I did a search engine peek using the keywords “articles, Oligarchy, 2014” and found that, since April 16, everybody has something to say about the United States being a nation controlled by the wealthy.
On the search’s front page, businessinsider.com, america.aljazeera.com, bbc.com, zerohedge.com, commondreams.org, roarmag.org, washingtonpost.com, and rt.com had recent pieces on a recent study by Princeton University.
The central point of the study:
“The central point that emerges from our rese arch is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
Everyone and his mother knows that the U.S. is owned, run, and controlled by big money. They write the laws (hello, ALEC) and decide who gets to have a political career. This kind of common knowledge is irrefutable, backed by mounds of evidence supported by hard math. None of this is suprising. Blah blah blah. You’ve heard this before.
The obviousness of this kind of control is reflected in the fact that one of the most common phrases shared by commenters on these pieces is “Captain Obvious”. The media sounded genuinely surprised, took to re-interviewing Paul Krugman, and repeatedly posed the issue as a question.
“Is the U.S. Really an Oligarchy?” “Do the Elites Really Control Things?” “Does Money Buy Power in America?” These ‘headlines’ are invented by me, but it wouldn’t surprise me if any or all of them have made their way into one or more of these ‘articles’.
Some outlets took a predictably contrary stance, such as qz.com. Interestingly, the qz piece was titled “Ordinary Americans are powerless, but the US isn’t really an oligarchy” while the body contained this quote: ” I guess it depends on how you define oligarchy . If you go with Aristotle’s original definition -‘when men of property have the government in their hands’-then, well, yeah .”
So, which is more surprising, the United States being an oligarchy or the media being surprised and treating it like news?