Saturday, February 22, 2014

147.10 - Being rich is a sickness

Being rich is a sickness

Last thing for today. I won't have much time for this, so much of it will have to be put off until next week, but I will say this. I mentioned last week about the wealthy and about how being rich is sick. It is. Being rich is a sickness.

I've previously mentioned Tom Perkins, who has become the patron saint of "I've got mine, so screw you," the man who compared protests against wealth inequality with Kristallnacht.

It turns out he's not alone: There have been other billionaires saying "Just suck it up, you'd be rich in other countries" and how the criticism is all for "political reasons" and that poor people should stop their gripin' and get some education to "get out of the ghetto" and how "you just don't work as hard as we do."

The thing is, these people actually believe this. They do.

The rich really are different. They quite truly live in a different world than the rest of us and as economic inequality increases, those worlds become even more and more separated until the uppers don't even need to be aware of the lowers.

I mean, these people have so much money, they literally don't know what to do with it. There's a store in the SoHo district of Manhattan in New York City called Dean and Deluca, which has Gläce Luxury Ice,
a meticulously designed and differentiated ice brand specifically designed for use in premium drinks and cocktails. ... Gläce Ice pieces are individually carved from a 300 lb block to ensure flawless quality and a zero-taste profile.
If you’re so inclined, you can buy a package of 10 of these ice cubes. Seventy-five dollars. That's $7.50 per cube.

It's true: These people have so much money, they don't know what to do with it.

And this is not new, by the way; this separation is not new: I remember back in the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan referred to $50,000 a year as "a low to moderate income." This, remember was in the 1980s, a time when the median income was about $20,000.

So this is not new. The difference now is that the rich are becoming so separated from the rest of us - they're not even just separated economically and socially, but psychologically. Being rich, and the social and economic power that comes with being so rich, is a sickness. It's a disease, a disease that can make you callous, selfish, conceited, and indifferent to the needs and suffering of others.

This was raised most recently and dramatically by the case of Ethan Couch. He's a 17-year-old; he's the one with the blood-alcohol level triple the Texas legal limit who last June drove his car, slammed his car, into a group of people who were helping a woman fix her car. Four people were killed. Nine others were injured. Texas District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him to 10 years probation. This is where his attorneys used the "affluenza" defense, saying he had grown up with a sense of entitlement that he had no sense that there would be any consequences for anything he did. That's the attitude the rich are absorbing.

By the way, quick note in passing: This same judge, Jean Boyd, a year or two earlier was the judge in a case where there was a 14-year-old kid who punched somebody, who fell and hit his head on the sidewalk and died as a result. That kid was sentenced to 10 years in juvenile detention. That kid, you probably guessed was not rich and was African-American. Same judge.

I've got so much more on this, results of actual studies, I just don't have time so I'll have to pick this up next week. The point is, when I say it's a sickness, I mean it's real. It's real that being of higher status distorts your sense of self. It actually does make you feel more entitled. It makes you feel better than other people. It makes you feel that you deserve whatever you got and that other people who don't have what you've got are inherently inferior to you. This is a real psychological condition of being rich and powerful. And I will do more about this next week.


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