The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (Dutch: Koninklijke Serres van Laken, French: Serres Royales de Laeken), are a vast complex of monumental heated greenhouses in the park of the Royal Palace of Laeken in the north of Brussels. It is one of the major tourist attractions of the city.
The complex was commissioned by King Leopold II and designed by Alphonse Balat. Built between 1874 and 1895, the complex was finished with the completion of the so-called “Iron Church”, a domed greenhouse that would originally serve as the royal chapel. The total floor surface of this immense complex is 2.5 hectares (270,000 square feet). 800,000 liters (over 200,000 US gallons) of fuel oil are needed each year to heat the buildings.
The complex can only be visited during a two-week period in April–May each year, when most flowers are in full bloom.
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.
I highkey was saying this all along
seriously not news, but needs to be taken more seriously
And all the middle class, working poor, non-white, and non-male people in America say “no shit, Sherlock.”
and people tell me to vote, like it makes a difference.
and they just did this for people in the 50th percentile of income.
and they said “anymore” as if america was ever a democracy, as if slavery wasn’t an oligarchy
But, for real, though: I can’t count the amount of times I’ve said this and gotten looks like I’m from some sort of other fucking planet. It’s ridiculous that Americans are still deluding themselves into believing that the government and the two political parties involved give a shit about anything but money and the interests of the power elite.
if i remember the american government was styled after the one they had in ancient greek where they had no professional politicians rather it was treated like jury duty
This is sort of true. That The U.S. is a “democracy” is actually incorrect. The United States was never designed as a full democracy or meant to be one. Instead, The U.S. was supposed to be a republic. A democratic republic, to be exact, but still a republic. But that doesn’t lessen the issue of the growing oligarchy in this nation, or the fact that we’re not too far off from the deathgrip of a plutocracy.