The news: A new scientific study from Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn’t a democracy any more. And they’ve found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.
An oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military.
For their study, Gilens and Page compiled data from roughly 1,800 different policy initiatives in the years between 1981 and 2002. They then compared those policy changes with the expressed opinion of the United State public. Comparing the preferences of the average American at the 50th percentile of income to what those Americans at the 90th percentile preferred, as well as the opinions of major lobbying or business groups, the researchers found out that the government followed the directives set forth by the latter two much more often.
It’s beyond alarming. As Gilens and Page write, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.
That might explain why mandatory background checks on gun sales supported by 83% to 91% of Americans aren’t in place, or why Congress has taken no action on greenhouse gas emissions even when such legislation is supported by the vast majority of citizens.
This problem has been steadily escalating for four decades. While there are some limitations to their data set, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez constructed income statistics based on IRS data that go back to 1913. They found that the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is much bigger than you would think…I said this when I was in fucking ninth grade and wrote a twelve paged paper on it and my teacher told me that I was a conspiracy theorist and that I needed a realistic topic. ok.
|We need to fight against our human instinct to deify our role models, but also fight against our instinct to subjugate our own individuality in the process. Star gazing is one of the most profoundly human things one can do. But perhaps we must more frequently tear ourselves away from the mystery and beauty of the starry heavens above, and rather inspect, admire and foster the moral law within. |
Jack Gleeson (aka King Joffrey in Game of Thrones) on celebrity.
I strongly encourage you to watch/listen to the entire talk here. Or read a partial transcription here. It is an extremely cognizant, intelligent and humble take, from someone with recent first-person experience.
“When I was auditioning for Joffrey. I only had one audition, and the producers and writers were laughing at my performance because I was being so snotty and arrogant. They found it comical. I thought that was good.” —Jack Gleeson
“Jack is gorgeous – a wonderfully sensitive, quiet, intelligent scholar. He’s the antithesis of that character.” —Michelle Fairley
"Jack, who plays Joffrey is such a lovely fellow." --Ian McElhinney
“He’s this really contemplative, erudite, really gorgeous, generous human being, and he plays Joffrey so well. It’s very disturbing.” —Natalie Dormer
"Jack Gleeson, who plays Joffrey is an absolute sweetheart in real life, you know what I mean. He’s such a brilliant actor. I think he’s a genius." —Mark Addy
“He’s the most polite, lovely, intelligent person in the whole cast! He’s just so humble and everyone loves him. There’s nothing anyone can say bad about Jack. He literally just turns it on. As soon as they go, “Action!” he goes from lovely Jack to the most sadistic, horrible creep on television.” —Sophie Turner
“Jack Gleeson is really a very nice young man, charming and friendly.” —George R.R. Martin
"I kind of wish he would do more television interviews so that people can see what he’s really like, because there is so much hate for Joffrey, I feel protective of Jack now. If I were him, I’d be petrified that people would come up and slap me on the street! I should be his bodyguard." —Sophie Turner
"Jack is actually a very sweet boy and very bright, very intelligent young man with a natural talent." —Charles Dance
"Jack! He’s the coolest. He smokes a pipe, people. Talk about great acting for somebody who’s so different from the part he plays. I love that guy." —Peter Dinklage