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Are Rich People Less Moral?

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  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ranger (1783) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:26PM (#39178577) Homepage
    But only because they don't interact with peasants.
    • Re:Yes (Score:4, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:36PM (#39178711) Homepage Journal

      But only because they don't interact with peasants.

      Spoken like a true Howell.

      I think they're differently moral, they don't want to think about problems that are beneath them and therefore it's OK to trample a few hands every day.

      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

        by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:51PM (#39178943)

        Maybe it depends on context too. Ie, in the US if you're really rich a traffic ticket means nothing to you. There's no punitive value to it. So if you're rich and slightly immoral you don't worry about tickets (especially petty stuff like parking tickets), but if you're poor and slightly immoral you still don't want that ticket. However there are countries where traffic ticket fines are determined by your ability to pay. If you're rich you may get a very huge fine big enough to make you sit up and take notice and try not to repeat that mistake.

        In other words, even if everyone has the same level of ethics and morality, it will appear that the rich are less moral just because they're less affected by the penalties.

        Now with things with no financial benefit or penalty it may be more interesting. Ie, cheating at solitaire, cheating at a board game with your friends, fudging your D&D character sheet, etc. Are the rich more likely to do that type of cheating? (especially those who are wealthy but not so wealthy that they just buy new friends)

        • 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:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

            by bondsbw (888959) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:54PM (#39179831)

            One way to define immorality is the disregard of others out of selfishness. "The rules don't apply to me" is a very selfish way of life.

            In theory at least, traffic laws exist to reduce conflicts between people. Red light laws and stop sign laws exist to reduce accidents; the same applies for speed laws, at least in original intent.

            I agree that there is perversion of the law, that some laws are set and enforced beyond a reasonable level for the sole purpose of funding government. I'm not in argument there. But when laws are set and enforced at a reasonable level, lawbreakers are risking the livelihoods of other people for their own goals.

            Getting to the movie theater faster by risking the lives of other people is definitely immoral. If that type of behavior is correlated with wealth, then wealth is correlated with at least some types of immoral behavior.

            • 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: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 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:4, Funny)

              by mooingyak (720677) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:01AM (#39181921)

              You've left quite a bit to work with but I'll focus on this:

              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.

              10 people take a test. They score:
              100
              98
              96
              96
              96
              94
              91
              90
              88
              15

              The average there is 86.4. Remarkably, almost everyone scored above average.

            • 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.

        • Equality of the law (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:21PM (#39181263) Journal

          "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
          (La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.)

          Anatole France [wikiquote.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sycodon (149926)

      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.

      • 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:5, Interesting)

          by EdIII (1114411) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:34PM (#39179559)

          Subtle my ass.

          They stole nearly a trillion dollars right in front of our faces. I am talking about a subset of people that have the state of being rich. Saying that all wealthy people are evil just plays right into their hands by engaging in class warfare.

      • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Captain Hook (923766) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:59PM (#39179065)
        you're confusing criminality with morality.
      • Re:Yes (Score:5, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:04PM (#39179129)

        Poor people commit crimes, rich people commit laws.

        • Re:Yes (Score:4, Funny)

          by ackthpt (218170) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:09PM (#39179189) Homepage Journal

          Poor people commit crimes, rich people commit laws.

          Golden Rule -- He who has the gold makes the rules.

          Usually rules about getting more gold and keeping it

          Plus a little into research on getting a camel through the eye of a needle, so far they're successful, excepting the camel is quite dead after the process.

        • 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: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: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?

        • 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:4, Interesting)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:56PM (#39179007) Homepage Journal

      But only because they don't interact with peasants.

      Most of "the rich" interact with "the peasants" a great deal, because that's where the money is made. If there's any truth to this study... and I have doubts... it's probably more because wealth brings power, and power is what the real corrupting influence is. Steve Jobs was infamous for doing things like parking in handicapped spaces and daring cops to do anything about it. They never did, and not because of his money per se, but because with a phone call, he could have them fired, because Apple carries a lot of weight with politicians and the various government bureaucracies. Wealth isn't the problem at all. The problem is the unwillingness for the law and government to punish those that assert power that legally they don't have. Blame cowardice here.

      • Re:Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

        by blahplusplus (757119) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:18PM (#39179327)

        " Blame cowardice here."

        Politicians are cowards because they fear corporations ability to take jobs away from their citizens and move away from their nation permanently. Corporations threaten this all the time. Governments can do little without a world governing body. Corporations and rich are too nimble given their excess resources.

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

        • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:27PM (#39178583)

    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.

    • by ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:36PM (#39178719)

      Is that really the cause?

      Perhaps people who are rich perceive a smaller consequence for behaving badly. They "know" (possibly only at a subconscious level) that they can buy their way out of trouble so they feel the risk of being chastised is weaker.

      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.)

      I think it's just a knee-jerk us-vs.-them reaction to say that the amoral get rich and the nice guy loses, as if the rich deserve to be brought down a peg because they must be evil to be rich, rather than power and money corrupting them once they get there.

      • 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.)

      • 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
  • 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.

    • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:35PM (#39178695) Homepage
      That was my assumption, but the study seems to be saying the opposite. Take a person that's poor and make them feel wealthier or more important, and they "begin to behave unethically".
      • by retchdog (1319261)

        once again, the summary is crap. the experiment didn't make them rich; it raised their status, which is very different.

        likewise, the driving observation was based on the car they were driving, a rather noisy and biased indicator of wealth (in particular, fancy cars are associated with being a douchebag as much as they are with having $).

      • by iamwahoo2 (594922) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:58PM (#39179041)

        They should have just watched the movie "Trading Places"

      • by jc42 (318812) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:59PM (#39179059) Homepage Journal
        Well, some years back, I read an interesting article on the subject, observing that this was a nearly ideal example in which cause and effect are difficult to disentangle. There are reasonable arguments for the causation to go both ways, and data to support both of them. One conclusion was that it was best explained as a feedback loop, in which having wealth tends to make you part of a social group that's immoral, and when you adopt various immoral behaviors, society rewards you. As long as you have a feel for the boundaries and don't get jailed for your behavior, it's to your personal benefit to follow this feedback loop.
    • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:40PM (#39178789)

      Except the research shows that it is precisely being in a higher position which makes you immoral.

      And when you read all those excerpts of bankers whining that their boots are getting insufficiently licked by the rest of society, well, it's tempting to believe this is indeed true.

      Presumably, if being rich was no regarded as saying something about you, but rather an accident of Fortune (which it always is: well off is something you achieve through hard work and ingenuity; rich takes luck) society would be more moral.

      • 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?

  • by prgrmr (568806) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:30PM (#39178623) Journal
    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
    Napoleon Bonaparte
  • 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.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      FTFA:

      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 12â"even though, unbeknownst to them, the game was rigged so that 12 was the highest possible score.

      How is the size of your bank account going to affect your behavior if you don't know you can get caught cheating?

  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:33PM (#39178673) Homepage

    Of course they do. This should surprise nobody.

    Generally speaking, a person whose actions are bound by respect for moral and legal institutions is going to have trouble succeeding against a person whose actions are not bound to such considerations (or only loosely bound.) Run this model several million times, and you end up with a small, powerful group of people who are, comparatively speaking, less moral than the large, less powerful group of people they were willing to step on to get to the top.

    The only place where cheaters never win is fiction. Everywhere else, they tend to run the show.

  • by twotacocombo (1529393) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:36PM (#39178715)
    Which is it? Wealthy people are more likely to become dicks, or the kind of people who would openly behave this poorly tend to become wealthy? I'm curious as to whether or not having large amounts of money corrupts an otherwise mild-mannered person, or if the personality type/living environment/etc that leads to the accumulation of wealth also tends to be those that would already cause someone act like a douche, regardless of financial status.
  • by rbrander (73222) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:39PM (#39178769) Homepage

    In the book "Freakonomics", about how the statistical tools economists use can bring some light to other areas of social study, the tale is told of a guy who ran a business model of dropping off bagels at office coffee rooms around town, with a voluntary-contribution box, and kept meticulous records for many years of his repayment rate. Turns out the upper floors (as in, upper management) and near corner offices and so on, had the lowest rate.

    The authors were careful about drawing conclusions, though they entertained by speculating - was it "have to run to my important meeting, that's more important than digging around for change, my time is worth $900/hour", or was it just a "sense of entitlement"?

    This may tip the needle towards "self-entitled bastards", though it remains speculation, of course, not conclusion.

    The Prius thing may indicate another reason for being a "self-entitled jerk", of course: environmental smugness. Now I'm just TOTALLY speculating, obviously, but I'd add a data point: 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.

    I claim, in my own head (never had to try it on a cop, and don't plan to) that I coast through stop signs and so forth because of the vast importance of Conserving Momentum. And the roadway just "owes" me a little slack because I take up so little of it. And I'm only risking my own damfool neck, I can at most cause others a dent. Or something. If you can get self-entitled by contributing to the common weal that little, imagine how much you get from doing work others value at $900 per hour...

    • 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 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 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.").

  • 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.
    • by Solandri (704621) on Monday February 27, 2012 @07:45PM (#39179721)
      Yeah, the summary left out these key points in TFA:

      When participants were manipulated into thinking of themselves as belonging to a higher class than they did, the poorer ones, too, began to behave unethically.

      In another test, participants were asked to list several benefits of greed; they were given the example that greed can help further one's professional goals, then asked to come up with three additional benefits. Again, lower-class subjects whose attitudes toward greed had been nudged in this way became just as likely as their wealthier counterparts to sympathize with dishonest behavior (taking home office supplies, laying off employees while increasing their own bonuses, overcharging customers to drive up profits).

      So the real take-home point from all this is not that wealthier people are more dishonest as the summary phrases it. It's that people tend to become more dishonest when they become wealthier. i.e. The rich guy didn't become rich because he's an asshole. He's an asshole because he became rich. And if you became rich, you'd probably become an asshole too.

  • 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.

    • 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.
    • 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.

  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:47PM (#39178897)

    Maybe it's related to partially to Prosperity Theology [wikipedia.org]. "If I'm blessed by God with all this prosperity then what I want to do must be morally right."

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:54PM (#39178977)

    To quote the ever smug Leona Helmesly, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes..." (And why is it that the most nauseating psychopaths like Helmesly, Milken, Fleiss, et. al always sport that stupid grin that just cries for a fist.)

    Surely anyone who's had contact with wealthy people have noticed their underlying assumption of "I am above all rules. Those are for the little people."

  • 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?

  • BERKELEY UNDERGRADS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theNAM666 (179776) on Monday February 27, 2012 @06:57PM (#39179013)

    FTFA:

    >working with groups of 100 to 200 Berkeley undergraduates or adults recruited online.

    Ya gotta be kidding me.

    There is, of course, the recent research that points out that US-American psychology is, largely, a profile of the US-American undergrad population (ie, the population that are easily available to find, to study).

    That said, if you choose Berkeley undergrads, then you're going to get results that match them. Berkeley is a large anonymous state institution, where an undergrad has every incentive to cheat, and where only the third incident of plagarism has any chance of repercussions. (In pactice, GSIs and many professors are unlikely to report plagarism, no only because of the paperwork, but because it's likely to have negative repercussions for them).

    Change this context to Stanford or the East Coast Ivies, etc, and you've got a very different system. Getting caught cheating or plagarizing-- once-- at a small college or many of the Ivies, is a death sentence-- immediate explusion, and if you do choose to come back in a year, you're going to be a paraih among your peers and under very close scrutiny.

    My guess is this study, like so much social science, isn't speciifc and precise enough to say anything.

  • 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.

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