A 2014 paper predicted U.S. policy changes over four years for 1,779 issues, using the positions of four groups of influencers: business-based interest groups (55), mass-based interest groups (31), median public opinion (6), and elite public opinion (100), i.e. that of people at the 90th percentile of income. (I’ve listed their relative influence in parenthesis.
A fascinating, but probably illegal, group of influencers whose impact to gauge would be Jews. Possibly groups made up from other religious persuasions could be gauged comparatively.
The people in the Top 10% are just good at choosing opinions that are pleasing to the Power Structure. If you're not good at grooming your beliefs, you're much less likely to enter the Top 10%.
Correlation is not causation. Their beliefs already reflect what policy is likely to change to anyways, just as much as the other way around.
The same argument could apply to business-based groups, except much less strongly. Business-based interest groups are trying to lobby the Power Structure to change to what they want.
So if the Power Structure already leans in their direction, they'll ask for more, and they'll never be as correlated to the policy ideas as the Top 10%. Otherwise, there'll be no need for their lobbying services. They need to lead and not trail the policy.
Your examples of the typical professions of the 90th percentile are a mismatch for the study. Household income is not individual income. 90th percentile individual income for 2021 is around 140k, i.e. the median salary of a full college professor such as yourself ;)
Haha I actually love that.
There he is again railing against the Bourgoise by *checks notes* proposing we govern firms via prediction markets? Wait wtf..
I would say these people are largely removed from policy. They can buy themselves their own borders, their own health care, their own security, perhaps even their own foreign policy. They are practically sovereign individuals; they can do whatever the eff they want short of posing an actual existential threat to a powerful State. The tax money they toss to the State is marginal to them. What do they care about a particular government's policy? If they don't like it, they vote with their feet.
So if I understand this correctly, political power is concentrate in the minority of people who climb to the top of large, often public, institutions? This isn't stated explicitly so maybe I misunderstand?
I have a few more questions: - What is it about this income level that makes someone an elite?
- How is prestige gained / lost within this class?
- How do members of this elite influence politics? Ie why do politicians and decision makers care particularly about this group's opinions?
- How does this groups opinions differ systematically from what is 'best' or in the interests of everyone else?
This conception seems quite close to Moldbug's 'Cathedral' conception of political power - ie a prestige system comprised of the high level bureaucracy, media, academia who set the Overton window basically.
Brilliant, persuasive, revelatory. The picture of our society that you paint is ugly, compared to the version from high-school civics class, even though our elite-dominated system may work better than would almost any more-populist alternative.
Aside: I thought the weakest part was your remark about pandemics. These are rare enough that your elaborate, cumbersome proposal for handling them with tort law seems uncalled-for (aside from the fact that, so far as I can see, it would work badly even in a pandemic).
Well some options:
"Bourgoise" - makes me smile suggesting this one for you, - your attitude to this group seems strangely similar to old day socialists and communists I guess whoever is standing in the way of your revolution needs to be gotten around even if the revolution differs.
"Middle Class" was originally used with this meaning, being between aristocracy/capitalist class and manual workers, but it has been used too many different ways since and has no real meaning any more.
"Upper Middle Class" may be better.
"Managerial Class"is probably more accurate again.
But do you think anything with the word "class" in it sounds too socialist for you?
And what is this other word you suggest. instead? Surely not "bureacrat"?
Sure, but when you're communicating to a modern audience it's best to use modern terms and ideas. Don't be surprised if most people don't realise you are using a word with a 500,000 year old meaning when the word has a diffetent modern meaning and there is another modern word with the meaning you are trying to communicate.
Thismedian influencer household has income of $210K/yr and wealth of $1.2M, [..] . This income is near the median doctor ($207K) and U.S. District Judge ($218K), more than the median full professor ($141K), lawyer ($139), lobbyist ($115K), judge ($109K), and CEO ($103K), [..]These elites who set policy get most of their status and income from labor, not capital and they are quite comfortable with, and in fact love, large bureaucratic organizations.I don’t see how the latter follows from the former. There is no data provided from which we can conclude that a sufficiently significant part of the ‘media influencer households’ consists of ‘elites who get most of their status and income from labor’.
The "Bolt, Musk, Jagger as elites" conception is a very recent phenomenon. I think one important part of the story is that these observations map onto our forager psychology. Humanity spent most of its time in tribes of some 50 odd members, where a handful of individuals carried most of the authority. For that reason the individuals who sit atop our local organisations in these modern times, are also the ones who carry most of the authority. So from the perspective of our forager psychology, the "90th percentile as elites" story makes much more sense because historically speaking they were the elite. The concept of Usain Bolt occupying a 99.99999th percentile spot in society literally made no sense 500,000 years ago.
I don't think you can really use these findings to claim that 90th income percentile is unusually influential relative to higher income percentiles when that's the only income percentile they tested. It's just an arbitrary income level used as a proxy for overall elite public opinion, not a finding in itself.
Usain Bolt is elite. Elon Musk is elite. Mick Jagger is elite. The 10% of the population that occupies the top 10% of positions in organisations are bureaucrats.
It should not be surprising that these people have more influence on policy decisions than others because making and informing such decisions is what they are paid to do and is what their organisations and most everybody else expects of them. You could switch all these people out for the 10% least paid in the population and then those new people would all of a sudden have hugely increased influence too. It's just a property of bureacracy.
I agree there is too much bureacracy, but couching your argument as being against elites is wierd and confusing.
This is a good analysis on the whole. However, I think classifying "elite public opinion" as though it weren't formed by the propaganda/entertainment/pseudo-educational machinations of a particular identifiable faction of the elite is disingenuous. This "elite" is not very elite at all intellectually because it's not the real elite. Average IQ of the top 10% is maybe 125? It is very possible to manufacture their consent. It is a grimly stupid spectacle, mostly open to public observation. Not least is it dependent upon the Gell-Mann amnesia effect, fatally reinforced by the universal incapacity to achieve expert level knowledge across all relevant political/policy domains. Their consent *cannot* conceivably be informed. Either it is manufactured, it is inherited, or it is random.
If the elite is structured as you outline, but its factions are interchanged over time--the nature of the beast may be substantively altered in quite extreme ways. The advent of the female among members of the elite must alter its nature. Human groups are not uniform in their innate or acquired characteristics. These elites do not arise from a homogeneous society, and, as NN Taleb has argued, those factions of the elite who are least tolerant obtain the most power over opinion formation. This factor is much underestimated in explaining the preponderant power of American Jews within the elite. They will not tolerate, for example, immigration policies that prevent America from becoming as "cosmopolitan" as possible. They will not tolerate foreign policy that fails to favor Israel in decisive fashion. They will not tolerate being treated as a separate race for purposes of, say, affirmative action--this would diminish their numbers at the elite universities, just as such policies have diminished the numbers of Asians on these launch pads. They will not tolerate any other faction in control of the means of mind control. I could go on. The weaker elite factions dare not oppose them. They accept generous payoffs and submit, and even call their submission "tolerance" and fancy it a virtue. America has been colonized. And the colonial subjects owe no allegiance to the colonial rulers.
I agree with this post, and the 2014 paper. The consequences for America have been severe.