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Old October 7th, 2013, 11:26 AM   #1
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Rich People Just Care Less

A series of articles in the N.Y. Times called The Great Divide, having been focusing attention on problems of inequality and how they affect people. Considering who the average Times reader is, I'm surprised to see this story posted there...but the Times reader may be the kind of person who needs to read this and do a gut check:

Rich People Just Care Less
By DANIEL GOLEMAN

Turning a blind eye. Giving someone the cold shoulder. Looking down on people. Seeing right through them.

These metaphors for condescending or dismissive behavior are more than just descriptive. They suggest, to a surprisingly accurate extent, the social distance between those with greater power and those with less — a distance that goes beyond the realm of interpersonal interactions and may exacerbate the soaring inequality in the United States.

A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. Higher-status people are also more likely to express disregard, through facial expressions, and are more likely to take over the conversation and interrupt or look past the other speaker..........................

A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain. In 2008, social psychologists from the University of Amsterdam and the University of California, Berkeley, studied pairs of strangers telling one another about difficulties they had been through, like a divorce or death of a loved one. The researchers found that the differential expressed itself in the playing down of suffering. The more powerful were less compassionate toward the hardships described by the less powerful...................

While Mr. Keltner’s research finds that the poor, compared with the wealthy, have keenly attuned interpersonal attention in all directions, in general, those with the most power in society seem to pay particularly little attention to those with the least power. To be sure, high-status people do attend to those of equal rank — but not as well as those low of status do.

This has profound implications for societal behavior and government policy. Tuning in to the needs and feelings of another person is a prerequisite to empathy, which in turn can lead to understanding, concern and, if the circumstances are right, compassionate action.

In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them. The insistence by some House Republicans in Congress on cutting financing for food stamps and impeding the implementation of Obamacare, which would allow patients, including those with pre-existing health conditions, to obtain and pay for insurance coverage, may stem in part from the empathy gap. As political scientists have noted, redistricting and gerrymandering have led to the creation of more and more safe districts, in which elected officials don’t even have to encounter many voters from the rival party, much less empathize with them.......................
Referring to a phenomena Sigmund Freud called "the narcissism of minor differences" the focus shifts slightly to include the phenomena that I have touched on in all of the racism threads:
In his research, he found that even in areas where ethnic groups were in conflict and viewed one another through lenses of negative stereotypes, individuals who had close friends within the other group exhibited little or no such prejudice. They seemed to realize the many ways those demonized “others” were “just like me.” Whether such friendly social contact would overcome the divide between those with more and less social and economic power was not studied, but I suspect it would help.

Since the 1970s, the gap between the rich and everyone else has skyrocketed. Income inequality is at its highest level in a century. This widening gulf between the haves and have-less troubles me, but not for the obvious reasons. Apart from the financial inequities, I fear the expansion of an entirely different gap, caused by the inability to see oneself in a less advantaged person’s shoes. Reducing the economic gap may be impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy.
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com...re-less/?_r=1&
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Old October 7th, 2013, 02:17 PM   #2
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The article is full of holes. It uses the terms "rich," "wealthy," "most powerful person," and "most social power." Only one term can be used in a study to identify a test subject, and that term must be accurately defined.

The article uses how, pick any of the above terms, interacts with a less powerful person (definition?), and that is their conclusion. But how does the, pick any term above, interact with others: peers, opposite sex, same sex, etc. Perhaps their interactions are the same with everyone. That is how a study is conducted. But it was the pathetic partisans examples about Republicans and food stamps, Obamacare, gerrymandering, wealth gap, etc. that makes the reader acutely aware of the criticism of Goleman's work.
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Old October 7th, 2013, 02:45 PM   #3
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If you were rich, you wouldn't care either.
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Old October 8th, 2013, 01:14 AM   #4
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The article is full of holes. It uses the terms "rich," "wealthy," "most powerful person," and "most social power." Only one term can be used in a study to identify a test subject, and that term must be accurately defined.
Money is the yardstick used in our society to determine social hierarchy, so it's one and the same thing! We don't have true aristocracies with lords, barons, dukes, prince and princesses over here, so there is no equivalent to peerage, which in a country like England would make one of the inbreds in the Royal Family the ones with the most social power, regardless of whether they had the most money in England.

Quote:
The article uses how, pick any of the above terms, interacts with a less powerful person (definition?), and that is their conclusion. But how does the, pick any term above, interact with others: peers, opposite sex, same sex, etc. Perhaps their interactions are the same with everyone. That is how a study is conducted. But it was the pathetic partisans examples about Republicans and food stamps, Obamacare, gerrymandering, wealth gap, etc. that makes the reader acutely aware of the criticism of Goleman's work.
First, keep in mind that the writer of the article is commenting on two social studies: one from Berkeley, the other from the University of Amsterdam, which separately produced similar findings on the comparisons between people with high social power and those without. The author's correlations with current political issues further down in the article, are his own opinions that social distance is motivating Republicans to cut food stamps and impede the Affordable Care Act. I'm not sure how much that plays in to these decisions, since ideology of limited government is part of these decisions. That's why I was debating whether or not to quote that part of the article....social distance makes it possible to act more callously with greater indifference to the plight of lower classes, but that would not likely be the only factor involved in political gamesmanship.

The findings of the university studies fit previous things I've read about the problems created by growing inequality - The Equality Trust, originated by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, has gathered numerous studies from around the world showing a surprising number of social issues from mental and physical health to crime rates to longevity and infant mortality, that all increase in societies that become increasingly stratified by divisions in wealth, and can be lowered if income levels can be brought closer together.

Also, some of the books I've read over the last couple of years on anthropology - specifically paleoanthropology studying hunter/gatherer societies, show that the prototypical family band in prehistoric times usually traveled frequently and carried as few possessions as were necessary, and exhibit little or no signs of hierarchy and class division. If the human race spent the bulk of human history living in a classless society, the transition to permanent settlements, disparities in wealth and power, the creation of organized hierarchies are all late adaptations that we are not hardwired for, and that would explain why the extremely stratified societies are so unhealthy.
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Old October 8th, 2013, 08:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by work in progress View Post
Money is the yardstick used in our society to determine social hierarchy, so it's one and the same thing! We don't have true aristocracies with lords, barons, dukes, prince and princesses over here, so there is no equivalent to peerage, which in a country like England would make one of the inbreds in the Royal Family the ones with the most social power, regardless of whether they had the most money in England.


First, keep in mind that the writer of the article is commenting on two social studies: one from Berkeley, the other from the University of Amsterdam, which separately produced similar findings on the comparisons between people with high social power and those without. The author's correlations with current political issues further down in the article, are his own opinions that social distance is motivating Republicans to cut food stamps and impede the Affordable Care Act. I'm not sure how much that plays in to these decisions, since ideology of limited government is part of these decisions. That's why I was debating whether or not to quote that part of the article....social distance makes it possible to act more callously with greater indifference to the plight of lower classes, but that would not likely be the only factor involved in political gamesmanship.

The findings of the university studies fit previous things I've read about the problems created by growing inequality - The Equality Trust, originated by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, has gathered numerous studies from around the world showing a surprising number of social issues from mental and physical health to crime rates to longevity and infant mortality, that all increase in societies that become increasingly stratified by divisions in wealth, and can be lowered if income levels can be brought closer together.

Also, some of the books I've read over the last couple of years on anthropology - specifically paleoanthropology studying hunter/gatherer societies, show that the prototypical family band in prehistoric times usually traveled frequently and carried as few possessions as were necessary, and exhibit little or no signs of hierarchy and class division. If the human race spent the bulk of human history living in a classless society, the transition to permanent settlements, disparities in wealth and power, the creation of organized hierarchies are all late adaptations that we are not hardwired for, and that would explain why the extremely stratified societies are so unhealthy.
I understand what you are saying, but with the terms "rich," "wealthy," "most powerful person," and "most social power" used as a descriptive of one field of test subjects, what is the definition of each as they are presented as the same? Wealth and most social power are not mutually inclusive. The most powerful person is not mutually inclusive with rich or wealthy. I understand what the author is trying to say, but he seems to just use each term as a pejorative for distinguishing between the haves and have nots, which makes it illegitimate. There are also geographical nuances as well. Are rich, wealthy, etc. defined as a certain rate of income or wealth—and the two have two separate meanings—and above? If this is the determining factor, then a person making $150k living in the more expensive area of Manhattan with a stay at home wife and four kids would be on the receiving end of the study as they would be living near a relative poverty level, but place that family in the rural areas of Mississippi and they become the uber 1%, would their attitude change towards the $30k per year family’s. Does moving change things?

Any study of this type, as with medicine, would need placebo test subjects. This would determine how the test subjects interact with the opposite sex, same sex, peers, etc. Do they act the same as a general rule with everyone?

I did not see anything about environment in either of the studies. How would the CEO of Citibank treat a $50k factory worker if they meet at a social event with the affluent and the not affluent? But put this same CEO at his child’s soccer game and the same $50k factor worker’s child is on the same team, how to they interact? How would they interact with each other at the same social function six months later if they struck up a relationship around the soccer games?

Just my opinion, but it seems they worked backwards from a preconceived opinion of the wealthy, then supported it by limiting the areas that needed tested by working backwards.
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Old October 8th, 2013, 09:39 AM   #6
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Actually a study shows that Rich are very giving people.

millionaire next door a study of traits found in people that make a 1 million dollar are more in annual income.
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Old October 8th, 2013, 09:55 AM   #7
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reading the description of this subjective tripe that is trying to pass itself off as objective research, I don't care.

and I am not rich.
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Old October 10th, 2013, 09:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jimmyb View Post
I understand what you are saying, but with the terms "rich," "wealthy," "most powerful person," and "most social power" used as a descriptive of one field of test subjects, what is the definition of each as they are presented as the same? Wealth and most social power are not mutually inclusive. The most powerful person is not mutually inclusive with rich or wealthy. I understand what the author is trying to say, but he seems to just use each term as a pejorative for distinguishing between the haves and have nots, which makes it illegitimate.
I mentioned before, that in a true aristocracy, or perhaps in a military dictatorship also, wealth may not correlate completely with social power. But, if we're talking about a pure, or almost pure capitalist system which the modern day globalists are working their way towards, Money = Social Power!

And the only thing I see that might change or alter that equation is a return to true fascism...which may not be as far off as many people think, judging by what has been revealed so far about NSA espionage in collusion with other branches of the military and most disturbingly - certain corporations...mostly defense contractors, who appear to be doing their part of the NSA game to advance their own commercial interests. Anyway, if things progress on the present course, it is easy to see a situation developing where the State and its private business members, function as a dictatorship, and any self-important oligarch who challenges the state power in a similar manner as Russian oil billionaire - Mikael Kordorkovsky did 10 years ago, will also end up sitting in a prison cell!

When the state has the power to reward and punish oligarchs and monied interests, then certain government bureaucrats and agencies will be seen to have more social power than the richest man in the country....just like Russia!
Quote:
There are also geographical nuances as well. Are rich, wealthy, etc. defined as a certain rate of income or wealth—and the two have two separate meanings—and above? If this is the determining factor, then a person making $150k living in the more expensive area of Manhattan with a stay at home wife and four kids would be on the receiving end of the study as they would be living near a relative poverty level, but place that family in the rural areas of Mississippi and they become the uber 1%, would their attitude change towards the $30k per year family’s. Does moving change things?
I think you just answered your own question? I recall about 25 or more years ago, when we went to NYC to visit one of my cousins, who had recently started in a new IT job and was earning $60,000 a year. That was twice what I was making at the time. But, my cousin said that for him to live in a nice apartment in a secure building close to work meant that he didn't have enough money left over for frivolous things....like buying a car! It's not about the dollars in absolute terms, it's where your earnings are in relation to your peers and those higher than you in the economic hierarchy. If you ever check out the Equality Trust... which I reference frequently, they believe the reasons why income inequality leads to increases in just about every bad social indicator imaginable, is because most people judge their sense of self worth by comparing their earnings and material possessions with their perceived peers and those who are just ahead of them in income. As incomes become more stratified, there are fewer peers and more rivals -- people to catch up to, and people below us to keep in their place.

It's because of the psychological effects that supply side claptrap like "a rising tide raises all boats in the harbour" are meaningless bullshit. Even if the economic fundamentals of Trickle Down economics were valid, the damaging effects of income stratification would outweigh any positive effects of lower ranking people earning more money!

In international rankings, Pickett and Wilkinson have noticed that wellness indicators such as infant mortality, life expectancy, mental illness stats etc. show that a well functioning mid-ranking nation like Costa Rica, outperforms many nations with much higher average income levels - such as the United States, even though it's per capita GDP is about one third the U.S. number. This would indicate that once a threshold is reached in income...to provide for food, shelter, a basic comfortable living etc., what becomes most important is the levels of equality/inequality in the population. So a relatively poor nation like Costa Rica has people who are happier and more satisfied than their anxious, depressed and neurotic northern neighbours in the United States.

Quote:
Any study of this type, as with medicine, would need placebo test subjects. This would determine how the test subjects interact with the opposite sex, same sex, peers, etc. Do they act the same as a general rule with everyone?
There are no ways to establish anything similar to a placebo in psychological and sociological research that is largely based on survey data. This would be a similar objection to the Altemeyer book I've referenced previously: The Authoritarians. His study of authoritarian movement leaders and followers is based on getting hundreds of subjects to do multiple choice and fill in the blanks tests anonymously and examine the data for correlations.

Quote:
I did not see anything about environment in either of the studies. How would the CEO of Citibank treat a $50k factory worker if they meet at a social event with the affluent and the not affluent? But put this same CEO at his child’s soccer game and the same $50k factor worker’s child is on the same team, how to they interact? How would they interact with each other at the same social function six months later if they struck up a relationship around the soccer games?

Just my opinion, but it seems they worked backwards from a preconceived opinion of the wealthy, then supported it by limiting the areas that needed tested by working backwards.
My guess would be that the CEO's kid and the child of the factory worker are not going to be on the same team in the first place! And if they did happen to be in the same social situation, the CEO would be avoiding eye contact and fiddling with whatever hand-held device he brought with him...just like that article said!
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Old October 10th, 2013, 11:03 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by work in progress View Post
I mentioned before, that in a true aristocracy, or perhaps in a military dictatorship also, wealth may not correlate completely with social power. But, if we're talking about a pure, or almost pure capitalist system which the modern day globalists are working their way towards, Money = Social Power!

And the only thing I see that might change or alter that equation is a return to true fascism...which may not be as far off as many people think, judging by what has been revealed so far about NSA espionage in collusion with other branches of the military and most disturbingly - certain corporations...mostly defense contractors, who appear to be doing their part of the NSA game to advance their own commercial interests. Anyway, if things progress on the present course, it is easy to see a situation developing where the State and its private business members, function as a dictatorship, and any self-important oligarch who challenges the state power in a similar manner as Russian oil billionaire - Mikael Kordorkovsky did 10 years ago, will also end up sitting in a prison cell!

When the state has the power to reward and punish oligarchs and monied interests, then certain government bureaucrats and agencies will be seen to have more social power than the richest man in the country....just like Russia!

I think you just answered your own question? I recall about 25 or more years ago, when we went to NYC to visit one of my cousins, who had recently started in a new IT job and was earning $60,000 a year. That was twice what I was making at the time. But, my cousin said that for him to live in a nice apartment in a secure building close to work meant that he didn't have enough money left over for frivolous things....like buying a car! It's not about the dollars in absolute terms, it's where your earnings are in relation to your peers and those higher than you in the economic hierarchy. If you ever check out the Equality Trust... which I reference frequently, they believe the reasons why income inequality leads to increases in just about every bad social indicator imaginable, is because most people judge their sense of self worth by comparing their earnings and material possessions with their perceived peers and those who are just ahead of them in income. As incomes become more stratified, there are fewer peers and more rivals -- people to catch up to, and people below us to keep in their place.

It's because of the psychological effects that supply side claptrap like "a rising tide raises all boats in the harbour" are meaningless bullshit. Even if the economic fundamentals of Trickle Down economics were valid, the damaging effects of income stratification would outweigh any positive effects of lower ranking people earning more money!

In international rankings, Pickett and Wilkinson have noticed that wellness indicators such as infant mortality, life expectancy, mental illness stats etc. show that a well functioning mid-ranking nation like Costa Rica, outperforms many nations with much higher average income levels - such as the United States, even though it's per capita GDP is about one third the U.S. number. This would indicate that once a threshold is reached in income...to provide for food, shelter, a basic comfortable living etc., what becomes most important is the levels of equality/inequality in the population. So a relatively poor nation like Costa Rica has people who are happier and more satisfied than their anxious, depressed and neurotic northern neighbours in the United States.


There are no ways to establish anything similar to a placebo in psychological and sociological research that is largely based on survey data. This would be a similar objection to the Altemeyer book I've referenced previously: The Authoritarians. His study of authoritarian movement leaders and followers is based on getting hundreds of subjects to do multiple choice and fill in the blanks tests anonymously and examine the data for correlations.


My guess would be that the CEO's kid and the child of the factory worker are not going to be on the same team in the first place! And if they did happen to be in the same social situation, the CEO would be avoiding eye contact and fiddling with whatever hand-held device he brought with him...just like that article said!

An economic system with the private ownership of production and distribution does not equate into social power. Wealth of certain individuals, whether gained from the free market, inheritance, or any other method, will be used to some degree for influence on society, but moderate income politicians can have as much influence on society as well. Grassroots movements have had the greatest broad-based influence on societies—Tea Party circa 2010.

The era of the Robber Barons saw unprecedented social influence by corporations, but was probably the most benevolent era for corporations as a ratio of their social influence in American history regarding the consumer.

I assume you are speaking about the Obama administration’s use of the state’s power to punish or reward with these agencies: IRS, Homeland Security, Park Service, National Labor Relations Board, White House, and the courts.

This was not addressed:

I did not see anything about environment in either of the studies. How would the CEO of Citibank treat a $50k factory worker if they meet at a social event with the affluent and the not affluent? But put this same CEO at his child’s soccer game and the same $50k factor worker’s child is on the same team, how to they interact? How would they interact with each other at the same social function six months later if they struck up a relationship around the soccer games?
You almost made it through without resorting baseless left wing hackneyed and stereotypical talking points. Let's try to keep this politically and ideology free: the race-baiters and sycophants have not chimed in as of yet, and it is interesting:
It's because of the psychological effects that supply side claptrap like "a rising tide raises all boats in the harbour" are meaningless bullshit. Even if the economic fundamentals of Trickle Down economics were valid, the damaging effects of income stratification would outweigh any positive effects of lower ranking people earning more money!
Let's pause with Pickett and Wilkerson regarding infant mortality rates and their comparison to other nations. They cannot be compared as neither can most things be compared across cultures:
The US is the one of the only countries that uses the full WHO definition of live birth and the other countries eliminate criteria. Switzerland uses only two of the four criteria. This allows these countries to use weight, gestation period, and length to classify a baby as not being born alive, and the US classifies the as born alive.
Quote:
There are no way to establish anything similar to a placebo in psychological and sociological research that is largely based on survey data. This would be a similar objection to the Altemeyer book I've referenced previously: The Authoritarians. His study of authoritarian movement leaders and followers is based on getting hundreds of subjects to do multiple choice and fill in the blanks tests anonymously and examine the data for correlations.
My example of a placebo affect was allegory in nature, but the study did not use a baseline:
This would determine how the test subjects interact with the opposite sex, same sex, peers, etc. Do they act the same as a general rule with everyone?

Quote:
My guess would be that the CEO's kid and the child of the factory worker are not going to be on the same team in the first place! And if they did happen to be in the same social situation, the CEO would be avoiding eye contact and fiddling with whatever hand-held device he brought with him...just like that article said!
You are broaching speculation and a general assumption of the behavior of an income group. Any select athletic team has kids from every walk of life.
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Old October 10th, 2013, 12:30 PM   #10
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Rich people care less???

Isn't THAT the whole freakin' POINT????????????
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