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Can a country be a democracy if its government only responds to the preferences of the rich? In an ideal democracy, all citizens should have equal influence on government policy--but as this book demonstrates, America's policymakers respond almost exclusively to the preferences of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections. With sharp analysis and an impressive range of data, Martin Gilens looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree of support for each among poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans. His findings are staggering: when preferences of low- or middle-income Americans diverge from those of the affluent, there is virtually no relationship between policy outcomes and the desires of less advantaged groups. In contrast, affluent Americans' preferences exhibit a substantial relationship with policy outcomes whether their preferences are shared by lower-income groups or not. Gilens shows that representational inequality is spread widely across different policy domains and time periods. Yet Gilens also shows that under specific circumstances the preferences of the middle class and, to a lesser extent, the poor, do seem to matter. In particular, impending elections--especially presidential elections--and an even partisan division in Congress mitigate representational inequality and boost responsiveness to the preferences of the broader public. At a time when economic and political inequality in the United States only continues to rise, Affluence and Influence raises important questions about whether American democracy is truly responding to the needs of all its citizens.
Can a country be a democracy if its government only responds to the preferences of the rich? In an ideal democracy, all citizens should have equal influence on government policy--but as this book demonstrates, America's policymakers respond almost exclusively to the preferences of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections. With sharp analysis and an impressive range of data, Martin Gilens looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree of support for each among poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans. His findings are staggering: when preferences of low- or middle-income Americans diverge from those of the affluent, there is virtually no relationship between policy outcomes and the desires of less advantaged groups. In contrast, affluent Americans' preferences exhibit a substantial relationship with policy outcomes whether their preferences are shared by lower-income groups or not. Gilens shows that representational inequality is spread widely across different policy domains and time periods. Yet Gilens also shows that under specific circumstances the preferences of the middle class and, to a lesser extent, the poor, do seem to matter. In particular, impending elections--especially presidential elections--and an even partisan division in Congress mitigate representational inequality and boost responsiveness to the preferences of the broader public. At a time when economic and political inequality in the United States only continues to rise, Affluence and Influence raises important questions about whether American democracy is truly responding to the needs of all its citizens.
Can a country be a democracy if its government only responds to the preferences of the rich? In an ideal democracy, all citizens should have equal influence on government policy--but as this book demonstrates, America's policymakers respond almost exclusively to the preferences of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections. With sharp analysis and an impressive range of data, Martin Gilens looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree of support for each among poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans. His findings are staggering: when preferences of low- or middle-income Americans diverge from those of the affluent, there is virtually no relationship between policy outcomes and the desires of less advantaged groups. In contrast, affluent Americans' preferences exhibit a substantial relationship with policy outcomes whether their preferences are shared by lower-income groups or not. Gilens shows that representational inequality is spread widely across different policy domains and time periods. Yet Gilens also shows that under specific circumstances the preferences of the middle class and, to a lesser extent, the poor, do seem to matter. In particular, impending elections--especially presidential elections--and an even partisan division in Congress mitigate representational inequality and boost responsiveness to the preferences of the broader public. At a time when economic and political inequality in the United States only continues to rise, Affluence and Influence raises important questions about whether American democracy is truly responding to the needs of all its citizens.
"The Unheavenly Chorus is classic Schlozman, Verba, and Brady: a timely, deeply researched examination of participatory inequalities in American civic life. Ranging broadly from interest groups to voting to protests and social movements, the authors use their combined decades of research and reflection to paint a powerful and revealing picture of the landscape of citizen involvement in politics--and the stark tilt of that landscape toward those at the top of the economic ladder. Essential reading."--Jacob S. Hacker, coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class "The Unheavenly Chorus is the definitive study of participatory inequality in America. Marshaling prodigious evidence, the authors show how money not only buys influence directly but also affects associations that are supposed to be democratic antidotes to concentrated wealth. A monumental achievement of careful scholarship, this book offers real knowledge of how politics actually operates."--Robert Kuttner, coeditor, The American Prospect "Here, finally, is the analysis we've been waiting for. With extraordinary rigor and utmost care, three of the nation's most eminent political scientists show beyond a doubt how participation in American politics is inextricably linked to income and education. The most affluent and best-educated citizens are consistently overrepresented, which threatens the core democratic principle of equal responsiveness to all. This is a masterful work, certain to be a classic."--Robert Reich, University of California, Berkeley "This book is one of a kind. It represents a major statement about the current state of American democracy, political participation, social class, and social inequality. The Unheavenly Chorus gives overwhelming evidence that something is wrong with our political system and needs to be fixed. I believe this is one of the most important books of the decade."--Frank R. Baumgartner, coauthor of Agendas and Instability in American Politics "What the authors have done here is to write a book about both majoritarian and pluralist democracy--and the shortcomings of each. They forcefully convey that our democracy is ill and that the statistics they've assembled are not abstractions but represent inequality of opportunity in everyday life. In its own dignified and scholarly way, The Unheavenly Chorus voices outrage."--Jeffrey M. Berry, coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups "The Unheavenly Chorus is a tour de force. It attacks a timely yet timeless set of issues that are critical to understanding the extent of--and possibilities for--democratic governance and political equality. Instead of a heavenly chorus, the authors find a cacophony of deep, enduring, and cumulative inequalities of political voice."--Dara Z. Strolovitch, author of Affirmative Advocacy: Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics
While overconsumption by the developed world's roughly one billion inhabitants is an abiding problem, another one billion increasingly affluent "new consumers" in developing countries will place additional strains on the earth's resources, argue authors Norman Myers and Jennifer Kent in this important new book. The New Consumers examines the environmental impacts of this increased consumption, with particular focus on two commodities -- cars and meat -- that stand to have the most far-reaching effects. It analyzes consumption patterns in a number of different countries, with special emphasis on China and India (whose surging economies, as well as their large populations, are likely to account for exceptional growth in humanity's ecological footprint), and surveys big-picture issues such as the globalization of economies, consumer goods, and lifestyles. Ultimately, according to the orman Myers and Jennifer Kent, the challenge will be for all of humanity to transition to sustainable levels of consumption, for it is unrealistic to expect "new" consumers not to aspire to be like the "old" ones. Cogent in its analysis, The New Consumers issues a timely warning of a major and developing environmental trend, and suggests valuable strategies for ameliorating its effects.
A scalding indictment of how the wealthy influence the national economy, politics, and media to disadvantage those less fortunate.
DIVThe Western world has experienced extraordinary economic progress throughout the last six decades, a prosperous period so extended that continuous economic growth has come to seem normal. But such an era of continuously rising living standards is a historical anomaly, economist Stephen D. King warns, and the current stagnation of Western economies threatens to reach crisis proportions in the not-so-distant future./divDIV /divDIVPraised for the “dose of realism” he provided in his book Losing Control, King follows up in this volume with a plain-spoken assessment of where the West stands today. It’s not just the end of an age of affluence, he shows. We have made promises to ourselves that are achievable only through ongoing economic expansion. The future benefits we expect—pensions, healthcare, and social security, for example—may be larger than tomorrow’s resources. And if we reach that point, which promises will be broken and who will lose out? The lessons of history offer compelling evidence that political and social upheaval are often born of economic stagnation. King addresses these lessons with a multifaceted plan that involves painful—but necessary—steps toward a stable and just economic future./div

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