How Unethical Are Wealthy People? (Infographic)

How Unethical Are Wealthy People? (Infographic)


According to this Infographic, the behavioral patterns of the wealthy appear to be quite elitist and entitled. The 1% believe that they are an acception to the rule, which causes a lot of social justice issues in the US.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems is the title of this illustrated data set, including a study conducted by UC Berkley. Just remember to take all the information with a grain of salt, and analyze how this relates to you, as well as the impact it has on the rest of the nation. Infographic after the jump:

Rich People Are Unethical
Created by: Accounting Degree Online

  • Brian

    “The 1% believe that they are an acception to the rule, which causes a lot of social justice issues in the US.” I think you meant “exception” there.

  • mw

    We should just kill them all. And take all their money.

  • Mike A.

    eat the rich…

  • mw

    And eat them. After we kill them and take their money, we should eat them.

  • mdgeorge

    Great job of refuting experimental data with hyperbole guys. I’m impressed by your wit.

    However you do raise an important question – besides coloring our perceptions and stereotypes, how can we use this understanding to further the public good? For those of you in favor of racial profiling, perhaps this data suggests that increased surveillance of the wealthy is a good idea.

  • Tully

    Data set? Experimental data? Better go check those “sources.” This is anecdotal emo propaganda by fauxgraphics, triple filtered by bias. One needs more than just a grain of salt to swallow this whole.

  • Calmoderate

    It would be useful to check the information sources behind this. Unfortunately, the links on the last graphic are not real links, so vetting this is a real pain. I found the source about tax cheating ( The numbers reported in the graphic above do match the numbers given and the information was based on a study ( by an academic and and “IRS researcher”. Based on that one reality check, rich people do seem to cheat more on their taxes than others.

    I suppose the dispute will be over whether one wants to believe that, i.e., one’s ideology. For folks with a mind set that likes that conclusion (some liberals maybe?), they might tend to accept the results of the study as true and relatively persuasive. For folks with an ideology that wants to reject the study results (some conservatives maybe?), they might tend to do that to reject the study as having any persuasive weight.

    For pragmatic folks like me who don’t give a rip about liberal or conservative ideology, the dispute might center on whether or not the study is reliable and according it reasonable weight if it is and not if its not. On that count, the study apparently isn’t published in a peer-reviewed journal. It seems to be just sitting out there in naked cyberspace. That arguably makes it suspect, but doesn’t negate its conclusions entirely. Other sources would be needed to confirm or deny the general veracity of what the study shows.

    Notice the difference in how liberals, conservatives and pragmatists go about doing politics? I bet a boatload that liberals and conservatives would vehemently dispute that characterization. They just got poked in the eye with a stick, and doing that usually makes downright ’em ornery.

  • cranky critter

    Wealthy people have far more OPPORTUNITY to cheat on their taxes. If you don’t pay any, there’s no need. If you’re filing an EZ, very little chance there as well. So the IRS part of it could simply be demonstrating that cheating increases as your tax bill increases.

    I bet I could do a study that showed that lower income people were much more likely to cheat on things like food stamps, unemployment, welfare, and so on. And then you’d see that opportunity issue again.

    People cheat whey they are presented with a tempting opportunity and think they can get away with it.That’s human nature. I’m very suspicious of the idea that poverty predicts virtue. Too many counterexamples to count.

  • Tully


    Unfortunately, the links on the last graphic are not real links

    I checked them just enough to confirm that they were for the most part ideologically biased anecdotal sound-bite cherry-picking of somewhat questionable sociological studies (that had all the usual assumptive and methodological flaws of same) that had already been filtered through rather biased and ill-informed pop-media sources before being cherry-picked.

    IOW, BS “inFAUXgraphics.”

  • Exasperated

    The idea that greed is a 1% thing or a Wall Street thing is preposterous. America is a bottomless pit of hustlers and always has been. Consider the OB-Gyn who performs the unnecessary C-section, the mechanic who sells you a new battery when you just need your cables cleaned, the repairman that uses substandard or counterfeit parts, the shop that seeds the order of good parts with parts that don’t meet spec, the processor who uses components whose shelf life has expired, the lawyer that pads his bill, the salesman who doesn’t strive to provide you with the product that best fits your needs but the one, on which he stands to make the most money. People dissemble and mislead (as taught in Marketing classes during the 60s), cheat, embellish, take short cuts, and cut corners at every level, in every occupation including the professions, academia and media, charitable foundations, and activists.

  • Angela

    I’m with Exasperated to a certain extent. However, here in America, we promote competition. People who cheat, for example, the repairman who uses substandard parts, will eventually lose business. Also, in this country we have checks, through regulation and oversight, that sooner or later catch the cheaters. Too much deregulation, dishonesty and cheating get out of control. Too little regulation, competition can’t thrive. Its a balancing act. Competition, by nature, eventually puts honesty and quality on top. But it needs regulations help.

  • cranky critter

    Competition, by nature, eventually puts honesty and quality on top. But it needs regulations help.

    Perhaps in theory. In general? In practice? Mileage varies. The more complex our world gets, the harder it becomes for the average person to assess quality in many domains. Especially when so much of the competition is on cost. Instead, what we have is the appearance of quality via various proxies. Like brands. Which build reputation that then gets leveraged and fades. Carefully worded non-guarantees and “pro-rated” warranties.

    Most folks are stuck with rational ignorance and hope when choosing, except in the areas where they’ve armed themselves with the knowledge to bridge the information asymmetry chasm.

    It’s a conflict to believe both that cheating, short cuts, and dissembling are rife, on the one hand, and also believe on the other hand that our system effectively weeds out such behavior. If cheating was something that got caught even 1 out of 5 or 1 out of 10 times, we’d see WAY less of it. Instead, what I see suggests that you have to especially stupid or careless, or especially aggressive in pushing your luck to get caught.

    Our real national motto should be caveat emptor.

  • Angela

    Correction. Meant to say ” too much regulation, competition can’t thrive.”

  • John Christensen

    All this infographic looks pretty scary! There is no doubt people who have plenty of money have more power therefore they have more options to lie and behave unethically because they think they are exception to the rule. I think the more people have money the more they have an inclination to earn it although they have enough for good living. I can’t say all wealthy poeple are unethical but firstly it depends on a person. There are some people who have lots of money but they prefer not to show it. They behave like an ordinary man.I think this infographic carries a general characteristic about wealth people. But like you say there is an exception to the rule!

  • Exasperated

    Now, we are at the heart of the conundrum that we face. Industry could have, but never did, clean up their act until they were compelled to; think of the men who stood in 100 degree heat, doing the same repetitive motion 10-12 hours a day, day in and day out, while standing ankle deep in animal parts and filth in the Union Stockyards. So the question is how to balance regulations that are in the public’s interest and avoid the onerous and frivolous ones that raise the bar so high that they stifle innovation and competition. The unintended consequence of high fixed costs is ever larger companies and consolidation across the sectors. Ever larger companies require an ever larger government as a counter-vailing force. Ever larger government sucks all the air out of the room which in turn again raises the bar of high fixed costs driving more consolidation and again undermining competition and innovation, in a kind of vicious circle.
    I heard a discussion the other day over an agreement between egg producers and the humane society over the cages used by laying hens. Can’t this be implemented by the states? So, okay what justifies federal involvement? Producers want some certainty before making the investment to become compliant. They don’t want to deal with a messy patchwork of contradictory laws and documentation requirements. The federal participation establishes, in this case, a level playing field.
    ” In California, for example, the egg industry was opposed to Proposition 2, the successful 2008 ballot measure banning cramped cages for egg-laying hens, on the grounds that it would disadvantage California farmers competing against sellers of cheaper eggs from states without a similar requirement. Since then, the state has approved a supplemental measure that forbids the sale of eggs in the state from farmers who do not follow the same practices as California’s.

    Well, if California requires that eggs sold in their state are produced to a specific standards, that, in turn, creates problems for producers from out of state. ”

  • Exasperated

    I imagine that you have all heard the suggestion that one of the factors that drove the housing sector meltdown is the disconnect that occurred between the borrower and the lender. What at one time was relatively local (face to face) link has strectched out across the globe (the lender may live anywhere in the world and has no connection to the borrower). This has over the decades become increasingly true of businesses. The business shareholder has no connection to the community where the plant(facilities) are located and is not a stakeholder. Multinationals to the degree that they are unethical or irresponsible are disconnected from their suppliers and their customers and in a position to do a great deal of local harm without any blowback. I am thinking of the contaminated pet food, dangerous toys incl. lead or toxic paints, the toothpaste containing antifreeze, the tainted baby formaula and lately the tainted raw materials used to produce heparin, not to mention the introduction of invasive species or dumping of toxic products. You can be sure that the days of small manufactures and family farms is over so I don’t know what the solution is, but I doubt that it will be a bunch of unenforceable, incomprehensible regulations.

  • Angela

    Responding to Cranky, consumers here in the U.S. are not purely price driven, they are value driven. Where a good is generally of a standard quality, natural gas for example, price is a more important factor. However, for all other goods, where quality can be variable, price is not the only deciding factor. Its value for the dollar, not bottom price, that often drives competition. Also, regulations don’t weed out the bad seeds. Competition puts the good seeds on top, as I said. It does not necessarily weed out the bad seeds either. Regulations can work to support competition, or get in the way of competition. Consider the meat processors who irradiate their meat to kill off potentially dangerous bacteria and to prevent foodborne illness. Using the technique is not mandatory, to my knowledge, but some meat processors will advertise that they do it to gain customers. Food safety is regulated, is important to the consumer, and meat processors that pass inspection are able to compete.

    Then consider Exasperated’s example of the egg producers, where regulation is clearly getting in the way of competition, in the short term. In the long run, egg producers will be competing in California based on quality, safeness of their product. To California’s credit, they required the same standards for out of state egg producers.

    What we regulate, when to regulate, and how to regulate, is a balancing act. Yes, there are regulations in existence that have a negative impact. But not all regulation is bad.

  • Angela

    The American consumer is not stupid. After one purchase where there was no value for the dollar, the good will not be purchased again. So cheaters can go ahead and lie in their advertising, but they’ll lose in the long run. Its not hard for the consumer to make the discernment, regardless of what technique sellers use to sell their product. Theres also word of mouth, which can travel fast these days.

  • cranky critter

    Angela, you’re making a pretty broad generalization about quality which I think bears more thought. I agree that where quality can be clearly and easily discerned, what you calim follows.

    But in what domains can we clearly and easily discern quality? Can we do it well enough with healthcare toeffectively weed out bad doctors and unresponsive providers? Not really. How about with financial investments? How about with buying a home? Buying a car? Buying a cellphone or computer or other sophisticated instrument?

    It’s not that consumers are stupid, necessarily. It’s that they have far far less expertise than the people doing the selling. Of course, this doesn’t pertain to things like say a candy bar or bottle of ketchup or a t-shirt or a chair. Or most other domains that are commoditized and operate on a low margin. But wherever there are higher margins, there’s a much higher degree of information asymmetry and a much higher margin for misleading and cheating and so on.

    I’ll happily agree that competition provides a mechanism of sorts, roughly along the lines you describe. My point is that i feel you’re substantially overstating its effectiveness. Further, it seems likely that the sort of trends I outlined will continue. Laws of entropy entail an increasingly complex universe. More and more of the products and services we consume are likely to move beyond the bounds of ordinary non-expert consumers to fully digest.

    On top of that, it’s crystal clear that competitors will continue to cross new frontiers in making it difficult for consumers to do an apples-to-apples comparison.

  • Exasperated

    It occurs to me that there are all kinds of tricks, short cuts & processes in a product that are not readily apparent in the end product or to the consumer. It must be schadenfreude on my part but I am enjoying the exposes on Pink Slime in ground meat.
    Related to this is the regulatory battle on the use of antibiotics (or hormones) in domestic animal production and their long and longer term implications, or the use if that fungicide(whatever it is) used in strtawberry production.
    Even more complicated, practically and morally, is the use of antibiotics to treat human diseases in the face of tuberculosis strains that are TOTALLY Drug Resistant. It is a constant upward battle for experts and hard for consumers to track.

  • Margaret

    Many thanks for the amusing info graphic! :) I’m sure much of it may even be fairly accurate, however I think that as someone already commented, it should be taken with a grain of salt. I know some very decent people who are extremely wealthy and are also very ethical. I think it’s important that we don’t mistake correlation for causality. Being wealthy doesn’t make people unethical, however many wealthy people may have garnered their wealthy because of unethical practices.

  • David P. Summers

    This is nothing more than stereo typing. Even if some (or even most) of the members of any group have a flaw, doesn’t mean you can characterize them all that way. This is why it doesn’t matter if you have some claim that more women are emotional than men, to call women emotion is still stereotyping.

    Remember the 1% includes both Steve Jobs and Berni Madoff.