Tag Archives | Rich People

What Wealth Does To Your Soul

A poor doctor takes the pulse of a rich, corpulent patient; Wellcome V0011750.jpg

“Getting rich won’t make you happy. But it will make you more selfish and dishonest,” says Michael Lewis at New Republic via The Week:

…What is clear about rich people and their money — and becoming ever clearer — is how it changes them. A body of quirky but persuasive research has sought to understand the effects of wealth and privilege on human behavior — and any future book about the nature of billionaires would do well to consult it.

One especially fertile source is the University of California at Berkeley psychology department lab overseen by a professor named Dacher Keltner. In one study, Keltner and his colleague Paul Piff installed note takers and cameras at city street intersections with four-way Stop signs. The people driving expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers than drivers of cheap cars. The researchers then followed the drivers to the city’s crosswalks and positioned themselves as pedestrians, waiting to cross the street.

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Affluenza Teen Again Given Probation For Drunk Driving Slaughter

Photo: WFAA

Photo: WFAA

Disinfonauts may recall with disgust an earlier post “Rich Kid Kills Four Pedestrians While Driving Drunk And Gets Probation Because of ‘Affluenza.’” Now that same rich kid, Ethan Couch, has again been given probation by the same Texas judge who sentenced him last time, instead of the 20 years of jail time called for by prosecutors. Report from AP via NY Daily News:

FORT WORTH, Texas — A judge on Wednesday ordered a Texas teenager who was sentenced to 10 years’ probation in a drunken-driving crash that killed four people to go to a rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents.

Judge Jean Boyd again decided to give no jail time for Ethan Couch, defense attorney Reagan Wynn and prosecutors told reporters after the hearing, which was closed to the public. Prosecutors had asked Boyd to sentence him to 20 years in state custody on charges related to two people who were severely injured.

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Why The Rich Are Freaking Out

Dollar symbol goldPolitico‘s Ben White tells us that the 1%, the super wealthy elite, are having a collective meltdown at the prospect of less favorable attitudes and laws targeting them:

The co-founder of one the nation’s oldest venture capital firms fears a possible genocide against the wealthy. Residents of Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side say the progressive mayor didn’t plow their streets as a form of frosty revenge. And the co-founder of Home Depot recently warned the Pope to pipe down about economic inequality.

The nation’s wealthiest, denizens of the loftiest slice of the 1 percent, appear to be having a collective meltdown.

Economists, advisers to the wealthy and the wealthy themselves describe a deep-seated anxiety that the national — and even global — mood is turning against the super-rich in ways that ultimately could prove dangerous and hard to control.

President Barack Obama and the Democrats have pivoted to income inequality ahead of the midterm elections.

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85 Wealthy Elites Have As Much Wealth As Half The World’s Population

rich peopleA group that could easily fit on a single subway car. Via the Guardian:

The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called ‘global elite’ is exposed in a new report from Oxfam on Monday. It warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population.

The development charity fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.

The report found that over the past few decades, the rich have successfully wielded political influence to skew policies in their favor on issues ranging from financial deregulation, tax havens, to lower tax rates on high incomes and cuts in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, said the report.

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A Majority Of Congress Members Are Now Millionaires

contractsAre we on our way to a point at which being a millionaire will become virtually a prerequisite for pursuing any important political position? Via CNN:

For the first time ever, more than half of current members of Congress are millionaires, according to a new report from the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics.

Among the 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more for 2012, the CRP said, citing disclosure forms filed last year.

CRP executive director Sheila Krumholz said the data reflect the reality that “in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with.”

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Rich Kid Kills Four Pedestrians While Driving Drunk And Gets Probation Because of ‘Affluenza’

roflbot(4)If for some inexplicable reason you didn’t think that America had two justice systems – one for the rich and one for everyone else – then this should cure you of that delusion:

Via Time:

For most people, conviction for vehicular manslaughter due to drunk driving warrants a lengthy sentence, but not in the case of Ethan Couch, a wealthy young man from the state of Texas.

The Keller, Tex., 16-year-old has a rare condition that a judge believes is best remedied with anything but dealing with the consequences for causing a DWI wreck that killed four people, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Couch suffers from “affluenza,” according to his lawyers, a term which means that his wealthy parents pretty much let him get away with everything. The defense saved him from a 20-year sentence; State District Judge Jean Boyd bought it at his sentencing on Tuesday and gave Couch probation instead.

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Switzerland To Vote On Radically Limiting CEOs’ Pay Nationwide

ZurichMontageMost likely with fists clenched and all the blood drained from its face, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Switzerland is expected to vote later this year on a proposal to place further limits on executive pay, the latest effort to govern corporate compensation in a country that recently approved some of the world’s strictest say-on-pay rules.

The Young Socialists have collected more than 100,000 signatures—the threshold needed to call a vote—in support of a referendum to limit executive salaries to 12 times those of a company’s lowest-paid employee.

The campaign, dubbed the 1:12 Initiative for Fair Pay, is named for the organizers’ belief that no one in a company should earn more in one month than the lowest-paid employee makes in a year.

The Swiss Federal Council, the country’s cabinet, has advised the parliament to recommend that voters reject the proposal. However a poll earlier this month showed 49.5% of respondents were in favor of the 1:12 Initiative, 40.5% against and 10% undecided.

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Contracts With Workers Vs. Contracts With Banks


When are contracts ironbound, and when are they optional? Via the Center for Economic & Policy Research, Dean Baker writes:

The debate over public pensions clearly shows the contempt that the elites have for ordinary workers. While elites routinely preach the sanctity of contract when it works to benefit the rich and powerful, they are happy to treat the contracts that provide workers with pensions as worthless scraps of paper.

We see this attitude on display currently in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings. It is even more clearly on display in efforts by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to default on the city’s pension obligations.

The basic story in both cases is that the contracts that workers had labored under are being laughed at by the elites because they find it inconvenient to carry through with the terms.

In Detroit, paying for pensions or anything else without outside assistance poses a real problem.

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Rich People Feel Poor If They Have Less Than $5 Million

wealthyVia ThinkProgress, a survey of investors reveals the self-perception of the affluent in our deeply unequal society. More than two-thirds of millionaires do not feel that they are wealthy, and two-fifths of those with more than $5 million still feel non-wealthy:

Rich investors say that it takes at least $5 million to feel wealthy, according to a new investor sentiment report from UBS.

They also define being wealthy not as having a certain amount of money, but having “no financial constraints on what they do.” That does indeed likely come with a large price tag.

The inflation of how much the rich thinks it takes to be rich comes at a time of skyrocketing income inequality. The good news for the uber rich is that less than 20 percent have a pessimistic view of the long-term economic outlook. That differs sharply from the general population, as half of Americans say the economy is getting worse.

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