Business Insider: Rising Wealth May Have Made Americans Less Generous
... Using Google's Ngram tool, Patricia Greenfield sifted through more than 1 million books published in the U.S. over the last two centuries to see which kinds of words went in and out of favor. The time period shows a shift in American society from a more rural way of life to a boom in urban populations, which tend to be wealthier and better educated.
Over time, she found words that implied individualism increased in use, while words denoting community and generosity decreased. For example, 'get' has increased in use, while the more generous 'give' took a nose dive over the years. Additionally, "words that would show an individualistic orientation became more frequent," Greenfield told NPR. "Examples of those words were 'individual,' 'self,' 'unique.'" ...
On a related topic, John Teevan has a good post, 10 Perils of Prosperity.
So Why is Sustained Prosperity a Peril? Nearly everyone on earth prefers a life free from poverty and from the need to focus on survival. Call it liberty or call it comfort, everyone prefers this life. Now nearly 2b people enjoy that level of living thanks to the growth of economic freedom. But there are problems.
- People think that nothing can go permanently wrong. Money cures everything and there is plenty of it and always will be. Period.
- People think that all moral issues are irrelevant. Ask Miley Cyrus…the latest casualty who is also a Disney role model: see #9.
- People think that they can afford anything and suddenly want everything. So the richest people on earth fuel their lives with even more debt financed stuff. ...