Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Rich and Empathy

A long time ago, possibly over a year, I read a random story on Reddit of a guy and his few experiences when he was stranded on the side of the road.  He was struck by the fact that over and over again he'd watch people blow past him, unwilling to help, until finally someone did.  Who was it every time?  A Mexican immigrant.  It's an interesting and brief read.  Check it out here.

Since reading that I have made extra effort to stop and help stranded people when I can.  Maybe just one opportunity has arisen since then, but I try to keep my eye open.  I've also done it in the past as well.

It struck me as true that the rich are less empathetic.  There is research that indicates that this is trueThis author in discussing this research talks about his own experience in Hyde Park in Chicago, and area that has a good mix of poor and rich.  He says that when he walks home with loads of groceries it's always African Americans that go out of their way to help, and never the more wealthy people who he passes on the sidewalk.

Just an observation.  If you are one of the lucky people with more money than average, try to be a different kind of richer person.

Edit: As food for thought, check David Koch's treatment of laborers that loaded his vans for his getaways he's involved in every weekend.  Also Wal-Mart heiress and billionaire Alice Walton's treatment of the widower to the woman she struck and killed with her Porsche.


Examinator said...

Disraeli quotes 1) A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy and 2) Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative
;-) ;-) |-0 he he ha ha Yuk yuk

Examinator said...

Sadly no one appreciated my joke :-(

As I have said elsewhere I don't agree with the quote. Personally it would be nearer the point if 2) had read "Although it is not true that all conservatives are ignorant (ill or under informed) people, it is true that *most* ignorant people are conservative.(one can make the correlation between the background educational level, and therefore available opportunities, of areas and their political persuasion.
There are of course cultural 'anomalies' say some black and Hispanic Americans who tend to be politically reverse. These can be explained by their sense of “earned” (?) entitlement.

In this vein a test was done on two identical baby foods that were differentiated by color and price.
These were placed in two vastly different (wealth demographically) super markets.
One rich one poor
In the first test it was found that the rich (better educated) supermarket had a marked tendency to buy the cheaper variety. And the poor area markedly favored the more expensive baby food.
When interviewed the purchasers in the poorer area claimed they 'bought on price because they equated the price with better quality' even though both cans listed ingredient were identical.

Because the colors chosen for the cans were red and blue they decided to test this again in areas that were ethnically similar and priced both can the same. This time the purchasing bias was found to be political color based albeit by a smaller margin in the demographically poorer store. AND a 'much' larger larger bias in the demographically wealthier store. In was as if the rich people didn't want to be *seen * with Blue cans in their shopping basket when there was no price advantage.
All the researchers in the 'red' store noted comments that reflected class and or ENTITLEMENT.

You may not recall that when I first began writing on this site I mentioned in fact, had a bit of a toe to toe with Chad, about research I had seen that found that instances of sociopathic tendencies (i.e. lack of empathy, heightened egocentricity, narcissism and almost messianic infallibility) were markedly higher in rich and executives.

Here we return to the notion of entitlement (earned or inherited) often displayed by comments akin to "I've gained privilege under this system thus I don't want it to be devalued or risked by those who 'haven't worked as hard as me'. (see Chad's dismay over his sisters *** $10000**** (emphasis on the $) clearly he resents 'his sense of entitlement being impinged on' by some one who didn't earn (?) it. Note here it implied conflict with his selective usage of the concept of rights. i.e. did he earn his right to have firearms and shoot anyone who may threaten his property? Yet someone whose life quality is threatened has no right to expect anything more. The logic flaws (incontinences) in that are numerous and fatal.

Examinator said...

Part 2

It's a bit like my neighbor who just before the last election wanted to talk to me a gay marriage as an issue in the upcoming election specifically how 'was an abomination in the bible' and therefore threatened the sanctity of 'his' marriage or the concept of (currently on his third!) ….Really? I pointed out that that was his god not mine...I'm not a Christian nor am I an atheist. Logically he with two divorces his actions devalue marriage commitment more that any monogamous couple. Clearly he felt he had an entitlement to enlist me into his 'superior' (?) view.

Even Jonathan displays this faith engendered sense of he having 'the superior religious view'. It should also be noted he doesn't exhibit the same level of myopic egocentric focus as say a Chad. Hence Jonathan, like my mom is less likely to be manipulated/motivated by ego or personal wealth and could be describes as having a greater sense of empathy.

As I've said before it is inconsistent with empathy (feeling as the other feels) to be superior or be an active/ aggressive player in a philosophical model that is based on winners & losers, exploitation, seeking unfair advantage of weaknesses by deliberate deception to create in equity i.e let's not tell people what they want to know because it's inconvenient to our greater profits (Big tobacco is a classic example).

I might point out to the Religiously inclined this is inconsistent with most religions as they don't distinguish between people in need. Even true Islam slams usury practices.

The other factor in your Mexican Samaritan is he could clearly Identify with you and thus was empathetic. The Tea Bagger is unable and ***unwilling *** to look further than their myopic egocentric self-interest ( self identification). They would see your breakdown as your fault for not (working harder or sloppy) running an appropriate maintenance program...It would have been a confirmation to them of how unlike them you were.
As you rightly point out the TB er/ libertarian doesn't WANT to know such inconvenient fact that corporate handouts far/far out weigh 'welfare' to the needy much less the unemployed or single mums. The rich /executives etc simply justify their lack of genuine empathy via tribal (Class) identification and entitlements.

At the genetic level it is an manifestation of the residual primal instincts. Is this good? no !
We should try to effect our evolutionary path by focusing on positive changes.

Jonathan said...

Hey Examinator,

Sorry - haven't been following the threads closely recently, but did see my name out there and yeah, I'd agree that I do have the "superior religious view". :-)

By that I mean of course I believe in a set of truth claims which are exclusivistic in nature, and therefore by logical extension, a differing view cannot be correct at the same time.

This is not unique to any true believer of any faith, be it the Hindu, Muslim, or even the more "inclusivistic" faiths like the Baha'i who will include anyone other than the exclusivists, which make them exclusivists themselves.

Of course, we *all* hold exclusivistic truth claims - religious or non religious, but strangely I've not yet been able to persuade you that you and I are in the same boat here.

Just out of curiosity, so I feel I hold the superior religious view - do you feel you hold the superior intellectual view on topics as compared to most conservatives?

Chad said...

My favorite Part:

We would never get a tip from Mr. Koch. We would never get a smile from Mr. Koch. Fifty-dollar check for Christmas, too—yeah, I mean, a check! At least you could give us cash.”

Earlier the guy admitted that one of the reason for taking the job was the thought that he would benefit from these people simply because they were rich. The man went through an interview process - was offered the job at an agreed upon rate with a list of expected services - no where I assume was it offered that he or anyone would receive additional compensation by virtue of doing their job, but here the guy is throwing the person who he has a job because under the bus simply because he has the means to give more but chooses not too. Maybe the guys service is crap, maybe he moves slow - maybe and quite possibly the guy didn't even deserve a tip at all.

The Lib attitude - if we are in the presence of money then it should also rain on me since I am in the general area. Forget about the millions donated, jobs created and other people positively affected - focus on the doorman getting only $50 X-Mas money for doing exactly what he was hired to do.

Love it.

Chad said...

The first part was interesting in many many ways - first Ex has to come clean and say that this 'experiment' is far from clinical and is from a single first person. What did the guy look like - what neighborhood - what time of day - what car was he driving?

I broke down in Chicago once on lower wacker - yeah Jon we had a great experience - good thing I ignored Chicago's ignorant gun laws otherwise the guy with the knife looking to help us might just have had dinner on us.

So - the entire story is false on about a thousand levels. #1 - rich people - in general - don't often carry the skills to be helpful in that kind of situation. #2 - like Me - I don't stop for no damn buddy outside my hood because I don't trust many people. #3 - if that individual was in a life threatening situation the rich person or any person would call 911 - but this is not life threatening.

I see someone broke down - I evaluate the entire situation completely before I do anything. Where am I at - what kind of car do they have - do they have a cell phone - do they look to be in danger - do they look to be safe.

If it is someone that I deem to be in no position to help themselves, has a bunch of kids and it might be cold and I do not put myself or my kids in danger - I have pulled over and offered to call someone or I call the local police, but evaluating anything from this is so obtuse and one sided it is a sad way to try and make a point.

I know many people who are what we would call rich - the most stingy, non sympathetic, tight wad rich person I know is a Democrat. He owns one of the tube mills that I know very well and he pays his employees poorly, he broke up 1 union that I am aware of and other than donating some money to his alma matter - I haven't heard of or seen any other donations.

He fired 2 of his Presidents on the week of Christmas last year.

All in all I think we can deduce that rich Democrats are far far worse than rich Conservatives then - don't you think?

Chad said...

O - I know your focused on evidence rather than hear say especially and sometimes only when the story doesn't hit your narrative so here you go.

Examinator said...

Can I deduce that you think I consider myself intellectually superior et al?

My answer to your question:
Short answer... No.

Long answer... One must be careful that we're measuring apples with apples and that you're taking all factors into consideration.
I consider myself more informed on some subjects that many others but is that intellectually superior? Not in my way of thinking. I've met uneducated bush natives who could leave me for dead in plain brain power (the ability to think a given set of factors /conditions [known to us both] through) to a better outcome)!
As I said before a degree does not make one an expert. Better education merely provides more information and the tools to become an expert. Neither is there any guarantee that expert status will follow. It all depends on what one does with the information and tools.

Many are what my Dad called 'educated idiots'. While the term 'idiot', not everyone can be exceptional by definition.
In one sense there are winners and the rest. In the right wing rationale that interpolates as winners and losers and being a loser is entirely the losers fault. I not only don't agree but question the logic. I'd ask why is it the individuals fault that genetics haven't worked in their personal favor? i.e. Why is it my fault I have limited dexterity in my left arm/body due to a difficult birth. How was it my fault that my birth mother was date raped ending up with me? There are as many versions of that as there are 'imperfections'/differences in people. The fact is that there are innumerable factors that conspire to define a person. Even this month there are research papers showing that 'junk DNA ' (the parts of DNA that seems to have no use inactive evolutionary residue) may not always be so.

To me it's an unknown and I see no need for me to create an ideology/religion to explain or enforce the unknown. Likewise I see no need to enforce a nul as in atheism. So that leaves me with the concept of the ' open ended unknown and accepting that.
I take that view simply because I have witnessed the harm enforcing variations of the two others have caused. To me it's a gross bias and arrogance by either side to claim overall benefit.

I have concerns with any extreme because it invariably leads to more victims than winners.

Ergo questions like yours bother me because it seems to be asking me the equivalent “of when did I stop beating my wife? ” um I haven't started!
As for being on the same side I'm mystified, I don't recognize any side to do so means black or white and therefore a competition between extremes. You are way less extreme on many things when compared to our resident angry tea bagger (perhaps it's that he's drinking second hand generic tea) but is he diametric to me no! To be that I'd have to make a binary stand …. for the philosophers, that would be counter to my basic Post structuralist leanings in the everything is too complex to define precisely.( an extreme by definition.)

There now have thatwhiskey and a good lie down and it'll all go away … ;-)

Examinator said...

Have you been hit on the head lately?
"Ex has come clean....." what?
Don't blame me for your fantasies.
Who said Republican have a lock on Scrooge? No one I know. The report was talking about statistical analysis NOT absolutes.
if I knew your address I'd send you a book on the fundamentals of statistics and the mathematical assumptions they're based on.
I knew a priest who was a "kiddy fiddler" that doesn't mean all priests are paedophiles. Likewise the actual numbers of fiddling priest's as a % of non fiddlers is Low. However as a % of the population it is higher.
The same principal applies to executives displaying sociopathic traits.

Psychological research has shown that individuals are most aggressive at the extremes.
ERGO The gambler's maxim "never leave a (card) loser with nothing more to lose that's when he's the most unpredictable and dangerous"

At the other end the more a person has the more they will fight to protect and increase it.

e.g. Murdoch he has enough money for the lives of himself, all his children and wives.
If he died tomorrow News Corp wouldn't collapse so why is he still there and such a prick (possible answer: he's a high functioning sociopath). Sadly I was introduced to him (in a group) once and haven't felt truly clean since.

Examinator said...

I forgot the point ;-( that is He has lied , cheated on his wife, been a dubious father, has engineered highly dubious tactics and knew about and actually endorsed the phone tapping for stories adding to the parents grief ... He has a belief that the only sin is being caught.
There isn't any lie or anything short of murder he wouldn't do.
NB he is just an example

Chad said...

Big fan of Murdoch's. Have you ever read the mans bio - a real awesome success story and to argue he didn't build the empire hits sits upon is basically outlining that persons complete jealousy.

Grew up on a farm - dad was a journalist, but he worked had and created the empire. Bought struggling papers and turning them around to success. Moved to England then America doing the same thing along the way.

Besides being successful, you probably dislike him due to his role in the landslide that just took place in Australia - 90 seats secured is an azz kicking.

Examinator said...

Yet again you have manufactured what I said.
Yes I'm well aware of his successful empire building but what your synopsis misses is that his father was a newspaper owner the farm (!?) was a property (orders of magnitude difference) he had a lot of inherited advantages. The Murdoch's are well known in Aus as are the Packers and Gina Reinhardt all took over budding empires and built on them.
Yes he is probably the last western news paper baron.
Genghis Kahn, Bernie Madoff built a reputations and an empires too, so success is hardly something on its own to admire (be a fan of). Reviving a paper by putting pictures of tits on page 3 is hardly a positive or admirable act nor is supporting the telephone hacking for salacious reporting. Neither is selling self serving lies to the ignorant and gullible.

It's not WHAT you do that counts, it's HOW how and WHY you do it that counts. Your own Bible tells you that. i.e. camel, eye of the needle, widows mite and all that! Oh yes let's not forget the Ten Commandments! He has deliberately broken most of them. And you as a Christian admire him?
Something's inconsistent...hypercritical(?) in your words.

But none of that it doesn't deal with the point that he doesn't need to be in the business any more he has more money than any of the family can spend. He's not known for his generosity or empathy to the victims.
I also *know* personally a journalist who was hired to write a real book on Rupert and his last wife.
Murdoch shit himself and had it stopped there was a big public stink over the crushing of the facts....I've seen some of the research. Apart from my hyperbolic 'tongue in cheek' flourish about Rupert my point still remains he does exhibit the symptoms of a high functioning sociopath.

You have missed the point of almost everything I've written here if you think I'm jealous of ANYTHING or anybody, much less anything HE has or has done.

Chad, a word from the battle scarred.
If you measure yourself by other people you will always be disappointed.
If you measure others by yourself they will always be disappointing.
Judge actions they are comparatively finite, not people because they aren't.