The most recent edition of the American Political Science Review contained an article written by John P. McCormick (Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago) that presented three legitimate practices governments used in order to prevent the wealthy from exerting too much control over governments.
Modern Republics neglect to establish formal institutions that prevent wealthy citizens from exerting excessive political influence and they abandon extra-electoral techniques traditionally employed to keep office-holders accountable. Inspired by Guicciardini’s and Machiavelli’s reflections on the Roman, Venetian, and Florentine constitutions, this article highlights three forgotten practices that facilitate popular control of both economic and political elites: magistrate appointment procedures combining lottery and election, offices or assemblies excluding the wealthy from eligibility, and political trials enlisting the entire citizenry in prosecutions and appeals. I present a typology of regimes that evaluates the wealth containment potential of various magistrate selection methods, and propose a hypothetical reform supplying the U.S. Constitution with a ‘Tribunate’ reminiscent of elite-accountability institutions in pre-eighteenth century popular governments.
I’ve already presented an abstract from an article that studies how the rich dominate the public policy arena. You’d think that political science as a discipline would be concerned with this type of stuff more, but this focus is new–or rather new to me (and I’ve only got 5 years in the game).