New York Magazine presents the results of a number of recent studies which, taken all in all, suggest that wealth makes people "more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes."
A lot of the research reported there sounds weak (for instance, correlating desirability of car with assholeishness — assholicity? — of driver). But I think we can still say, same as it ever was.
An opportunity to quote from a novel of Amis Sr.'s underrated middle period: I Want It Now (1969), in which you can detect the last gasps of the leftism of Kingsley's youth. One day I'll take you through his Fabian Society pamphlet Socialism and the Intellectual.
In pursuit of the beautiful Simona Quick — known, puzzlingly, as Simon — Ronnie Appleyard has spent a good deal of time in the company of her appallingly rich family and their friends, and been appalled. Appearing on a television panel programme with Simon's mother, he takes the opportunity to lay into her class:
Some rich people have got the strength of character it takes to be rich and remain a human being. I'm not talking about them. They're rich in the sense that they have more money than we have, Hemingway's rich. I'm talking about Fitzgerald's rich — I don't know why everybody seems to think he lost that exchange, he saw more than Hemingway did, as always — I'm talking about the rich that are different from us. They're different, and they're worse, not because they're worse by nature, but because of their opportunities. Opportunities for power without responsibility ... If you're rich you can afford to abandon reason, justice and good manners whenever you feel like it.
Or is it the other way round: abandoning reason, justice and good manners is the high road to fortune? I can see how that would work.