Sunday, August 17, 2014

Research by Princeton and Northwestern Professors Shows USA Political System Very Focused on Doing What Rich Want Done

I have become (over the last 10 to 15 years) very frustrated with how corrupt the USA political system is. Petty corruption exists in the USA and is annoying but doesn't do much harm and is not that troublesome (it is lower than most places - other than in Scandinavia and a few other places). But the extent to which we elect people who then do the bidding of those giving them lots of cash (directly to their campaign, indirectly, in post career cushy high paying gigs if you do them favors while in office and in cushy high paying gigs for staff) the corruption is endemic and does great damage to the USA.

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens by Martin Gilens Princeton University and Benjamin Page Northwestern University.
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.
Bolding added by me.

In some ways politicians make it even worse than just direct bribery that at least ends when the briber gets what they paid for. The current system encourages legislators to maintain a state of constant threat to economic interests in order to bleed them for more donations. Rather than address issues that are important for the country they leave open wounds festering in order to get interested parties to pay more cash to get the needed changes made.

In legislation there are going to have to choices made and interested parties will win or lose. That people who don't get what they want will be frustrated I understand. That doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that
  1. politicians create legislation (or pressure for regulation and enforcement) that is clearly against the interests of the country (no matter what political frame you have in mind). This is a subset of what is done but this is horrible and widespread and only supported by corrupt parties.
  2. that we elect these corrupt people and parties after decades of clear evidence they are corrupt.
Given that we continue to elect them the blame falls heavily on the voters, in my view. Yes, the corrupt people selling out the country and their fellow citizens for their personal well being are unethical, unpatriotic and despicable. But we could throw out the corrupt people and parties if we chose to, and we don't.

More quotes from the paper:
Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all.

By contrast, economic elites are estimated to have a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy. This does not mean that theories of Economic Elite Domination are wholly upheld, since our results indicate that individual elites must share their policy influence with organized interest groups. Still, economic elites stand out as quite influential – more so than any other set of actors studied here – in the making of U.S. public policy.

Similarly, organized interest groups (all taken together, for now) are found to have substantial independent influence on policy. Again, the predictions of pure theories of interest group pluralism are not wholly upheld, since organized interest groups must share influence with economically elite individuals. But interest group alignments are estimated to have a large, positive, highly significant impact upon public policy.

These results suggest that reality is best captured by mixed theories in which both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.
As with most economic research there is plenty of room to argue with their conclusion (the data is often somewhat subjective and appropriateness of proxy measures can be argued). But I agree with some of the big conclusions they draw. They don't then tie the cash payments to politicians as the reason for why the most wealthy and most organized interest groups get their way but it lays out part of the story that exposes the corrupt system in place now.

Related: Why Congress Won’t Investigate Wall Street - Lobbyists Keep Tax Off Billion Dollar Private Equities Deals and On For Our Grandchildren - TPP Transparency Confirms the Worst Fears: USA Government Still Trying to Strip Away Rights of Citizens in USA and Elsewhere - Monopolies and Oligopolies do not a Free Market Make - Society is being shaped for us while we are busy making other plans - Good Journalism Aids Society by Shining the Light on Corruption - Failure to Regulate Financial Markets Leads to Predictable Consequences - Bad Behavior Shining the light on the actions of those in power
An important feature of interest group influence is that it is often deployed against proposed policy changes. On the 1,357 proposed policy changes for which at least one interest group was coded as favoring or opposing change, in only 36% of the cases did most groups favor change, while in 55% of the cases most groups opposed change. (The remaining cases involved equal numbers for and against.)
The Cash for Votes subreddit collects links to examples of political corruption in the USA and elsewhere.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Moz Page Authority for Various Sites - Updated August 2014

Google used to update published page rank every 3 months. Now they have only updated it 2 times in 18 months. I am glad Moz stepped up with a frequently updated page link ranking measure (Moz Page Authority). I just find it interesting to watch what happens over time as I have done in previous posts here.

Since Google no longer finds it in their interest to share the even very old data with us (the current data is over 8 months old), I demote Google Page Rank to the lessor measure - and don't include it for Aug 2014 since it hasn't been updated).
SiteAug 2014 (MozRank)Dec 2013
Feb 2013Oct 2011 Dec 2010
MozPA > 5
Curious Cat Management Blog5.9 (6.0)6.1 [5]6.3 [5] 5.5 [5] [4]
@CuriousCat_com5.8 (4.6)
My Kiva page5.6 (4.7)5.8 [-]6.2 [-]4.0 [-][3]
Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog5.5 (6.1)4 [5.7]5.9 [4]5.3 [4][3]
Curious Cat Engineering and Science Blog5.5 (6.0)5.8 [5]6.1 55.3 [6]4
The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog5.2 (6.0)5.5 [5]5.2 [4]--
Curiouscat.com5.0 (6.0)**5.4 [4]5.6 [4][3]
Curious Cat Travel Photo Blog5.0 (5.9)4 [5.0]4 [5.1]3 [4.9]-

MozPA > 4
John Hunter4.8 (6.1)5.0 [5]5.3 [5]5.4 [4][4]
Public Sector Continuous Improvement Site*4.8 (5.4)5.0 [**]5.1 [4]5.0 [5][4]
Six Sigma Management Resources*4.7 (5.6)4.9 [**]5.0 [4][4]
Deming's Management Method*4.7 (5.3)4.9 [**]5.0 [3]4.5 [4][4]
Investment Dictionary*4.6 (5.9)4.8 [**]5.0 [4]5.2 [4]
Curious Cat Management Improvement Connections*4.6 (5.6)3.3 [**]5.4 [4]5.5 [5][4]
CSS 4 Free4.4 (5.4)4.7 [5]4.9 [4]5.4 [4][4]
The Future is Engineering*4.3 (5.7)4.3 [4]4.6 [4]
Good Process Improvement Practices*4.2 (5.2)4.0 [3]4.1 [3]4.1 [3]
Economic Strength Through Technology Leadership4.1 [5.8]4.2 [-]4.5 [-]4.7 [4][4]
Management Articles*4.1 (5.5)3.9 [3]4.3 [4]
Curious Cat Management Comments4.1 (5.0)3.9 [3]4.3 [4]4.5 [3]
Multi Site PageRank Checker4.1 (4.9)4.1 [4]4.1 [3]4.7 [3][2]
Living in Singapore4.0 (5.7)4 [4.1]4 [4.3]3 [4.0]
Management Dictionary*4.0 (5.4)2.6 [**]5.2 [5]5.4 [5][4]
SiteAug 2014 (MozRank)Dec 2013
Feb 2013Oct 2011 Dec 2010

MozPA > 3.5
Living in Malaysia3.9 (5.8)4.0 [4]4.2 [4]4.1 [3]
The Engineer That Made Your Cat a Photographer*3.9 (5.7)4.1 [3]4.4 [4]4.7 [4][4]
Curious Cat Gadgets3.9 (5.5)4.1 [4]4 [4.3]
Architecture and home design inspiration3.9 (5.5)4.0 [3]4.2 [4]--
Curious Cat Code (programming)3.8 (5.5)4.1 [4]4.3 [4]4.2 [4]--
Management Matters (my book)*3.8 (5.4)3.8 [4]3.5 [4]---
Curious Cat Comments (this blog)3.8 (5.1)3.9 [3]4.0 [3]3.8 [-][3]
Statistics for Experimenters3.7 (5.7)3.9 [4]3.9 [4]4.5 [3][3]
Life and Legacy of William Hunter3.7 (5.5)4.0 [4]4.1 [4]4.5 [4][4] - internship directory3.7 (5.3)4.0 [4]4.4 [4]5.2 [4][4]
Management and Leadership Quotes3.6 (5.7)3.7 [4]4.0 [4]5.2 [2][2]
Hexawise Software Testing Blog3.6 (4.9)3.8 [4]4.0 [3]

MozRank > 3
Curious Cat Travel Destinations3.4 (5.7)3.4 [3]3.2 [3]-
CuriousCat Wordpress3.4 (3.8)3.5 [1]3.6 [-][-]
Justin Hunter (my brother)3.3 (4.8)3.4 [-]3.4 [-]2.9 [2][2]
Curious Cat Web Directory3.1 (5.0)3.3 [2]3.6 [4]4.7 [4][3]
Improving Your Search Engine Ranking Blog3.1 (5.0) New
Management Improvement Resources3.0 (4.7)3.1 [3]3.4 [3]3.8 [3][3]

MozRank < 3
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: Marina Bay Sands (Singapore)2.9 (5.3)2.9 [2]3.0 [2]--
Johor Bahru Real Estate2.8 (5.3)3.0 [2]3.2 [2]-
Hexawise.tv2.8 (4.9)2.8 [2]2.9 [2]-
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: Australia1.5 (4.9)1.3 [-]1.8 [-][-]
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: France1.4 (5.1)1.3 [-]1.9 [-][-]
Curious Cat Travel BlogNew

* internal pages
** new url or old url forwarded (so Google losses track of the page rank for awhile)
- didn't exist yet or google didn't rank it for some reason
[blank] I don't know what the pagerank was, sometimes the site didn't exist yet.

Moz Page Authority is the measure that is equivalent to Google PageRank. So in the chart below the MozRank is shown inside ( ) for Aug 2014. [] indicate Google PageRank measures. Those without parenthesis are Moz Page Authority divided by 10 (because SEO Moz also decided to scale MozPA up to 100 while Google PageRank caps out at ten and I already been listing the data listed in the 10 scale the last few years). Related: