The rich really are different

 Paul Ryan's poverty adviser is 77-year old Bob Woodson, a former social worker and civil rights activist who has advised conservatives on poverty policy for decades. He has some some strong opinions on the causes of poverty.

 the suggestion that discipline and personal responsibility alone might not be enough to guarantee success, Woodson reacted viscerally.

"Bullshit," he told HuffPost. "That's just bullshit."

 The modern GOP likes to talk about "modernizing and reforming" the social safety net, but in reality their solutions are nothing new. The exact same ideas were offered in the 1870's.

   The Republican Party proposals of today are simply an unvarnished version of the Scientific Charity Movement.

  Scientific charity built on Americans’ notion of self-reliance, limited government, and economic freedom. Proponents of scientific charity shared the poorhouse advocates’ goals of cutting relief expenses and reducing the number of able-bodied who were receiving assistance, as well as the moral reformers’ goal of uplifting people from poverty through discipline and religious education via private charity. In this model, individuals responded to charity and the government stayed out of the economic sphere.

 It's almost the exact same words that Republicans use today.

    Not surprisingly, Charity Organization Societies were generally opposed to unions.

If this description of Scientific Charity sounds like it fits into the idea of Social Darwinism, it's because it does. All failure is pushed onto the individual. The idea that there might be forces outside of the individual's control is rejected by faith.

   One of the founders of the movement, Josephine Lowell, believed that the poor should be given a "test", such as breaking stones, before receiving charity. She opposed alms giving.

  The other item to note from this description of Scientific Charity is the reliance on religious faith. Thus "Scientific" Charity is as much about science as intelligent design.

"It is not bread the poor need, it is soul; it is not soup, it is spirit."

  - historian Walter I. Trattner, "From Poor Law to Welfare State"

  The goal of Scientific Charity was about getting rid of "outdoor relief".

The way they wanted to address that was to eliminate the "undeserving poor". This concept of "undeserving poor" dates all the way back to 16th Century English Poor Laws.. Henry VIII created them to deal with the impoverished of England after he had seized all the monasteries, which operated the only charity system at the time, in order to sell the lands to wealthy and corrupt friends.

   Under the Poor Laws there were four classifications:

* The impotent poor could not look after themselves or go to work.

* The able-bodied poor normally referred to those who were unable to find work.

* The idle poor were of able body but were unwilling to work.

* Vagrants or beggars, sometimes termed "sturdy rogues", were those who could work but had refused to.

  The last group was normally treated with whippings, brandings, time in jail, and eventually hanging. Only the first group was considered worthy of assistance. Basically being poor was treated as a punishable crime for nearly a century.

   Today's Republican Party doesn't shy away from blaming the poor for their condition. Marvin Olasky, author of "The Tragedy of American Compassion," the book that Newt Gingrich so loved, had this to say: "Does that mean I'm blaming the victim? Yes and no."

  There is one element of actual science behind the Scientific Charity Movement, but it isn't what you might guess.

 But when it came to the defective, dependent, and delinquent classes, which was the label used to describe the insane, feeble-minded, blind, crippled, maimed, deaf and dumb, epileptic, criminal types, prostitutes, drug addicts, and alcoholics, the sincerity of their intentions to purely provide care to these individuals was overshadowed by the underlying goal of Eugenics.

   They didn’t want to see these poor, unfortunate souls suffering in squalor on the streets and in the poor houses but their ultimate objective of eradicating poverty and the financial drain that it caused on society resulted in the building of more asylums for the sole purpose of removing the defective classes from society so that they could not procreate. The Charity Organization Societies wanted to isolate the defective class in asylums in order to stop them from “breeding,”

 The Progressive Movement and muckraking journalism slowly began undermining the Scientific Charity Movement starting in the 1890's until it finally died out in the Great Depression.

For years the right-wing, and especially the wealthy elite, have been telling us that the poor are poor because the are lazy, because they are immoral, because they've gotten what they deserve.
Meanwhile the wealthy are living in luxury because they worked harder, because they didn't give into sin, because they are better.

The reality is exactly the opposite.

sociopath:A person with antisocial personality disorder. Probably the most widely recognized personality disorder. A sociopath is often well liked because of their charm and high charisma, but they do not usually care about other people. They think mainly of themselves and often blame others for the things that they do. They have a complete disregard for rules and lie constantly. They seldom feel guilt or learn from punishments.

  It may sound like a bold statement to say that most wealthy people are sociopaths, but in fact there is plenty of scientific evidence behind it.

   A recent NY Times article summed up a study as Rich people just care less. The report was bolstered by a 2008 report from University of Amsterdam and the University of California, Berkeley.

 A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain...The more powerful were less compassionate toward the hardships described by the less powerful.



This conclusion is far from unusual. Consider this list:

On 29 July 2010, Britain's Economist headlined "Wealth, Poverty and Compassion: The Rich Are Different from You and Me; They Are More Selfish,"

On 13 December 2010, Rich O'Hanlon of goodmenproject.com bannered "Study of the Day: Rich People Feel Less Empathy,"

On 26 January 2012, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS published "Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior,"

On 27 May 2013, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published "Social Class Rank, Essentialism, and Punitive Judgment."

A 2009 survey of 316 CEO's was compared to their company's performance.

 In other words, warm, flexible, team-oriented and empathetic people are less likely to thrive as C.E.O.’s.

 And finally there is this article from 2011.

  In multiple trials that involved both questionnaires and physical-response tests, the researchers found that young adults whose upbringing involved some degree of financial struggle were quicker and more likely to register signs of empathy than young adults who came from affluent backgrounds.

 Interestingly, the article refers back to a 2005 study that casts a great deal of light on why people who lack empathy seem to rise to the top of our capitalist system.

 if a stock trader suffers from some kind of emotional impairment -- that is, brain damage that prevents them from fully experiencing their own emotions -- it may allow them to make more profit on the market, since they can make decisions based more firmly in rationalism.

In fact the average stockbroker is more competitive than a diagnosed psychopath.

  There is a clear pattern showing in these scientific studies, and it is the opposite of the right-wing meme. To get to the top you need to be ruthless. Empathy, kindness and a firm set of morals to guide your behavior are traits of the lower classes, not the ruling class.

   The super wealthy are less empathetic and more likely to cheat than those in the working class.

  The growing income inequality means the wealthy rarely rub shoulders with the working poor, and its getting more rare.

   Because they rarely meet regular people it is easy for them to stereotype the poor.

  If you think that's simply some statement by a class war loser, think again. It's what the wealthy elite believeas well.

 In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.

 If anything, those numbers are low.

  If you think that is shocking, consider this: that at least one major bank is rumored to have actively sought out sociopaths.

A senior UK investment banker and I [were] discussing the most successful banking types we know and what makes them tick. I argue that they often conform to the characteristics displayed by social psychopaths. To my surprise, my friend agrees.

   He then makes an astonishing confession: “At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles.”

 So given that information, consider what it means in Washington, where half of the politicians are successful millionaires.

This sociopathy can be seen in today's politics.

 The insistence by some House Republicans in Congress on cutting financing for food stamps and impeding the implementation of Obamacare, which would allow patients, including those with pre-existing health conditions, to obtain and pay for insurance coverage, may stem in part from the empathy gap.

  It's hard to believe that the politician you supported could have fooled you. That there must have been a reason why he appears to betray his supporters.

   But in fact, the average politician has many of the personality traits seen in the violent criminal underground.

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Comments

Thiel’s eponymous foundation funds, among other things, an institute to advance the ideas of a conservative Stanford academic, René Girard, under whom Thiel studied as an undergraduate. In 2012 Thiel delivered a lecture at Stanford that explained his views regarding the divine rights of Silicon Valley CEOs. The lecture did address some of Girard’s ideas about historical “mimetics,” but it also contained a heavy dose of Moldbuggian thought. Thiel says:
A startup is basically structured as a monarchy. We don’t call it that, of course. That would seem weirdly outdated, and anything that’s not democracy makes people uncomfortable. We are biased toward the democratic-republican side of the spectrum. That’s what we’re used to from civics classes. But the truth is that startups and founders lean toward the dictatorial side because that structure works better for startups.
Might a dictatorial approach, in Thiel’s opinion, also work better for society at large? He doesn’t say so in his Stanford lecture (although he does cast tech CEOs as the heirs to mythical “god-kings” such as Romulus). But Thiel knows where to draw the line in mixed company. Ordinary people get so “uncomfortable” when powerful billionaires start talking about the obsolescence of participatory government and “the unthinking demos,” as he put it in his Cato essay. Stupid proles! They don’t deserve our brilliance! “The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom,” Thiel wrote.

Mouthbreathing Machiavellis

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Hawkfish's picture

Theil has no clue what he is talking about. I've worked at several over the years, and I can assure you that for the most part, successful ones are made up of team players. The ones that failed tended to be run by autocrats. The one counter example I can think of is Amazon, which is run by the Dread Pirate Bezos, but that is an outlier. Even Apple was defined by the dynamic between Jobs and Wozniak.

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We may find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud.
- Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away

detroitmechworks's picture

The rich don't die in the wars they start and perpetuate for their own benefit.

At least with an Aristocracy there is an expectation that they will actually serve their people. (Only reason I have any respect for the British Royals at all... The Prince served.)

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16 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

TheOtherMaven's picture

It may have been the old Queen Mum's influence (she was a commoner, albeit from a wealthy and influential family), but each and every one of her children (and at least some of their mates) had a secondary trade they could fall back on if they had to.

QEII probably hasn't forgotten what she learned as an automobile mechanic in World War II (and still drives herself whenever she's allowed to). And she's a successful Corgie breeder too.
Her sister Margaret knew a bit about photography, but never had to take it seriously.
Prince Philip would be snapped up by the Naval hierarchy in a split-second, at least as an advisor if not a flag officer.
Prince Charles, ditto, IIRC.
Princess Anne knows more about horses and horsemanship than any three (at least) other people in the kingdom. (She was on at least one UK Olympic equitation team.)

The tradition can, at least in theory, be traced back to Queen Elizabeth I, who made the claim that she could make do and survive if she were turned out of the kingdom in her shift - and given her strength of will, she probably could have. (The Stewarts and Hanovers did little to test the theory, Charles I doing particularly abysmally; but Charles II did successfully scrounge for nine years of exile and was reputed to be a pretty savvy entrepreneur.)

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Bollox Ref's picture

and his Queen Henrietta Maria while he was a captive.

Poor king he might of been, but the love is apparent.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

were largely fought between nobles.
Wars such as the Crusades, the Baron's War, the War of the Roses and the Hundred Years War were fought by armies made up of kings, lords, and their direct employees (i.e. thugs).

It wasn't until the 17th Century until you started seeing armies of peasants.

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TheOtherMaven's picture

It takes years of training and constant practice to make a decent archer (which is why they were mainly recruited from the yeoman class, where they had enough spare time to do this), and even a foot soldier had to put in a lot of training time with sword and shield (including close-order shield drill).

Muskets, on the other hand, only take a few weeks of training and anybody can be taught to point the business end in the general direction of the target (the guns' accuracy was lousy anyway).

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

MarilynW's picture

in history along with rising displacement, poverty and homelessness.

"The rich take their ease on the backs of the poor" or as I saw in a tweet today, "Trump and friends are going to strip the US for spare parts."

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Bollox Ref's picture

Fulk V, Count of Anjou, resigned his countship to his son Geoffrey Plantagenet......... to become King of Jerusalem in the 12thC.

Didn't work out so well.

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3 users have voted.

Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

TheOtherMaven's picture

He got to marry Henry I of England's daughter Matilda, and although he himself was never able to claim the English crown, their son (Henry II) did. And a very memorable king he was.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Lily O Lady's picture

can only be trusted to do what's best for themselves. They have no concern for our well-being. That is why they can't be trusted to lead us as climate change really begins to take off. They believe their personal wealth and power will provide the technology and security they will need to survive what is coming.

The dystopian scenarios I've seen have a privileged class that lives in luxurious comfort even as most suffer and die. These are the pipe dreams of the 1%. They may be unpleasantly surprised when nature fails to conform to their expectations.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Centaurea's picture

The dystopian scenarios I've seen have a privileged class that lives in luxurious comfort even as most suffer and die. These are the pipe dreams of the 1%. They may be unpleasantly surprised when nature fails to conform to their expectations.

Plus, who would be left to take care of the 1%? Who would cook and clean for them, and produce and deliver all of the things they "need"? Or do they think those things somehow just magically appear in their lives and will continue to magically appear, no matter what?

(I'm thinking here of Chelsea Clinton's remark that she's tried and tried, but just can't make herself care about money.)

Members of the servant class (and I'll include Bob Woodson in that category of servility and obseqiousness) must believe they'll keep on riding the 1% coattails forever. But how could the 1% possibly think they could keep enough of us underlings alive to keep them living in their accustomed luxurious manner? They couldn't.

They're not thinking. They don't think. This fact -- their apparent inability to see the reality of the world around them, to self-reflect, to perceive and acknowledge any one else's needs and thoughts outside their own, and to consider possible consequences of their actions -- will eventually be their undoing. It is indeed mentally disordered. Narcissistic, sociopathic, whatever other labels from the DSM-V might apply; these people are seriously damaged at some fundamental level of their psyches.

Edited to add: What hangers-on such as Bob Woodson are doing is called "enabling". They are enabling the 1% in their dysfunctional behavior. They're enabling the entire dysfunctional system in which the 1% operates.

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

PriceRip's picture

          No credible writer would ever try to construct a dystopia sans a majority constituency consisting of the great unwashed. Such a construct would strain credulity beyond the breaking point.

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

detroitmechworks's picture

"Old Twentieth"

Essentially the rich get eternal life genetic treatment, then kill everybody else via Viral warfare when it becomes clear the "great unwashed" are going to massacre the immortals because not only are they rich and powerful, but they're NEVER going to die now...

While I normally like Haldeman's work, this one was pretty uncomfortable to read. I couldn't identify with the protagonist, because the entire plotline was based on the cold blooded murder of 99% of humanity.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

PriceRip's picture

          I have never read that particular story. The "live forever elite supported only by automatons" just isn't realistic. Such a plot device is not sustainable. Too many droids and the story becomes silly. But whatever its motivation, the author wasn't trying to construct a realistic future. Every, well constructed, realistic dystopian novel has plenty of the 99% present.

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3 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Song of the lark's picture

Chop their heads.

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PriceRip's picture

          There is an irreducible number of people that will refuse to take responsibility for their failure to succeed. There is an irreducible number of people that will continue to panhandle rather than get a job. I know this because I have experience within that segment of society. Some grifters are not particularly good at the craft so I am occasionally a "mark" in "that part" of town, and things get a bit awkward.

          If you belligerently focus on that irreducible segment of society, your understanding of the human condition will never be challenged and it becomes very easy to trivialize the boundary between the "I won't segment" and the "I can't segment" of society. Even if you know what I know, that boundary can be difficult to discern. Unfortunately, most social workers have difficulty distinguishing that boundary. I have seen this happen far too often.

          People like Bob Woodson don't care to be discerning and no amount of explaining will ever convince them of the truth. So while I am seldom a "mark", Bob Woodson would let The Little Match Girl freeze to death.

Editorial Note: That was one of the first stories I heard as a child, and it still has the same affect on me.

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5 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

TheOtherMaven's picture

See Terry Pratchett's Hogfather for a hilarious, biting take on that particular tale. (He also sends up "Good King Wenceslas" and other Christmas carols and stories.)

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Thanks for the link - have watched about half and will watch the rest when my roommate isn't trying to sleep in the next room. Gotta love Terry Pratchett!

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Jordan Goes BONKERS on "Governor DAPL"

Wonder what the response will be when 2,000 vetrans show up at Standing Rock to protect the water protectors?

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6 users have voted.
Lenzabi's picture

I really feel there should be mental evaluations for political leaders. The business world is likely to stay as it is. Many of the wealthy do not see that it was a network of friends and family that helped them launch effectively. or for the very wealthy, family estate handed down generation-generation.

They really ought to try a year living in poverty,,,no safety bolt of access to their richy-rich accounts, nor their monster homes or other luxuries, make them get a Mc-job and pay rent/food/clothes/utilities, etc from that less than 20k a year check. It may have an impact on some, others it may still not sink in. BUT it could save on a bloody revolt and them prepping by having security forces that cost them on top of other expenses.

I did the work your ass off, save, and all that crap, but at minimum wage, very little is left over to save, and that is not counting a disaster such as a car accident, or loss of computer, or hospital visit that can ruin what savings you may have had. I could not, no matter how hard I tried, get better than 18k a year and saw rents go higher, utilities get more expensive, gas and insurance for the car climb, all things got pricier faster than the pay could handle, and raises were paltry pennies per hour, not dollars!

Fuck the rich! Lock them in nuthouses and redistribute their ill gotten gains, as they have made their wealth on the back s of the rest of us. We are living in a dystopia right now, it is no longer science fiction, the buggers used 1984 as a training manual and not the warning Orwell was trying to make a statement with. I am personally tired of the rich man's excuses, they got rich by ruthless exploitation of others to downright blood thirsty cut-throatery! No honest dollars in the banks of the rich, they, their past ancestors all stole, murdered, railroaded, or exterminated others to get where they sit atop our society and we more the fools for admiring them, and supporting their lavish lifestyles as they sink us and other nations further into destruction.

Been a while since I commented, and apologies if folks did not care for some of my more colorful language, but truth can be painful. Why do we allow such criminals to rule us? This sort of thing is a thousands of years old mystery.

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So long, and thanks for all the fish

k9disc's picture

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

It cries out for your prescription.

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

Lenzabi's picture

Thank you for the link!

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So long, and thanks for all the fish