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Greed Kills

Updated on May 10, 2020
Dr Billy Kidd profile image

Dr. Billy Kidd was a psychotherapist and researcher for 20 years. He has also studied history, religion, and has been active in politics.

The Wealthy Denounce the Study on Wealthy People

I had to laugh! A new study came out summarizing several previous analyses of how wealthy people think. It said that the rich are emotionally disconnected, lack empathy for others, are less generous than poor people, defend the status quo, and are physically affected by power on a hormonal level. As I watched, the study was immediately denounced as “dangerous” on Morning Joe, MSNBC’s daily kick-off program.

As I watched this condemnation, what was funny was that the panel making the condemnation was composed of relatively rich people—the types who wouldn’t ever need to worry about their financial security.

In fact, the panel at Morning Joe fit the study's findings about the wealthy completely--lacking empathy for others, as well as being self-absorbed in their own power as interpreters of the news. And that's exactly what the problem with the media is: the wealthy create the news and lead the public discussion concerning social, economic, and political interests.

So it follows that the wealthy have reframed current the political discussion to favor them. The videos that poor people make of shootings of unarmed black men is now "a War on Police." That makes sense if you don't care about the interests of the poor or feel like the police protect you from the poor.

It is the same with the "War on Terror." That discussion has been reframed to be a "War on Christian Values in America." Because of this, 30% of the Evangelical Christians feel threatened and under attack. That makes sense why the wealthy would propagate this misnomer. Evangelical Christians usually unwittingly vote in favor of the wealthy class's interests.

It goes without saying that none of people on the Morning Joe TV panel could discuss the real implications of the study. That study showed that low-income people explain their life circumstances in terms of opportunity, learned skills, and education.

Meanwhile, rich individuals explain their own status in terms of character and disposition--yet another study showed that the wealthy generally cannot really read the character and disposition of others! The exception is that wealthy narcissists--who think the world revolves around them--read people's emotions well and use it to take advantage of them!

NOTE: None of this is meant to imply that there are not carrng billionaires. Several billionaires care about the environment, homelessness, people without food, paying their help good wages, and give money to philanthropic organizations.

Many of the Wealthy are Disconnected from Society

When I looked into this, I found that another study showed that the poorer you are the more likely you are to correctly judge character and disposition. Their survival depends on it. That second study also showed that the wealthier one is the more self-absorbed one is in his or her own life and activities. You are, in essence, free basing, cut off from your body, and the people around you, with your head stuck in the clouds.

When taken together, these studies show that the wealthier you are the more disconnected you are from other people. And the more disconnected you are the more you rely on your wealth and status to define who you are and what you should do. This causes a vicious cycle where rich people seek more riches, while denigrating the achievements of other people. The thinking goes like this: the more money I have, the better my character, and the less I'll need those low-life idiots who surround me.

This helps to explain why the dozen of years of scientific work that went into the study of wealthy people under discussion at Morning Joe could be dismissed out of hand by the panelists. They were concerned more about their own wealth, and power, than the education and welfare of others.

This also demonstrates why the rich are obsessed with getting more money. The rich define themselves by their wealth, not by their relationships, as poor people do. And in order to get more money, to be able to define themselves as people with even better character, the wealthy tend to lie and deceive others, as well as start wars, attempting to get the spoils. For example, George W. Bush starting a war against Iraq in order to get the oil.

The Hype the Wealthy Make Creates War

In doing this, the wealthy tend to believe the hype they create, like saying “the Iraqi oil is ours, anyway, so why not invade?" Or they look for simple solutions. This reminds one of Senator John McCain who recently--again!--sang the song "Bomb-bomb, bomb Iran." When it’s all said and done, wealth perpetuates greed, and greed perpetuates war. And soon, the poor who man the armies are just like the hired help--expendables. And like presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, "I like to fire people."

The wealthy are so detached they think poor people owe them something for running the show—like those panelist who tried to interpret the news for me. This is why the 85 richest people in the world can own and control as much money as the poorest 3.5 billion--and not feel that they are greedy.

It also explains why 6 Americans can control as much money in the U.S. as the poorest 50% of the people--and still call poor people lazy. Yet these 6 billionaires inherited their wealth, just like half of all American billionaires. Those billionaires who worked for their own money are more likely to understand the needs of others--people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Yet in the end, as Arnold Toynbee said, the rich get richer until their corruption causes the whole system to collapse, kind of like the 2007 Great Recession.

This is why we need to be concerned about the concentration of wealth in the United States. If those in power define themselves by their wealth, and are compelled to get more money, this will eventually leave little or nothing for the rest of us. In the meantime, the wealthy set up monopolies to take advantage of poor countries. And in order to maintain dominance, they support wars that destabilize other countries. This explains why so many rich people are happy with the war in the Middle East. Unstable countries are forced to follow Washington's lead as their last hope.

This doesn't mean all rich people are greedy and want to start wars to get more wealth. People can be taught to do good things with their money and to care about others. That's hard, however, in a country where the culture honors greed by simply calling it capitalism. In fact, in some well-off quarters, greed is a family value.

Still, I have to laugh when I see rich people trying to interpret the news for me. They are so good at creating new urban myths that it’s almost believable: Perhaps the study was dangerous—maybe to the wealthy who denounced it.


Alexander, B. (08-10-2011). The rich are different—and not in a good way, study suggests. Retrieved on 4-01-12 from:

Kraus, M. W., Piff, P. K., & Keltner, D. (2011) Social class as culture: The convergence of resources and rank in the social realm. Current Directions in Psychological Science 20(4), p. 245-250.

Piff, P. K., Stancatoa, D. M., Côtéb, S., Mendoza-Dentona, R., & Keltnera, D. (2012) Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10.1073/pnas.1118373109. Retrieved on 4-1-2012 from

Shin, Laura (2014). The 85 richest people In the world have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest. Retrieved on 5-14-2015 from

Toynbee, A. (1965). A Study of History. NY: Dell Books.


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    • Dr Billy Kidd profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      8 months ago from Sydney, Australia

      Sabalones Gonzalez

      Thank you for your thoughts. It does not take a billion dollars to disconnect from people. A factory supervisor told me that once a person has 10 people working for them the workers just become numbers.

      Half the wealthy are born into families where there is a disconnect with all the people around them. So that's all they ever know.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      8 months ago from Philippines

      This is a very interesting article. I think when you earn enough or more than enough, you can still be down to earth. But when you are a multi-billionaire, that's when you become superficial because you attract a lot of gold diggers who aren't there for you so much as for your money. I remember the book, "The Millionaire Next Door", I think that's a better way to be rich.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      6 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Really a great hub. Thanks

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      NateB11, I like how you used the word "identify." That's an interesting idea. Thinking of wealthy people, I would guess they get their identity from their money. "I'm one of the few with true status [perhaps, chosen few]. I own this town. Can't you people just get out of the way."

      Another issue that bothers me is the lack of shame.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      8 years ago from California, United States of America

      Yes, exactly: Thirst for power and money corrupts a person and they identify with it and justify it. Then they can be ever more self centered in their position and, as you very aptly put it (I paraphrase), expect the poor to be grateful. It all creates more problem, more violence, more division. In the end, they will see how much time they wasted and it was all a loss.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Spot on about Sir Richard--now we're going to have Virgin Space! On the other hand, I keep thinking of how, on this side of the Atlantic, Mitt Romney laughed when he said, "I enjoy firing people who provide services for me." Talk about a brutal sense of humor.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      8 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      I have to disagree about the wealthy being emotionally disconnected etc. There are a few examples of the obverse side of the coin here, such as (Sir) Alan Sugar, who started off with a barrow in a street market and is well-rooted in common sense. He has a lot of listeners when he says something, because he doesn't waste his breath. There is also Richard Branson, a sort of latter-day 'Viking' (even in appearance) who also started off with a small amount of cash and finished up with a large portfolio under the 'Virgin' banner (some of which he sold to invest in other ventures, like Virgin Radio) and there are the 'Dragons', some of the wealthy here who invest their cash and business acumen in new businesses who 'showcase' their products in an upstairs warehouse studio room. They don't waste their breath, nor do they waste their cash. Sometimes they might get something wrong and business ideas they rejected rocket away, but no-one's perfect. I'd say it depends on their grounding, where they began. Chances are 'playboy' millionaires will be clueless, but the great leveller is 'Lady Luck': the higher they climb, the further they can fall. Their task is to make sure that if they fall damage is only done to them, not their employees. Otherwise a very true Hub. Rock on, Tommy!


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