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Mon Oct 24 03:32:58 SAST 2016

Mashaba is wrong - if anything research shows rich are more crooked

Bruce Gorton | 02 February, 2016 14:42
Herman Mashaba. File photo.
Image by: KATHERINE MUICK-MERE/Sunday Times

Herman Mashaba has said that poor people are more likely to be corrupt.

This made me think that the DA’s candidate for mayor in Johannesburg is actually an ANC plant.

I mean it is not exactly something you say if you expect poor people to vote for you.

Once I got over that brief bout of conspiracy think though, I got to thinking about what he actually said.

He said that the poor are more open to temptation when put in leadership positions, as they haven’t really dealt with that much money before.

This is one of those ideas that bugs me - because it feeds into things like the just world fallacy, which ends up fuelling a lot of other forms of bigotry.

And it is not born out by the research.

In 2012 CNBC wrote about research done by the University of Berkeley California into the ethical divide between rich and poor.

What the study found was that the rich are pretty much worse people overall. They are four times more likely to cut you off in traffic, they are more likely to steal candy from babies (Seriously, that is in the article, I’m not making this one up) and they were more likely to lie to job candidates about positions that were soon to be eliminated.

Apparently it might have something to do with the fact that a lot of rich people hold to Gordon Gecko’s credo “Greed is good”.

Research into shoplifting also has something interesting to say about wealth and theft:

“Shoplifting was significantly more common in individuals with at least some college education, among those with individual incomes over $35,000 and family incomes over $70,000, and among those living in the West, but less common among those with public insurance.”

That is from an American study in 2008 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Now this is all about correlation rather than causation. Maybe it is that cheaters prosper, or maybe it is that people who prosper cheat.

But what the research most definitely does not show is that the poor are more likely to be 'tempted' than the rich.


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