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Old September 15th, 2014, 04:21 PM   #1

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Do people in government understand the general population?


Are the lifestyles too different for those who govern to really comprehend most of the people in their nations?

Quote:
Johns Hopkins University political scientists wanted to know if America’s unelected officials have enough in common with the people they govern to understand them.
The answer: Not really.
Surveying 850 people who either work in government or directly with it, researchers found that the inside-the-Beltway crowd has very little in common with America at large. Washington insiders are more likely to be white. They are more educated. Their salaries are higher, they vote more and have more faith in the fairness of elections. They are probably Democrat and liberal. They more diligently follow the news. And they think the mechanizations of government couldn’t be easier to comprehend.
When Rulers Can?t Understand the Ruled « News from The Johns Hopkins University
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Old September 15th, 2014, 04:36 PM   #2

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Sadly, the results of this study do not surprise me one bit.
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Old September 15th, 2014, 04:37 PM   #3
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It's a well-known fact that in the UK both the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet, and to a slightly lesser extent MPs in general, are drawn from a very narrow pool of schools. They're drawn from a very narrow pool of universities, a very narrow pool of degrees, and a very narrow pool of careers. You'd struggle to find one that didn't go to an independent school and/or Oxford or Cambridge, and then struggle again to find one whose previous career wasn't lawyer, social worker, or civil servant.

It's not so well-known that MP's personal secretarial staff, aides, and assistants tend to be drawn from the exact same social and educational background as well. I've interned with an MP in London and there wasn't a person in or near the office that didn't speak in public school RP. That includes other interns. The one I worked with the most was daughter of one of the MP-in-question's old school-friends.

And that's the House of Commons. The House of Lords is much worse. It's less hereditary titles, more hereditary school-mates and dinner party pals, and people party officials couldn't parachute in to a safe seat. There's no way to revoke a peerage, and the only thing to stop unethical behaviour is a code of conduct, introduced in 2002. Entrenched lobbyists are rampant. You only have to look at the amount of obscure civil servants who land knighthoods, OBEs, MBEs, and I-can't-believe-it's-not-BEs to see the extent of the old boy's network.

Last edited by Domhnall Balloch; September 15th, 2014 at 04:53 PM.
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Old September 15th, 2014, 04:53 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Son of Athena View Post
Sadly, the results of this study do not surprise me one bit.
There was once another Republic in which the Senate and the people came from different planets, IIRC...
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Old September 15th, 2014, 06:00 PM   #5

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What they care about is how to convince the carious demographic groups to vote for them. Pandering is king in politics.

In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the
University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the
Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

"A democracy is always
temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent
form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous
gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority
always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from
the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally
collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a
dictatorship."
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Old September 15th, 2014, 06:03 PM   #6

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Originally Posted by Tuthmosis III View Post
There was once another Republic in which the Senate and the people came from different planets, IIRC...
Unfortunately it is forbidden to compare a certain ruthless politician being kept artificially alive with Darth Vader as he served after the December 1991 cutoff.
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Old September 15th, 2014, 06:07 PM   #7

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Originally Posted by Son of Athena View Post
Unfortunately it is forbidden to compare a certain ruthless politician being kept artificially alive with Darth Vader as he served after the December 1991 cutoff.

I was referring to Rome. Honest.
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Old September 15th, 2014, 08:15 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domhnall Balloch View Post
It's a well-known fact that in the UK both the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet, and to a slightly lesser extent MPs in general, are drawn from a very narrow pool of schools. They're drawn from a very narrow pool of universities, a very narrow pool of degrees, and a very narrow pool of careers. You'd struggle to find one that didn't go to an independent school and/or Oxford or Cambridge, and then struggle again to find one whose previous career wasn't lawyer, social worker, or civil servant.

It's not so well-known that MP's personal secretarial staff, aides, and assistants tend to be drawn from the exact same social and educational background as well. I've interned with an MP in London and there wasn't a person in or near the office that didn't speak in public school RP. That includes other interns. The one I worked with the most was daughter of one of the MP-in-question's old school-friends.

And that's the House of Commons. The House of Lords is much worse. It's less hereditary titles, more hereditary school-mates and dinner party pals, and people party officials couldn't parachute in to a safe seat. There's no way to revoke a peerage, and the only thing to stop unethical behaviour is a code of conduct, introduced in 2002. Entrenched lobbyists are rampant. You only have to look at the amount of obscure civil servants who land knighthoods, OBEs, MBEs, and I-can't-believe-it's-not-BEs to see the extent of the old boy's network.

It is a similar situation in Australia. Many journalists have written of the rise of a 'political class' over the last 30 years or so.

These are people who leave school, attend university, get involved in student politics while studying law or political science, go to work for an MP as junior 'gofer' or work for a Trade Union (without ever actually working at the trade the union represents) then after a suitable 'apprenticeship' working with various party apparatchiks they are given pre-selection for a run at a seat in parliament.

Parliament is full of these people. In a working life of maybe 20 to 30 years they have never worked outside politics, yet presume to understand what concerns the people of Australia.
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Old September 15th, 2014, 08:27 PM   #9

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I think it depends... I live in a rural riding with a longstanding member who had previously been Reeve (Mayor) of the County and before that Mayor of the small city. He came from a farming background before getting into politics. I think large Urban ridings draw from people who cannot possibly represent their people or understand them. Certainly there are some politicians who I would say understand their following, but looking at the Canadian paties we've had some heads of parties who were elitists, or did not live the same lifestyle as those who voted for them. Stephen Harper doesn't understand the majority of Calgarians, neither does he understand the majority of Canadians IMO... most of the time it's a top down dictating of values and priorities. This where selling policy platforms come in, you see so much psychological manipulation in attack ads. I can only really speak to the Canadian system because thats what I'm familiar with mostly.
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Old September 15th, 2014, 09:03 PM   #10

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I think in Australia anyway, there is a crisis in the numbers of people wanting to become politicians. A bit like Catholic Priests in the away. The job has a horrible reputation and the two major parties, Left and Right, are... awful. So the available pool of contenders has shrunk to being often quite unpleasant people, which in turn repels possible recruits.

We are in desperate need of a few leaders who are inspirational and make it look like a job where you can do something positive, and not just grubbily attack political opponents.
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