Show Me Your Papers

Kevin Drum is discussing a book by Larry Bartels that argues the bottom third of the US population (as measured by income) are disenfranchised, as their preferences seem to have no discernible effect on legislative votes.  I have not read the book, but I find this an astounding assertion on its face, particularly given that the US government is nearly entirely paid for by the other 2/3.  We exploiters don't seem to be doing a very good job of taking advantage of our oligarchy.  (By the way, if "oppressed" is defined as having one's preferences have no impact on Congressmen, then add us libertarians into the oppressed).

On the other hand, I would say that if an affluent neighborhood had 50,000 of its citizens per month randomly stopped and frisked in the street, we might see a little more pressure for police and prosecutorial reform.  I just finished Cop in the Hood, in which Peter Moskos spends a good portion of the book discussing these same issues of probable cause and street searches.


  1. Jay:

    Off topic, but you seem to like these kinds of stories....

    "This is the first time a state girls' tourney other than the AA will be played in Great Falls. It's been estimated that state basketball tournaments bring in well over $1 million to the local economy."

  2. mostly cajun:

    I tend to think that it's us in that other two-thirds that have little effect in election outcomes. Politicians happily pander to the welfare and government program crowd knowing well that promises of funding "social programs" (on a federal and state level) or more parks and recreation (on a local level) brings vast dividends in votes.

    Meanwhile we in the middle look at decaying infrastructure and wonder why we have a few million for new pools and rec centers but the budget to repair infrastructure comes up short. Simple reason? the dollars on the frills are much more visible and personal. A new park in the middle of a neighborhood is seen by EVERYBODY but nobody notices that the bridge DOESN'T fall down...


  3. tribal elder:

    And, the park/new building OPENING is a photo opportunity, and maybe the project even has a politician's name on it.

    No politician is gonna get his picture taken at the bridge painting, so maintenance of infrastructure has low utility to the decision maker.

  4. Global Warming:

    Ah. But what if a politician started taking pictures of himself at bridge-paintings?