image from globalresearch.ca Many of us educated in the United States grew up thinking that "democracy" and "free markets" went hand-in-hand, and that both were "as American as apple pie." But a newly published research study, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens , by Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University, makes the case that the U.S.A. is no longer a democracy. Their findings, in a nutshell: " 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 ." In other words, these groups have influence over public policy, regulation and law-making: Americans with income of 90% and above major lobbying groups major business groups In fact, Gilens and Page found that, " the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy ." If there are few major employers, or power is concentrated in the hands of the few, what is the mechanism for paying adequate wages and salaries to workers and middle managers? There is no incentive to pay fair salaries if the number of employment options has diminished, and the regulatory bodies are controlled by the companies that are supposed to be regulated. There are an increasing number of op-ed pieces, research papers, and books addressing the issues of income inequality and the diminished existence of truly free markets. Both have affected the economy and business practices in the United States. Sources: " Princeton Concludes What Kind of Government America Really Has, and It's Not a Democracy ," by Tom McKay, PolicyMic , April 16, 2014, citing an article to be published this fall in Perspectives on Politics . F ollow up: Do an internet search for "oligarchy" AND "free markets". Summarize the results of your search. According to the article by Tom McKay (or the research paper itself), what are some specific implications of Gilens' and Page's findings for middle-class business people? Play the devil's advocate: why is an oligarchy good for American business?