Ep. 048 – Rich People are Anxious…and What That Says About Society

Mom always said, ”money can’t buy happiness,” but it sure can make life easier. So it was with some skepticism that I invited this week’s guest Rachel Sherman, associate professor of sociology at the New School in New York City, on the show.

Sherman’s recent book, Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence, explores what’s going on inside the heads of the one percent.

I know, I know…who wants to hear unhappy, wealthy people whine about all their problems? Cue the sarcastic “Oh those poor things…

But Sherman wants to know why so many wealthy people have a hard time accepting the fact that they’re financially secure. To find out what it’s really like for people living on “easy street,” Rachel conducted interviews with fifty affluent New Yorkers, including hedge fund financiers and corporate lawyers, professors and artists, and stay-at-home mothers, to examine their lifestyle choices and their understanding of privilege.

The findings were enlightening, and include the subjects wishing to be “normal,” describing their consumption as reasonable or comparing themselves to those who have more than they do, rather than those with less. They also want to see themselves as hard workers who give back and raise children with good values, and they avoid talking about money.

In the process, Rachel sheds light on how extreme inequality comes to seem ordinary and acceptable to the rest of us.

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

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