Why it matters that our politicians are rich - Boston.com Newt Gingrich, with his $7 million fortune and an up to $1 million revolving line of credit at Tiffany. The relentlessly anti-elitist Rick Santorum disclosed last week that he earns roughly $1 million a year. Mitt Romney built an immense $200 million fortune through his corporate raider work at Bain Capital; even Ron Paul, who claimed in one debate that he was embarrassed to show his tax forms because he made so much less money than his rivals, is worth as much as $5.2 million. Politicians would like us to believe that all this money doesnt matter in a deeper sensethat what matters is ideas, skills, and leadership ability. Aside from a little extra business savvy, theyre regular people just like the rest of us: They just happen to have more money. But is that true? In fact, a number of new studies suggest that, in certain key ways, people with that much money are not like the rest of us at all. As a mounting body of research is showing, wealth can actually change how we think and behaveand not for the better. Rich people have a harder time connecting with others, showing less empathy to the extent of dehumanizing those who are different from them. They are less charitable and generous. They are less likely to help someone in trouble. And they are more likely to defend an unfair status quo. If you think youd behave differently in their place, meanwhile, youre probably wrong: These arent just inherited traits, but developed ones. Money, in other words, changes who you are. The researchers offered the subjects a chance to agree with statements that dehumanized others (Some people deserve to be treated like animals). The money-primed group was more likely to agree. In other words, higher-status people were more likely to feel that theyd earned their high place in society, and that poorer people hadnt. More recently, similar researchinvolving not just surveys, but heart-rate measurements has found that higher-status people tend to be less compassionate toward others in a bad situation than people of lower-class backgrounds. ---------------------------------------------------------- Perhaps that's why Republican Lt. Gov Andre Bauer thinks that giving kids free lunches in public schools is like feeding stray animals? Just a thought. [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mueucu5cMdk]Republicans To Unemployed: You're Spoiled, Drug-Taking Hobos & Animals, Who Shouldn't Breed. - YouTube[/ame] Republicans To Unemployed: You're Spoiled, Drug-Taking Hobos & Animals, Who Shouldn't Breed. Perhaps some politicians have less empathy than others.