Why Is Democracy Tolerable? Evidence from Affluence and Influence Bryan Caplan
- The median American is no Nazi, but he is a moderate national socialist
- I discuss several mechanisms that might explain why, given public opinion, democracies' policies are better than you'd expect. But I was simply unaware of the facts presented in Martin Gilens' new Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America... Democracy has a strong tendency to simply supply the policies favored by the rich.To avoid misinterpretation, this does not mean that American democracy has a strong tendency to supply the policies that most materially benefit the rich
- On distributional issues, there is high consensus. But the rich are noticeably less statist on both economic and social policy. Rich and poor alike favor raising the minimum wage, but the support of the poor is nearly unanimous. The poor are slightly more in favor of extending unemployment benefits. They're much more anti-gay. They're much less opposed to restricting free speech to fight terrorism. The list goes on.
- In contrast, I find Gilens' results not only intellectually satisfying, but hopeful. If his results hold up, we know another important reason why policy is less statist than expected: Democracies listen to the relatively libertarian rich far more than they listen to the absolutely statist non-rich.