How Do Elites Rule? A Political Review Essay
The book, Who Rules America Now?, written by William Domhoff, is an objective study that relies on statistics claiming that there is an upper class in the United States, which dominates the economic as well as political policy. Domhoff brings out his argument and in the first chapter concerning Power Elite “class power in America”, he discusses how the US being a great power controls the economy, which is illustrated in chapter seven, “How the Power Elite Dominates the Government.” It is agreeable that Power Elites dominate the economic policy as well as the political policy through the statistics and arguments presented by William. On the other hand, the film, Inside the Job, presents a very comprehensive analysis concerning the 2008 financial global crisis. The crisis brought about an expense of more than twenty trillion dollars, causing millions of individuals to lose their jobs and homes through the worst recession because of the Great Depression, which almost resulted in a collapse of the global financial industry. The movie focuses on given events as well as presents the entire cast of the characters: government officials, financial companies, public servants, academics as well as bank executives who were involved in developing the crisis, which affected the middle class and laborers all over the world.
Domhoff first proves that there was an upper class in America and brought in four studies that would establish where the issue of upper class in America originated. The first study was about the rich families from Philadelphia who were traced in more than 200 years to find if they had started their own neighborhoods, clubs, and schools as well as how social register organized their activities outside the cities having a capacity of more than 60,000 families that were rich in 13 cities. This was a proof of existence of an upper class (Domhoff 7). The second study was on the patterns of membership and affiliations found in prep schools as well as clubs that had much to do with the social register (Domhoff 7). The third proof was about the journalist who covered a large society, which he surveyed as he questioned schools, social directors and clubs. The last proof was from interviewing a good number of citizens and taking the overwhelming majority of the people and their perception regarding the social ladder (Domhoff 7).
With these proofs, William tried to find how Power Elite held wealth and the base of wealth distribution as well as the way in which it tied to control and power of the United States. Domhoff claims that wealth comes from ownership of marketable assets, which are defined as real estates and financial assets from stocks, insurance, banks, and bonds (Domhoff 9).
On the other side, the film reveals interviews with major players and commentators in the game of financials, as well use of archival footage that was relevant to government hearings adding up to infuriating and searing exposing the way in which executives in the United States industry of financial services use their influence as well as financial resources in evading government regulations. The officials corrupt the political process set thereby influencing the high level of economics, which help in the setting of government’s policy on financials that help in wealth distribution (Ferguson).
In comparison of wealth distribution and power, Domhoff defines power as having two dimensions; one from resources, charisma, and the size of the population to achieve given goals (Domhoff 11). The second dimension of power is the distributive power because it is successful in conflicts, which means that a group that is powerful, such as Power Elite can succeed in reaching its goals (Domhoff 12). In America, the upper class is dominant, thus, inequality will always be experienced due to disproportionate sharing of stocks, real estate’s as well as bonds, which describe what most of the Americans consider worth having but lack because the Power Elites possess the valuables (Domhoff 14).
Domhoff comes up with power indicators of “who Benefits”, “Who Governs” as the basis of measuring power, which are explained from page 13 to 18 in his book. Using them as the framework for his thesis, which can now be practiced in his four power networks, Domhoff explains that there are ways in which Power Elites as well as wealth influences government and the population in a planned manner. The first power network is a special interest whose process is about Power Elites policies. Lobbyist from the corporations as well as law companies and trade associations play a major role in shaping the government on narrow issues concerning given corporations or businesses in order to find top level appointees from the government who implement policies (Domhoff 161).
The second type of power network concerns controlling public agenda using general interest of the corporate community, which work only through policy planning, think tanks as well as policy discussion groups. It is believeable that think – tank or even foundation comes from the education sector, 83% of twelve think tanks and policy planning groups whereas seventy two percent of the 100 corporations that are large had members in the federal advisory committee that were far much than foundations, universities and charities in the database (Domhoff 177). The third power is the connection with the election of candidates who tend to be sympathetic in issues discussed earlier; this is known as candidate election process. A matter of concern is the way these corporate become politicians with little or no training at all. Corporate executives are four times likely to serve in the federal government due to their clout, wealth acclamations than the executives from smaller companies because they are not Power Elites and cannot acquire the needed connections (Domhoff 165).
From the film, it is clear that financial establishments of fraud are accused. Those included in the cast of characters are not senior executives in the financial institutions only but also those in economics, academics in Harvard, as well as public officials that are elected and are affected by the US economy, working people who lost their jobs and homes as well as those convinced by the whistle blowers suggesting that those responsible for the crisis be regarded criminals. Executives, political and academic cronies received billions whereas their clients, the US general public lost their life savings and the world was subjected to a critical disparity concerning wealth distribution (Ferguson).
The fourth and the last process concern the opinion shaping process. The process tries to keep some of the issues off the public agenda. They make up the second process. Great public relations companies and public affairs departments of main corporations are the majority in this process. Power Elites do not get into the public persona; instead, they tend to set up leaders in order to make special committees that work for changes in the public opinion. They work hard in order to influence the society to cooperate with Power Elite support fully thus Power Elites can be able to justify their means whenever possible.
In conclusion, Power Elites exert extreme power in recognition of their ownership of most businesses in the US, stocks as well as real estate within the country. Their influence concerning power, distribution of income as well as the ability to cooperate and accomplishment of objectives that meet their needs, make them respectable though unnerving. On the other hand, Power Elites with the top executives of corporations dominate the political and economical arenas. The Elite model is not convincing because it tends to only benefit them, and therefore, I would not buy their idea.
Similarly, the film has much information that convince us that corrective measures should be taken to change the greedy as well as the unsustainable corporate and government behavior, which persists in most of the characters who maintain their positions, influence and status. Thus, the film acts as a warning alarm because we are still at risk.