Paul Buchheit writes at Common Dreams:
Many wealthy Americans believe that dysfunctional behavior causes poverty. Their own success, they would insist, derives from good character and a strict work ethic. But they would be missing some of the facts. Ample evidence exists to show a correlation between wealth and unethical behavior, and between wealth and a lack of empathy for others, and between wealth and unproductiveness.
The poor, along with a middle class that is sinking toward them, make up the American meritocracy. Here is some of the evidence.
1. The Poor Don’t Cheat As Much
An analysis of seven different psychological studies found that “upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals.” A series of experiments showed that upper-class individuals were more likely to break traffic laws, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, and cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize.
And this doesn’t even begin to examine the many, many significant cases of fraudulent behavior in the banking industry. Or private equity firms that cheat their investors over 50 percent of the time. Or the many unscrupulous corporate tax avoidance strategies.
2. The Poor Care More About Other People
Numerous reputable sources have concluded that lower class individuals tend to be more generous and trusting and helpful, compared to the upper class. As people gain in wealth, they depend less on others, and thus they have less reason to understand the feelings and needs of the less fortunate. The poor are better at interpersonal relationships because they need other people.
In addition, careful studies have determined that money pushes people further to the right, making them less egalitarian, and less willing, as a practical consequence, to provide broad educational opportunities to all members of society.
Read more here.