Gene Expression

A survey of 751 CEOs shows that 80% support John McCain while 20% support Barack Obama. Remember, wealthier white people still tilt Republican. That being said, I think there is something to the dichotomy between professional class vs. business class. The former are affluent and educated, but may be on career tracks where regulatory constraints on labor mitigate capitalist competition (e.g., lawyers, doctors and other licensed and certified professionals). In other words, their affluence is not tied to market conditions in a 1:1 manner, and a non-trivial proportion of their income might be derived from government sources either directly or indirectly (i.e., employment in government or through reimbursement via government programs). There simply aren’t enormous gains on increased deregulation in many professions (in fact, deregulation by repealing the licensing powers of the ABA and AMA would probably immediately reduce wages because of the influx of labor competition!). In contrast, the business class may see enormous gains through deregulation because the raison d’être of their occupations is to increase profits to the total exclusion of non-market forces. The practice of law or medicine may make an individual relatively wealthy (though the mean income of doctors and lawyers is far higher than their median), but the professions have non-remunerative ideals. See this post on Andrew Gelman’s site for more.

Also, since I to tell readers to back up their opinions with some data and do their due diligence (after all, your unsupported opinions are really worthless to me, I can find plenty at the local Starbucks!), I went to Fund Race 2008 and looked to see how various professions gave politically. Since this is a Democrat year I suspect there’s a little more tilt in that direction than usual, but focus on the difference between CEOs and all the upper middle class professions….

Republican Democrat Repub/person Dem/person
Physician $11,514,008 $18,948,193 $1,027 $995
Doctor $935,690 $1,025,982 $876 $1,081
Attorney $24,913,294 $110,267,373 $1,408 $1,644
Lawyer $4,324,911 $7,558,198 $1,278 $1,177
Professor $947,808 $13,150,754 $832 $822
CPA $738,411 $2,443,733 $818 $1,028
Engineer $4,364,770 $5,692,738 $790 $723
Architect $965,544 $3,038,176 $1,176 $915
Executive $18,299,510 $12,744,26 $2,099 $1,865

(I assume that wealthy executives have other ways to influence through money that just direct donations)

Comments

  1. #1 Martin Regnen
    October 11, 2008

    This meshes well with Friedrich von Blowhard’s theory about well-paid, low-risk professionals and their influence on government. Here’s one of his posts about the subject:

    http://www.2blowhards.com/archives/2008/01/the_new_class_a.html

  2. #2 Danny
    October 11, 2008

    [the] affluence [of the professional class] is not tied to market conditions in a 1:1 manner

    And that of CEOs is? The affluence of CEOs depends on increasing inequality. That’s why they vote Republican.

  3. #3 razib
    October 11, 2008

    And that of CEOs is? The affluence of CEOs depends on increasing inequality. That’s why they vote Republican.

    well yeah, they get more affluent and no one else does? that slots into what i’m saying….

  4. #4 Charles Iliya Krempeaux
    October 11, 2008

    Is there any way to get this data over time? (This data just seems to be for 2008.)

    I’m curious to look up the data see if the trend holds from year to year.

    — Charles Iliya Krempeaux
        http://changelog.ca

  5. #5 razib
    October 11, 2008
  6. #6 Half Sigma
    October 11, 2008

    What’s the difference between an attorney and a lawyer?

  7. #7 Ktesibios
    October 11, 2008

    The AMA does not have any power either to grant or revoke the license to practice medicine. In the USA that is the responsibility of state governments. The AMA does have considerable input into setting requirements for licensing, drawing up examinations and accrediting educational programs, but that’s not the same thing as “licensing power”.

    If you look into the requirements for licensure as a professional engineer, you’ll find that the examinations are designed by engineers. This is called “getting people who know what they’re doing to do a job”.

    [be respectful or i’ll just delete all your comments in mod queue, ok? though it’s ok i guess if you just want to communicate specially with me]

  8. #8 dev
    October 11, 2008

    I don’t think the Republican leanings of businesspeople are connected with their being “tied to market conditions in a 1:1 manner”, given that the consensus seems to be that market conditions are not significantly better (and according to some are worse) under Republican administrations. Rather I think it has to do with two factors:

    First, even in the absence of better market conditions businesspeople benefit disproportionately from Republican-promoted tax cuts such lower capital gains tax rates and repeal of the estate tax. Regardless of the long-term economic consequences of such tax cuts, the short-term benefits to the recipients are always positive and can be quite large. (For a CEO making $1M in stock appreciation, even a 1 or 2 per cent decrease in capital gains tax is more then enough to justify cutting a hefty check to Republican candidates.)

    Second, Republican administrations are perceived as more willing to grant special favors to businesses, whether for regulatory relief or for direct or indirect subsidies. To quote from a Washington Post article on lobbying: “[A mid-size lobbying firm] collected $15 million in fees from about 70 clients and delivered $1.5 billion in assistance — measured both in benefits received and in burdens avoided — a return ratio of roughly 1 to 100.” Even allowing for some exaggeration by lobbying firms promoting their effectiveness, it seems clear that even a relatively small Republican tilt toward business (compared to Democrats) would yield outsize returns to businesspeople helping Republicans get elected.

  9. #9 razib
    October 11, 2008

    What’s the difference between an attorney and a lawyer?

    nothing. the professions are entered by people giving, so they will use these terms as per their preference.

    If you look into the requirements for licensure as a professional engineer, you’ll find that the examinations are designed by engineers. This is called “getting people who know what they’re doing to do a job”.

    you’re eliding the fact that the medical & legal profession have rather more powerful ways to restrict labor supply (# of new medical schools or modulating bar passage rates). additionally, i am to understand that you only need one licensed engineer to sign off things at a firm, and engineers out of college have to spend their firs 4 years without license in most states.

  10. #10 razib
    October 11, 2008

    dev, your points are reasonable. “the market” is kind of too vague a term. i think there’s a strong public choice angle here….

  11. #11 Charles Iliya Krempeaux
    October 11, 2008

    According to (my understanding of) the theory that’s suggested here… that any “occupation” where “success” is determined by competition and the “quality” of the individual, the most “successful” will have a political leaning away from the Democratic party and towards the Republican party….

    I would expect the very “successful” people involved in the creation of Software to lean away from the Democratic Party and towards the Republican Party.[1]

    Now, there’s a “naming” problem with the people involved with the creation of Software.[2]

    These people call themselves all sorts of things! And these names aren’t generally reflective of the “quality” of the individual or how “successful” they are.

    (For example, there are names like: “Software Engineer”, “Software Developer”, “Software Programmer”, “Web Engineer”, “Web Developer”, “Web Programmer”… and even just “Programmer”, “Developer”… etc. And you can qualify these with things like: “Senior”, “Intermediate”, and “Junior”.)

    How do you “isolate” the very “successful” individuals involved in the creation of Software?

    I’m tempted to use the phrases “Senior Software Engineer”, but that doesn’t always translate to being “successful”. My observation is that, although some of the “Senior Software Engineers” are highly skilled and well paid…… with some of the people called “Senior Software Engineers”, the title could be said to be more honorary.

    So I don’t think looking at people who self-identify themselves as a “Senior Software Engineer” would be useful.

    But just for convince of the readers who are curious at the numbers of people who self-identify themselves as a “Senior Software Engineer”… here’s what comes up for them…

    $72,075 was given by people who identified their occupation as “Senior Software Engineer”. $21,866 from 25 people to Republicans. $50,209 from 69 people to Democrats.

    There is one label, I can think of, that should isolate some (but not all) of the “successful” people in the creation of Software….

    At least in my experience, Principal Software Engineers are highly skilled and well paid.

    I looked up those numbers and got…

    $5,699 was given by people who identified their occupation as “Principal Software Engineer”. $2,675 from 6 people to Republicans. $3,024 from 5 people to Democrats.

    This seems to be close to being evenly split. Although there may be problems with drawing any kind of conclusions from this because the the number of people reported here is too small.

    ————————-

    [1] Yes, I know that there is some Government regulation/rigging with the creation of Software too. Like Copyright and Patents.

    But my personal observation is that in general these things don’t translate to increased pay for these individuals.

    My observation is that today, most people involved the creation of Software are involved with Web Development. And with Web Development, Copyright isn’t even involved in increasing revenue for these individuals. (Since you’re not “selling” Software.)

    And Patents seem retard things in general. (And they seem to come in the form of Patent Trolling and defensive Patents… although these are usually created by people who aren’t actually involved with the creation of Software! So like with Copyright, Patents don’t translate to increased pay for these individuals.)

    [2] Note that there is a naming problem with what people who create Software call themselves.

    My definitions are that….

    * A Developers is (almost) anyone involved with the creation of “code” (either by hand or through the use to “tool”) which goes towards producing a software system.

    * A Programmer” is anyone who can write “code” in a programming language.

    * A Software Engineer is a programmer who has a background in Applied Mathematics.

    Note that from these definitions you can derive that…. All Software Engineers are Programmers. And all Programmers are Developers.

    Some quick rules of thumb….
    * If all you know is how to markup HTML or CSS, then you’re a Developer.
    * If you can program, and you understand Computational Complexity, then you are a Software Engineer.

    BUT not everyone follows these naming conventions!

    I’ve seen plenty of people call themselves Software Engineers, when they should only be calling themselves Programmer.

    And I’ve seen plenty of people label Software Engineers as Developers or Programmers. And while all Software Engineers are Developers and Programmers, those labels really don’t “say” enough.

  12. #12 John Emerson
    October 11, 2008

    I basically accept the analysis. CEOs and small businessmen who are completely tied in to the market tend strongly to be Republicans, whereas professionals increasingly tend toward the Democrats (with skilled and unskilled labor divided). Some conclude that the Democrats represent the New Class, whereas Republicans represent business.

    Eight years ago it might have made sense to talk about privileged professionals insulated from the market, etc., but after our eight years with the CEO President I think that the politics of the management class has lost a lot of its luster. The main things that gave us are the endless Iraq War and a global financial crisis that hasn’t bottomed out yet.

    For a long time anti-government rhetoric grounded on social choice economics and free-marketism has been tremendously popular, but the results of the six years of almost complete Republican (business) domination of government 2001-2006 should cause people to reconsider. The people who walked away from bankrupt companies with $20 million annual bonuses were mostly Republicans.

    Low taxes and deregulation are the main issues business cares about, and the Republicans deliver. Others have broader concerns.

    In short, too many people worship management and entrepreneurs, and management and entrepreneurs tend to worship themselves too much.

  13. #13 Charles Iliya Krempeaux
    October 11, 2008

    @razib, you said…

    “dev, your points are reasonable. “the market” is kind of too vague a term.”

    Whenever I hear/read the word “market”, I tend to read that as “free market“.

    But as I think as @dev alludes to, I don’t think that the Republic party is an alias for Free Market thinking.

    Although I think it is arguable that the Republic party is closer to being Free Marketing leaning than the Democratic party. I think both the Democratic party and the Republican party both have Socialist leanings.

    Although I’d conjecture that the Republican party tends to restrict alot of their Socialism to big-business-Socialism.

    My guess is that you’d have to get into the more libertarian, classically liberal, and minarchist elements of the Republican party for consistent Free Market thinking.

  14. #14 Charles Iliya Krempeaux
    October 11, 2008

    @John Emerson, you said…

    “Low taxes and deregulation are the main issues business cares about, and the Republicans deliver. Others have broader concerns.”

    I don’t know if I agree with that. I’ve observed a tendency that Big Business “loves” regulation. They seem to even help put them in place.

    Although I can’t talk of what goes on in the minds of the people involved, my observation is that regulation prevents or very greatly retards competition.

    Thus keeping Big Businesses “in power”.

    There’s a difference between being Pro-Business[1] and Pro-Big-Business[2].

    ————————-
    [1] The phrase “Pro-Business” is often used as an alias for Pro-Free-Market.

    [2] The phrase “Pro-Big-Business” is often used as an alias for Pro-Interventionism and Pro-Corporate-Welfare.

  15. #15 John Emerson
    October 11, 2008

    My understanding is that by now the Republican Party has pretty much extincted libertarian, classically liberal, and minarchist Republicans.

  16. #16 John Emerson
    October 11, 2008

    Business has gotten a lot of deregulation over the last 40 years or so, and they’ve loved it. Businesses also support regulations that they think help them, but that hasn’t been the trend.

    The less government intervention in the economy there is, the better big business does. Libertarians, etc. who believe that weaker government would help small businesses against big businesses are deluding themselves.

  17. #17 Joseph Hertzlinger
    October 11, 2008

    The differences between “Attorney” and “Lawyer” or between “Physician” and “Doctor” makes it plausible that support for Democrats is correlated with the number of syllables in the job-description title you prefer.

  18. #18 Charles Iliya Krempeaux
    October 12, 2008

    @John Emerson, you said…

    “The less government intervention in the economy there is, the better big business does. Libertarians, etc. who believe that weaker government would help small businesses against big businesses are deluding themselves.”

    If I had to sum up my take on the libertarian position, I think it would be that… the less government intervention in the economy there is the better all business does.

  19. #19 razib
    October 12, 2008

    The less government intervention in the economy there is, the better big business does. Libertarians, etc. who believe that weaker government would help small businesses against big businesses are deluding themselves.

    big business to a great extent relies on government to erect legal and regulatory systems which allows for it to flourish. e.g., incorporation laws, etc. i think there’s a reason that *corporatism* arose concomitantly in the private and public sector historically….

  20. #20 John Emerson
    October 12, 2008

    Look at unregulated capitalism (before Theodore Roosevelt). There were whole areas of the country completely under the thumb of the railroads, the coal companies, the big banks, the steel industry, and so on. Since Roosevelt the big businesses have learned to game regulation to their advantage, often at the expense of smaller companies and new market entrants, but unregulated capitalism has a real track record that should be the point of comparison. Since about 1970 the big money people have consistently been asking for lower taxes and deregulation.

    The chairman of the entertainment giant Viacom said the reason was simple: Republican values are what U.S. companies need. Speaking to some of America’s and Asia’s top executives gathered for Forbes magazine’s annual Global CEO Conference, Mr. Redstone declared: “I look at the election from what’s good for Viacom. I vote for what’s good for Viacom. I vote, today, Viacom. “I don’t want to denigrate Kerry,” he went on, “but from a Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal. Because the Republican administration has stood for many things we believe in, deregulation and so on… from a Viacom standpoint, we believe the election of a Republican administration is better for our company.”

    Link.

    The irony is that Bush’s economy just bit Redstone pretty damn hard.

  21. #21 razib
    October 12, 2008

    Look at unregulated capitalism (before Theodore Roosevelt). There were whole areas of the country completely under the thumb of the railroads, the coal companies, the big banks, the steel industry, and so on.

    yes, but you do know that these corporations arose in large part through aggregation via manipulation of laws which allowed for the emergence of entities like trusts and holding companies? my point is that the economies of scale often require a robust legal/regulatory mechanism so that people can trust that their capital is being used wisely and they can leverage it. some people have argued that the relative retardation in economic growth in the islamic world is because shariah does not allow for non-human corporate entities which can serve to leverage capital. the anti-trust laws were regulations which constrained these corporations, but the corporations would not exist were it not for other laws & regulations.

  22. #22 John Emerson
    October 12, 2008

    All economies everywhere exist within some legal structure enforced by the state. Libertarians often claim that without government regulation, there would be no monopolies, and that startups and small firms would flourish. Against this, under pure competition (which is a somewhat imaginary condition) larger firms have a lot of ways to dominate, bankrupt, and absorb smaller firms. Deep pockets really help, and whoever controls credit controls almost everything else too.

  23. #23 razib
    October 12, 2008

    john, get off the libertarian point, since i don’t really care what libertarians think about this, they’re mostly bullshitters. rather, i’m focusing on this part:
    The less government intervention in the economy there is, the better big business does.

    this implies a monotonic trend of business size as the amount of regulation declines. free market types often claim this as well. my point is that that’s not really true, big business doesn’t do well with anarchy or areas where universal expansive legal frameworks do not exist. big business might want a lot less of the types of regulation that leftists would prefer, because those regulations emerge to constrain its power. but without a government which could enforce contracts and allow for the recognition of corporate entities capitalism doesn’t scale well. family businesses can expand under a pre-corporate model, but those have limitations. the english elimination of the joint-stock company in the 18th century is a classical example where there was a retardation of the growth of big business because no one will get involved in these extra-familial institutions without the force of gov. enforcing contracts.

    as a point of historical causation, surely it is true that gov. was smaller and less intrusive before TR than after. but, if you push it age i think one can argue that the age of lincoln witness the expansion of federal government at the expense of states and localities, and the ex-whigs in the republican party were generally in favor of protective tariffs to build up large natively held businesses.

    but this is the sort of thing that is amenable to cliometric analysis, so i’ll do some digging and come back….

  24. #24 John Emerson
    October 12, 2008

    What I was saying was intended to be limited to American history since about 1850, and was especially oriented toward recent political debates. Deregulation in the present context may or may not be good for business overall, but I don’t think that it’s likely to be good for small businesses versus big businesses.

  25. #25 razib
    October 12, 2008

    moving off the broader point (which i’ll generally assent to), there is a point that different “regulations” do have disparate impact. e.g., european laws which curtailed sunday hours for retail favored “mom & pop” over big business because the former didn’t have the labor flexibility to work on sundays. OTOH, if you consider government subsidized health care a “regulation” (this is debatable) i would argue it favors larger businesses over smaller, because it removes some of the major costs of large businesses in the USA in terms of having to negotiate for health benefits with unions.

  26. #26 Jason Malloy
    October 12, 2008

    Looks like the high money professions outside of CEO are going for Obama.

    Obama’s plan is to increase income tax among the 5% of Americans making >$250,000 from 35% to 39%. I’d like to know what the occupational breakdown of this group is and how they are voting. If the people he wants to tax are going for him, that seems like a winning deal for all. Are the rich volunteering to pay for health care?

  27. #27 John Emerson
    October 12, 2008

    In the longer and the broader view you’re pretty much right. You can even say that the state and the market developed in synch as part of a modernizing developmental process, with each of them enabling the other at times, and struggling with the other at other times. For example, in autarkic societies without much internal or external trade there isn’t much cash and the state has trouble collecting taxes.

    There’s a sweet spot where the state enables the economy without taxing it to death.

    The “Other” to the two of them is the non-modern: tradition, custom, local community, large clans, religious institutions (though not always, some religious groups were progressive).

    “Modern” is not chronological but is defined by modernistic qualities such as a free market, secularism, or a rational state. E.G., Augustan Rome probably was more modern than Byzantium. Probably some better word should be used.

  28. #28 TGGP
    October 12, 2008

    The people who walked away from bankrupt companies with $20 million annual bonuses were mostly Republicans
    I think a lot of the finance companies (which donated heavily to Obama) and the GSEs were run by Dems. But you have a point with McCain almost nominating that HP gal as VP.

    Will Wilkinson thought the trend reflected professionals feeling guilty over their privileged status.<>

  29. #29 razib
    October 12, 2008

    Obama’s plan is to increase income tax among the 5% of Americans making >$250,000 from 35% to 39%. I’d like to know what the occupational breakdown of this group is and how they are voting. If the people he wants to tax are going for him, that seems like a winning deal for all. Are the rich volunteering to pay for health care?

    even if the *mean* income of lawyers and doctors is not too far off from 250 K, the *median* is far lower. so a much larger % of doctors and lawyers are pulling in less than 250 then the *mean* salary would indicate. here are some median salaries for different medical specialties….

    http://www.payscale.com/research/US/People_with_Doctor_of_Medicine_(MD)_Degrees/Salary

  30. #30 Charles Iliya Krempeaux
    October 13, 2008

    “even if the *mean* income of lawyers and doctors is not too far off from 250 K, the *median* is far lower. so a much larger % of doctors and lawyers are pulling in less than 250 then the *mean* salary would indicate.”

    In Canada there are a number of private Ophthalmology clinics that attract clients from the USA and the rest world.

    A number of years ago, I had some client who were Ophthalmologists, and I was told[1] that they make $100,000+ per month. (Yes, that’s per MONTH!)

    Not sure what the pay rate for Ophthalmologists in the USA is like, but these would certainly be one of the people effected by Obama’s tax plan.

    ————————-
    [1] It was something I was told. And I didn’t check their bank accounts. But based the things they had (like mansions/houses, cars, etc) and lifestyle it seems plausible.

  31. #31 John Emerson
    October 13, 2008

    My guess is that these were state-of-the-art ophthamologists who could do something no one else can do.

    Salary: the annual salary can vary widely based on geographic location. Generally, large cities and desirable living areas will command a lower salary. For example, in Los Angeles, starting salary can vary from $90,000 to $200,000. A good starting salary in a large city such as Los Angeles will be $120,000 to $150,000 for a comprehensive ophthalmologist or an anterior segment specialist. Retina specialists will command a higher starting salary. In rural areas, salaries can start as high as $250,000.

    Judging by this, established retina specialists might average $600,000 or so, but they’re an especially well-paid subspecialty within an already-well-paid specialty.

  32. #32 vicneo
    October 18, 2008

    a few brief points I would like to make

    1. I think the more interesting story with the data is the magnitude of the dem/ repub effect for each individual profession.

    physicians favor dems by around 50 % this is an evolving change as incomes are increasingly dependent on medicare and medicaid and would largly love single payer economically

    attorneys and cpas
    4:1

    no surprise there
    more regulations + more money
    also a very broad interpretation of torts = more money

    arcitects

    i dont know much about how they make their money
    but do they live off of govt largess and regs??? i dont know enough– 4: 1 impressive

    engineers

    not impressive tilt

    professors

    this was unexpected

    much less of a dem tilt than i would havew assummed

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