Government by a well-to-do minority

July 17, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

At The Atlantic, Lawrence Lessig explains that those who run America, those on both the left and the right, are much fewer than the 1%:

[W]e give the tiniest fraction of America the power to veto any meaningful policy change. Not just change on the left but also change on the right. Because of the structure of influence that we have allowed to develop, the tiniest fraction of the one percent have the effective power to block reform desired by the 99-plus percent. Yet by “the tiniest fraction of the one percent” I don’t necessarily mean the rich. I mean instead the fraction of Americans who are willing to spend their money to influence congressional campaigns for their own interest. That fraction is different depending upon the reform at issue: a different group rallies to block health-care reform than rallies to block global warming legislation. But the key is that under the system we’ve allowed to evolve, a tiny number (with resources at least) has the power to block reform they don’t like. A tiny number of Americans — .26 percent — give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.


Category: Campaign Finance Reform, Corporatocracy, Politics, populism

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Adam Herman says:

    That’s a noted deficiency in democracy in general, but no one has come up with a better system yet. Being a large country, we do have one advantage though. We don’t have any single corporation controlling a large portion of our economy. Some smaller countries, like Sweden, are so dependent on just a few companies for jobs and prosperity that those companies don’t even need lobbyists or overt influence. No one crosses a company that controls 10% of GDP or more. No one.

    I think one reason the US seems worse is that everything is so out in the open and a lot more confrontational. A company like Ericsson or Nokia has a relationship with their native government that is more symbiotic than what we have here.

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