Rich vs. Poor: From the view of my canning trip


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During the last canning trip, I traveled almost 4 hours to Narberth, Pennsylvania.  Being from around this area, I knew that this area is known for being VERY wealthy. This being said, I expected this canning trip to be very successful because of the rich people we would encounter.  The canning trip was successful, but not for that reason.  I found that most of the donations made to me were from people is beat up, old cars.  I was driven right past by countless Mercedes, BMWs, Range Rovers, and even a Rolls Royce. I also found that the wealthier people completely ignored me much more then others.  From the less expensive cars, I received many "We Are" chants out the window, waving, and beeping the horn because they could not afford to donate actual money, but I appreciated any gesture.  The expensive cars drove past me often with no response at all. Wouldn't you think that this was the other way around? Shouldn't wealthier people donate more because they have more to spend?

The wealthiest Americans (tops 20%) donate 1.3% of their income on average, while the poorest Americans (lowest 20%) tend to donate 3.2% of their income. This is appalling, because it doesn't make much sense.  

Some experts say that lower class people tend to be more generous because a wealthy person's strive for success is inconsistent with their want to donate to charity. Psychologist, Paul Piff explains that "the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interest of other people." He also says, "[The wealthy] more likely exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes." Piff's words are not limited to his opinion, he has conducted studies to prove this. In a series of controlled experiments, upper-class people were not as generous with limited goods as lower-income people.  He notes that not all rich people are always assholes when he talks about a study where he shows both groups a video on child-povery, and both groups' compassion and willingness to help others became about the same. But then again, I was canning for pediatric cancer, so why didn't more rich people care as much as the others?

Patrick Rooney, the associate dean at the Indiana University School of Philanthropy, has a theory to this. He thinks that the area in which the wealthy people live has a big impact on their generosity. If one town consists of all wealthy people, they are getting no experience of viewing less fortunate people. So, if a wealthy person lives in an area where they are one of the only rich people, these wealthy people will be more generous because they have exposure to people in need, and feel a greater need to help their community and others. This theory connects with my Narberth canning experience because almost the whole city is wealthy people, so they didn't feel the need to reach out. Research found that areas with more than 40% of households that earn at least $200,000 a year were less generous than areas with more diverse households.

Another factor as to why rich people do not donate to little charities because of the "go big, or go home" idea.  "Why donate to little charities when I can donate millions of dollars and get a Library named after me instead?" is the mind frame of many wealthy people. They feel more of a need to flaunt their earnings by making big donations to universities and museums.

My trip to Narberth was an eye-opener, but after finding this research I have a better understanding as to why the rich are more snobby about their money.
Do you feel as though the studies are correct? Are the locations of the wealthy to blame or is this just a lame excuse for them?
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Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/why-the-rich-dont-give/309254/

4 Comments

I think I have to agree and disagree with you on this blog. I do completely agree that it was apparent that people with less fancy cars were more giving during canning. And perhaps that it is true that many rich people are very selfish with their money, but I also think it was a somewhat understandable reasoning. The rich get rich, usually, by working hard and saving. I feel that the effort spent into saving is not engraved into their mind that they do not waste any "extra" money, regardless of the benefits to the community. Another factor as to why the rich perhaps donate less is because, as minor of a detail it may seem, many people who drive in Audi's, BMW's, and Mercedes' may not have change or cash on them. And if they do have cash, it may be bigger notes such as 50 or 100 dollar bills which not everyone would be willing to give. Sure this may seem like a trivial detail, but it is possible that those who are more wealthy usually only pay with a card. An additional factor to this could be that wealthy people tend to come from more "prestigious" schools, or have children that attend these schools. In this statistical article it is common for the "1%" to send their kids to Ivy Leagues and other schools of the kind. And although we know that we go to the best school in the world, the lack of school spirit or relation could be a factor to why the rich people feel no desire to help a great cause. On a less ignorant note, an additional reason for why the wealthy do not donate much during canning could just be that they, as you stated, would rather give in bigger amounts. This doesn't necessarily mean million dollar donations in order to achieve titles, but perhaps checks and money for THONvelopes are preferred. Regardless of what the justification behind this unfortunate trend is, at the end of the day it depends on the person, whether they are wealthy or not.

I currently waitress at a Country Club, and it is a well known stigma that the rich do not tip as well as middle class people. At our Club, there is actually 15% gratuity added to every check, because when our checks did not have gratuity automatically added, we would often be tipped less than 10%. I am not saying that you should always tip your server 20% even if the service was poor, but if the service was excellent, a nice tip would be greatly appreciated! Compliments do not pay my bills, my tips do. There are certain members who are good tippers however, but I do agree that wealthier people tend to be less generous, at least when they are out to dinner. If you got rich pinching pennies, I suppose it is a hard habit to break. However, if you can afford to go out to dinner, let alone join a country club, you should be able to afford 18% gratuity, perhaps a little more when I am serving your family Thanksgiving dinner and working a holiday. This isn't true for all wealthier people, but from my personal experience as a waitress it is what I, and I'm sure most other waitress's would agree, usually happens.

On the second canning trip I experienced the same thing. We were canning in my hometown, which is by no means super wealthy but it well off, and I expected to make a good amount of money however that wasn't the case! Many people drove by and in some instances they would honk their horn at someone who was giving money just to make the light! I get that people are busy and sometimes are in a rush but how is it appropriate to be rude to someone who is donating to THON or any other philanthropy for that matter? I was appalled by how some people were acting and it made me mad since these people are from my hometown! When more expensive cars would drive by they would roll their windows up or look straight and try and ignore me and the fellow canners with me. When cars that were much older and in worse shape would drive by and instantly start looking through their pockets and car for something to give. I definitely agree that wealthier people tend to be less generous. NBC did a study that found that wealthy people are less generous and in some cases the most selfish: http://www.cnbc.com/id/48725147

Seeing such appalling actions done by people in power sickens me. It does not make sense that the wealthy would be holding onto their money more tightly than the middle class, in regards to quantity of money. What it seems to be is reluctance to give up the cash in their possession, possibly by the state of mind that they want to keep the classes where they are at. I'm sure rich people didn't claim their success by sharing. It's simply the way it works. Those people got wealthy in the first place by trampling people on their way up the ladder. Middle class people face more problems and know what it's like to have a helping hand, so they do so. It is evident that rich and poor people think nothing alike, which is why they are in their positions. This article was interesting in depicting the exact characteristics and qualities of those varying in class: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-rich-people-think-differently-from-the-poor-2012-8#average-people-think-money-is-the-root-of-all-evil-rich-people-believe-poverty-is-the-root-of-all-evil-1

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