In The Atlantic Chrystia Freeland charts The rise of the new global elite. Essentially, the super rich these days are richer than ever. Also, rather than being inheritors of old money, they’re now “working rich”.
With that goes a different quality of entitlement. So the new plutocrats may be less sympathetic to the less well off than their more aristocratic predecessors. She gives the examples of people like Lloyd Blankfein and Tony Hayward:
It is perhaps telling that Blankfein is the son of a Brooklyn postal worker and that Hayward—despite his U.S. caricature as an upper-class English twit—got his start at BP as a rig geologist in the North Sea. They are both, in other words, working-class boys made good. And while you might imagine that such backgrounds would make plutocrats especially sympathetic to those who are struggling, the opposite is often true. For the super-elite, a sense of meritocratic achievement can inspire high self-regard, and that self-regard—especially when compounded by their isolation among like-minded peers—can lead to obliviousness and indifference to the suffering of others.
This reminded me of this post by Dan Ariely: Power and Moral Hypocrisy. Researchers found that power corrupts – and that it corrupts all the more when the power holder feels he does so legitimately.