The Spectacle Blog

Does wealth make us rude?

By on 7.27.07 | 11:46PM

Peggy Noonan says we're rude because we're rich. Perhaps, but not being an economic determinist I tend to think we have gotten ruder because manners and parents and religion were all decried as hopelessly passé in the 1960's which became infamous for the most bad ideas(excepting civil rights, which counts for a lot) in one decade( the youth are wise, men and women are the same, marriage equals oppression --the list goes on.) We are now reaping what we sowed and live in a coarser, ruder, noisier age. On the other hand there are great benefits. While Peggy complains about being pounced on by overeager store clerks I thought "no one pounces at me from Amazon." There are trade offs in other words. We live in a society unparalleled in wealth and awash in information. Seems petty to complain about a store clerk trying to earn a commission. Which reminds me of another bad product of the 60's --this notion that the world is made to order and we can go through life without ever being pestered, annoyed, or insulted. Does every offense deserve a column or every bad habit --smoking, perfume-- warrant a ban? Maybe not. Maybe the problem is not money but the ideas we as a society adopted and the values we forgot in the 60's. But it's easier to blame rich people.

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