Jeez Louise

Jeez Louise

by digby

The Washington Post's Helaine Olen addresses Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's wife Louise Litton's pathetic excuses for behaving like the rich spoiled trophy wife she is and notes some data that sheds light on why these people are so awful:

The more money we are surrounded by, the more likely we are to act as though it is a norm and not an exception. In a 2015 paper, “Why Wealthier People Think People Are Wealthier, and Why It Matters,” researchers at Britain’s University of Kent and New Zealand’s University of Auckland discovered that the more money someone possessed, the wealthier they believed their peers to be.

Other research shows lower-income people spend more time looking at their surroundings and pick up on emotional cues better than their wealthier peers. This, in turn, seems to give the wealthy permission to act in a way that, to put it kindly, forever prioritizes No. One — themselves.

And then there is one of my favorite studies, the one in which researchers discovered the higher the self-described social rank, the more candy the subjects took from a jar of candy designated for children. They also discovered the more prestigious the make of car, the more likely a driver would cut off a pedestrian in a crosswalk or fail to yield to others at a four-way stop. As I’ve previously argued: “There’s a body of psychological and behavioral-economics research suggesting that wealthy people are generally less caring, generous, and aware of how others think, feel, and live.”

Well, hello Louise Linton!

But hello Donald Trump and the rest of your Cabinet, too!

Not only is Trump our wealthiest president ever, the same is true of the Cabinet he selected. Empathy? Trump turned the situation involving the “dreamers” into a hostage situation. His administration just released a budget that calls for severe cuts in the social safety net. It would slash Medicaid and housing assistance, completely eliminate funding for a program that offers after-school classes for children living in poverty and end loan forgiveness for people who choose to work in the public or nonprofit sectors.

As for Congress, which is also well-stocked with wealthy people, the news broke yesterday that even as the United States is facing the worst flu season in about two decades, the Republican majority is considering doing away with the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers with 50 or more full-time employees offer them health insurance. Because, apparently, nothing shows you care like contemplating making it harder for people to access medical services during a flu epidemic.

This comes mere weeks after Republicans in Congress passed and Trump signed into law deficit-busting tax cuts that lavish most of their benefits on wealthy Americans.

Not all rich people are like this, of course. Some are decent people who care and other are pragmatic realists and understand that it's in everyone's best interest for there to be a strong middle class and a generous safety net which means that wealth must be fairly redistributed through taxation. But they aren't numerous.

I recall reading somewhere that one of the reasons the European democracies have a stronger safety net is because they draw their politicians from a wider variety of jobs --- teachers, union workers etc instead of so many from the legal profession and big business. That might make a difference. It will be interesting to see if all this grassroots energy that's getting Democrats to run for offices throughout government will result in a bit more class diversity in our politics. It can only help.