Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Empathy Gap

"Rich People Just Care Less" - Daniel Goleman, NYT

Money is obviously a corrupting force, but in the editorial above Goleman discusses the "the empathy gap," or what I call "the politics of contempt." Science is showing that wealthy folks struggle to see the people below them as worthy of attention, meaning they are unable to recognize the humanity of others.

The well-heeled disregard ordinary folk. They're predisposed to tuning into people in equal or higher positions of power. The rest of us they just ignore. That partly explains why wealthy politicians can shut the government down in our face and aggressively dismantle key life-saving programs like EBT and WIC. 

It's ironic we valorize the rich when in reality they are the most dangerous class among us. The desire for power and wealth always involves a certain degree of narcissism and entitlement. But in reality it takes a village to raise a millionaire. They build their empire on the backs of our labor and talent utilizing an infrastructure paid for by our tax dollars. And then claim we're lazy, while refusing to share in the increased wealth resulting from increased worker productivity. 

We should stop glamorizing the rich because according to the newest research they exhibit some basic sociopathic tendencies. If money makes people less humane, then we can conclude that rich people are bad for society and the survival of our species. They certainly shouldn't be our leaders because they don't value us little people, their constituency.

Further reading: "The Money-Empathy Gap: How Money Makes People Act Less Human" - The New Yorker 

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