Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Irony About Our Wealth Purity Codes

In my last entry I wrote about the purity codes of biblical times and how they still seem to be in operation when it comes to our view of the wealthy and the poor.  "Being wealthy does not automatically make a person 'pure' but it gives the person the assumption of purity.  A rich person is assumed to be clean, well mannered, smart and moral until proven otherwise. A poor person, on the other hand, lives with the assumption of 'impurity.'  He is assumed to be unintelligent, less capable, unclean and less moral until proven otherwise."  (Thus we have politicians recommending drug testing for welfare recipients.)

A follow up to this comes from a story in today's Bloomberg.  Researchers have found, in contrast the the assumption of purity, that the rich are more likely to cheat, lie and steal.  According to Paul Piff:

“A $50 prize is a measly sum to people who make $250,000 a year,” he said in a telephone interview. “So why are they more inclined to cheat? For a person with lower socioeconomic status, that $50 would get you more, and the risks are small.”

Poorer participants may be less likely to cheat because they must rely more on their community to get by, and thus are more likely adhere to community standards, Piff said. By comparison, “upper-class individuals are more self-focused, they privilege themselves over others, and they engage in self- interested patterns of behavior,” he said.