Country of the World United States of America Part 3

About the country the United States of America, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.



Ruling-class control of the corporations that run the television networks and major sources of printed news is particularly important, because the news media influence the population as a whole. The top 25 newspaper chains in the U.S., most of which are arms of media conglomerates that also own TV stations, book publishers, etc., have more than half of the daily newspaper circulation. Not only are most of the TV stations in the country associated with three media-conglomerate networks, but major banks hold controlling interests in each one. For instance, the trust departments of 11 banks hold a total of 38% of the stock in CBS; Chase Manhattan Bank, which holds 14% of CBS stock, also has substantial holdings in ABC and RCA, the parent of NBC. The ruling-class directors and owners of media corporations do not dictate the news, but they place important constraints upon news managers and reporters.

The ruling class does not directly control the two political parties, Republican and Democratic, from which most state and federal officials are elected. However through lobbying, campaign contributions, and occasional bribery, major corporations are able to influence key votes in Congress and state legislatures. More important, the ruling class has established a large number of influence groups to develop policy for the class as a whole, including the Committee for Economic Development, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Business Council, and the Trilateral Commission. These organizations, which consist of a small number of top business executives plus a few leaders from other walks of life, stage conferences, publish papers, and meet privately with government officials. They focus their energies on the executive branch of the federal government, and modern presidents have chosen their top assistants and department heads from members of such groups. For instance, Pres. Jimmy Carter, himself a member of the Trilateral Commission, chose his vice-president and 17 other high administration officials from the Trilateral group, which has less than 60 American members.

In many areas, the ruling class has relatively little influence over local governmental bodies. These are usually dominated by the upper middle class of professionals and small businesspeople, who participate in politics much more actively than the poor. However, the ruling class is gradually increasing its power over local government by placing conditions on transfers of federal funds to local agencies and by promoting regional governments to assume some of the planning authority traditionally held by cities and counties.

The American ruling class does not have absolute rule. Small business, farmers and growers, organized labor, ethnic groups, and other grass-roots organizations influence policy, especially when they are able to ally themselves with segments of a split ruling class. These nonruling-class groups are most effective working through Congress at the federal level and through state and local entities. Some, such as labor unions, wield power through collective direct action.

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