Culture of wealth

Posted: 7 October 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,


I’ve often argued on this blog (e.g., here and here) that, instead of studying the so-called culture of poverty, we should focus instead on the pathologies and culture of the rich.

Now, what I had in mind is something like the following:

how the rich underestimate the future costs of immediate satisfaction (especially the costs incurred by the employees of their corporations and by the taxpayers who were forced to bail them out) and their self-control problems (such as attempting to achieve more income and to accumulate more wealth even when they have plenty to buy everything they need).

But Daniel Goleman has discovered another set of pathologies of the rich:

Turning a blind eye. Giving someone the cold shoulder. Looking down on people. Seeing right through them.

These metaphors for condescending or dismissive behavior are more than just descriptive. They suggest, to a surprisingly accurate extent, the social distance between those with greater power and those with less — a distance that goes beyond the realm of interpersonal interactions and may exacerbate the soaring inequality in the United States. . .

Since the 1970s, the gap between the rich and everyone else has skyrocketed. Income inequality is at its highest level in a century. This widening gulf between the haves and have-less troubles me, but not for the obvious reasons. Apart from the financial inequities, I fear the expansion of an entirely different gap, caused by the inability to see oneself in a less advantaged person’s shoes. Reducing the economic gap may be impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy.

If the rich are much more prone than the rest of us to display a lack of empathy, maybe then we need to create a different economic system, one in which compassion is the norm.

There’s a name for that. . .

  1. […] Culture of Wealth Instead of studying the so-called culture of poverty, we should focus instead on the pathologies of the rich. […]

  2. Splicer says:

    I think many people, rich and poor, display a rather shocking lack of empathy. It’s just the rich scratch that evil itch in a more subtle manner. When poor people do it, they go to jail.

  3. cburell says:

    The name for that? Confucianism. Google “ren” 仁 and see for yourself.

  4. Margot says:

    First, we have to look for empathy inside ourselves in order to create a just economy.
    Creating a better economy system….., is not going to make us better human beings, that is always artificial. It is us that have to look how we de-hypnotize ourselves from this delusion and many other delusion.
    The Whole World is been run by Psychopaths, Megalomaniacs, Narcissistic, and we permit this all the time even in our little worlds, we look the other side and talk hypocrisy.

    QUE ASCO!!!!!

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