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Jedrek Stepien



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Does growing wealth change human behavior?

The question is really straightforward, no strings attatched.

Of course I don't mean behavior as consumers. This is naturally different when one's purchase power increases. Rather, I ask about human soul and interrelations.

For inspiration: "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy (book and/or movie)

And yes, let this be our reflection for Easter!


Also consider a new idea: when wealth is deserved - people's characters dont change. They are corrupted only when they receive sth. undeserved.


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    Apr 6 2012: surely. for one, wealth greatly reduces violence and aggression.
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      Apr 7 2012: The facts are on your side Krisztian, but this could be only until a certain moment. If people feel too comfortable they lose their spirit. I am sure many modern, wealthy men would sooner approve cannibalism than renouncing their wealth.

      Whaddaya think? :)
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        Apr 7 2012: ah, but now you are talking about shrinking wealth.
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          Apr 7 2012: I love twitter for its brevity but come on.

          I give you a choice - keep your Porshe and Crib, but vote yes for cannibalism. Otherwise, I take your possesions. Since cannibalism is rare you can think - what the heck.
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        Apr 7 2012: why can't i keep it? btw i see nothing wrong with cannibalism.
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          Apr 7 2012: Then humanity and human dignity have no value to you? Eating human flesh? You are better than this.
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        Apr 7 2012: no i'm not. i think this taboo is outdated. for example you would not eat lab-grown human muscle tissue? how is that different than lab-grown chicken muscle tissue?
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        Apr 7 2012: welcome to twitter :)
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          Apr 7 2012: Not that I started it :)

          But seriously, if you can't see the difference it is a myopia. For all the economic freedom you so ardently fight for (and I am your soldier there) means nothing if it is legally possible to grow/kill humans. Think about who will decide whether you are to be a consumer or someone's dinner? It is central planning in its more macabre form.

          The sad fact is that wealth has an assuaging impact on human perception of dignity and freedom. They will trade virtually everything for the (fake) feeling of security that comes with wealth. That is how relativism is born.

          Mises, otherwise fantastic economist, was wrong on this one. The majority can not decide about the moral principles. It is a trap which will ultimately lead to the same point where totalitarianism goes - serfdom. Only this time in the most fundamental matter - to be or not to be.

          I am sure sooner or later you will understand my point, as I know you are heck of a good guy and brilliant thinker*.

          * please note that my intention is not to kiss your a**
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        Apr 7 2012: jedrek, you got lost somewhere. lab-grown human tissue can not be killed. it is not alive.

        you have to show me how wealth creates those things you have mentioned. i believe need and uncertainty creates them. wealth reduces need and uncertainty.
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          Apr 7 2012: How far is from lab-grown flesh to real mccoy? How do you veryfy?

          Need and uncertainty creates what? ask direct question, what "those things"?
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        Apr 7 2012: "They will trade virtually everything for the (fake) feeling of security that comes with wealth"

        this urge goes down with more and more wealth at hand. diminishing marginal utility.
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          Apr 7 2012: That is what the theory says about it.

          In practice, however, it applies only to certain kind of people who remain the same whether they are poor or morbidly rich (very rare species).

          The masses, which are of my concern, are far from feeling secure and, let it be clear, they will never be. Turning to gold in order to secure themselves they become its slaves, and their souls get mineralized just as gold itself - it looks warm and appealing but cold when you touch it.

          And so they don't see what's wrong with eating humans.
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      Apr 7 2012: Not sure if wealth reduces or eliminates violence and aggression or just moves it to a new level or a different area. Example poor fight with fists and weapons. Wealthy fight with lawyers and bank accounts. I think that at the base of each of these is the insecurity you talk about and the insecurity may be based on a couple of deeper fears. ie fear of dying, fear of not being known, fear of being alone. I have known some wealthy people and they seem happy and do a lot of good. The wealth of the Hollywood types is the wealth that can be disgusting as they struggle for that additional 15 minutes of fame and the supposed adoration of the fans which we know lasts until only the next movie, commercial or other hype. They make silly statements and the wealth they have some have wasted in so many ways.
      The key I think may be that we are who we are regardless of the money we have and we follow our own moral compass regardless of our wealth
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        Apr 8 2012: i wonder how can one fight with a bank account.

        but it is hard to argue that if lack of money creates fears and aggression, abundance of money does the same.
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          Apr 8 2012: Maybe as money is injected into the equation the fighting becomes more mental, one ups manship, and less physical. The larger the back account the larger the perceived power one has. An anecdote might explain this more clearly. When my wife and I started both teaching and we got money in the bank people started treating us different. We were approached more for money and less for friendship. Teachers salaries are not huge by any stretch but being able to save money seems to give a perception of power. J. Paul Getty's Book on his life is a great book to learn about money and power from.
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        Apr 8 2012: and where is the fighting involved in this? treated differently, perceived power ... none of these sound like fight for me.
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          Apr 8 2012: The fight moves away from the physical level to one of perception. People then think of you not as a person but as a money bag, not as a human with feelings but as a bank with cash to give away. The fight become that of trying to stay a person and not become a charity. The more money you are perceived to have the more you have to fight the stereotypes of the rich that people place on you, the expectations they have, and the disappointment they blame on you when you cannot fulfill their desires. It become a fight for survival of the individual and their humanity. Some what like Doctors who can rarely have a conversation with a person about anything but that persons illnesses. Not sue this makes it any clearer but is the best I can come up with on short notice
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        Apr 8 2012: james, i'm having hard time following it. can we simplify it a little? suppose i have a million bucks in the bank. how do i do aggression with it?

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