Bah humbug! Provocative author Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, Flash Boys, Moneyball) has spent a lifetime trying to understand what creates value. Whether he’s tackling sports or the financial crisis, the question at the heart of his research is always the same–what makes something valuable? Along the way he’s met a lot of rich and poor people–and Lewis agrees with what F. Scott Fitgerald said: “The very rich are different from you and me.” What Fitzgerald didn’t say is that they kinda suck.
In a book review for the New Republic, Lewis divulges research that demonstrates how rich people lack the same level of empathy as poor and middle class people. Even brain scans prove it, writes Lewis, citing findings in Psychological Science. People who make less than $25,000 a year give away 4.2%, whereas those making more than $150,000 give away just 2.7%. Rich people even shoplift more than the poor, let alone white collar crime in the billions. People in expensive cars drive with less care for pedestrians and fellow drivers–on and on goes the list. Lewis quotes Dacher Keltner, a psychologist from UC Berkeley. Keltner told Lewis that “as you move up the class ladder you are more likely to violate the rules of the road, to lie, to cheat, to take candy from kids, to shoplift, and to be tightfisted in giving to others.” That “candy from kids” jab sounds like just a little Berkeley touch, but the rest sounds pretty familiar.