Talk:Politics of the United States

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Health by political preference[edit]

Copied from Talk:United States. EllenCT (talk) 00:10, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Are the graphics at [1] correct representations of [2]? EllenCT (talk) 02:21, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

That's one of the lamer cherry-picked political talking points you've tried to insert into the article (unless you're not proposing that, and are just shooting the breeze). First, it's not by "political preference", but state. A breakdown of health (or obesity, or many other metrics) by political affiliation would look a lot different. The leftist study authors assign political labels to the states. They claim that liberal states are "healthier" (according to subjective self reporting and average sick days taken) and assume this is because those state governments spend more money than "conservative" states. The conclusion's absurdity is illustrated by a glance at your liberal blog's own pictures, which show a huge spread among "conservative" states, with ones like Utah and Wyoming among the healthiest in the country. Going by your blog and the portion of the study I bothered to read, they apparently gave no consideration to variables like race (huge metric disparities within every state, but very different racial population ratios in different states, especially between New England and the Deep South), immigration status, or cultural aspects like....say...regional diet (minor details, I know). The "liberal" states only consist of New England and a couple of others, including New Mexico, which, geographically separated and ethnically different from the other liberal states, ranks much lower. I was amused to see states like Alaska and the Dakotas, which rank high in health, classified as "moderate". I was also amused to see states like California, which ranks relatively low, labeled "moderate". Nothing much to see here. VictorD7 (talk) 01:01, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
It is already corroborated, and the source starts with a literature review. The review in the popular science press by a noted authority in the field was professionally edited by a staff with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. EllenCT (talk) 01:54, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

The treatise states that it is preliminary only and that its limitations mean that it is not definitive in any way at this point. By the time we add all the "limitations" specified, I suspect it is of exceedingly limited utility here. The next part is that the MotherJones graphics elide the other likely bases for people's view of their own health -- such as climate, unemployment etc. NM and AZ are quite different politically, similar climatologically, and similar in view of health (in fact AZ outranks NM on that basis). On a statistically significant basis for assertion of any single reason for views of health, it fails. It is of anecdotal value only, and epidemiologists tend not to try making "correlation equals causation" arguments in any event. Were I to hazard a guess, the healthiest states all have relatively high hospital availability density (and doctor availability density) (that is percentage of population within 15 minutes of a hospital, and 15 minutes of a doctor). CDC has lots of stats onthat sort of stuff. Collect (talk) 16:28, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

@Collect: Which specific passage in the text are you referring to, in relation to the literature review WP:SECONDARY introduction, and which example CDC statistics do you have? EllenCT (talk) 01:06, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

I propose including a summary of the peer reviewed report, using the MotherJones news source as a secondary popular treatment. EllenCT (talk) 23:39, 4 July 2014 (UTC)

No, for reasons given elsewhere when this proposal has been rejected. You should stop trying to insert low quality partisan blog fodder into articles, and you should reconsider your interpretation of Wikipedia's purpose. VictorD7 (talk) 02:03, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
Which reasons? EllenCT (talk) 08:56, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
Ditto. The proposal is now even more obscure than the first statement. From "correct representation?" to a non-stated "summary" of a preliminary paper of something that has some tangential relevance to the article. What sort of summary? How would MotherJones be used? – S. Rich (talk) 05:32, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
I am sorry that you do not understand my proposal. I will explain by editing. EllenCT (talk) 08:56, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
Health care is obvioously not peripheral at present, and it hasn't been for some decades now. A summary of a complex study supported with a representation of how it is treated in mainstream media seems a very reasonable approach to me.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 10:25, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
A partisan blog isn't "mainstream media", and even if it was not every half-assed activist "study" merits Wikipedia inclusion, especially when it amounts to overly niche detail for the article scope. On top of that the report's methodology has been blasted apart by numerous editors as being extremely shoddy and pointless, which may explain why it mostly received attention only on a few partisan blogs. I'll give you advice similar to that I gave Ellen, Ubikwit. If you're intent on "informing" voters with eye-grabbing material on issues you feel are important in hope of persuading them to adopt your political worldview, then there are countless other venues where you can do that. This is supposed to be a neutral encyclopedia, not a partisan talking point stuffing ground. Political crusaders should find this place dry and boring. VictorD7 (talk) 18:04, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm neither a "political crusader" or interested in misinforming readers of Wikipedia. My comments were on the conceptual level regarding the presentation of material. If your concerns are valid regarding that material, then fine, they should prevail. I haven't even examined the material yet. I'm waiting for EllecCT to post a trial version of the text here or in the article.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 19:05, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

Notice of two related RfCs and request for participation[edit]

There are two RfCs in which your participation would be greatly appreciated:

Thank you. --Lightbreather (talk) 17:30, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

I note that the RfCs are on the Talk:Politics page, hence the relationship (kissing cousins type) to this article. – S. Rich (talk) 05:49, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Measurement of oligarchy[edit]

@Collect: re [3] what is your specific objection to the research depicted in the charts? EllenCT (talk) 17:58, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

The material appears to be controversial and thus requires an actual consensus for inclusion at this point. Did you fail to see anyone demurring about such additions to multiple articles? Collect (talk) 21:42, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
Collect is right. The EllenCT text distorts the scholarly findings by relying on polemical commentary and especially by omitting the caveats, such as Cassidy, who says: The evidence that Gilens and Page present needs careful intepretation. For example, the opinion surveys they rely on suggest that, on many issues, people of different incomes share similar opinions. To quote the paper: “Rather often, average citizens and affluent citizens (our proxy for economic elites) want the same things from government.” This does get reflected in policy outcomes. Proposals that are supported up and down the income spectrum have a better chance of being enacted than policies that do not have such support. To that extent, democracy is working. Rjensen (talk) 21:54, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
In my view, I see validity from the perspectives of EllenCT, Collect, and Rjensen, that these views are worthwhile and deserve inclusion. (Personally, my POV is that I see America moving towards oligarchy yet at the same time that democracy is still working, that elites have powerful political clout yet at the same time, systems continue to function.) So, my sense is it is mostly a matter of seeking the right tone and balance.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 10:55, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
I deeply appreciate the attempt to find a middle ground, but when major parties collude intentionally through gerrymandering and less intentionally through astroturf propaganda, sometimes the popular and reliable source viewpoint of 1+1=2 is obscured by the political parties' squabbles over whether 1+1=3 or 1+1=4 is more accurate. The sources corroborate and the secondary sources agree. EllenCT (talk) 11:19, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately, it appears you are using what you "know to be the truth" and not recognizing that editors are constrained by policy not to do that. Cheers. Collect (talk) 12:32, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Lede section[edit]

My sense is the lede section focuses too much on the structure of US government (branches, federal arrangement, etc) but does not adequately reflect the main summary ideas about this subject, which is obviously Politics of the United States. Clearly information about the US government structure is relevant, but I was thinking the main ideas which should be covered in the lede are as follows (please feel free to add to this list or amend it.)--Tomwsulcer (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

  • adversarial nature -- basic idea being how politics is based on ideas competing in a (hopefully) rational way, with the best ideas winning out, debating, arguing point-counterpoint. Politics is not done by fighting, or warfare, or witchcraft, but rather by reasoned argument competing with reasoned argument. In my view this principle undergirds much of US politics -- in elections, court cases, votes on a particular bill in Congress, competing lobbies, etc, and it should be reflected in the lede.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • two political parties -- in my view, this is important to understanding US politics; it is different from a multiparty system. US politics tends to gravitate towards these two "broad tent" parties, excludes outliers, third party candidates rarely if ever win seats, with good aspects of this (promotes stability) and bad (stifles dissenting views, etc). I feel there should be a line or two about each party, the general tendencies (Republican, pro-business, Democrat, pro-labor), something basic, not too detailed, since these parties change slightly over time in what they are about. Big idea: neither party dominates the nation for excessively long periods, that is, there is a gradual changing of which party is in control, as generations pass, from right to left, back again, every 30 to 50 years or so; generally this alternation is a good thing (in my view).--Tomwsulcer (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • politics is greatly affected by the structure of government. Federal structure, Constitution (an entrenching document -- specifies rules; can itself be amended; states procedures for elections for president, etc), layers of government (federal, state, local). Branches checking each other. (this information is currently in lede but my sense is that it is exaggerated as I said).--Tomwsulcer (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • politics is a specialized activity. It has its own sphere; it is like a type of job or career with its own full-time professionals and rules, not unlike academia, or business, or medicine, in that it has its own procedures, pathways, jargon, and it is different substantially from other spheres. Political decisions exert influence on other spheres, obviously; but generally, related to this idea, is the idea that most people do not participate in the political sphere, even tangentially; only about half vote every four years, and that's about it, but the system still is a system, things get done, etc. This is in contrast with a political system such as ancient Athens, when all adult male property-owning citizens participated in government, voted, served on juries, fought in wars. Citizenship today is mostly a passive activity, a legal marker, a status of belonging, not an active relation with the state, expressed by duties, or any kind of commitment to other citizens.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • US political traditions largely came from Britain, with some influence from France (eg principle of popular sovereignty; Louisiana legal system from France) and French intellectuals (Montesquieu, Voltaire); the jury system can be traced back from Britain, to Germanic tribes, to ancient Athens. Basic idea: US politics is steeped in the Western tradition. Politics continues to evolve; over course of US history, big underlying trends include (1) expansion of persons considered citizens (propertied white men only => all men => all women => adults (21 yrs old requirement => 18 yrs old requirement) (2) specialization of politics, part of the ever-increasing complexity of the US with many systems and sub-systems (3) detachment of most people from politics (4) growth of the legal sense of citizenship, increasing sense of rights, that is, in US history, the courts and the idea of rights protect people from adverse influence from political decisions (ie, slavery outlawed, workers' rights to fair treatment via court cases).--Tomwsulcer (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • politicking requires money -- lots of it, it is the mother's milk of politics, whether paying for campaign advertisements, aligning coalitions, paying for bumper stickers. As a rough rule of thumb, the side with the most $$ wins. It is how powerful lobbies joust for power at every level of government.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

My sense is the lede section might be rewritten somewhat along these lines, but I am wondering what others here think, or if there are any important overall things that should be included.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 20:07, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

I can't disagree with any of these points, but I have no idea what sort of edit you are proposing. How would you incorporate the controversial but well-corroborated findings at [4] and [5], which discussion at Talk:United States resolved should be included here? EllenCT (talk) 04:44, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
My sense is the lede paragraph should emphasize the above points, that is, to provide a summary of the main points about the subject politics of the united states. Not sure about Mother Jones as a reliable source. Not sure about disagreement on the article United States as reflected in the talk page; it is a summary article of a complex subject, it might be best expanded in daughter articles like this one.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 00:25, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

Notice and request for participation[edit]

There is an RfC a Requested move in which the participation of editors/watchers of this article would be greatly appreciated:

Thank you. --Lightbreather (talk) 22:33, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

It was an RfC, but I realized this is the appropriate process. Lightbreather (talk) 04:58, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

size of government[edit]

An editor tried adding a Tea Party "small government" section which was deleted -- but the topic is actually important historically, going back to the Federalist-Anti-Federalist debates, and so I left a commented-out skeleton in the article, and think it may be worthy of some sourced material about this debate. Collect (talk) 14:35, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Increasingly plutocratic leanings of the United States[edit]

Can we makes this a topic here? I think this page needs to discuss somewhere the implications of lobbyists, corporate person-hood, unlimited campaign contributions, the creation of laws in secret trade deals, net neutrality, corporate bail-outs, and unnecessary corporate tax breaks. These issues are all part of the same problem.2605:A000:F2C0:A400:C152:A70E:3BC5:9541 (talk) 22:05, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Conspiracy theory? Unless reliable sources in the mainstream make such connections, we can't. Collect (talk) 23:13, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
You have repeatedly deleted such mainstream reliable sources in the past weeks. EllenCT (talk) 04:37, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
OK -- give me the reliable source which makes the connections asserted above ( lobbyists, corporate person-hood, unlimited campaign contributions, the creation of laws in secret trade deals, net neutrality, corporate bail-outs, and unnecessary corporate tax breaks) as "fact.". Cheers. Collect (talk) 11:59, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

RfC on added charts[edit]

No consensus. Number 57 19:41, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Are the charts added by [6] supported by consensus for use in this particular article? 12:02, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

  • Support - At least I support the use of one graph. The influence of money in the Politics of the United Sates seems like a fairly substantial issue. The use of one image/chart to illustrate that issue strikes me as WP:DUE. Two graphs does seem a bit excessive though. NickCT (talk) 20:48, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
  • No, for the reasons given in my edit summary and above. VictorD7 (talk) 03:17, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
  • No I agree these charts aren't appropriate. They seem to be POV and are describing something that isn't really the same as the paragraph it's included with. "Interest groups" is pretty braod but it's not often used to describe income levels of people. I would replace it with, for example, a picture of pro-choice and -life protesters at the Supreme Court or something. But I do like the gerrymandering maps; having one for Republicans and Democrats is a fair way to do it. Useitorloseit (talk) 21:27, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Support more accurate depiction of reality. EllenCT (talk) 15:46, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
  • No. The remaining chart is pretty much orthogonal to the subject of the section. It might possible fit in a section on individual political influence or political influence by class. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:42, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
    This argument applies even if it were established that the source of the data in the chart was reasonably unbiased or independently verified, to which doubt has been expressed. I haven't checked. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:53, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Support the use of at least one graph. The influence of money on the democratic political process of the United Sates is one of the most widely discussed controversies of the day. Moreover, the sourcing is reliable and numerous other recently published academic studies support the depictions in the graph.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 14:36, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Did you notice that the section is about "Political pressure groups", while the charts are about an alleged correlation between a citizen belonging to a population income segment and how often he supposedly gets his way on legislation? Two different things, leaving aside all the other problems cited so far. VictorD7 (talk) 22:07, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that there should be a list of lobbying groups and PACs funded by the wealthy in order to push through legislation that benefits their economic interests or other agenda?--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 15:42, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
That would be WP:SYNTHESIS, even if you could find a (generally) reliable source. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:22, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Support and suggestion - I think the one graph should be included per Ubikwit's comment, it has a reliable source and covers an important issue. However, I think that the entire paragraph on oligarchy (which seems to me to be the most relevant to the graph) should be moved out of the 'Political pressure groups' section and into a new section covering problems with US politics (maybe 'criticisms?') I think the subsection 'gerrymandering', currently in 'Political parties and elections' would also be better off in such a section, along with any other relevant issues. Jr8825Talk 10:49, 31 May 2014 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

Presented for the sake of discussion here. Collect (talk) 12:02, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

I went ahead and reverted it. As I indicated in my edit summary, this is a highly complex topic where the scope, definitions, and assumptions are often subjective. It's telling how radically different the two researchers' charts are, though they share the same broad ideological agenda. We're supposed to pretend that chart level precision matters here? Plus the years each chart purportedly covers are cherry-picked. There's no way we should give this material the prominence and implied authority of visualizations, much less giant ones. Most sections don't have charts. We should also condense the "oligarchy" segment to a sentence or two, if we retain the fringe opinionated commentary at all. It's not like the rest of the article is loaded up with diverse opinions on various topics. As an aside, this page was skewed even before this recent edit (e.g see the monstrous looking Gerrymander pictures Ellen also recently added that spill over into the next section; one IDing Texan Republicans as the culprit while the NC one neglecting to mention that Democrats controlled the drawing legislature). There should be a section on media bias, since it's easy to argue that has more influence on society and politics than all the political donors combined. VictorD7 (talk) 03:42, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
So at first you call peer-reviewed sources which corroborate each other subjective, and then you want to argue that media bias has more influence on society than political donors. You can't have it both ways. Do you have any sources in support of your very dubious assertion that the scope, definitions, and assumptions are subjective? People can click through if they want less ambitious presentation for any source available on the web, including these three peer reviewed sources, the most recent of which is WP:SECONDARY. Do you have any sources which support your assertion that the conclusions of the material you deleted are "fringe" and "opinionated" instead of mainstream scientific surveys? I have no objection to including additional material about how both parties are guilty of gerrymandering, but I intend to revert your deletion unless you can provide satisfactory answers to these questions. EllenCT (talk) 03:49, 14 May 2014 (UTC)
You don't seem to understand what "peer review" means. It's not an endorsement of a conclusion, particularly in a nonscientific field. It doesn't even mean the "three anonymous reviewers" Gilens thanks in the preface would be correct if they did agree with him. The definitions, scope, and assumptions were subjectively chosen in the sense that the authors either defined them or selected them instead of other possibilities. Regarding definitions (e.g. "Biased Pluralism" and "Economic Elite Domination"), Gilens concedes that "a particular scholar’s work does not always fall neatly into a single category. Some scholars work across – or independently of – our theoretical categories, embracing multiple influences and complex processes of policy making," and later admits that there are even radically different definitions of "elite" (often not income based). The obvious prejudicial element here is issue and poll selection/interpretation, since specific votes don't always match specific poll questions, and even different polls on the same issue can yield radically different results with different question wording. Cherry-picking polls while omitting inconvenient ones make it easy to rig an analysis like this. The provided sources don't include most of the specific issues or poll questions used, but red flags include a dubious claim that the NRA's stances are negatively correlated with median income opinion, when honest observers admit that it's the most powerful lobbying group because of its broad mass support. Indeed Democrats publicly and rhetorically run away from a liberal stance on gun issues perhaps more than any other, not because of the alleged, nebulously defined "power" of the NRA, but because so many Americans support gun rights, to the extent that such support spills across party lines. It's also not the rich driving such support, but typically rural, middle income, and poor voters.
Another subjective element is class categorization. He chose public opinion at the 90th percentile of income as his proxy for "affluent", which he gives as $146k in 2012 dollars (not what most people would consider "elite"; more like upper middle class). Incredibly, Gilens acknowledges that: "To be sure, people at the 90th income percentile are neither very rich nor very elite", but asserts that just means if anything his results understate the reality. There's no consideration given to the possibility that someone making $50 million a year might have very different priorities than someone making $146k, or to the fact that if legislators are more responsive to upper middle class voters than the rich elite, possibly due to being in the sweet spot of population size and political participation, his "study" would completely hide it. Time period examined and interest group stance rating (Gilens subjectively classified them with labels like "strongly favorable", "somewhat favorable", etc.) are just two of the many other subjective elements of this construction. That your own two charts radically contradict each other underscore the sloppy subjectivity involved. Bartels, author of your top chart, covering a somewhat earlier era, defines "high income" at a family income of $40k. Subjectivity is even more important when there's a clear political agenda involved. Activist interests by these authors have been commented on elsewhere, but I'll add that Hayes, your bottom chart's author, tosses out the assertion that the Bush tax cuts "disproportionately benefited the wealthiest taxpayers", an extremely debatable claim (use of "benefited" makes it even more subjective), and then spends several pages in a bizarre digression launching an economically ignorant criticism of the cuts, despite conceding that they were strongly supported by all income groups. It's unclear how this was relevant to his article's ostensible focus on legislators reflecting public views. Presumably he was making a point about how even the views of low and middle income people are shaped by wealthy elites, but it was vague, confused, and distracted from his thesis (arguably even undermining some of his own key premises). It seems like he just wanted to attack Bush.
On top of that, as Useitorloseit correctly notes below, the charts don't even represent the section. The section is about "Pressure groups". The charts are about alleged influence by income. Gilens himself makes a sharp distinction, treating "interest groups" and the "affluent" as separate categories that are often opposed to each other.
Reinforcing my earlier description of this as avant-garde primary research, Gilens calls his own analysis "tentative and preliminary", while Bartels describes the "significant limitations of my data and the crudeness of my analysis". Hayes admits several studies have totally contradicted each other on how responsive officials are to constituents. One author says "these results should be taken with caution". One describes his work as "a first step". All three call for more research. There are reasons such cutting edge research is generally frowned upon for Wikipedia inclusion, especially on highly complex and opinionated topics. Rushing to shove this material into various articles, especially in large visual aid form, isn't treating the results with caution. This entire inclusion, the "oligarchy" claim and influence by wealth charts, constitute clear and blatant POV pushing. Wikipedia should not be a forum for soapboxing or "informing" voters of things you feel they need to know to vote "properly". VictorD7 (talk) 21:06, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
Not only do I know what peer review is, I know the difference between a review and a meta-analysis. EllenCT (talk) 15:47, 20 May 2014 (UTC)
You may know what peer review is, but there is little evidence that your sources are peer-reviewed. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:22, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

Discussion on a new section[edit]

Moved here from my suggestion in the main RfC section. Jr8825Talk 05:31, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

The article certainly needs more detail and linkage text to tie the issues together. The oligarchy issue and PACs funded by wealthy individuals to gain access to legislators and influence the process in a manner that benefits their corporate/private interests while the public doesn't have such access, for example, is fairly widely discussed.
Maybe some reorganization would be helpful, but I would imagine some would object to a "criticisms" or "problems" section, for example, as not all would agree that things like unlimited corporate spending in elections is a problem, etc. With the political pressure groups section, at least the basic configuration of the system that makes it vulnerable to pressure groups is laid out, and the composition of the pressure groups should be easy to explicate.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 15:42, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
Maybe then a section on 'controversial issues'? (The fine wording would obviously have to be changed.) Jr8825Talk 15:55, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
I wouldn't have any objections to such a section.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 16:08, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
It's my understanding that Wikipedia has been trying to move away from "Criticism" sections because they tend to be soapbox bait. I'm not sure how a "Controversial issues" section on a page titled Politics of the United States would be about anything other than the salient political controversies of the day (e.g. abortion, economic policy, taxes, debt, foreign policy, regulation, Obamacare, illegal immigration, public union impact on fiscal health, the definition of marriage, school choice, drug legalization, etc.), maybe with things like "special interest" impact, media bias, the relative influence of voters by income level, and tort reform tacked on. Discussing each of these important issues (perhaps including charts) would require a dramatic expansion of the article that could prove never ending and I'm not sure it would be the wisest course of action for us to take. Fortunately, no need to include the proposed additions has been demonstrated. At best the material isn't ripe for inclusion. Whether the sources are "reliable" or not is a non sequitur; this is about the appropriateness of including the material itself in this particular place in the manner in which it was proposed. Frankly this article is already turning into a skewed soapbox. The entirely one sided (and dubious) "oligarchy" opinion segment should be removed too, unless we want to provide an open invitation for editors to start creating new sections and segments providing selected partisans' opinions on that and countless other political issues. VictorD7 (talk) 17:28, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm afraid I have to disagree with you there, VictorD7. Surely the point of Wikipedia is to cover the main aspects of a topic, as far as can be proved by reliable sources - you can't build a true picture of any issue without looking at widely publicised criticisms. I would hardly call the 'oligarchy' description dubious and one sided, it is from a report which has been given a large amount of coverage, agreement and controversy from experts and analysts. (Which can be demonstrated by a Google search). Jr8825Talk 09:04, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
Did you mean to say without "looking at widely published criticisms"? If so, how about a "Praise" section? Or is only one POV worth including? As for your google search, sourcing isn't just about quantity. The article, which was one sided, is by partisans with a long history of activism, and is dubious for numerous reasons already laid out by editors here, received a media pop upon its publication, which is common for breaking news of transitory importance in today's media age, but the search results just show news agencies reporting on it. That doesn't mean people agree with its opinion. Our descriptions here should reflect widely accepted conclusions with demonstrated staying power, not recent sensationalistic headlines. Of all the "issue(s)" we could potentially cover in this article, the debate about whether the US is an "oligarchy" or not doesn't rise to the level of countless others we don't mention, several of which I listed above. This article should stick to a relatively objective, non controversial, neutral, encyclopedic description of politics in the US. Recent extraordinary claims should especially be treated with caution. VictorD7 (talk) 16:25, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
Yep, I did mean without and have fixed it, thanks! I have certainly heard a lot of coverage about the oligarchy claim, which in other news-orientated articles I have worked on is often justification enough for inclusion. The impression I have got from general reading is that the study was a pretty big deal and caused a lot of controversy - which I would argue therefore warrants mention - but I'm no expert on the subject. Perhaps one problem is our slightly varying views on what Wikipedia's job is: should it just mention the facts, pure and simple, ("this article should stick to a relatively objective, non controversial, neutral, encyclopedic description of politics in the US") or should it also outline major viewpoints/issues (which I see as important for understanding of a topic)? I understand and agree with what you are saying about avoiding the inclusion of only one POV, but that doesn't mean inclusion of viewpoints is not neutral if they are presented carefully as opinions and not facts. I would also add that you might be the one eventually pushing a POV when you justify the total exclusion of well-known viewpoints on the basis that "our descriptions here should reflect widely accepted conclusions" (because that's a pretty hard thing for one person to determine) and when you dismiss those who have differing views as "partisans with a long history of activism".
I've also taken the liberty of moving this suggestion and conversation into the discussion section, because it's getting in the way of the RfC section itself. Jr8825Talk 05:31, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
The other point is that there's a difference between an encyclopedia and a breaking news site. I'm sure you have seen a lot of "coverage" of the recent claim, from various news sites and blogs. Like I said, it got a recent pop. Lots of things do, but that doesn't mean that every time you read a story you feel it's important for people to know you should rush to include it in an encyclopedia. That's what sites like the Drudge Report and Huffington Post are for. The US is traditionally not described as an "oligarchy" by political scientists, or indeed anyone who actually understands the term's meaning. While I agree that including opinions is legitimate on Wikipedia (though they seem to fit less in this particular article as I observed earlier), I'm wondering why you're so bent on including this particular opinion and not some of the other, more widely held ones about American politics. I'd also caution you to refrain from accusations of "POV" against me lest they boomerang on you. VictorD7 (talk) 17:40, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Are you familiar with WP:DUE? What exactly is it that you mean by "it got a lot of pop"?
Are you attempting to denigrate the reception of the work by academics from Princeton and Northwestern University?
What is it that makes you think that you are qualified to do so; moreover, that any of us other editors working on this article are supposed to revere your arbitrary pronouncements?
I suggest that you learn to adhere to Wikipedia policy to the letter and very soon, because I am growing impatient with you, and will take you to whatever notice board is necessary the next time you waste my time.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 18:21, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
You failed to cite any policy I allegedly violated and I suggest you tone down the hostility and personal threats. VictorD7 (talk) 00:27, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Political pressure groups vs money (oligarchy) and American politics[edit]

I restored the chart, which seemed to be consensus from the RfC, absent an authoritative close by a noninvolved admin.
On the other hand, the point regarding the title of the section not corresponding to the content has some merit insofar as the content needs to be expanded with more refcites and quotes from recent studies on oligarchy and plutocracy, which are available at those articles, particularly the Princeton study.
Also, there should probably be more info on non-oligarchy "political pressure groups", though I doubt it will be easy to demonstrate legislative responsiveness, except possible in the case of the pro-Israel lobby. That is the most obvious absence in this section, and there is a substantial amount of literature on that issue, but I haven't read it and don't have the time. At any rate, this article (and section) encompasses more than simply money, though we don't want to sell that short, now do we.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 17:52, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

There I agree there seems to be a consensus that some chart should be there, but perhaps not that one, and certainly not in that section. I'm going to move it to a new section and tag it as from an unreliable source. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:33, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
There is no consensus that the "oligarchy" view is the primary mainstream view, nor is there a source. I've restored the "weasel-words", although they could be replaced by specific attribution. I named the new section "Oligarchy views" per WP:CLAIM, although "Claims of oligarchy" would be a more accurate descriptor for the section. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:43, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
Looking further at your comment above, it is not the case that most of the "political pressure group" section relates to money; much of it relates to single-issue lobbying campaigns, probably including astroturfing. Perhaps the section should be split elsewhere than I split it, but it does have to be split into special-interest lobbying and wealth- (or influence-) based pressure. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:53, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
I think that's a decent start, and I'm going to add a paragraph and quote from the plutocracy article to see how that does here. The time I have to work on this is limited, but it is a complex topic.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 02:43, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
I removed the chart since there clearly is no RFC consensus. I also reverted the new section for now, and restored the earlier version since something as dramatic as creating an entire "oligarchy" section should be discussed here first. I think it would be a terrible idea as it would give extreme undue weight to a minority opinion that's only recently trendy in certain ideological circles. I'll add that if you insist on going down this road, we definitely will have to dramatically expand the article in other ways to include opinions on American democracy and freedom that are far more widely held than the "oligarchy" view, all of which seems like unnecessary point/counterpoint bloat given that the article's purpose is really just to lay out the neutral, non controversial basics of the US political system. VictorD7 (talk) 17:30, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

@Arthur Rubin: OK, the RfC has been closed as "no consensus" regarding the chart(s). How do you thin we should proceed. Seeing as you and I agreed on a working version that has been reverted, I have restored some of the text (in more concise form) from the reverted section "oligarchy views", but I wanted to ask your opinion before considering anything else, as you have said nothing since the revert. --Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 08:42, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

@VictorD7:@Ubikwit: If the "oligarchy" stuff is not in a new section, it shouldn't be here at all. The "rich" are not a "political pressure group", and, in many cases, the actions taken on behalf of the "rich" may not be at their request, direct or indirect. ("Rich" is a scare-quote, and "political pressure group" is the title of the section.) Although I am still not convinced that the "oligarchy" (or "plutocracy") views are significant (except for Krugman, who is a significant loose cannon), if they are to be here, they must be in a different section. I should add that statements (and charts) relating only to wealth distribution have no place in this article, possibly unless you (Ubikwit is the only recently active participant who has taken that view, but I meant "you" in the generic sense) want to assert that the increase in wealth inequality is a consequence of the political structure, and have sources to back up the statement. (I say, possibly, because it still seems to me to be a chain of relevance, rather than directly being relevant.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 18:03, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
I think that's a valid point. The rich--and we mean the top tenth of a percent--are a limited but somewhat amorphous group that exercise power through money via various avenues, only one of which is PACs, for example; that is to say, the extremely wealthy have the capacity to work through various groups to affect the political process, not simply pressure groups, and they exceed the parameters of a pressure group as such.
Even if it is called something other than "oligarchy", we need a separate section for the material, for which there is upward of 10 sources.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 19:04, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
I suggest removing the material as not meriting inclusion in this article. It's just one of countless partisan talking points in the realm of American politics, a fairly recent one at that, and fortunately the page isn't otherwise loaded up with such talking points, so there's no reason to give this one special coverage. The "oligarchy" stuff was rightly rejected elsewhere and never should have been added here. VictorD7 (talk) 20:23, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
Your "suggestion" has no basis in policy.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 20:36, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
Proper topical focus, avoiding undue emphasis, and avoiding POV skew are all firmly rooted in various core Wikipedia policies. VictorD7 (talk) 21:13, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
WP:WEIGHT suggests a small mention, but I tend to agree the position is overemphasized relative to its importance and/or prevalence (as an opinion) in the real world. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 02:50, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
The "oligarhy" characterization is only part of the bigger picture, which predates the burgeoning amount of academic work being done on the subject at present. The recent SCOTUS decision on campaign finance is part of that, for example. According to WP:DUE, all of the material currently in the article belongs there. The points directly mentioned are by prominent individuals and scholars (Krugman, E. J. Dionne, Winters, Gilens and Page), while all media coverage of the issue ha been substantially relegated to mere refcites. Even the statement by Picketty is given minimal exposure.
At the same time, I think that a separate section on "Money and politics in the US" should be implemented to distinguish the more amorphous modes by which money is used to exert influence on the political process than single-issue pressure groups.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 06:30, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Arthur Rubin, the problem is that giving it its own section would almost inevitably invite dramatic expansion, something we've already seen glimpses of. Clearly a recent fringe talking point mostly discussed by a few wild eyed polemicists doesn't merit its own section any more than countless other opinions of similar weight that are currently unmentioned in the article do. If a reduced sized segment doesn't fit into a current section, then it doesn't belong in the article. Readers' understanding of the basics of US politics won't be negatively affected by not being subjected to recent characterizations by Paul Krugman. It's not like we have sections featuring commentary by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, or even Milton Friedman (Friedman is briefly mentioned as being ideologically influential, but we don't quote the guy's opinions). VictorD7 (talk) 18:07, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
"Dramatic expansion"? On the contrary, images of the evidence have been deleted. If there is anything that's fringe here, it's the correct method of deriving the optimal Suits index corresponding to the goals of the Humphrey–Hawkins Act. EllenCT (talk) 13:50, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
Large visual "evidence" you tried to add, underscoring my point. Evidence by partisan activists with various major flaws, that was contradictory, and that its own authors suggested should be received with caution. In other words, not items fit for Wikipedia. VictorD7 (talk) 05:15, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
The contrasting source reports, with their graphics still intact, are available at [7] and [8] for those interested. EllenCT (talk) 04:15, 4 July 2014 (UTC)