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The Almighty Buck Science

Are Rich People Less Moral? 1040

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-begging-the-question-at-all dept.
sciencehabit writes "New research suggests that the upper classes are more likely to behave dishonorably than those lower on the economic spectrum. The rich are more likely to cheat, steal, and even disobey traffic laws than those with less money and power (abstract). Curiously, in one experiment, Prius drivers also behaved badly, regardless of their wealth."
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Are Rich People Less Moral?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:27PM (#39178591)

    It's just easier to get rich if you're amoral to begin with.

  • Congress? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:28PM (#39178597)

    It would explain Congress.

  • no, obviously (Score:2, Insightful)

    by superwiz (655733) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:29PM (#39178603) Journal
    well, maybe if your money comes from tax payer funds. but if you make your money by giving people what they want, you are by definition more moral than those who don't give as many people as much of what they want.
  • by RoknrolZombie (2504888) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:31PM (#39178641)
    It's the sense of entitlement (perhaps appropriate for some rich people...not even remotely appropriate for the Prius drivers) that does it. When someone sees their job/life/goal as being "important", they figure that they should be "allowed" a bit more leeway. I doubt it's a conscious decision on their parts (at least for most), but I've noticed the same thing: The higher up on the totem pole you get, you notice an increase in the undeserved entitlements that are claimed.
  • by jerpyro (926071) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:31PM (#39178643)

    It's not that they're less moral, it's that they have the resources to deal with the consequences, and take a calculated risk.
    A speeding ticket is a lot more of a penalty to a pizza delivery guy than it is to Mitt Romney.

  • Re:Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:38PM (#39178757) Homepage Journal

    How do you think they got rich in the first place? With honesty and self-sacrifice?

    Usually, with using Steve Jobs as an extreme example, willing to do what it takes to succeed, even if doing those things hurts others

    I'm rather certain that's the way nature works, the big lion didn't get that way by excusing himself from eating a hundred zebras to eat nuts and berries instead.

  • by mithran8 (186371) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:40PM (#39178783) Homepage
    It's about perceived superiority. There's an inherent tendency to be dismissive of others we perceive to be 'inferior' in some way - whether the differentiator is wealth, intelligence, physical prowess, popularity, or even moral righteousness (which is likely to be higher among Prius owners). It takes a fair amount of empathy and moral awareness to overcome this inclination, and the common perception is that these 'softer' skills are much less common among the highly wealthy - so they become the standard-bearers for this dynamic.
  • Re:Sorta (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:42PM (#39178817)

    Counter-example: the Koch bros., Murdoch.

    When money stops meaning something, either you decide to do good, or the hunger is still here, and you need to fill it with power.

  • by j35ter (895427) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:43PM (#39178843)
    Let's hang em all, then! Which makes me think...hanging the 1% and redistributing their wealth to the other 99% would be quite democratic, wouldn't it? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:44PM (#39178847)

    Or maybe they feel that because they are rich they have contributed (again possibly only subconsciously) and so should be allowed to bend or ignore rules. I think this meshes with the Prius driver example -- maybe Prius drives feel that the good karma they've gained by driving a Prius entitles them to more leniency in road etiquette. (Again, this is most likely subconscious if this is the actual reason.)

    Or maybe the Prius drivers are just more interested in hypermiling than drivers of other vehicles.

    (That's still somewhat in line with the hypothesis of the article: wealthy drivers are preoccupied with getting to where they're going to do whatever it is they're doing, and not the activities of lowly pedestrians.)

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:45PM (#39178869)

    I really enjoy watching all those stupid criminal shows and youtube videos of all the rich people stealing cars, holding up banks and liquor stores.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:45PM (#39178875)

    Money doesn't spoil character, money reveals character.

    Most people haven't fully gauged their inert moral capabilities, I'd suspect. Most of it is adapted and constructed, and once people get rich and have access to power and independace from others, it's these flaky concepts of morality that disintegrate.

    Someone with real character and moral concepts that one does not neccesarly derive from the need to be nice to other people due to scarce resources is more likely to maintain his values, wether he is rich or not.

    It's for this reason that I'm very curious about what would happen with my behaviour if I, for whatever reason, should someday turn rich. I like to believe that only little of my character and my behaviour towards other people would change, but never the less I'd be curious to know if that actually is the case.

    However I do believe that most people reveal an underdeveloped character when exposed to certain amounts of wealth over longer periods of time. Today education througout the world rarely focuses on values independant of economic wealth - which shows how poor humanity actually is.

    My 2 cents.

  • Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:46PM (#39178887)

    That would be more communistic. Also, be careful what you wish for. On a global scale, you may well discover that you are the 1%.

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:47PM (#39178891)
    Give someone a sense of 'empowerment' or 'better than you' and it's amazing what their conscience will let them get away with.

    see also def. Anonymous Coward
  • Re:Sorta (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:53PM (#39178953)

    Warren Buffet has gotten much less ethical in his old age. He used to enable businesses and growth. Now he is advocating destructive social trends in the hopes of getting away with the largest tax evasion scheme in history.

    Citation please?

    Don't you listen to talk radio every day and night? How do you stay informed?

  • by xero314 (722674) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:53PM (#39178957)

    I'm only risking my own damfool neck, I can at most cause others a dent.

    Not sure if you truly believe this or if it was just an illustration, but cyclists that disobey traffic laws are putting others lives at serious risk. If people lacked in morality they would just run you over for being where you should not have legally been. As a matter of fact in many places it would be illegal for them to not at least attempt to avoid a collision with you. In the act of avoiding you, while you break the law, there is a high potential of causing a far more serious accident. So please, if you do justify breaking the law, make sure you realise your just making excuses and don't have any legitimate grounds for that justification.

  • by LordNicholas (2174126) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:56PM (#39179011)

    This is nothing but an attempt by a few self-interested college professors to apply the "It's Science (tm) so it must be True!" concept to the current zeitgeist of class warfare nonsense.

    "psychologist Paul Piff of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues devised a series of tests, working with groups of 100 to 200 Berkeley undergraduates or adults recruited online. Subjects completed a standard gauge of their social status, placing an X on one of 10 rungs of a ladder representing their income, education, and how much respect their jobs might command compared with other Americans."

    And we honestly expect this to be a representative sample of "rich people"? How many CEOs and entrepaneurs have the time to fill out online surveys and then report to UC Berkeley to roll dice and steal candies from a jar? The survey is essentially attracting the same sort of people who click on "WORK FROM HOME AND EARN $10,000 A DAY!!!1!!" banner ads, not Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. That these people are self-identifying their wealth and social status further introduces significant bias into the experiment.

    "The team's findings suggest that privilege promotes dishonesty. For example, upper-class subjects were more likely to cheat. After five apparently random rolls of a computerized die for a chance to win an online gift certificate, three times as many upper-class players reported totals higher than 12—even though, unbeknownst to them, the game was rigged so that 12 was the highest possible score."

    We've just established that the selection criteria for identifying "rich people" was flawed. It's not surprising to me that the people who would lie in an online survey and say that they're "rich" would then lie again to try to win a prize.

    "Piff says the study may shed light on the hotly debated topic of income inequality. "Our findings suggest that if the pursuit of self-interest goes unchecked, it may result in a vicious cycle: self-interest leads people to behave unethically, which raises their status, which leads to more unethical behavior and inequality.""

    Self-interest leading to unethical behavior? Like, perhaps, a college professor with an agenda perverting the scientific method by creating a horribly flawed, biased study and trying to pass it off as fact?

  • by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:57PM (#39179017)

    And I'm only risking my own damfool neck, I can at most cause others a dent. Or something.

    But that's exactly the point! Traffic lights are there for cars because they can cause lots of damage. That, and it is much more comfortable to wait for a traffic light to turn green sitting in a car, listening to some music of your choosing at a temperature of your prefernce than it is half standing on a bike exposed to weather and traffic noise. All this skews cyclists towards running traffic lights before any sense of entitlement comes into play.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:57PM (#39179021)

    The following statement is being brought to you by someone who regularly commutes on a bicycle while adhering to traffic laws:

    Fuck you for blatantly disregarding the rules of the road; all you are doing is adding fuel to the bicycle hate fire that burns within motorists.

  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:57PM (#39179023)
    I suspect you are correct in your analysis, however, I would add that the lack of money not just its surplus reveals immoral character. Poverty also has a way of unhinging the shackles that constrain the expression of those having immoral character. The nature in which the immoral person expresses themselves will more certainly differ depending upon their social-economic station. i.e. white-collar crime vs. blue-collar crime. Embezzlement vs. burglary, etc.
  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mhajicek (1582795) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:59PM (#39179055)
    Oh they steal and kill in much safer and subtler ways.
  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Captain Hook (923766) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:59PM (#39179065)
    you're confusing criminality with morality.
  • by duguk (589689) <dug@nOSPam.frag.co.uk> on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:01PM (#39179079) Homepage Journal

    Those who lie, cheat, steal, and ignore any law they can get away with are more likely to strike it rich. Also, prius drivers are douchebags.

    It's not wealth or having a Prius. It's smugness.

  • by jbeach (852844) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:01PM (#39179083) Homepage Journal
    Request to mod up above. Encapsulatingly insightful. I'd also be interested knowing whether if the scofflaw wealthy were born into their money, or were born working class. I suspect from my own anecdotal experience that those who've come from poor or working class backgrounds have more of a respect for their effect on those around them, even if those people are now economically peasants in comparison.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:02PM (#39179093)

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”

    For a while.

  • by theNAM666 (179776) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:03PM (#39179121)

    >my rotten self, and all the rotten cyclists like me. We disobey traffic laws with wild abandon, we're notorious for it.
    >And bikes are vastly more environmental (and, better yet, non-road-space consuming) than Priuses.
    > I am shamelessly anti-authoritarian on a bike the way I am not in a car.

    There's another reason for this, and it's just plain practicality. Auto "rules of the road" are just that-- written for automobiles. I'm a very very careful cyclist where safety is concerned, and will come to a halt when there's any ambiguity-- facing off against a 2-3 ton pile of metal and glass going twice my speed, isn't my idea of fun.

    On the other hand, in any variety of situations, I either have sufficient visibility and maneuverability, or the road conditions and layout are such, that obeying automotive rules would be either grossly inefficient, or just plain dangerous.

    The foregoing is not anti-authoritarian. I'd be glad to explain it to any judge, in detail, and in general would expect a reasonable judge to agree. (Note: in countries with a cycling majorty, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, the rules for cyclists are quite different and more rational than the US's usual "you're another vehicle and have to observe the same rules as a car.").

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:12PM (#39179237)

    If you compare some carjacker punk with a Bernard Madoff, who is the biggest thief?

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:13PM (#39179255)

    Oh what absolute B.S.

    I have no sympathy for anyone who is foreclosed on because they got a loan they couldn't afford. And make no mistake, they knew what they were getting into. It's all right there and anytime I've purchased real estate, they laid it all right out for me and had me initial it. I knew what I was getting into and I knew what my budget was...so did everyone else.

    And don't even talk about "underwater" homes. Unless you need to sell, the fact that your home is worth less is irrelevant to you budget. In fact, it will help because your property tax will decrease. If you can make the payments, keep making them and keep living there. All these refinance programs created so that people can have their principal lowered due to reduced value is crap and is stealing from the taxpayers.

    At best, you can lay 50% of the blame for the housing crash on the lenders and brokers. The homeowners were in on it just like everyone else in the game.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:16PM (#39179307) Homepage Journal

    or Compassion.

    "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
    (Matthew 19:24)

    "But the root of all these evils is the love of money, and there are some who have desired it and have erred from the faith and have brought themselves many miniseries."
    (Timothy 6:10)

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:18PM (#39179329)

    And BTW, if you lost your job and have to sell, then thems the breaks.

    It's happened to me, it's happened to many others. Deal with it and move on.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:18PM (#39179341)

    I take it you are not a capitalist, then.

    In a capitalist economy, the banks would have failed, the mortgages would be refinanced, and we'd all be fine - except the bankers who made bad loans. That's how it's supposed to work, they failed to use their capital well, they lose.

    In our Bush/Reagan economy, the banks were bailed out with tax dollars, and stopped issuing routine loans, the homeowners lost their jobs, so they couldn't pay the mortgages, so the banks foreclosed.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) * on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:23PM (#39179391) Homepage Journal

    Then you'll love this one. [dailybail.com] Watch as he helps rob an entire country's treasury.

    The sum of all the theft obtained by all the "stupid criminal shows" and "youtube videos" of car thieves, ATM snatchers, bank robbers, and other lowlifes that I've ever seen in my life comes nowhere close to the amount stolen by AIG and Goldman Sachs. It probably doesn't add up to one decimal point of a percent of the $150,000,000,000.00 they stole. It probably doesn't add up to one decimal point of a percent of the $450,000,000.00 in bonuses they stole.

    Put another way, all shoplifting in America adds up to less than $19 billion a year. They stole more in one fraud than every thief in America will shoplift in the next 9 years.

    And none of the thieves in this giant swindle weren't already millionaires. They just wanted to steal more money. Money that comes from the retirement plans and investments of millions of ordinary people.

    Are there more dishonest people per capita at certain income levels? Is it just that the magnitude of their crimes is so much higher because of their station in life? Or is it the size of the immorality of stealing all the net worth of millions of people, and not just their lunch money or their car, and not one personalized theft at a time?

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:24PM (#39179415)

    The problem is, our system and our society rewards and praises immoral behaviour, as long as it makes you rich.

    People measure success by the amount of wealth you accumulate. Mostly because wealth is still associated with working, and working is still associated with making a contribution to society's benefit. I say still because that sentiment is changing. Sadly I don't remember who said it, but it's true: "The American dream used to be 'work hard, climb the social ladder, and you can be rich too!'. It turned into 'fuck working, it ain't getting you anywhere, just hope you win the lottery'".

    But we still have the subconscious feeling that someone who got rich "made it". He did something to be rich. And we, in general, kinda feel like we should honor that somehow. And of course people who are rich feel entitled to those honors. That's simply our system and our society who "allows" them to feel like that.

    Face it. Rich is the new aristocracy. And of course they feel like they should have privileges. Mostly because we treat them like royalty. Or do you think anyone would care what that dud bombshell Hilton does if she wasn't rich?

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:30PM (#39179503)

    What does morality have to do with driving and traffic tickets?

    Most of the time it has nothing to do with a desire to cheat, steal, or harm another person. It could just be ignorance and bad driving habits. You could be a great driver and habitually speed 5-10 mph above the limit. That is not, in of itself, a sign of sociopathic behavior. Cutting people off and trying to run them off the road *is*.

    Parking tickets are a better indicator. I personally know of some people that are not anything close to rich, but have a ton of parking tickets. They have TV shows about the boot being put on people that act that way. If anything, that would be independent of wealth. We all have experienced those assholes who cannot part for shit. You know the type. Those that literally park with no regard to anyone else, if they are even lined up the spot correctly, or blocking somebody else.

    Making a ticket proportional to wealth is just discrimination. I hate it when people just want to penalize the rich for "being" rich. It's stupid and disingenuous to the debate over traffic safety.

    You really want change? Eliminate the financial penalty entirely. Mandate that every ticket is a minimum 10 hours of community service picking up trash, visiting senior citizens, meals on wheels, whatever. If the minimum was an entire days worth of work on the weekend that benefited the community traffic violations would plummet. We can't do that because we built an entire financial infrastructure out of people breaking laws and being fined . All that encouraged was greater fines, gaming of the system (fucking with orange lights to increase running reds), and new laws to increase revenue.

    My grandfather was a traffic cop who barely wrote any tickets. Towards the end of his career he was catching hell because he was not meeting his quota. He would actually give warnings and talk to people to explain why it was dangerous. Can't have that.

    As for the study, I think it is incredibly stupid to say, "the rich" are more immoral. While it is true that the rich are less affected by most penalties, a more accurate statement would be that our current environment financially rewards those who act like douchnozzles to the rest of us. Large scale sociopathic behavior has so many legal loop holes that it is readily apparent that the whole game is rigged.

    Those that act with honor, give back to their communities, are penalized and have to work that much harder in business to compete. It takes sacrifice, financial sacrifice, to operate a company that refuses to outsource, screw employees over, and actually work to the benefit of society instead of just giving lip service.

    There are plenty of rich people that are complete sociopaths, but I also know quite a few that are genuinely nice people that care. There is nothing about the state of being wealthy that induces immoral behavior. Immoral behavior exists independently. It's the regulations and tax laws that allow immoral people to attain wealth easier.

  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theNAM666 (179776) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:32PM (#39179535)

    >>On a global scale, you may well discover that you are the 1%.

    >You probably are. [globalrichlist.com]

    That's methodological crap. You can't make comparisons using the myth of currency equivalence. Someone living on $50K in Sao Paolo, with access to cheaper housing, education, health care etc etc etc, may be 2-3 times as 'rich' as someone living in a closet in Manhattan and barely getting by.

  • by osu-neko (2604) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:38PM (#39179621)
    Not only can't they take it with them, it suggests they need to unload all their stuff before they even try. Someone who dies rich has failed...
  • Class? Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdamWill (604569) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:58PM (#39179873) Homepage

    "In one test, subjects were asked to compare themselves with people at the top or the bottom of the social scale (Donald Trump or a homeless person, for example.)"

    Americans: mistaking money for class since the 18th century.

  • by mhajicek (1582795) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:01PM (#39179907)
    You make some valid points. I would counter that the military will soon move beyond remote-piloted drones to full AI, such that it would take a very few cooperative people to command most of the power of the military. When the human is removed from behind the trigger so is the humanity.
  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chewbacon (797801) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:01PM (#39179921)
    I think traffic laws is an inaccurate correlation. What about people at the corporate executive level? Don't give pay raises, cut benefits and jobs, but the CEO will get his bonus for saving money doing that. I've never felt a squeeze on my paycheck with my employer like I have the past couple years, but we keep seeing the big wigs getting their raises and bonuses. So yeah, I'd account some lack of morals there.
  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:02PM (#39179925) Homepage

    Are there more dishonest people per capita at certain income levels? Is it just that the magnitude of their crimes is so much higher because of their station in life? Or is it the size of the immorality of stealing all the net worth of millions of people, and not just their lunch money or their car, and not one personalized theft at a time?

    I would say that dishonest people are simply more likely to get ahead... After all, everyone would be honest if dishonesty didn't convey some sort of advantage. So almost by definition, people who are good at lying, cheating, and stealing without getting caught are likely to be successful. It's even less surprising, then, that we find so many psychopaths in positions of power, since they're exceptionally convincing liars.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:18PM (#39180085)

    I think the article itself is trying to say that all wealthy people are evil. Some comments are saying that as well.

    Honestly, I do not believe that wealth affects peoples behavior towards others in a significant way. Wealthy people that act like that are just as much of an asshole when they were not wealthy. Perhaps being born to wealth and privilege from the start with a poor upbringing could be an environment in which those kind of assholes grow in.

    I grew up in what you could call upper middle class to the lower upper class. My family made a ton of money through hard work and sacrifice. While I had opportunities and access to resources, I was raised in a fairly strict environment and not spoiled by any definition of the word. Whatever I wanted, I had to work damn hard to get it as a child. Most of my prized possessions as a child were bought with money I earned myself. Not from getting good grades, but actually mowing lawns and washing cars.

    In a way I find the article stupid and offensive simply because I know that my family was not like that, and I have had plenty of mentors and great people in my life that have acted with honor and a deep sense of civic duty. The more intelligent and wealthy you are the more responsible you are to make the world a better place. Those kinds of ideals I was surrounded with.

    People that acted contrary to that were to be stayed away from and seen for what they were.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:20PM (#39180123)

    At best, you can lay 50% of the blame for the housing crash on the lenders and brokers

    I lay 100% of the blame on the lenders and brokers. Why? Because the crash was caused when default rates were still *below* historical norms. It wasn't until the recession they caused caught up with the economy where the foreclosure rates were "interesting". The bankers set up the system to magnify gains and losses, and lied about the risk. The brokers and lenders lied about the risk as well (a D---- borrower who paid 3 months in a row was then reclassified as an "A"). The derivatives that crashed the market and then the economy that made it so people couldn't make their payments, regardless of underwaternesss, were invented by bankers and the crash was caused by the bankers, lenders and brokers. Yes, the homeowners were sometimes "in on it" trying to game the system for their benefit. But everyone else was as well, so why should they get blame for doing what they were told was right?

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mindstormpt (728974) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:22PM (#39180145) Homepage

    Making a ticket proportional to wealth is just discrimination. I hate it when people just want to penalize the rich for "being" rich. It's stupid and disingenuous to the debate over traffic safety.

    It's not. The GP explained it quite clearly: the value of a fine is meant to dissuade you from performing the action leading up to that fine. If the fine is irrelevant when compared to your income, it doesn't serve its purpose. Flat rate fines *are* discriminatory, since they only affect poor people. Making them proportional to your income fixes that problem. Also, someone "rich" who gets fined isn't being penalised for being rich; he's being penalised for not obeying the law.

    Case in point: some guy was fined around $1M a couple of years ago for speeding in Switzerland. His income is, presumably, many times that number. If he were fined $200, do you really think that would be a deterrent against future infractions?

    Now, you argue that fines are not the way to go. That's a different discussion. Where I live, you get a fine and lose your licence for up to 3 years - there's a penalty that affects all income brackets equally (*). I like your community service idea even better. But your analysis of the fairness of income-proportional fines is flawed, and typical of the "oh poor rich people, persecuted by the evil society" mindset, so unbelievably popular these days (with GOP candidates, I mean).

    (*) Well, at least on the surface. In fact, those of us with drivers will be less affected, as will those that can pay to take a cab anywhere they go.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:23PM (#39180151)

    Getting to the movie theater faster by risking the lives of other people is definitely immoral.

    Only if it is intentional. The majority of bad drivers don't set out with a selfish intent and/or to create a dangerous environment for others. I know some people that truly think they are good drivers and are as nice of a person you could hope to meet. I am in outright terror in the passenger seat with them driving.

    It is intent. Only a fraction of drivers out there truly create a dangerous environment and do so knowingly. That is when that person is being selfish, sociopathic, etc.

    I think there is more evil intent when you pee in the pool. Unless you are a very small child you absolutely know you are doing something wrong, you are just too damn lazy to get out of the pool or rationalize it as "everybody is doing it". So maybe we need a study to show how many rich people pee in the pool. It would be more accurate than looking at traffic tickets.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shark (78448) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:24PM (#39180153)

    To keep things in perspective though, is a speeding fine was 25 cents, would you be very observant of the rules yourself? I think the 'noble' kind of morality is grossly overrated, case in point from the article that when poor people are made to think they're special, they break rules too. Being rich doesn't make you less moral, it just greatly diminishes the consequences of being amoral.

    Bottom line is that we're pretty much *all* selfish, we just can't all afford to be.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:29PM (#39180203) Journal

    This is one problem with capitalism - it gives too much power political power to a few individuals and hardly any to most people.

    Actually, no, it's not quite that. The problem with capitalism is that the power that it gives also comes with the ability to increase said power (part of definition of capital is that it generates enough surplus value to expand). For the lack of any checks and balances, it increases to the point where it effectively subsumes government.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foniksonik (573572) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:32PM (#39180249) Homepage Journal

    I lost my house (shortsale) and had to move to a new state to find work. When the scenario is one person in ten thousand then it's likely they had poor judgement. When it's nine thousand out of ten thousand the system was flawed. When the system failed it snowballed creating a gap in the economy, which ended in high unemployment through a cascade of lost revenue.

    My loan was fine when I was fully employed. Companies stopped spending because the banks stopped loaning money so I had no clients. No clients, no income.

    Risky mortgages propped up a false economy and high home prices. This was not common knowledge or even discoverable by a well informed home buyer.

    I was defrauded and lost my principal and equity. The mortgage industry and banks are culpable for this travesty. They were both aware and in control of the factors which lead to the false economy.

    I was lucky to be able to cut my losses. Not many are/were so lucky and we all deserve justice.

  • Re:Yes (Score:1, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Monday February 27, 2012 @08:42PM (#39180369)

    I still believe that is discriminatory and unfair. While you claim that mindset is popular with GOP candidates, I am not GOP. Not Democrat either. If anything I have Libertarian leanings.

    Is is enormously offensive, unfair, and shortsighted to penalize or tax somebody based on their wealth. Why? Simply because I have more money? Maybe, just maybe, I actually earned it? Maybe I give back to society?

    Basing something on wealth has a far more damaging effect on society too. In order to do it, you must obtain information. Now you have a whole game of tax loop holes and lying. It is damaging to our right to privacy. I believe that the government has absolutely no right to know how much I earn at all, or where I spend it.

    I would prefer a more passive system based on consumption. That is absolutely fair. If I had a billion dollars and you were to tax me along side somebody that made an average living we would be taxed the same if we lived more or less the same. That is fair. He lives in a modest 3 bedroom house, I live in a modest 3 bedroom house. However, when I want to spend $30 million dollars on a jet now I am paying quite a bit for that privilege. It is built into the cost of the jet. That is fair. If I wanted to not pay those taxes then my option is to live exactly the same as somebody making $35,000 a year (or whatever the average is right now).

    If I lived like a hermit and had a farm I could pay no taxes at all. I would also consume nothing. That billion dollars would just sit there steadily increasing from investments and interest. At some point I am going to die and all that wealth can transfer to the person I designate. Now I imagine at some point, that somebody is going to want to spend that money. It becomes taxed at that point. That is fair. I was never penalized for being rich, I had all the privacy I ever wanted, and I never evaded any taxation.

    If the person was being penalized for simply disobeying the law, the fine would be the same regardless of who the person is, how much money they have, what color they are, what they believe. The moment you change it be anything else other than behavior, it is by very definition, a discriminatory practice.

    I don't think it is a different discussion to have something other than fines. The fact is that almost everything related to finances these days, which very closely ties in with fines, is unfair and favors those with money over those that don't have money.

    The answer is not to penalize those with money more, but to change the foundation of the system itself to remove money from the equation. We can do that with traffic laws.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:03PM (#39180571)

    We already have sliding scales for penalties in other areas. Ie, lawsuit punitive damages are based upon what is likely to actually be punitive to the party. This isn't about being punished for being rich, instead it's about being punished period. A $200 fine is not a punishment for rich people. You must have a sliding scale for monetary penalties or only poor people will be punished for breaking the law. This is completely separate from issues of taxation since this is not a tax, it's not a liberal scheme to attack the rich, it's what is fair.

    Now the community service might actually be a good idea. I'd rather spend 8 hours in community service than 8 hours in traffic school. I just can't see this getting implemented for traffic tickets though. But rich people weasel out of community service too. They won't show up, pick some sort of community service that's easier to handle and not so messy, or if they're a celebrity they'll combine it with some sort of self promotion.

  • by w_dragon (1802458) on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:06PM (#39180603)
    Why would they choose that particular saying? Why a camel and the eye of the needle? Why not a snake if they wanted to say all rich people are evil? Or a dove if they wanted to say that even good people won't be saved if they're rich? Understanding the bible means being able to understand the culture at the time and place it was written, including the idiosyncrasies of the language. Taking literal meaning from a book that was translated from half a dozen different languages, none of which are in common usage any more, probably isn't going to lead to a great deal of understanding.
  • by TopSpin (753) on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:28PM (#39180837) Journal

    Money doesn't spoil character, money reveals character.

    While refreshingly not the usual malcontent group-think we indulge around here, you're still wrong.

    In the context of wealth disparity, character and morals are orthogonal, and money is the consequence of character. The bulk of the 'rich' are those of us that seek and obtain great rewards from our fellow primates. People with the nerve, charm, guile, and/or wit to lead, own, govern, defy, entertain, intimidate, etc. in ways that appeal to their peers accrue greater wealth. Among them are people for whom static speed limits are completely intolerable; traffic cops and fines do not scare them [nwsource.com]. This trait is, unsurprisingly, not limited to commuting.

    There are people that can't not be in charge, take responsibility and face the powers that be. They will be recognized. They. Will. Be. Recognized. Many people can achieve the conditioning to run and throw well, but only those that can stand toe to toe with the rest of the locker room have any future in the sport. You can prove the Poincaré conjecture [wikipedia.org], but if you can't face the world -- as it is -- you will stay in your hovel. There are women with super model bodies that subsist on cash payouts for porn work, because it takes more than good equipment.

    Go read the SEC Madoff investigation transcripts. He survived multiple audits over decades by intimidating junior auditors, bureaucrats and co-conspirators with nothing more threatening than some dropped names. He lived in terror someone would have the wit to kick over the obvious rocks, but he never once let that be seen. When you encountered Madoff you knew you were dealing with a force of nature, and most people would rather get home on time and have supper than cope with that phenomena. Throw him in the can and the first thing he does is cow the other inmates [time.com].

    This life is a popularity contest, and morals are a factor in popularity only in as much as the morals of others are not offended ... too much.

    BTW, I don't advocate any of this; it's just the world observed without shit/rose colored glasses. I don't expect a lot of affirmation here because too many would rather reality be politely ignored.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jgdobak (119142) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:09PM (#39181187)

    You could be a great driver and habitually speed 5-10 mph above the limit. That is not, in of itself, a sign of sociopathic behavior.

    Actually, it is.

    Speed limits are set by people smarter than you are about the subject at hand. To sit there and say that you know better and that you will drive above the speed limit because you know better is pretty sociopathic in and of itself.

    Most people think they're "above average" drivers. Any trucker will tell you how few driver actually are above average, and it has less to do with reflexes and more to do with courtesy.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jgdobak (119142) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:19PM (#39181253)

    We hire experts in various fields when our knowledge is not sufficient for the task at hand.

    Medical problems? Call a doctor.

    Legal problems? Call a lawyer.

    Tax problems? Call an accountant.

    Don't understand how mortgages work? Call your local bank/mortgage broker.

    What, the nice mortgage broker tells you that you can afford a mortgage far above what makes sense to you? Well, he IS the expert and he's on your side! He works for your bank, after all...

    Of course, he may get a commission on pushing through as many mortgages as possible and he may be falsifying paperwork and credit scores out of whole cloth at the urging of the lending institution, which is selling these bad mortgages up the chain, but hey... He IS the expert.

    Expecting a home buyer to understand the purposely-obfuscated home buying process is as stupid as expecting him to understand why chemo may be necessary. Banks took advantage of the trust of their customers and cheated them, end of story.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:46PM (#39181467)

    Because the bible is a fairy tale... Even if it was intended as the eye of a sewing needle, it is still from a fairy tale. To quote it to make any sort of point at all is useless.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danbert8 (1024253) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @01:40PM (#39186763)

    Speed limits are set by people smarter than you are about the subject at hand.

    Oh really? Who exactly would that be? I am a civil engineer who has taken traffic design classes and know how to design roads. Do people like me set speed limits? Nope... It's some a-hole politician who sets the speed limits. Do they do calculations based on sight distances, friction, population density, or any other factors into their speed limits? Nope. They set it to some arbitrary number and then people come and petition to lower it because "it's for the safety of my children". Heck look at Interstate Highways next to controlled access US Highways. Both are designed to the same standards, but the interstate speed limit is set by the state, and the federal highway by the feds. They will probably have different speed limits. Not because of different risks, but different a-holes deciding the speed.

    Speed limits are not and have never been for safety. That is just the excuse that most people believe. Speed limits were originally set for fuel economy. Today cars are designed to be much safer and much more stable at higher speeds than the majority of posted limits, yet the speed limits have not gone up as a result.

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