Tyler Cowen gives me a smooth handle on something I have been meaning to mention.
That request was the first on the list and it came from Ezra Abrams, who wrote:
Wealth is equal to raw naked power: the power to fund PACs; the power to endow university chairs to influence people; the power to tear down neighborhoods and erect shopping malls. to what extent does the increase in wealth and income of the upper x% (relative to median or some other broad measure) mean that too much power is concentrated in the hands of too few people one amusing example is from Kahnemann’s thinking fast and slow. Small schools show the best results b gates poured money into small schools However, what gates didn’t realize is that this is a small numbers artifacts; small schools show the best and worst results cause with a small school you can deviate from the mean …there you have raw naked power having a huge influence on educational policy
I disagree with most of that. The scholarly literature suggests that campaign finance reform doesn’t matter as much as people think.
The big banks control our government less than some critics have suggested.
Academics are quite liberal/democratic, yet college students seems to be slightly more conservative than the American public as a whole. The major impact of endowed chairs is to cement the roles of Harvard, Princeton and comparable schools as intellectual leaders.
My observation is that people get the causation backwards here most of the time. People are not typically powerful because they are rich, they are rich because they are powerful.
One of the things that people tend to do with power is acquire command over good and services, which is also known as wealth.