Ethics and money

A reader of this blog has put together an interesting graphic on the correlation between richness (in money) and unethical behavior.

Although my views do not align with the intention indicated in the graphics below, I do think the statistics are interesting and worth a discussion.

rich-people-are-unethical
Created by: AccountingDegreeOnline.net

35 thoughts on “Ethics and money

  1. You know what – I know a lot of rich people.

    They aren’t any more ethical or unethical than anyone else.

    I believe this whole campaign is a way to marginalize and demonize an amorphous minority who’s only characteristic in common is their income. Otherwise, there have almost no other characteristics in common.

    Sorry. I call bullshit.

    1. For the record, I didn’t write this. I am, however, aware of the study. I have cool friends on FB that post such awesome stuff.

      Because the person was anonymous and I then posted the link to the study, I felt a false attribution could be made.

      Thank you anonymous person.

  2. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider this article in conjunction with the study results Geir has posted:

    From the Huffington Post:

    The rich don’t just have more money than you and me. The rich use their money to legally bribe politicians to support policies that favor themselves over the middle class in the auction that we call elections. And the policies they support are different from those supported by the majority of middle class Americans voters.

    “We are the 99%” isn’t just a brilliant piece of political messaging. It’s an accurate reflection of the division of wealth and power between the richest 1% and the other 99% and the degradation of American democracy into a political auction in which politicians are bought by the highest bidder. Until we change this — if necessary by a 28th Amendment to the Constitution declaring the corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech — American democracy will continue its descent into a hollow shell in which political power is wielded not by the people but by a tiny oligarchy of the richest Americans and their political servants.

    You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miles-mogulescu/the-rich-are-different-fr_b_1154270.html

  3. I find the statistics hard to believe. Seem skewed. For instance, how do they know that people who make less than 25,000.00 a year donate 4.2% of income to charity? Surely, such people, so close to the poverty line, aren’t itemizing their deductions so as to make such a calculation possible.

    And the omitted info: What is the percentage of men who cheat on their wives, who make 50K per year? 100K per year? See, omitted.

    This is only a few of these questionable statistics that I had the inclination to comment on…THAT SAID, I wholly agree with Maria and the Huffington Post article. The US is set up to benefit the 1% more right now than any other time in my lifetime.

    1. I have a personal example at hand; A good friend of mine from a family in a very poor country; their family policy is that everyone donate 10% of their income to charities. They earn a lot less than would show up on these statistics. Apart from that – in Norway we tabulate all this stuff, so here it would be easy to make the statistics. For the US, I don’t know.

  4. This also may be a set of indicators to do with empathy.

    Again, from the Huffington Post:

    While some wealthy people have defended themselves as merely embodying the ideals of American capitalism — a system where, the argument goes, anyone can make it to the top if they’re willing to work hard — many Occupy protesters have offered a less flattering theory: that the rich, as a class, simply aren’t concerned with the well-being of anyone else.

    The findings of the UC Berkeley team seem to suggest that this might be true, though the researchers make a point of saying it’s likely the result of inexperience on the part of the rich, not necessarily malice.

    “It’s not that the upper classes are coldhearted,” Jennifer Stellar, a social psychologist at UC Berkeley and the lead author of the study, is quoted as saying in a press release. “They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven’t had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/22/rich-people-lack-empathy_n_1165425.html

  5. The mechanics of the monetary system are sets up as follows: money makes money:(without producing products) In my country we say: The devil shits always onto the biggest scad.
    Its the SYSTEM which is unethical. Very simple.
    If you look at the consolidated balance sheet of all banks, lets say in France you will find
    that assets (cash,activa) equals debt (passiva). The account balance is ZERO. Activa/cash must be served with interest, which causes a flow from passiva to activa. The whole which develops in passiva must be filled with NEW DEBT. Therefore total asset amount of balance sheet is increasing every year. It must INCREASE.

    When you´ve got +25000 on your account, then be aware that somewhere else in the system
    there is a debt (loan) of – 25000. The balance is ZERO. Therefore balance sheets are bullshit
    because they tell you THAT NOONE OWES SOMETHING. Sounds familiar ?
    A criminal system, developed by bankers..about 250 years ago…..

    1. Yes, comical to me that in America we give a contemporary man’s name — Ponzi — to an old system of pyramiding fraud. Much older than your 250 years.

    2. The equation is:

      Assets = liabilities + equity.

      The assets are what the company has the title to, that they have acquired right to utilize.

      The liabilities are the debts owed to others.

      The equity is the money owed to the owners.

      The game is to borrow assets from others or acquire assets from owners. Then utilize those assets to produce more equity and reduce liabilities while increasing assets.

      When the company is liquidated, the assets are sold.
      The proceeds are used to satisfy any tax debts.
      The proceeds are used to satisfy any other debts.
      Any remaining proceeds are returned to the owners.

      Inflation is used to increase the value of assets by capitalizing on the gains realized from inflation when the assets are sold.

      This is gambling on a grand scale.

      1. Yes Maria, the real shame is that the main emphasis of balance sheets ist MEST, physical objects and symbols (money). The real VALUE is not taken into account, namely PEOPLE
        which produce products in a company. You´ve got a manufacturing line to produce cars. It costs 1-2 billion dollars to develop and build it up. In fact it has no value IF NO CARS ARE BEING PRODUCED (by the workers). EVEN IF CARS ARE PRODUCED BUT NOT SOLD IT HAS NO,
        value. Even bankers know this. This is applicable to every business activity.

  6. In regards to the original post, a factor may not have been taken into account, and that being those with money may indeed be less prone to lie, and more bold if anything, and the statistics given would lean that way also.

    Possibly it is those who feel they have more to lose because they have less, would be more prone to lie, feeling they have to lie for survival. The statistics of the less fortunate may even be a lie, based on living in a dream world they do not have.

      1. Currently, purely opinion based on my observations which led me to think of two personality types, one of arrogance and one of fear, and neither one of them ethical or honest, so I would conclude that my own statement at the time to be false, and ethics and money do not seem to have a relation to me at this time. Thank you for the opportunity to ponder on this issue.

  7. I remember a comment of smartass hubbard, saying money flows towards theta. If this would be true all money of the world should be in my hands. BUT no, it flows to the criminals…*looooool

  8. Huh. I don’t remember that comment of Hubbard’s. Can you cite a reference for it?

    I can, however, cite this reference:

    Money is the attention units of a society. Actually, where you find the greatest interest centered, you’ll find the greatest number of attention units. Where you find the greatest interest centered, you’ll find the greatest number of attention units. The person who can force the greatest interest gets even more attention units, because attention units are force units — dollars are force units. You want to have a lot of dollars coming your way? Be interesting. They’ll flow your way.

    LRH lecture 5212C11 8-8008: UNDERSTANDING THE PHENOMENA [PDC-34]

    1. POT As far as I remember its in Science of survival or related congresses.
      You are right with: money is attention units of society. But this data was given 3 years later
      on the Phoenix lectures. You see the out points, its not neccessaryly contrary facts but
      : Added time and omitted data in 1952
      ml Spongebob

  9. “… wealthy people took twice as many candies…” How was it known who was wealthy? How large was the sample size? It would need to be very large to get anything statistically significant considering that we are talking about 1% of the population.

    But validity aside, the intention to marginilize certain groups of individuals for any reason is very dangerous. They are INDIVIDUALS. If an individual commits a crime and hurts someone, they should make up for it in an appropriate way, but to marginilize individuals solely because they have money is inciting class envy. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe this is what was done in Nazi Germany to the Jews.

  10. I read the article. Thank you. I was not meaning that statistical evidence properly done is not valid. I do question the validity of the evidence in the graphics. But besides that, news sources (or anyone, for that matter) tend to bring out the “evidence” that supports their model and choose not to bring out “evidence” that would discount it.

    When people are having rough times and they are continually bombarded with “the rich are bad” it does foster ill-will toward people with more money, irrespective of whether they are honest and hardworking people or those who profit from deceit, corruption and connections to the right politicians. Just think about the effect of choosing “evidence” about some negative features of a particular race or religion, especially when involved in a conflict with that group. During the period of US history when blacks were slaves, there was “evidence” of their mental inferiority. This is done for war propaganda, as well.

    Our government (US) participates in “legal plunder” where one group is enriched at the expense of another. Example: the recent bailout of the auto industry. There are also regulations supposedly designed to “protect” the people, often favored by big business because they know they are too costly for the smaller businesses to comply with. We currently have this going on in Wisconsin with small family farms. This corruption is very hard to fight because the smaller, independent businesses do not have the resources for lobbyists, etc. to buy the votes. I favor the ideas presented by William Legget, a Jacksonian editorial writer:

    “Governments have no right to interfere with the pursuits of individuals…by offering encouragements and granting privileges to any particular class of industry, or any select bodies of men, inamuch as all classes of industry and all men are equally important to the general welfare, and equally entitled to protection.”

    Another type of legal plunder which hurts the poor much more than other classes is inflation of the money supply so each dollar buys less and less. It is a hidden tax. Government and those currently in favor reap the benefits.

    I see the disparity in wealth as a result of statism, the idea that the state is god, or at least our best friend. This is the opposite of liberty, as proposed by the US founders:

    “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” (Thomas Jefferson)

    “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrants’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” (Thomas Jefferson)

    I admit that I am biased in favor of liberty. I can’t prove it, but I believe that liberty brings more prosperity and statism brings more poverty.

    1. I don’t see this in view of the polarized “liberty vs. statism” ideologies as is popular in American society.

  11. Well this is a very sensitive subject for people who raised in communism. We were told that wealthy is unethical, but after communism collapsed, who saw the former communists who became rich and suddenly, wealth was extremely ethical! In my honest opinion, wealth is not a subject of ethics, but the WAY someone earn a fortune, well, that’s the point.

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