Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Affluenza! Are you kidding me?

I've not wanted to get into this discussion, but there's been so many requests for an opinion that I thought I might as well jump in.

By way of background, a few months back four people died and others were injured in a drunken driving incident. The rich Texas teenager charged with the deed was sentenced to only ten years probation, plus a little time in rehab. Which, of course, created a stir around the country.

His attorneys argued he was the victim of "Affluenza and the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy."  

Simply said, it was claimed the boy didn't have the ability to discern between right and wrong because he was so rich.

I don't even know where to begin on this nonsense. Maybe it's best to start by mentioning the term first originated in an anti-consumerism book called Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic which went on to describe the disease as "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more."

Well okay, whatever. All I know is that in lesser circles the rest of us in this situation might be diagnosed as having sociopathic behaviors, or at the very least, anti-social personality disorders. And we'd be thrown directly into jail or a mental institution, right?

Having said that however, there's some small truth in the argument. Rich kids grow up in a bubble. They're raised by nannies, sent to private schools, aided by private tutors, and they have house staff to make their beds, do their laundry, and clean up after their mess. Plus the fact they live in extremely protected neighborhoods, often behind locked gates, in the ritzy part of town where only the rich run around and play.

These kids have no meaningful contact with the outside world. Not with the middle class, not the poor, certainly not the homeless, and seemingly develop a sense of superiority and entitlement in their world of endlessly getting what they want.

I see it all the time around here when rich people bring their little brats over to the house. And when I'm ordered around by these kids, perhaps told precisely how to prepare their cereal, I can't help but think here's another future sociopath on the way up. (That was meant to be sadly funny, btw.)

But when you add this sense of entitlement to normal teenage hormones and rebellion, there can be some real trouble in the works, sometimes with dangerous consequences. We see it almost daily in the news and tabloids about privileged kids or famous teenage stars devolving before our very eyes and constantly getting into some kind of trouble.

Well, that's about all I've got on the subject. In my mind it seems to me rich kids should be held to a much higher standard due to all their privilege in life - not let off the hook because they're rich. But that's just me, I guess.

Thanks for stopping by tonight.