(R)ich people are more likely to think about themselves. “They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic,” said Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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.

“I will quote from the Tea Party hero Ayn Rand: “‘It is the morality of altruism that men have to reject,’” he said.  (source)

Are rich people heartless because they are rich or does being rich make them heartless. What do YOU think?

Tags: heartlessness, wealth

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I wondered how long it would take for someone to do the old "Well, they're not all that way."

Yeah, I think we knew that.

I'm not sure why you would include Bill Gates on the list.  I think it's great that he's doing some good things with his wealth, but he didn't exactly ride into his net worth on the philanthropy ticket.  I know this thread is about heartlessness, and I readily concede that I don't know what he is like as a person, but if I'm not mistaken, Microsoft was as rough customer as any in the business world when he was running the show (and still is now), and the end result was $61 billion in his favour.  It is true that by dollar values and influence he gives a lot, but relative to the expendable income he has, he gives far less than most people I know.   Faaaaaaaaaaaar less.  That's not a criticism mind you.  I just have a hard time putting him solidly on the positive side of the equation.

The question (does wealth make one heartless) could fairly be addressed to Melinda Gates as well. There's certainly evidence that Bill has been a fairly tough businessman, but I don't know that she has ever been described as heartless. (Certainly the folks I knew who met her during a grant application process did not describe her thusly.) By all accounts, she was the driving force behind creating the foundation,  and selecting the major focus areas. As far as giving in relation to income - I think they're approaching having given away half that $60b. Sure, that leaves $30b wiggle room, but 'relative to expendable income' - half is a lot more than most folks.

It's rumoured that they are gunning for 95% over the long run, but I don't really think you can waive away the expendable income portion.  Using myself as as an example, if I give away any more than  2-4% of my gross income per year, that results in debt, and this doesn't take into account that one of the things that raises my cost of living is paying a premium for good that, to the best of my knowledge are more ethical than cheaper alternatives. Even then, I still struggle with the fact that the disparity between my living standard and that of many people in my community, in my city, in my province, in my country and in the world.  While I can't commit to saying that Bill, Melinda, or even myself are bad or 'heartless', I think we all possess some degree of callousness and insensitivity, at the very least where wealth is concerned.

I get what you're saying - and completely agree. When you said 'relative to expendable income,' I interpreted that as a percentage of income. But your description clarifies.

Looking back, it was sloppy word choice on my part.  My apologies.  I define my expendable income for my personal finances as the amount remaining after living expenses and necessities, but more correctly it means the income remaining after taxes.

I made friends with a woman I worked with. She told me she married a very wealthy man and she thought she was better than everybody that did not have as much money as she. She didn't even want to talk to you unless you had expensive rings on your fingers.

She said her nose was permanently stuck up in the air. But then she got older and got divorced and got screwed in the divorce and ended up poor and homeless. She changed. She's a very nice person. I can't imagine her being as she described. She said losing all the money changed her to be a better person.

I realize everybody's story is different. Just thought I'd share this. Most of the wealthy people I have known had no idea what it is like to be poor and this made them annoying to me.

I think that is a really cool story Mabel.  We just aren't emotionally connected to those who aren't close enough to our circle. I think it is similar to how it is hard to be distraught over the death of a person you don't know.  But if you had have known the same person, it would have been a terrible tragedy.  It isn't that we are unfeeling though that we don't feel it for people we don't know.  It is just a limitation we have as people.  I think the same thing is in play here with wealth and being out of touch.

Years ago, about 30 years, I meet a older man at a stock holders meeting. He wore this huge gold watch, white shoes, a nice suit and a white hat. The meeting was concerning a new waste processing technolgy that used pressurized steam for pyrolosis.

Over drinks he asked me 'Well putts, what do want to be when you grow up, you want to be a garbage man?' I was about 27 at the time, and in my first professional job. I said 'reasonably well off'.

The fellow had gold mines in the Hudson's Bay area and had, by his reconing $16 million in assets. He was also a High Shriner that dressed up as a clown to entertain kids at their hospital.

I still feel slitely hurt by the term 'putts', but in some circles it can be a term of endearment..;p).

30 years latter, it is rather obvious that 'reasonably' well off is not quite happening...    


James - RE: "'reasonably' well off is not quite happening"

I'd suppose that would depend on the scale you use for calculating. I am loved, and that's enough for me.

@James Cox

Are you sure you didn't hear him call you a "putz"?

This word means "A putz is a numbnuts who hasn't a clue that s/he is so so so very dumb or clueless. A true putz is not only stupid or completely 'out of it', but s/he is also aggressive or combative about his/her totally inept decision-making." (source)

Of COURSE it was "putz," but I didn't feel any need to point that out to him - interesting that you did. I'm sure he feels much better about the incident, now that you've enlightened him --


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