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Vapid Sound Bites Proliferate As We Surrender Democracy To Corporate Oligarchs

Princeton Research Concludes that US is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

Governor Christie Provides A Road Map To How Oligarchs Rule

NJ Media Ignores the Issue

The central point that emerges from our research 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. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism. ~~~ Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens

[Update: 4/21/14 – Kudos to NJ Spotlight for publishing a list of NJ’s oligarchs: NJ’s 10 Highest Paid CEO’s].

We’ll get to the boxed quote above in a minute.

For those that don’t get into the weeds to follow the internal workings of government – or are too lazy to file an OPRA public records request and conduct a file review – the Mastro interview summaries provide a revealing Cliff Notes glimpse into how the Christie government operates.

I’m an in the weeds guy, so I stayed up practically all night reading the DEP summaries –

One would assume that everyone would question why 11 of the 75 interviews were of NJ environmental officials (including 1 former DEP manager now in the Gov.’s Office) – and what role DEP played in the Rockefeller development controversy at the heart of the most potentially criminal part of the scandal.

Do reporters think it is appropriate and standard operating procedure for the Gov. to have his political arm (Office of Intergovernmental Affairs) arrange a series of private Commissioner and high level DEP meetings with a major corporation like the Rockefeller Development Group to discuss DEP regulatory approvals for a billion dollar development project?

So, over the last few days, I’ve been reaching out to reporters covering the various Christie scandals to try to explain what the Mastro interview summaries reveal about how Governor Christie governs.

Or more specifically, how corrupt and beholden to corporate economic interests and the Gov.’s political agenda the DEP has become.

Let’s just say reporters have no interest in any of that.

For the most part, they prefer to focus on the scandal aspects – as opposed to the governing or policy aspects – of the story, and lazily write the Mastro cover story, e.g. Most of Hoboken Sandy Energy Grants not scored due to errors, memo’s show

Or write vapid bullshit like this:

(and Matt Katz is one of the better reporters now working at the best media outlet, in terms of serious coverage of public policy issues.)

Which brings us to the boxed quote above.

This morning, I came across that finding from a research paper published by a Princeton University professor – in straight forward statistical regression analysis, the paper demonstrates that the US is an Oligarchy, not a democracy or representative democracy.

Professor  Gilens’ paper confirms the prior theoretical work of another Princeton professor, Sheldon Wolin, laid out in his masterpiece book: Democracy Incorporated – Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism

[Robert Reich dubs it “The New Gilded Age” – while Mat Taibbi writes of  American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap]

One would think that Princeton study a rather newsworthy finding, no?

One would think it is not hard to use the Rockefeller influence on Gov. Christie and DEP as a perfect illustration of that research.

So, why isn’t that story being written? Especially after the NY Times opened the door in a scathing expose, see

The Mastro DEP summaries lay the story out on a silver platter.

But instead of serious reporting about how the Rockefeller Development Group got Gov. Christie’s support and a series of closed door meetings with the DEP on regulatory approvals – and what kind of reforms must be enacted to end those abuses –  we get more vapid blather from the press corps.

No wonder we’ve surrendered democracy to the corporate Oligarchs.

They’ve got the best media money can buy.

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