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Rich A-hole Syndrome


Jurgis
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Good article.

 

Its probably as much on point as anything Ive read. People tend to need to keep up with peer groups and there is a certain human desire to be recognized and have status. I find this stuff to be toxic to the well being of a person and counter productive when trying to live what I consider to be a good balanced life.

 

Well before even starting to work I determined what would be important in my life; my family, and in general just trying to be a good person who lives modestly and sets a good example. Being in NYC and around "peers" I saw as the equivalent as living in a house full of asbestos. Same as the guys in the article when it came to Silicon Valley. Just constant running in the hamster wheel and too much is never enough. The shallowness of constant materialism and degree to which people(particularly in the financial biz) place value and self worth into the amount of money one has; I wanted no part of this pathetic "sport". Over the years Ive even had some pretty generous offers to jump back into the wheel, but there isn't an amount of money that's worth sacrificing the things the are really important. Especially if you already have the things you need and don't live extravagantly. There isn't a person on the planet who shouldn't be able to live on $5,000-$10,000 after tax dollars per month. When you look at guys like Buffett, yea they won the money game, but even by Warren's own admission, he was a shitty father and husband. People just need to decide which they want to be great at. Staying humble and reminding oneself what they desire is easier when you live normally and see the pure gratitude when you tip a bartender $20, vs going out on the town with your colleagues and seeing who can rack up the bill with the most zeros as part of some pathetic competition to show off who can act like large and meaningful amounts of money are meaningless...

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Yup - thank you for posting that article Jurgis - it's a good one.

 

After 30 years in software sales (15 as a rep, 15 as a manager) - you see this rat race and lack of empathy.

The arrogance and elitism that results is frightening.

 

And then I see the same types in my neighborhood berate the Mexican landscapers and Polish housecleaners for a better price and

are so proud of themselves when the beat them down - and brag about it.

 

And I ask myself - "are they cheap? or do they just love to win?" - I think this article answers that question.

 

Thanks for passing it on.

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I was at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok & had stopped in a stall to buy some wind chimes.

They were nice little ceramic designs & came wrapped in paper with handwritten Thai messages.

 

Simple & elegant gifts.

 

There was a sign stating the price for one, with a discount for three.

 

I was getting a couple of dozen & the guy tried to give a bigger discount but I politely refused because they were already cheap as hell.

Thai merchants often offer discounts without even being asked, if you're kind & are buying in quantity or if they recognize you from before.

 

While the guy was bagging up my chimes, a woman stopped in & was all irate that she didn't get immediate attention.

Then she proceeded to hammer the guy over the purchase of one chime.

 

I told her she was chiseling the guy for the equivalent of about $0.25 & she acted like I was a liar.

 

I've seen this over & over, especially with hotel receptionists where the rich "farang" isn't getting their way & resorts to being a twat.

 

These are the times we live in & it's probably been the same throughout history with relatively wealthy individuals.

 

I'd be willing to bet these types are non-existent on cobf.

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Guest cherzeca

"A wealthy friend of mine recently told me, “You get successful by saying yes, but you need to say no a lot to stay successful.”

 

this is true. no is the most powerful word in the English language.  it is hard to know how to wield this power.  I for one dont begrudge anyone who uses it unwisely, since I live in a glass house.  how about you?

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Looks like the link to the piece was broken. Here's another.  https://www.wired.com/story/why-are-rich-people-so-mean/

 

Years ago I came across some research about rejection. The literature on the cost to the rejected individual is pretty broad, and it is widely accepted that rejection can have an emotional, psychological and physical health impact on the rejected party. A rejected person may be more likely to become socially isolated which will just compound the problem. We are social creatures and we have over time likely depended on others for our survival, so rejection and isolation are very painful.

 

What is interesting is the smaller field of research on the people who reject others. Most people cannot comfortably inflict pain on others, and rejection frequently clearly causes pain and distress for the rejected. So it shouldn't be surprising that it can be difficult for everyone to fire someone from an job or to end a romantic relationship. Breaking up really is hard to do. None of that should be surprising, but where it gets really interesting is what happens to the rejectors.

 

You might assume that someone who has to do a lot of rejecting might become more sensitive to the suffering of the rejected and develop more compassion and more sympathy, but generally it is the opposite. The mind of the rejector might prefer to minimize its own suffering, so reaction formation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaction_formation) comes to the rescue. Instead of becoming more compassionate, the rejectors become more dismissive and more isolated. They are more likely to feel the rejected deserve to be rejected and that they are highly skilled at determining who deserves to be rejected, even if there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Also, though you might expect the rejector to try to engage in rejecting fewer people to balance out their guilt, instead they frequently start rejecting even more people. Sometimes you will see someone who has to reject people for a living then starts to reject people they are not required to such as coworkers or people from their private lives.  In some professions it can lead to an insider's gallows humor as people start to protect themselves from the discomfort of rejecting people.

 

Does this sound familiar? Can you see a connection to the article?

 

As an  example of reaction formation, think about someone who feels guilty for cheating on a romantic partner. You might imagine that they would be extra nice, or bring flowers to assuage their guilt. In fact they are more likely to blame the victim and lash out at them in anger. They also are more likely to falsely accuse them of also cheating. If the innocent romantic partner retaliates and is nasty or mean in return, it actually makes the guilty partner feel better and the offender feels they were justified in their cheating actions because they can now point to the innocent partners angry behavior. This is all reaction formation. So if someone starts acting very belligerent and accuses people falsely, it actually could be a sign they are feeling guilty.

 

With respect to the Wired article on why rich people so mean, as they isolate themselves, it is easy for the process to become self-reinforcing and to continue to be more and more isolating. When you think about it, as someone tries to isolate themselves in a privileged environment in order insulate themselves from privation, they are simultaneously rejecting others members of society and isolating themselves. This can become a feedback loop. Eventually, someone who started off a connected, social creature could end up an isolated, anti-social creature as described in the article.

 

I agree with DooDilligence that many people I have met through CoB&F are extremely kind and generous people and many have great examples to follow of how to be fine member of society. I also think if someone understands the value of community, the costs of rejection (to both the rejected and the rejector), and the concept of reaction formation, then that person has an even better chance of not ending up on the wrong side of this slippery slope.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaction_formation

 

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There is some an interesting implication for politics here, as there is a tendency for super rich to get involved more so in the US than anywhere else. Not all of them are A$$holes, but some of them are. We probably should caution the motives to “serve the country” a bit in general. It may just be another way to assert status and power in some cases.

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There is some an interesting implication for politics here, as there is a tendency for super rich to get involved more so in the US than anywhere else. Not all of them are A$$holes, but some of them are. We probably should caution the motives to “serve the country” a bit in general. It may just be another way to assert status and power in some cases.

 

Ya think?

 

;)

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Guest longinvestor

Great topic. It corroborates one behavior I see everyday while driving. Like this article says 4 out of 5 times it’s the swanky car that cuts in at the very last minute at every lane merge. I am fairly certain that one day I will be involved in an Insurance event with one of these AH’s.

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There is some an interesting implication for politics here, as there is a tendency for super rich to get involved more so in the US than anywhere else. Not all of them are A$$holes, but some of them are. We probably should caution the motives to “serve the country” a bit in general. It may just be another way to assert status and power in some cases.

:P

You could say the same about politicians. Unless that’s who you were referring too  :P

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I see many PAHs and MAHs in addition to RAHs when I drive (P= poor, M= middle class). I think AH-ness is a normal probability distribution independent of wealth. People notice RAHs more because they drive nicer cars in general. Also one cannot ignore the sub-conscious envy/jealousy factor at work. RAH may bother people more than a MAH or PAH.

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Enjoyed the article and the responses.

 

As I have gotten older I really have a ton of respect for the super rich who remain humble. 

Maybe it is best to live your life materialistically like a middle class person even if you can afford more - old car, moderate size house, basic foods and restaurants, fly coach, etc.  I little discomfort now and then makes one tougher and humbler.

 

The other thing that I run into a lot is essentially people engaged in legal theft from others.  It is disgusting and lacks character.  And for what - a little bit of coin. 

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I see many PAHs and MAHs in addition to RAHs when I drive (P= poor, M= middle class). I think AH-ness is a normal probability distribution independent of wealth. People notice RAHs more because they drive nicer cars in general. Also one cannot ignore the sub-conscious envy/jealousy factor at work. RAH may bother people more than a MAH or PAH.

 

An ass from any other financial class would smell as shit.

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I see many PAHs and MAHs in addition to RAHs when I drive (P= poor, M= middle class). I think AH-ness is a normal probability distribution independent of wealth. People notice RAHs more because they drive nicer cars in general. Also one cannot ignore the sub-conscious envy/jealousy factor at work. RAH may bother people more than a MAH or PAH.

 

Poor and middle class assholes are easier to dismiss. Rich assholes live rent free in your head because jealousy is also involved.

 

This is why people remember the Benz that cuts them off when merging lanes, but not the 1989 Toyota Corolla.

 

Assholes are probably evenly distributed amongst the wealth groups, as are (I would wager) most personality characteristics.

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I've met one rich asshole. I've met plenty of middle class assholes. And I've met even more poor assholes. And in most cases I've seen the richer people get the less assholish they become and vice versa. As my friend has gotten poorer he has become a bigger asshole. My cousin on the other hand has become much less of an asshole the older and richer he has gotten.

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Everyone appears to be an asshole to someone else.

 

There's plenty of opportunities to be an asshole.

 

Everyone knows at least one asshole.

 

Wealthy assholes get more visibility.

 

--

 

Some parting thoughts on the subject from Zappa.

 

 

Ram it,

Ram it,

Ram it,

Ram it up your poop shoot.

 

Don't fool yourself girl,

it's going right up your poop chute.

 

(Frank sure knew how to write lyrics, huh?)

 

---

 

If your lucky, and enjoy this classic all the way to the end,

Wynona's Big Brown Beaver by Primus might play.

 

---

 

edit:

 

Oh snap, speaking of assholes, "Too Many Puppies" played right after BBB.

Les Claypool's got me thinking about taking up the bass.

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I see many PAHs and MAHs in addition to RAHs when I drive (P= poor, M= middle class). I think AH-ness is a normal probability distribution independent of wealth. People notice RAHs more because they drive nicer cars in general. Also one cannot ignore the sub-conscious envy/jealousy factor at work. RAH may bother people more than a MAH or PAH.

 

Poor and middle class assholes are easier to dismiss. Rich assholes live rent free in your head because jealousy is also involved.

 

This is why people remember the Benz that cuts them off when merging lanes, but not the 1989 Toyota Corolla.

 

Assholes are probably evenly distributed amongst the wealth groups, as are (I would wager) most personality characteristics.

 

On the one hand, I could probably point you to the original article and point out that the study in question actually took steps to eliminate bias and had some amount of rigor to eliminate an availability bias such as you are suggesting (the Benz illicit jealousy, therefore that memory is more available when trying to recall bad behavior). I was able to quickly find the original study, confirm that they did take several steps to eliminate bias and randomize the study. Further they conducted multiple similar experiments (a failing to yield to pedestrians at a stop sign experiment and a cutting other motorists off at an intersection experiment).

 

On the other hand, there are several easy ways I can come up with to support your argument. First and foremost, is the old adage that correlation is not causality. Maybe instead of the drivers of luxury cars being at fault, it's the cars themselves:

  • Luxury cars might be more isolating and therefore make a driver more likely to ignore a pedestrian or another driver.
  • Maybe luxury cars tend to have higher performance and therefore make aggressive driving more available to the driver.
  • Driving a luxury car is an action not a personality trait, so what should any correlation tell us about the driver instead of the car?
  • I regularly drive a car that the experimenters might classify as a beater. I also drive a car they likely would classify as luxury. Does my personality vary from day to day depending on which car I'm driving?
  • I feel other drivers and pedestrians react differently depending on which car I am driving. How does that impact the behavior of luxury car drivers?

 

Another peculiar aspect of the study is that when it was first conducted, Toyota Priuses were still new, were still a way of value signaling and were still selling at way above list price. Rather appropriately, Priuses were lumped in with luxury cars, but that is actually a bit of a confounding factor. Other studies have attempted to show that Prius owners felt pius for owning a eco-friendly car and subconsciously engaged in a compensating effect which basically returned them to an equilibrium closer to the norm. Here are two examples of what I mean.

 

Prius drivers might have felt more pius for driving a Prius and therefore felt comfortable engaging in other less socially acceptable behaviors such as rude or aggressive driving. There was also a sense at the time that Prius drivers were speeding more than other drivers and that prompted studies to test that belief. Sure enough the studies showed that Prius drivers were speeding more than other drivers. The studies postulated that drivers felt that not only were they pius enough to excuse a little bit of speeding, but the cars were so energy efficient that it was ok to reduce that efficiency by speeding and getting lower gas mileage at a higher average speed. Including these pius Prius drivers among the luxury cars might throw off the results.

 

Here's a blog post that points out some of the problems with these studies.

 

https://www.exploringtheproblemspace.com/new-blog/2018/8/30/social-scientists-and-political-bias-the-case-of-rich-people-and-their-driving-habits

 

Finally, to make an appeal to authority, I give you South Park's thoughts on the subject:

 

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6f77ol

 

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Since we are using poetic language:

 

When driving, everyone driving faster than you (and cutting you off) is an a-hole. And everyone driving slower than you (and who you cut off) is a moron.

 

Wise observation.

 

I drive relatively slow in comparison to other traffic.

 

It's a holdover from a DUI (over a decade ago) & me driving on a suspended license & not wanting to get pulled over.

 

I noticed that I was a lot calmer in traffic as a result, so it stuck with me.

 

I get tailgated a LOT, even though I'm usually doing 3 to 5 mph over the speed limit.

 

Many times, the tailgater will furiously whip around me & the vast majority of the time I pull up behind or beside them at the next traffic light.

 

I'm an asshole,

I'm an asshole,

yes, yes

I'm an asshole,

I'm an asshole,

that's right.

 

See you at the next light ;D

 

--

 

I see your Zappa and raise you Team America: World Police

 

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Team_America:_World_Police#Dicks,_Pussies,_Assholes_Speech

 

Obviously some crude language but it gets the point across. Maybe?  ;D

 

I fold.

 

:-X

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Nice Zappa reference.

 

A-holes, can only be A-holes, as long as no one changes the game on them.

Years ago there used to be a company named 'Rent-A-Wreck' that would rent you a fully MOT (ministry of transport) road-tested banger for dirt-cheap. Good engine, tires, windscreen wipers, heater, and brakes - but multi-coloured, and very scratched up, body panels and seats. Dirt cheap to rent as it was both butt-ugly, and only required the bare minimum of insurance. Ideal student car for moving your stuff.

 

Lots of very expensive flashy cars at intersections - but they would all get very nervous, when I pulled up besides them with mm of 'clearance' to spare And none too happy with my lowering the 'social' value of the surrounding marquis sheet metal !! I found lots of A-holes, but they were all scared sh1tless of scratching up their metal, and appearing remotely associated!. Busy intersections had a way of rapidly giving me lots of space as I pulled up.

 

Amusingly, a good neighbour and I drove off everyday at about the same time, and he'd toss me a six-pack every other week or so.

His driver had discovered that if they followed me, I'd clear most of the obstructions out of the way - and that their trip would be about 10-15 minutes faster. Every time.

 

Sadly, 'Rent-A-Wreck' is no more, but it was great fun while it lasted ... and very instructive.

There's only room for A-hole #1!

 

SD

 

 

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I was at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok & had stopped in a stall to buy some wind chimes.

They were nice little ceramic designs & came wrapped in paper with handwritten Thai messages.

 

Simple & elegant gifts.

 

There was a sign stating the price for one, with a discount for three.

 

I was getting a couple of dozen & the guy tried to give a bigger discount but I politely refused because they were already cheap as hell.

Thai merchants often offer discounts without even being asked, if you're kind & are buying in quantity or if they recognize you from before.

 

While the guy was bagging up my chimes, a woman stopped in & was all irate that she didn't get immediate attention.

Then she proceeded to hammer the guy over the purchase of one chime.

 

I told her she was chiseling the guy for the equivalent of about $0.25 & she acted like I was a liar.

 

I've seen this over & over, especially with hotel receptionists where the rich "farang" isn't getting their way & resorts to being a twat.

 

These are the times we live in & it's probably been the same throughout history with relatively wealthy individuals.

 

I'd be willing to bet these types are non-existent on cobf.

 

It was a weird experience for me haggling in Bangkok.  For something like a T-shirt that was $6-8, it was already cheaper than what I would pay at home, but it's expected that you haggle. So I would ask for a better price and the guy would give me a small discount and I would quickly cave in and we both feel good about it.  A thai friend said I should take him with me because he could get better prices on souvenirs, but that extra dollar or two I wouldn't even notice and although it won't matter to me, in a poor country it's a very big deal, so why do it? One of those vendors did math in his head better than me (and definitely works harder than me), so what separates us other than I was lucky enough to have parents that emigrated to a rich country?

 

I bought a couple of handmade monk bowls there, made by brazing pieces of metal together over a flame, in a country where it's 95 degrees outside.  They were pricey for souvenirs, but it's hard work in a poor country to do that kind of stuff so I don't get a good feeling when I see tourists trying to beat them up on price about it. 

 

 

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