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Corruption in the US

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

This video from 2015 takes only five minutes to present the results of a Princeton University study of 20 years of data to determine the amount of influence an American had on which laws were enacted. Regardless of whether Americans were completely against or completely for a policy, there was a 30% chance of it being enacted. From the study:

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

 It seems like the legislature is divorced from the entirety of the American public. It is not. The influence of the top 10% is much, much closer to the ideal—where issues with 0% support never pass and those with 100% support always do[1]—they effectively kill ideas they don’t support and tend to get what they do support (60% chance instead of 30%).

“This is how a bill becomes a law: A special interest hires lobbyists; those lobbyists collect campaign contributions, offer jobs, and then write the laws that Congress then passes to help those same special interests. This happens every day, on every single issue, with politicians of both parties.”

This is one of the most corrupt systems in the world, but it thinks it’s one of the most noble—a veritable meritocracy. The propaganda is so good[2] that everyone buys into it, not just those who benefit. And benefit they do—from 2010 to 2015, the top donators “invested” $5.8 billion to get a return of $4.4 trillion in subsidies, tax breaks, and other support. This isn’t a recent phenomenon: the data for as far back as 40 years shows it has never been any different.

Corruption is Legal in America by RepresentUs (YouTube)


[1] The narrator in the video notes that this is true “with a few exceptions”. Of course there will be issues that less than a majority support that would be a good idea anyway, and vice versa. But the “ideal” is a good rule of thumb.
[2]

One thing Americans are uniquely good at is believing propaganda that fools them into supporting policies that are actively harmful to them and everyone they know. The old joke about the Soviet ambassador visiting a colleague in America during the (First) Cold War still holds true:

“A Soviet ambassador visits a colleague in America. The American takes him on a tour, showing off capitalism at its finest—suburbs, cars, television, billboards, frozen food, Hollywood—everything.

“His Soviet colleague is impressed with everything, but especially expresses his amazement at how advanced and effective the propaganda is.

“The American is confused, “But you must be joking! The Soviet Union has far more propaganda than America!”

““Yes, of course, … but we don’t believe it.””