured if the public suddenly became engaged and stopped taking advertising at face value it has as much democratic power as any nation. Failure to properly use the democratic power doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Policies designed to keep it that way notwithstanding.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

Rip wrote:I fail to see how individual apathy and a tendency to be susceptible to marketing makes it not a democracy. I would say it is a democracy that is so apathetic and uninformed as to be subject to the whims of the rich and powerful. Rest assured if the public suddenly became engaged and stopped taking advertising at face value it has as much democratic power as any nation. Failure to properly use the democratic power doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
From what I skimmed they are not arguing we are not a democracy - they are attempting to establish what form of power structure exists within our democracy. That they found endemic corruption is not all that surprising -- I don't think many would argue against the idea that money has been greasing the skids of American Democracy for a long time. However I don't think it has been as bad or obvious as it has been lately. Additionally I wouldn't be surprised if all along voter's policy preferences weren't at the top of the list but they are finding that we aren't on the list which is a recipe for unrest.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by GreenGoo »

Rip wrote:I fail to see how individual apathy and a tendency to be susceptible to marketing makes it not a democracy. I would say it is a democracy that is so apathetic and uninformed as to be subject to the whims of the rich and powerful. Rest assured if the public suddenly became engaged and stopped taking advertising at face value it has as much democratic power as any nation. Failure to properly use the democratic power doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
But does it matter if you get 100% voter turn out if your only options are a democrat or a republican? I mean, if we assume both sides are equally bought and paid for, how would your mythical engaged and educated voting population make any difference in how the country is run?

I'm not being facetious. Right now you have 2 options. In your scenario, you still only have 2 options. They are the exact same options you had prior to your scenario.

More/less votes isn't going to change whether a system is more or less representative of the population as a whole.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by malchior »

GreenGoo wrote:
Rip wrote:I fail to see how individual apathy and a tendency to be susceptible to marketing makes it not a democracy. I would say it is a democracy that is so apathetic and uninformed as to be subject to the whims of the rich and powerful. Rest assured if the public suddenly became engaged and stopped taking advertising at face value it has as much democratic power as any nation. Failure to properly use the democratic power doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
But does it matter if you get 100% voter turn out if your only options are a democrat or a republican? I mean, if we assume both sides are equally bought and paid for, how would your mythical engaged and educated voting population make any difference in how the country is run?

I'm not being facetious. Right now you have 2 options. In your scenario, you still only have 2 options. They are the exact same options you had prior to your scenario.

More/less votes isn't going to change whether a system is more or less representative of the population as a whole.
I don't know if it is that simple. If a truly populist movement rose up and candidates were at actual risk of getting kicked to the gutters I imagine we would see change. However that has never really ever happened here so the chances of it are slim. Thus the powers have rigged the "current" game wherever they can. That is why decisions like Citizens United are so dangerous IMO - they concentrated power where power was already concentrated. It was awful policy. One that is nearly impossible to fix within the current system. Anyway, I don't see a clean exit from this system and think we are going to more than likely to see a failure precipitate change.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Rip »

GreenGoo wrote:
Rip wrote:I fail to see how individual apathy and a tendency to be susceptible to marketing makes it not a democracy. I would say it is a democracy that is so apathetic and uninformed as to be subject to the whims of the rich and powerful. Rest assured if the public suddenly became engaged and stopped taking advertising at face value it has as much democratic power as any nation. Failure to properly use the democratic power doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
But does it matter if you get 100% voter turn out if your only options are a democrat or a republican? I mean, if we assume both sides are equally bought and paid for, how would your mythical engaged and educated voting population make any difference in how the country is run?

I'm not being facetious. Right now you have 2 options. In your scenario, you still only have 2 options. They are the exact same options you had prior to your scenario.

More/less votes isn't going to change whether a system is more or less representative of the population as a whole.
But there was a vote for those candidates to make them the choice for the Republicans and Democrats. Not to mention you are free to vote for a Green candidate or a Libertarian one or any number of other political parties that are in no way prevented by law from campaigning and being elected. The problem is that people misuse or fail to use the power of their vote. That isn't the fault of the system it is the problem of democracy and the people of a democracy itself. Even if no one could contribute but $1 to a political campaign people would still make bad choices and/or fail to participate in the process. The biggest weakness of a government that gives all the power to the people is the people themselves. People have made bad choices and their government is reflective of that.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by Rip »

malchior wrote:
GreenGoo wrote:
Rip wrote:I fail to see how individual apathy and a tendency to be susceptible to marketing makes it not a democracy. I would say it is a democracy that is so apathetic and uninformed as to be subject to the whims of the rich and powerful. Rest assured if the public suddenly became engaged and stopped taking advertising at face value it has as much democratic power as any nation. Failure to properly use the democratic power doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
But does it matter if you get 100% voter turn out if your only options are a democrat or a republican? I mean, if we assume both sides are equally bought and paid for, how would your mythical engaged and educated voting population make any difference in how the country is run?

I'm not being facetious. Right now you have 2 options. In your scenario, you still only have 2 options. They are the exact same options you had prior to your scenario.

More/less votes isn't going to change whether a system is more or less representative of the population as a whole.
I don't know if it is that simple. If a truly populist movement rose up and candidates were at actual risk of getting kicked to the gutters I imagine we would see change. However that has never really ever happened here so the chances of it are slim. Thus the powers have rigged the "current" game wherever they can. That is why decisions like Citizens United are so dangerous IMO - they concentrated power where power was already concentrated. It was awful policy. One that is nearly impossible to fix within the current system. Anyway, I don't see a clean exit from this system and think we are going to more than likely to see a failure precipitate change.
They didn't give them power they gave them money. The people have allowed money and marketing to dictate their decisions. It isn't the fault of the money, marketing, or system. It is the fault of the people for being a bunch of propaganda following sheep. There are millions of people that could be elected and leading our government in a few short years if the people just decided that is who they want doing it.

The fact that people vote for whoever has the most and best advertising campaigns isn't a fault with the candidates and/or system as much as it is a fault with the people themselves. Just a bunch of sheep.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by LawBeefaroni »

Rip wrote: But there was a vote for those candidates to make them the choice for the Republicans and Democrats. Not to mention you are free to vote for a Green candidate or a Libertarian one or any number of other political parties that are in no way prevented by law from campaigning and being elected. The problem is that people misuse or fail to use the power of their vote. That isn't the fault of the system it is the problem of democracy and the people of a democracy itself.
No, it's a fundamental feature of the 2-party system.

People are loathe to risk "throwing away" their vote on a 3rd party, no matter how great, if it means the party they like the least will have a short-term advantage over the one they dislike less.

Rip wrote: Even if no one could contribute but $1 to a political campaign people would still make bad choices and/or fail to participate in the process. The biggest weakness of a government that gives all the power to the people is the people themselves. People have made bad choices and their government is reflective of that.
They would make their own bad choices, not someone else's.
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Re: The New Gilded Age

Post by GreenGoo »

Rip wrote:But there was a vote for those candidates to make them the choice for the Republicans and Democrats.
I don't see how changing the number of elections changes anything. The same problem exists at the party level as exists at the national level. Well, sure, you get to pick from 5 or so others, but really only 2 of those are usually viable. You can't even get on the ballot without money, so money is power in your system (and most systems).

I'm not sure what imaginary scenario you're envisioning that would suddenly have things work differently if more people voted and were better informed. They have to have an actual choice that matters. I don't see that coming from "paying more attention". Plenty of people "pay attention" now.

There's also the problem of a culture that openly mocks those that don't vote for one of the two party candidates. Every time I hear about "throwing your vote away" I'm like, what? That's how you express your displeasure with the current rulers. Throwing it away IS better that voting in someone you are only less in disagreement with. Well not so much in your winner take all system, but it's better than participating and perpetuating the current power structure. Assuming you're unhappy with it.

I agree that apathy is a real problem. I just don't see how active participation changes the national power structure one iota.

Also, you forgot to refer to them as sheeple. I believe that's the normal term when referring to large groups of people dismissively.
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