Come on baby, Eat the Rich…

My posting’s title is from the Motorhead song (here it is on youtube ) …The song came to mind again while reading this article on the psychological bent of the wealthy. They are, we’re told…selfish people. Try to contain your surprise.

The research paper was called “Social Class as Culture: The Convergence of Resources and Rank in the Social Realm”. And here’s an interesting quote from one of the authors of the paper: “…the philosophical battle over economics, taxes, debt ceilings and defaults that are now roiling the stock market is partly rooted in an upper class ‘ideology of self-interest.’” Too obvious to bother with? But it’s interesting how unconscious this behavior seems, how unrelated to reason. Social empathy, after all, is not just emotional–more than anything it’s rational. Caring for the under-privileged is caring for the society as a whole, it creates a healthier world which, ultimately, benefits everyone including the rich. Empathy important for the health of a society–and that makes it rational. And yet the researchers tell us: “We have now done 12 separate studies measuring empathy in every way imaginable, social behavior in every way…Lower class people just show more empathy, more prosocial behavior, more compassion, no matter how you look at it.”

Notice the term prosocial. Does that sound frighteningly…like socialism? Don’t cringe! It means pro people, really. You don’t have to be socialist to be pro people.

I can hear some of my libertarian acquaintances shruggingly responding: Selfishness is only natural. But the researcher states, “upper-class rank perceptions trigger a focus away from the context toward the self….”

The word context is significant. If you’re not seeing context you’ve got a bottleneck in your information flow. It’s really all about a narrowing of perception, not a recourse to survival instincts. If you don’t see the full context, your perceptions are narrowed; you’re engaging in an irrational close mindedness. What seems to them to be cold rationality is actually purblind irrationality.

The news article summarizes: “Because the rich gloss over the ways family connections, money and education helped, they come to denigrate the role of government and vigorously oppose taxes to fund it.”

So again we have a narrowing of perception, of consciousness. The rich are not seeing themselves. Take Mitt Romney, for example–born into money, with every advantage, but pretending he made it on his own and demanding that the poor do the same. Wealthy plutocrats like Romney are mentally editing out the perception of their front-loaded privileges…and that leaves them free to make irrationally selfish political choices.

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