Sunday, November 1, 2015

Wealth vs. Ethics

Are rich people more ethical than poor?  No. 

According to a string of new studies, it's clear that the farther up the money tree folks climb, the foggier they become about ethical issues.

Rich people are more likely to take candy from children, lie, cheat, endorse unethical behavior at work, and cut off pedestrians while driving, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  A report from researchers at the University of California-Berkeley came to similar conclusions.

There's nothing inherently wrong with having plenty of everything.  Trouble perhaps arises when one grasps at having more solely for the sake of having.  There's no need, and at the later stages, no reasonable use for more.  A $2M collection of cars, a $250M net worth; such are perhaps extremes.

The top 0.01% of Americans make an average of $27,000,000+. The bottom 90% make an average of $31,244. (2015)  The associated trends are reshaping our culture and communities.

Questions for individuals:  What are we willing to do to gain material wealth?  How much is enough?  How does that affect the values our children learn?

Questions for government:  Why should it be legal for the top 25 hedge fund managers to personally rake in $25B (average, a billion dollars each, more than enough for a hundred lifetimes) in the year following the Great Recession which they helped precipitate?  They've provided no benefit to society, no help to the economy, no good to the nation.  They've extracted wealth from the economy and given nothing in return.  Absolutely nothing.  Why should that be part of the nation's plan?
"Bill Gates (an unusual humanitarian) predicted that by 2035 there would be no more poor nations. However, this assertion is based on projected gross domestic product per person. This simply means that countries will produce more wealth. But if current trends continue, most of that wealth will be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands." 
For 35 years, the top 10% have gotten richer while the rest have lost ground.
Such a trend is troublesome, not because the rich get richer, but because they do
so at the expense of others.  The oppression is systemic, known, documented.

In America today 1 percent of the population owns about 43 percent of the wealth.  (20% owns 93%.)  So the question isn’t whether nations will accumulate more abundance. The question is what will become of this abundance.
"Capitalism has no inherent morality. However, it was thought that Christian virtue would not only temper capitalism’s natural excesses, but also guide abundance toward humanitarian purposes. Our history has shown that not to be the case. 
Capitalism’s inexorable drive for more and more accumulation has cast Christian virtue aside in exchange for a modern social morality that proclaims “I deserve all that I can acquire.”'        
 Victor Goode, associate professor at CUNY School of Law
There's perhaps room for us all to consider our position on such things.