Affluenza, Compassion, Economic Class, Emotion, Ethics, Giving, Immorality, Kids, Kindness, Money, Morality, Poor, Poverty, Privilege, Psychology, Responsibility, Rich, Social Class, Spoiled, Status, Wealth
It’s important to raise kids to be caring, kind and have good morals; too bad these things don’t always correlate with being wealthy.
The average person grows up going through a fair amount of obstacles, dealing with mistakes and the disappointment of not always getting his way. A rich person (or a child with rich parents) can easily pay his way around obstacles, out of trouble and buy whatever he wants. When people don’t have to deal with life issues like these, they don’t learn to appreciate what it’s like to suffer. Therefore, they end up having less compassion towards others, sometimes to the extent that they have no regard for others at all.
Psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner ran studies that suggest that richer people have less regard for others than average/poor people; they observed that higher-class motorists (drivers of expensive, luxury cars) were more likely to cut off other drivers and pedestrians, even after making eye contact. They also observed that higher-class people were less likely to report feeling compassion when watching a video of children suffering from cancer. Piff attributes this lack of compassion to the feeling of independence that people get from having a lot of money: “The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings.” This may well have been the case with Ethan Couch.
In December of last year, 16-year-old Ethan Couch killed four people in Texas while driving drunk. He was driving 30 mph over the speed limit and his blood-alcohol level was three times the state’s legal limit for an adult. He was sentenced to a decade of probation; he didn’t receive any jail time because his defense argued that he suffers from “affluenza,” meaning his privileged upbringing made him unaware of the consequences of his actions. Although affluenza is obviously not a real medical condition, it appears that Couch’s privilege certainly made him immune to the consequences in this case. Who else but a VERY well-paid lawyer could convince a judge that someone should get away with murder because he’s too rich? And considering that this wasn’t the first time Couch got in trouble with alcohol, it seems that Couch’s parents haven’t done their part to steer him in the right direction.
Privileged members of society have an awesome responsibility to not only use their resources wisely, but to teach their heirs to do the same. If not, everyone has to pay.