Turd Privilege

February 28, 2012

Wealth can indeed make one an asshole.
A new study indicates when a person has more, he will take more: Those findings led to a series of experiments that revealed that people of higher socioeconomic status were also more likely to cheat to win a prize, take candy from children and say they would pocket extra change handed to them in error rather than give it back.

(Illustration found here).

Even Gordon Gekko can supposedly see the light — Michael Douglas cuts an ad for the FBI and plays up the sham of integrity amongst wealthy thieves: “Our economy is increasingly dependent on the success and the integrity of the financial markets,” Douglas continues. “If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
Going beyond a jail cell — how about death for cheating financial shits.
In China it’s a near-go.
From the BBC:

In 2009, at the age of 28, multi-millionaire Wu Ying was sentenced to death for illegal fundraising.
Last week, however, the Supreme Court of China stated publicly that her sentence would be reviewed “cautiously.”

She was initially charged with “illegally absorbing deposits from the public”, but charges later escalated to financial fraud — and more specifically – fraudulent fundraising.

A little tough on the money grabbers, though.
A good idea would be to put the assholes to work in a scheme similar to the old chain gangs — have the sonofabitches clean up the US of A.

No death penalty here for financial cheating, and apparently no justice either.
Money talks, legalities/ethics/morals take a long walk.
Barry Ritholtz in a piece in last Sunday’s Washington Post takes a look at the recent foreclosure settlement and the lack therefore of any kind of justice.
A few choice bits:

After many months of wrangling, a foreclosure settlement has been reached between 49 state attorneys general and a consortium of banks.
It is an epic failure of law and a triumph for bank attorneys.
Then there’s the “math.”
The number touted is $26 billion, but that’s wildly misleading.
At most, it’s $6 billion, paid out by a consortium of banks.
The other $20 billion is for capital write-downs for delinquent homeowners that were going to happen anyway.
These were homes that the banks anticipated taking a $50 billion-to-$100 billion hit on.
Only now, they get a tax benefit for it.
As far as the U.S. housing market goes, the impact will be minimal.
About one out of five mortgages are underwater — meaning the house is worth less than is owed on it. Today, more than 11 million mortgages are underwater.
The settlement won’t affect the majority of these homes.
Depending on which analysis you believe, the borrowers who receive a principle write-down will get $2,000 to $20,000 off their mortgage.
This will not appreciably change the situation for most borrowers.
They owe many tens of thousands more than the house is worth; some are hundreds of thousands of dollars behind in payments.
Most will be as likely to default after this write-down as before.
The impact on the overall underwater-mortgage issue is almost nonexistent.
The bigger issue is the economics of criminality.
Most people who get caught committing crimes are punished.
Commit a felony — if you run a bank — and your shareholders pay a monetary fine.
Violating the law has merely become the banker’s cost of doing business.

And so it goes.

Yet let’s take a closer look at the little study on rich folks acting like assholes — from msnbc:

He (Paul Piff, a doctoral candidate and the study’s lead author) got the idea for the study watching people cut others off at a four-way intersection.
His sense was that the most aggressive drivers were the ones with the most expensive cars.
To test this, his first experiment tabulated the behavior of 274 drivers at that same intersection.
Sure enough, drivers of expensive cars were the most likely to cut others off, he found.
In a second, related, experiment, Piff and his colleagues again watched drivers — this time to see whether people with expensive vehicles were more likely to breeze past pedestrians in a crosswalk.
In California, vehicles are supposed to yield when someone is in the crosswalk.
Once again, drivers of expensive cars were more likely to behave badly.
While there are examples of rich people who are especially generous — think Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — money seems to have a deleterious effect on ethics in most cases, Piff says.
The solution?
He suggests mandatory ethics classes for people studying economics and business.

Not only will the 1 percent take a baby’s candy, they’d run over your ass in a crosswalk.
And today poor, dumb-ass folks in Michigan and Arizona will get to pick their most favorite asshole — good fortune with that, but always keep at least one hand on your wallet.

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