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Thu Nov 13, 2014, 12:55 AM

"Extreme Wealth Is Bad for Everyone—Especially the Wealthy"

Extreme Wealth Is Bad for Everyone—Especially the Wealthy

by Michael Lewis at the New Republic

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120092/billionaires-book-review-money-cant-buy-happiness


"SNIP........................



What is clear about rich people and their money—and becoming ever clearer—is how it changes them. A body of quirky but persuasive research has sought to understand the effects of wealth and privilege on human behavior—and any future book about the nature of billionaires would do well to consult it. One especially fertile source is the University of California, Berkeley, psychology department lab overseen by a professor named Dacher Keltner. In one study, Keltner and his colleague Paul Piff installed note-takers and cameras at city street intersections with four-way stop signs. The people driving expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers than drivers of cheap cars. The researchers then followed the drivers to the city’s cross walks and positioned themselves as pedestrians, waiting to cross the street. The drivers in the cheap cars all respected the pedestrians’ right of way. The drivers in the expensive cars ignored the pedestrians 46.2 percent of the time—a finding that was replicated in spirit by another team of researchers in Manhattan, who found drivers of expensive cars were far more likely to double park. In yet another study, the Berkeley researchers invited a cross section of the population into their lab and marched them through a series of tasks. Upon leaving the laboratory testing room the subjects passed a big jar of candy. The richer the person, the more likely he was to reach in and take candy from the jar—and ignore the big sign on the jar that said the candy was for the children who passed through the department.

Maybe my favorite study done by the Berkeley team rigged a game with cash prizes in favor of one of the players, and then showed how that person, as he grows richer, becomes more likely to cheat. In his forthcoming book on power, Keltner contemplates his findings:


If I have $100,000 in my bank account, winning $50 alters my personal wealth in trivial fashion. It just isn’t that big of a deal. If I have $84 in my bank account, winning $50 not only changes my personal wealth significantly, it matters in terms of the quality of my life—the extra $50 changes what bill I might be able to pay, what I might put in my refrigerator at the end of the month, the kind of date I would go out on, or whether or not I could buy a beer for a friend. The value of winning $50 is greater for the poor, and, by implication, the incentive for lying in our study greater. Yet it was our wealthy participants who were far more likely to lie for the chance of winning fifty bucks.

There is plenty more like this to be found, if you look for it. A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below twenty-five grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those earning more than 150 grand a year give away only 2.7 percent. A UCLA neuroscientist named Keely Muscatell has published an interesting paper showing that wealth quiets the nerves in the brain associated with empathy: if you show rich people and poor people pictures of kids with cancer, the poor people’s brains exhibit a great deal more activity than the rich people’s. (An inability to empathize with others has just got to be a disadvantage for any rich person seeking political office, at least outside of New York City.) “As you move up the class ladder,” says Keltner, “you are more likely to violate the rules of the road, to lie, to cheat, to take candy from kids, to shoplift, and to be tightfisted in giving to others. Straightforward economic analyses have trouble making sense of this pattern of results.”

........................SNIP"

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Reply "Extreme Wealth Is Bad for Everyone—Especially the Wealthy" (Original post)
applegrove Nov 2014 OP
Kalidurga Nov 2014 #1
SunSeeker Nov 2014 #2
applegrove Nov 2014 #3
Schema Thing Nov 2014 #6
applegrove Nov 2014 #10
ReRe Nov 2014 #4
Martin Eden Nov 2014 #5
hack89 Nov 2014 #7
SorellaLaBefana Nov 2014 #8
tk2kewl Nov 2014 #9
Initech Nov 2014 #11

Response to applegrove (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 03:39 AM

1. So it isn't my imagination...

I live in one of the poor suburbs of the Twin Cities and it's next to one of the fairly rich suburbs, I noticed the driving gets very bad in the suburb next to where I live. It's one of the scariest places I walk. It's very strange and it also seems people in nicer cars honk more. They honk when there is no real reason. The light changes and some people just honk like it's a reflex not because the lead driver is especially slow.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 04:05 AM

2. FDR was a major exception to this rule.

But yeah, for the most part, it seems the rich are pathological wealth hoarders. Maybe it's a form of OCD.

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 04:41 AM

3. Oh, I've known rich people and it is only

a percentage who are assholes. Like any category of people, there are good eggs and bad. But the bad ones certainly are using their money and power to remake the world in their own selfish image in the USA.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 10:31 AM

6. a much greater percentage



than the non-wealthy, is the point. Money changes people, these studies show.

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Response to Schema Thing (Reply #6)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 02:37 PM

10. Well not in canada. Though the conservatives are trying to change their hearts. That is for sure.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 05:37 AM

4. Oh, they would beg to differ...

... The extremely wealthy love all the added power it gives them. They definitely don't look at it as something "bad" or harmful. They think it gives them right to run over everyone. On the sidewalk; in the grocery store (they are the ones who yell the most when they are immediately behind someone using foodstamps); getting on/off an elevator or escalator; on the highway. They love going out in the world so they can look down their long noses on the hoi-polloi. They look at EVERYONE as street people. If they do give to charity at all, it's because of the tax break. And by Gawd, if you are a charity, they always ask if your org gives a tax exemption. If they can't get that tax exemption receipt, they won't contribute to your org. EVEN if their donation is worn out clothes, they want that receipt. Then they will argue with you on how much the receipt should be made out for. On, and on, and on, and on.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 08:15 AM

5. They were probably assholes to begin with

How many of them got rich by stepping on the backs of others?

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 10:35 AM

7. It could also mean a certain personality type is more likely to get rich. nt

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 10:38 AM

8. Welcome to the new Guilded Age.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 10:46 AM

9. probably applies to other forms of advantage or perceived moral superiority

 

think cops

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Thu Nov 13, 2014, 02:40 PM

11. How can the wealthy get wealthy if no one has any money to buy their crap?

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