Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's a really crappy time to be poor in America

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 1:05 PM

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As the Supreme Court continues to revolutionize the amounts of money that can flow into politics, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern universities has scientifically confirmed what we all intrinsically know to be true: The common folk can't affect political policy, but their billionaire employer definitely can.

"Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all," write authors Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page. "By contrast, economic elites are estimated to have a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy.

"This does not mean that theories of Economic Elite Domination are wholly upheld, since our results indicate that individual elites must share their policy influence with organized interest groups. Still, economic elites stand out as quite influential — more so than any other set of actors studied here — in the making of U.S. public policy."

"Similarly, organized interest groups (all taken together, for now) are found to have substantial independent influence on policy."

The study comes on the heels of the news that Sears — where, in 1972, half of the U.S. held a credit account and 3 in 4 visited at least once a year, writes Salon — is taking a massive hit, which basically means the middle-class is taking a massive hit. (Plus, you know, the Internet.)

You can further see this by looking at what's selling and what's not. Sears, JCPenney, Olive Garden and all their brethren are feeling the crunch of their typical customer losing spending power, reported the New York Times in February. "But who's driving the economic comeback?" you ask. 

Well ...

"In 2012, the top 5 percent of earners were responsible for 38 percent of domestic consumption, up from 28 percent in 1995, the researchers found," the Times writes.

"Even more striking, the current recovery has been driven almost entirely by the upper crust, according to Mr. Fazzari and Mr. Cynamon. Since 2009, the year the recession ended, inflation-adjusted spending by this top echelon has risen 17 percent, compared with just 1 percent among the bottom 95 percent."

The problem with that?

"Mr. Fazzari also said that depending on a relatively small but affluent slice of the population to drive demand makes the economy more volatile, because this group does more discretionary spending that can rise and fall with the stock market, or track seesawing housing prices."

So, corporate profits are back to pre-recession levels, employee wages are flat and it's been scientifically proven that the regular person can't affect political policy. The economy's back, but only because the stacked are spending and could stop at any time, sending the country spiraling again. 

Basically, if banks can manage not to tank the economy, and bankers can manage to keep buying golf clubs, the struggling classes might get to continue barely making it.

And, oh yeah: The American Dream is a myth.

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