One of the ongoing discussions on this website is the degree to which the government is you and me, the citizenry, us.
Many people hold that when we pay taxes – for instance – we are really just paying back into society, of which we are a part. We are contributing to the coffers of the great American village. Taxation isn’t theft because who is taking the money? The government, which is elected by and composed of citizens. It’s all just a big circle. We’re just paying ourselves.
I even had a neighbor tell me once that he actually “enjoyed” paying taxes. The fact that he was a retired federal worker probably had nothing to do with this of course.
Sadly this viewpoint, that “we’re all in this together” is just wrong. The government is not us. It in most respects works in the interests of very powerful people who for the most part really don’t give a darn what you think. These interests have their own agendas. If theirs and the agenda of the average citizen happen to be the same in some respects, great, but don’t think for a moment that the average person is calling almost any of the shots.*
A great example is the current immigration debate.
I am pretty pro-immigration in various forms as I’ve stated many times before. But polling has shown consistently that a majority of Americans are against any amnesty plan, and to a large degree are for really clamping down on the border.
But you know who is for amnesty? The Democratic Party which thinks an influx of new Latin American voters is good for their future electoral chances. (I think this is overblown however.) And big business which wants a larger pool of inexpensive labor.
Now, whose interests are being pursued in DC?
*I actually don’t think this need remain the case. The Internet gives amazing power to the average person. The current system is built on general citizen ignorance. This ignorance is lifting to a significant degree however. More and more people are beginning to see the scam which is being run. It is possible that the phenomenon Professor Gilens illustrates below is in the midst of a fundamental shift. Let’s hope this is true.