Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Eingebaute Vorfahrt

When I was living in Germany and learning all sorts of colloquial expressions to fill out my school-taught German, Agnes taught me the expression eingebaute Vorfahrt, which translates literally as "built-in driving priority." It's applied to expensive cars like high-end Mercedes and BMW's that often seem to roar up behind you on the autobahn, flashing their lights to demand that you get your lesser automobile out of the way so they can move on ... the drivers of such cars believe that their machines have eingebaute Vorfahrt.

I don't often have occasion to use that term here in the States (although I have used it once in a while), but I thought about it today when I read this interesting article in the Washington Post: "Are Rich People More Likely to Lie, Cheat, Steal? Science Explains the World of Manafort and Gates."

The article describes a set of experiments that tend to confirm the corrupting effects of wealth. The key takeaway is this:

"The findings build on similar research in recent years that suggests wealth and power strip people of their inhibitions, increase risk taking and feelings of entitlement and invulnerability. At the same time, power makes people less empathetic and able to see others' perspectives ... 'Wealth is basically a mechanism for power, and power has a freeing effect on people. It takes away the constraints of society and frees people to act according to their dominant desires,' said Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School, whose experiments have explored how power often propels people's actions. In some cases, those desires may be altruistic or helpful to society, so power heightens those goals and can give rise to effective philanthropists. Often, however, power leads to self-serving behaviors unrestrained by the usual concerns over rules or the consequences for others."

Yes, what you long suspected is more than likely true - the rich are different, and the dominance of wealthy and powerful people in government ought to be of some concern, because ... well ... they have a whole different set problems and concerns from yours.

They have eingebaute Vorfahrt, after all.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.



Mike said...

"...power leads to self-serving behaviors unrestrained by the usual concerns over rules or the consequences for others."

Ain't that the truth!

Duckbutt said...

I sensed that intuitively; but now it seems backed up by evidence.

John Hill said...

Power corrupts.
Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

Must be something to that.

Insane Penguin said...

Assholes go on forever.

Dave Peterson said...

I've also seen the word "affluenza" applied to people with money/power.

Big Sky Heidi said...

Soulds like fun if you can pull it off.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

The sense of entitlement leads to a multitude of social problems.