July 18th, 2012
atomvincent

Rich People Are Assholes

Lisa Miller writes for New York Magazine on new research that suggests the more money you have, the likelier you are to be a jerk.

Earlier this year, Piff, who is 30, published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that made him semi-famous. Titled “Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior,” it showed through quizzes, online games, questionnaires, in-lab manipulations, and field studies that living high on the socioeconomic ladder can, colloquially speaking, dehumanize people. It can make them less ethical, more selfish, more insular, and less compassionate than other people. It can make them more likely, as Piff demonstrated in one of his experiments, to take candy from a bowl of sweets designated for children. “While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything,” Piff says, “the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”

Read the full article here.

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February 7th, 2012
arvindsuguness
Do We Need Money?
David Graeber’s new book Debt: The First 5,000 Years re-examines the accepted economic wisdom that the development of our system of money and debt was inevitable. In this review for The New Inquiry, Aaron Bady explores Graeber’s argument and imagines a world without money:

Originating with Adam Smith, the argument is that humanity needed to invent money because it was so inconvenient to do all our shopping by exchanging whatever we happened to have for whatever people around us happened to have. If your neighbor is a weaver, and you raise pigs, it’s going to be difficult to do any kind of economic transaction that doesn’t involve trading pigs for cloth – goes the story – so people created forms of currency to better enable themselves to trade and re-distribute the stockpile of goods that specialized artisans and producers suddenly find themselves over-producing. What if I want cloth but my neighbor doesn’t want pigs? What if the people who want pigs have nothing that I want? And what if you want an iPad, for god’s sake?
…
Graeber is only the latest anthropologist to point out that this story is pure wish-fulfillment, that no such pure-barter society has ever existed, and that we have a deep and rich historical record of what people actually did in non-money economies: go into each other’s debt. And it makes a simple kind of sense. In rural communities where people live side by side for their entire lives — working and eating and trading together, as they have for the majority of human history – people begin to depend on each other, rely on each other, even enjoy each others’ company. They begin to act like neighbors rather than competitors; they begin to worry about maintaining their status and well-being in a community whose status and well-being suddenly also becomes, as a result, a matter of their own self-interest; and they begin to think of human relations as a thing to be fostered for mutual benefit and long-term stability (rather than plundered and exploited for personal enrichment). 

Read the full article here.
// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

Do We Need Money?

David Graeber’s new book Debt: The First 5,000 Years re-examines the accepted economic wisdom that the development of our system of money and debt was inevitable. In this review for The New Inquiry, Aaron Bady explores Graeber’s argument and imagines a world without money:

Originating with Adam Smith, the argument is that humanity needed to invent money because it was so inconvenient to do all our shopping by exchanging whatever we happened to have for whatever people around us happened to have. If your neighbor is a weaver, and you raise pigs, it’s going to be difficult to do any kind of economic transaction that doesn’t involve trading pigs for cloth – goes the story – so people created forms of currency to better enable themselves to trade and re-distribute the stockpile of goods that specialized artisans and producers suddenly find themselves over-producing. What if I want cloth but my neighbor doesn’t want pigs? What if the people who want pigs have nothing that I want? And what if you want an iPad, for god’s sake?

Graeber is only the latest anthropologist to point out that this story is pure wish-fulfillment, that no such pure-barter society has ever existed, and that we have a deep and rich historical record of what people actually did in non-money economies: go into each other’s debt. And it makes a simple kind of sense. In rural communities where people live side by side for their entire lives — working and eating and trading together, as they have for the majority of human history – people begin to depend on each other, rely on each other, even enjoy each others’ company. They begin to act like neighbors rather than competitors; they begin to worry about maintaining their status and well-being in a community whose status and well-being suddenly also becomes, as a result, a matter of their own self-interest; and they begin to think of human relations as a thing to be fostered for mutual benefit and long-term stability (rather than plundered and exploited for personal enrichment). 

Read the full article here.

// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

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