August 12, 2011

Our Economy Is Run by Sociopaths

If you needed scientific proof that the ultra-rich are sociopaths, here it is:

A study published in Psychological Science in November, for instance, found that people of upper-class status have trouble recognizing the emotions other people are feeling. People of lower-class status do a much better job.

"What I think is really interesting about that is, it kind of shows there’s all this strength to the lower class identity: greater empathy, more altruism, and finer attunement to other people,” Keltner said.

“One clear policy implication is, the idea of nobless oblige or trickle-down economics, certain versions of it, is bull," Keltner added. "Our data say you cannot rely on the wealthy to give back. The ‘thousand points of light’—this rise of compassion in the wealthy to fix all the problems of society—is improbable, psychologically."

Those in the upper-class tend to hoard resources and be less generous than they could be.

Now, some would argue that just because they are almost incapable of empathy, it doesn't mean that they are sociopaths.

But that's because they don't understand the definition of Sociopahty (aka Psychopathy):

From the DSM IV:

A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:

* failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;

* deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;

* impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;

* irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;

* reckless disregard for safety of self or others;

* consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;

And from the World Health Organization's ICD-10:

It is characterized by at least 3 of the following:
Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict.
Persistent irritability.

Now watch these Goldman Sachs execs and Health Insurance execs testify before congress with these definitions in mind:

Goldman Sachs

Health Insurance

Recision: to drop an insured client from coverage

It's often more profitable for insurance companies to drag out the claims process, then drop clients and pay a $100-a-day fine while waiting for their clients to die, than to cover the claim.

Now, I just threw this post together in the half hour I've been drinking my coffee before leaving to go to work. With more time, I can dredge up even more poignant examples.

Our economy is run by sociopaths.