Did you see the column in last week’s Daily Republic, “Are Republicans cold-hearted toward the poor?” It was one of those Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis pieces where one writer takes the liberal side and the other the conservative side and attempt to spin the question first one way and then the other.
The title got my attention, because I thought, “Well of course, Republicans are cold-hearted toward the poor. Why would anybody be questioning this?” I immediately thought that a better column would have been, “Why are the Republicans so cold-hearted toward the poor?” and thus, wrote today’s column.
I wondered how the conservative guy, Ben Boychuk, could possibly argue Republicans are not cold-hearted, since the opposite is such a well-known, universally accepted fact. I realize that some of you may take exception to that “fact,” and I am sure the Daily Republic will gladly publish your well-reasoned letters to the editor providing evidence that there are still a few Republicans, the “good ones,” who care about the plight of America’s poor. But taken as a whole, Republicans have long been fighting to cut, cut, cut Unemployment Insurance; Social Security; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the food stamp program); Medicare and Medicaid; and the minimum wage.
These are America’s safety nets that our poorest citizens rely on to survive, and to me, that’s a cold-hearted fact. I figure the ideal Republican legislation would be one that cut taxes for the rich and safety nets for the poor.
So, how did Ben Boychuk, argue against the question, “Are Republicans cold-hearted toward the poor?” What facts could he use to prove his point? What voting record?
How could anybody argue the point that Republicans are NOT cold-hearted against the poor? He didn’t. He simply argued that the Pew Research Center poll, which formed the basis for their column, was flawed. Poll or no poll, I think most everyone knows that Republicans exclusively service the wealthy, and don’t give a darn about fate of the poor.
Now to the question: WHY are the wealthy, as exemplified by Republicans, so callous to America’s poor?
A new wave of psychology papers suggest that having more money makes people act less humane. In a series of experiments, games, questionnaires and field observations, psychologist Paul Piff found “as people grow wealthier, they are more likely to feel entitled, to become meaner, and more likely to exploit others, even cheat.”
One study simply correlated the cost of a vehicle with the drivers’ behavior at a busy intersection. Piff found that drivers of the most expensive cars were four times as likely to cut off other drivers and were three times more likely to fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
Other studies found that wealthy subjects were more likely to consider “stealing or benefiting from things to which they were not entitled” than poorer subjects, and more likely to agree with statements like, “I honestly feel I’m just more deserving than other people.” In one experiment, adult subjects who simply “felt wealthy,” were more likely than others to steal candy from a bowl that was clearly labeled as being for children.
“There’s this idea that the more you have, the less entitled and more grateful you feel; and the less you have, the more you feel you deserve. That’s not what we find,” Piff said.
Time and again, researchers have correlated wealth with narcissistic, aggressive and selfish behaviors, which may help explain their “cold-heartedness” toward America’s poor.
The question I am left with is, “Does being rich lead to anti-social behavior, or does this type of behavior lead to you becoming rich?”
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.