This chart of Venn Diagrams (New Year’s Day links) is a nifty visualization that shows how many, many people, through the operations of Washington’s revolving door, have held high-level positions both in the Federal government and in major corporations. To take but one example, the set of all Treasury Secretaries includes Hank Paulson and Bob Rubin, which overlaps with the set of all Goldman Sachs COOs. The overlapping is pervasive. Political scientists and the rest of us have names for such cozy arrangements — oligarchy, corporatism, fascism, “crony capitalism” — but one name that doesn’t apply is democracy. On the flip, you’ll find a larger version of the chart (and a discussion of its provenance).
However, as at least one reader pointed out in mail, this visualization raises a methodological concern which, readers, I’m hoping you can help address. Here’s the big version:
The provenance of the chart:
- ldsgeek [http://ldsgeek.tumblr.com/post/14479671292/this-is-crony-capitalism], to whom I linked, who got it from….
- David Kramer [http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/101143.html], who got it from…
- Stephanie Herman [http://www.geke.us/VennDiagrams.html], who created the diagrams and licensed them under Creative Commons.
(Kramer’s version consolidates Herman’s diagrams into a single file). Here’s Herman’s graphically dynamic Facebook page: Exposing Progressive Corporatism.
Which brings me to a methodological concern with Herman’s visualization: The dataset.
Herman’s honest: Her goal is to “expose progressive corporatism,” and — assuming for the sake of the argument that Ds are progressive, and that “progressives” are progressive — her chart does exactly that, and very effectively, too.
But what her data does not do is expose corporatism as such; there are very, very few Rs listed; it strains credulity that Hank Paulson was the only high-level GS
alum operative in the Bush administration, for example, and if GS isn’t the Rs’ favorite bank, there’s surely another.
Hence, Herman’s chart, if divorced from context, might lead somebody — say, a child of six — to conclude that the only corporatists in Washington DC are Ds. Personally, I’d never assume that, but then I see the legacy parties as a single integrated system of shape-shifting weasels anyhow. And I don’t think NC readers need Child-Prufe™ caps on their links of the day. Pragmatically, however, from the standpoint at least of the Occupiers, the chart would be a good deal more effective if the dataset was more inclusive.
So, readers: Can you, in comments, augment Herman’s data by adding more overlaps from the R side of the aisle? Then perhaps we can issue a revised — and thoroughly bipartisan — chart.
Of course, if the data doesn’t support overlaps on the R side, the implications are interesting, no? But that’s hardly likely.
NOTE  Which ldsgeek’s post does with “[Obligatory Title],” tumblr’s default. The title is not “D corporatism,” for example.
NOTE Before posting the link, I sampled the data using SourceWatch, and didn’t find any issues. If the existing dataset needs to be cleaned up, that would be useful too.
UPDATE Cross-posted at Corrente.