Sunday, November 02, 2008

'Gimme.' The stigma of begging is gone.

A slightly different version of this article also showed up in the National Post on November 1st under the title; "A beggar's riches" (Page FW5, link not available). It supports a key asscertion I make in the October Issue of EGS - that human behaviour is devolving. There are also some excellent responses to the article posted below it at the Boston Globe.


"Sociologists say that any traces of crimson shame that once accompanied the act of asking for handouts have been drained from young people. The culprits may include the "You have to love yourself before you can love somebody else" goadings of enabling parents, purple TV dinosaurs, and soccer coaches who refuse to keep score lest their team lose. "If your focus is on your immediate need," says Hansen, "you won't necessarily care about what the perception is."

The result, sociologists and others say, is a narcissistic me-generation that believes its lives are an open book - the steamier the better - to be woven into the scripts of reality TV shows, highlighted in the promos for Dr. Phil's next episode, or peddled as poor-me appeals on the Web.

"At some point in our broader culture we began to argue that people's faults are not their fault. In that context, it became OK to testify about your faults," says Malanga. "It makes you appear more human, more like the common man." Thus, the Wall Street whiz kids turned junket-junkies could blithely ask taxpayers for a $700 billion bailout.

"That's Wall Street saying, 'I'm not financially responsible for my mistakes, so help me here,' " says Hansen.

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