Martin Gilens & Benjamin Page

  • Aired:  04/30/14
  •  | Views: 20,291

Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page attempt to quantify the relative influence of wealth on policy in their study "Testing Theories of American Politics." (6:37)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.MY GUESTS TONIGHT,

THEY HAVE COAUTHORED A PAPERTITLED

"TESTING THEORIES OF AMERICANPOLITICS: ELITES, INTEREST

GROUPS, AND AVERAGE CITIZENS".IT WILL APPEAR IN THE FALL

EDITION OF ACADEMIC JOURNAL.IT'S REALLY THE BEST EDITION,

THE SWIMSUIT EDITION, ACTUALLY,THE PERSPECTIVE ON POLITICS.

PLEASE WELCOME MARTINGILENS AND BENJAMIN PAGE.

COME ON OUT. HOW ARE YOU, SIR?

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]NICE TO SEE YOU. COME AND SIT.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> THANK YOU.

>> PLEASURE.

>> Jon: THE PEOPLE LOVE AQUANTITIVE ANALYSIS.

[ LAUGHTER ]TALK TO US VERY BRIEFLY BECAUSE

THIS PAPER TRIESTO STATISTICALLY QUANTIFY

THAT FEELING THAT EVERYONE HASTHAT

ACCESS AND POWER AND INFLUENCEDISPROPORTIONATELY GO TO ELITES.

SO, IS THAT WHAT THE ATTEMPT WASHERE TO DO, TO STATISTICALLY

QUANTIFY THAT IN ANYWAY?

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.

>> Jon: OK, THAT'S GOOD. THAT'SALL THE TIME WE HAVE.

ALL RIGHT.

[LAUGHTER]HOW DID YOU TRY DO THAT?

>> MARTIN SPENT TEN YEARS DOINGIT.

>> Jon: YOU SPENTTEN YEARS DOING IT?

>> I DID.

>> Jon: WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?

>> I AM A LAST MINUTEADDITION, HONESTLY.

>> Jon: OH, IS THAT REALLY TRUE.BUT DID YOU WRITE THE PAPERTOGETHER OR?

>> WE WROTE IT TOGETHER.

IT WAS BEN'S IDEA.

AND IT WAS BEN'S IDEA THAT THEREWOULD BE ENOUGH INTEREST IN THE

COUNTRY THAT WE SHOULD PUT OUT APRESS RELEASE AND SEE IF THE

MEDIA CARED ABOUT IT.

>> Jon: THAT'S A SMART THING.

YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA ANDYOU SAY TO THIS GENTLEMAN, WHY

DON'T YOU WORK ON THAT FOR TENYEARS?

>> YOU GOT IT. YOU GOT IT.

>> Jon: IN THIS ANALYSIS,IF YOU WILL, I'M OBVIOUSLYNOT A

STATISTICIAN, I'M NOT ANECONOMIST, I WOULD SAY YOU

REPRESENT THE ELITES. AND YOUHAVE HAD YOUR ASS

QUANTITATIVELY HANDED TO YOU.

>> NO, NO, NO. IT GOT ME ON YOURSHOW, JON.

AND, TEN YEARS WAS WORTH IT.

>> Jon: YOU'RE ABSOLUTELYRIGHT. AND I'M DELIGHTED.

HOW DO YOU QUANTIFY SOMETHINGLIKE THAT?

WHAT METRICS DO YOU USE?

>> WE LOOKED AT A COUPLETHOUSAND POTENTIAL POLICY

CHANGES IN THE UNITED STATESOVER TWENTY FIVE YEARS, AND

WE MEASURED WHAT ORDINARYCITIZENS WANTED WHETHER THEY

FAVORED OR OPPOSED THEM AND WHATELITES, ECONOMIC ELITES, WANTED,

AND WHERE INTEREST GROUPS FELL.AND BY HAVING MEASURES OF ALL

THOSE THINGS WE COULD PUT THEMINTO A STATISTICAL MODEL THAT

WOULD TO ASSESS THE INFLUENCE OFEACH OF THOSE SETS OF ACTORS.

>> Jon: RIGHT, LET ME ASK YOU,THOUGH. WHEN YOU HAVE

SOMETHING HERE IN THIS CASE. THEBIVARIATE REGRESSION YOU'RE

USING, YOU HAVE .18DIFFERENTIAL AND A

.22 DIFFERENTIAL OF THE INTERESTGROUPS AND THE OTHER. NOW,

WHEN YOU USE THOSE ASINDEPENDENT VARIABLES THEY

DIFFER DRAMATICALLY BUT IF YOUARE GOING TO TRY TO STRONGLY

RELATE THOSE BIVARIATECORRELATIONS BECAUSE THEY ARE SO

CLOSE, DOESN'T THAT SUGGEST YOUHAVE A MULTICOLA -- LINEARITY

PROBLEM.

>> OH, MY GOD. YOU THINK SO? ITCOULD BE!

>> Jon: LET ME TELL YOUSOMETHING. I DON'T KNOW WHAT IJUST SAID.

I GUESS THE QUESTION IS: DO THEELITES, IS THE VARIABLE ENOUGH

FROM WHAT THE NON-ELITE PUBLICWANTS TO WHAT THE ELITES WANT?

DID YOU FIND A LARGE SPREADBETWEEN THEIR AIMS?

>> YES, YEAH.

THERE'S SOME VERY IMPORTANTISSUES INCLUDING SOCIAL SECURITY

DEFICITS, ECONOMIC REGULATIONS,TAXES.

>> Jon: ARE YOU ABLE TOCALCULATE HOW MUCH OF A

DIFFERENCE MONEY MAKES OR HOWMUCH OF A DIFFERENCE, YOU

KNOW -- CAN YOU LOOK ATDIFFERENT INTEREST GROUPS AND

SEE -- ALMOST CALCULATE WHATTHEIR EFFECT IS?

LIKE WHO IS THE MOST EFFECTIVEPRIVATE LOBBY GROUP?

WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVEMONEY?

>> WITH OUR DATA NOT REALLY.

WE LOOKED AT LOBBYISTS, WELOOKED AT INTEREST GROUPS AS A

WHOLE.

WE WERE ABLE TO DISTINGUISHMASS BASED GROUPS LIKE AFL-CIO

OR THE AARP FROMBUSINESS GROUPS.

BUT BEYOND THAT WE CAN'T REALLYSAY.

>> Jon: RIGHT, NOW, WHY WOULDTHOSE BE DIFFERENT?

IF MONEY IS MONEY, WHY WOULDAFL-CIO BE DIFFERENT FROM A

BUSINESS GROUP?

>> IT'S A VERY GOOD QUESTION.

AND IT TURNS OUT THEY ARE NOTTHAT DIFFERENT. WHAT

THE DIFFERENCE COMES FROM ISTHERE'S A LOT MORE BUSINESS

GROUPS.

>> Jon: OH, LABOR ISUNDERREPRESENTED IN TERMS OF,

AND THAT WOULD REFLECTIN TERMS OF POLICY.

>> EXACTLY.

>> Jon: OK, ARE THERE INTERESTGROUPS THAT ARE REALLY WASTING

THEIR MONEY? LIKE CAN YOU

LOOK AT A CERTAIN GROUP ANDSAY WOW CLUB FOR GROWTH IS

GETTING BANG FOR THEIR BUCK BUTTHE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY IS

INEFFICIENT AND BEING RIPPED OFFBY THEIR LOBBYISTS.

>> IT WOULD BE NICE TO KNOW BUTWE CAN'T TELL.

>> Jon: YOU CAN'T TELL.

>> CAN'T TELL.

>> Jon: I GUESS WHAT I'M GOINGFOR IS --

[LAUGHTER]-- I WANT TO GET A LOBBYIST

FANTASY LEAGUE GOING WHERE WECAN GET THE STATISTICS AND TRADE

THEM LIKE MONEY BALL, LIKESABERMETRICS BUT FOR LOBBYISTS

BECAUSE THEN WE COULDTRACK IT STATISTICALLY AND

HAVE A MUCH CLEARER VISION OFWHO WE'RE UP AGAINST.

[LAUGHTER]HERE IS WHAT I JUST REALIZED: I

AM FAILING THIS CLASS.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THEDIFFERENTIAL THEN?

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

>> I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT. YOUKNOW,

KRUGMAN WROTE A COLUMN AND HESAID THIS STUDY IS OKAY BUT IT'S

GOING TO DISCOURAGE PEOPLE ANDTHAT'S BAD.

AND, I THINK THERE'S SOMETHINGTO THAT.

THIS IS A SOLVABLE PROBLEM.

I THINK IT TAKES A VERY BIGSOCIAL MOVEMENT.

I THINK IT TAKES BIPARTISANLEADERSHIP AND IT ACTUALLY

TAKES WEALTHY PEOPLE ON THE SAMESIDE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

NOTHING SEEMS TO HAPPEN INAMERICAN POLITICS OF ANY

IMPORTANCE FOR --

>> Jon: RIGHT, I WAS GOING TOSAY, DO YOU KNOW OF A COUNTRY

WHERE THAT COULDHAPPEN? IS THERE ANYTHING --

>> WELL, THE UNITED STATES ATTHE BEGINNING OF THE 20th

CENTURY, THE PROGRESSIVE PERIOD.I THINK IT'S REALLY WORTH

LOOKING BACK TO THAT ANDLEARNING SOME LESSONS.

>> Jon: STICK AROUND FOR ALITTLE BIT AFTER THE BREAK AND

WE'LL TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUTWHAT THE MECHANICS OF THAT

WOULD LOOK LIKE TO SOME EXTENTOR HOW TOP QUANTIFY THAT

TO SOME EXTENT.YOU CAN BUY ALSO,

MARTIN YOU HAVE A BOOK OUT,RIGHT?

>> I DO INDEED.

>> Jon: IN FACT, I JUSTHAPPEN TO HAVE IT RIGHT

HERE. IT'S CALLED AFFLUENCE ANDINFLUENCE.

IT WAS THIS GUY'SIDEA. AND THEN THIS GUY

SPENT 20 YEARS WRITING ITAND I DON'T KNOW WHO IS GETTING

THE ROYALTIES, PROBABLY ME.

IT'S ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

MARTIN GILEN SAND BENJAMIN PAGE.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

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