Grred is good? Are Rich People Unethical?
Grred is good? Are Rich People Unethical?
Is greed good?
"Greed is a robust determinant of unethical behavior, according to the study."
Are Rich People Unethical? - ABC News
By Mikaela Conley
Feb 27, 2012 5:48pm
At last, an explanation for Wall Street's disgrace, Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme and other high-society crimes and misdemeanors: A new study published in the Proceedings of that National Academy of Sciences found that wealthier people were more apt to behave unethically than those who had less money.
Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley analyzed a person's rank in society (measured by wealth, occupational prestige and education) and found that those who were richer were more likely to cheat, lie and break the law than those who were poorer.
We found that it is much more prevalent for people in the higher ranks of society to see greed and self-interest as good pursuits, said Paul Piff, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Berkeley. This resonates with a lot of current events these days.
In the first of two studies, researchers found that those who drove more expensive cars (an admittedly questionable indicator of economic worth) were more likely to cut off other cars and pedestrians at a busy San Francisco four-way intersection than those who drove older, less-expensive vehicles.
In other experiments, wealthier study participants were more likely to admit they would behave unethically in a variety of situations and lie during negotiations. In another, researchers found wealthier people were more likely to cheat in an online game to win a $50 prize.
Greed is a robust determinant of unethical behavior, according to the study.
This has some pretty clear implications, said Piff. Inequality is very much on Americans minds, and the potential effects of severe inequality on individual levels of behavior are major.
Large sums of money may give people greater feelings of entitlement, causing those people to be the most averse to wealth distribution, Piff continued. Poorer people may be less likely to cheat, because they are more dependent on their community at large, he said. In other words, they don?t want to rock the boat.
People in power who are more inclined to behave unethically in the service of gains and self-interest can have great effects on society as a whole, said Piff.
And it's difficult to say whether richer people get to the top because of their unethical behavior or whether wealth causes people to become this way. It seems like a vicious cycle, he said.
Nevertheless, Piff said these results obviously don't apply to all wealthy people. He noted that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were among the wealthiest people in the world and also the most philanthropic. He also pointed to high rates of violent crime in the poorest neighborhoods in the country that counteract the study?s findings.
Piff said he hoped to further his research by figuring out ways to curb these patterns of behavior among wealthier individuals.
What it comes down to, really, is that money creates more of a self-focus, which may account for larger feelings of entitlement,? said Piff. ?We hope to further study how we can curb these patterns and how that will affect our social environment.
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Greed Is Good
The pursuit of self-interest benefits everyone.
John Stossel | October 24, 2012
On TV, my Fox colleague Bill O'Reilly says, "The recession was brought on largely by greedy Wall Street corporations."
Give me a break.
Bill's smart. If he believes such things, we who care about freedom have done a poor job communicating economics.
Blaming problems on "greed" is a mindless cliche.
Yes, Wall Street was greedy -- but that's nothing new. Greed is a constant. Did you ever turn down a raise? We need a free market because it restrains greed. Laws against theft and fraud help, but competition does more. With this election approaching, and statist, eager-to-regulate candidates in ascent, we need more Americans to understand this.
The statist left says it's government's job to protect consumers and help poor people. But greed -- more precisely, the pursuit of self-interest in the free market -- would work better. The market (if not corrupted by corporate welfare and bailouts) harmonizes the interests of diverse people who don't even know each other and might not even like each other. It motivates them to work hard to serve customers.
When markets are free (alas, ours is not; in America today, too often people "partner" with politicians and get rich through government), those who charge too much, or skimp on quality or service, lose money to competitors who serve people better.
What could be more humane? Nothing has done more than markets to lift people out of the mud and misery of primitive life.
But progressive blogger Sally Kohn argues: "We all have a little greed in us. The question is, what values do we hold alongside greed as a society ... so that we operate for the better good of everyone?"
What values? My vision of the "better good" may be different from hers. I don't want government to decide for me.
"Property rights constrain self-interest," libertarian economist Donald Boudreaux pointed out. "We're all self-interested. We care more about ourselves, our family and our loved ones than we care about strangers. ... The problem with government is that it is the institution that best allows people to grab more than what they deserve."
That's what happened under communism -- and increasingly, it's happening in America. As Joseph Sobran put it: "'Need' now means wanting someone else's money. 'Greed' means wanting to keep your own. 'Compassion' is when a politician arranges the transfer.'"
This is a threat to freedom and the route to stagnation.
Kohn rightly objects to "crony capitalism facilitated by government," but goes on to highlight government's "positive side ... values of community."
Whoa! "Community" is a loaded word. Statists misuse it to criticize individualism, as though the two don't coexist, as if, without government, people don't work together. But this is nonsense. Real communities emerge organically from individuals who volunteer to come together for common purpose. Communities are not created by government edict, which amounts to a threat of violence against peaceful people. As classical liberals like Herbert Spencer and F.A. Hayek taught, there is no conflict between individualism and social cooperation. These are two sides of the same coin of freedom. Individualists form families, clubs, charities, churches and softball leagues, and participate in thousands of voluntary communities.
But what about the poor? Kohn said government is needed to assure equality, just as parents make sure a cake is not unfairly divided among family members.
"The reality is ... we have fixed resources."
But we don't have fixed resources! Thanks to economic liberalization, 7 billion people on earth live better than ever. Poverty decreases. That should prove we don't have fixed resources. Rather than one cake or a fixed supply of cake, greedy entrepreneurs -- like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs -- make more and bigger cakes. Everyone gets richer. The producers, however greedy, are heroes.
Inequality is a product of freedom. When people are free, some will acquire much more than others. Forty years of reporting taught me that letting the wealthy indulge their greed protects consumers and helps poor people much more than government programs do. Just keep them away from government power.
The pursuit of self-interest -- greed, if you will -- benefits everyone. We should free the market and enjoy the prosperity.
Greed Is Good - Reason.com
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