A study released April 9, 2014: “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” (Gilens/Princeton University and Page/Northwestern University) concludes that affluent and organized interest groups have far more impact on government than the average citizen.
Large sums of money are required for elected officials to obtain and retain office. Wealthy elites and organized groups on both sides of the political aisle finance campaigns in order to gain access and advantage. Groups which actually comprise government are public unions. They determine who gets hired, promoted and retained. They determine policies and rules. Unions have a seat at the drafting table and carry the room when it comes to the vote.
In an earlier column, we examined the union representative’s insistence during drafting of Oregon SB 300 that “the school not lose any money”. If successful, the bill was intended for the state to pay a modest fee that would enable academically qualified, poor, high school students to attend a class or two at college. The several hours a week which the high school student’s seat was empty would reduce the school’s money by only a fraction. Nevertheless, a subsection was added to the bill which offered a waiver for school districts and gutted the bill. The union refused to lose any money. I was in the room and watched how business, colleges and education organization representatives held their noses and voted with the power of the union.
In that same column, I examined how Rule 3 in Nebraska would have benefited gifted children with appropriate curriculum only to have the word “shall” changed to “may” after it left our drafting committee. In a larger sense, both those initiatives would have accelerated student learning, detrimental to union interests.
This year we have been made aware of government agencies actually stonewalling Congress. Locally, we learn how state agencies are slow to respond to requests from Nebraska legislators. Lack of cooperation with those (supposedly) in charge is a game changer and a reality check.
Administrations and parties in power come and go, but public unions gain strength, assets and power. No doubt the majority of public employees serve with the best intentions and dedication. (Full disclosure: I am proud of my 11 years of service with the State of Nebraska. Governor Bob Kerrey honored my work with an Admiralship in the Nebraska Navy.) Those at the top, in control of government agencies, pose the biggest threat to our republic and our liberty.
The Princeton/Northwestern study noted “…average citizens have little or no independent influence….When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.” (Cheryl Chumley, Washington Times 4/21/2014)
We previously examined New York City Mayor de Blasio, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder in their move against vouchers and charter schools, all of which had benefitted poor children in areas with failing schools.
Despite decades of Nebraska students’ learning failure (NAEP 2013), Nebraska Unicameral Bill LB 972 Adopt the Independent Public Schools Act was indefinitely postponed April 17, 2014. Nebraska is one of just seven states which lack charter school legislation.
We previously examined union campaign contributions to Nebraska politicians responsible for education legislation, rules and policy. The failure of LB 972 to advance is a reflection of that relationship.
The Princeton/Northwestern analysis confirms the loss of our democratic republic.