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.



  1. Interesting perspective on the matter, Andrew. I reckon they live life expecting buttling anywhere, anytime. However, I also imagined that they would be held by a higher standard by their parents, which is why they are sent to private schools and Ivy league unis, or are these just necessary accessories in their world like a Swiss watch? Do they actually do anything with their degrees? What do rich kids do after uni I guess is my question.

    Great post as always, and looking forward to your answers. :)
    Cheers! -E.M.

  2. An interesting association, E. M. -- top schools being only accessories. And you may be right. I certainly can't answer for all the young rich, some of whom accept their responsibilities in life and go on to lead productive lives. But it's been my observation that too many rich kids, if they go to university at all, study things that can't possibly lead to an income in the real world--like Art History, or the Humanities-- relying instead upon their rich parents' money to carry them through life.


  3. To say the least it is a very SAD waste of life !KEK

    1. It most certainly can be, KEK. But some rich kids do pull through and realize there's a real world out here. Andrew

  4. Great post as always, sir!

    I, for one, always imagined these rich kids just go off traveling the world for the rest of their lives although I vaguely remember reading, perhaps here too, that the super rich don't actually have the liberty to just jet off and fall off the grid. So, do they just pick one of their numerous estates and live their forever supervising their staff? I can't imagine the rich living that way, but that's kind of the idea I'm getting. Do correct me if I'm wrong. No wonder they seem so miserable and seem to not look forward to their future as adults unlike the rest of us who look forward to living the rest of our lives--whatever they may be.

    Greetings from Doll

    1. Thanks for your comment, Doll. I can't answer for all the rich, of course. Some do just hide out in their privileged world and spend their days giving orders to the staff. But others break free, live more simplified lives, and are generous in their world view and charities. Some rich teenage brats are all about self aggrandizement and satisfying their own selfish egos, while others have style, grace, and class -- which saves the day. I wish I could say it's all a matter of breeding, but drugs and alcohol come into play and derail many dreams. Andrew