The Rich Guy’s Stigma and Derp

I have nothing against rich guys (or gals). I’ve known a few over the years. Some were good and some were bad. I certainly have nothing against Capitalism other than it needs tweaking (and regulation) to make it equal for all. However, according to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, rich guys are stigmatized. Maybe there’s a reason for that.

Let’s start with some definitions: Sociologist Erving Goffman defines Stigma as “spoiled identity”. His idea was basically that everyone wears a mask in social situations. When that mask is taken off , and a true identity revealed, it can lead to a stigma. Most Sociologists go with that. For this example however, I’m going with German Sociologist Gerhard Falk’s second definition of Stigma; Achieved Stigma.

Achieved Stigma in Falk’s definition is: “stigma that is earned because of conduct and/or because they contributed heavily to attaining the stigma in question.”

Makes sense. The rich guys, as a group, have done a lot to assign their own stigma. They did it through Derp.

Economist Noah Smith has a great take on the definition of “derp”. Smith uses Bayesian Probability to define Derp as essentially people holding on to false understanding & beliefs despite overwhelming and cumulative evidence to the contrary.

One of my favorite “derpian” concepts that super rich guys like to hold on to is that supply side economics works. There are many others, but that’s my favorite, since in Bayesian Probability, supply side economics has just taken a beating from logic, mathematics, and common sense. Yet people hold on to the idea that the only way to create jobs, is to make the super rich, super duper rich, all at the expense of the people who can least afford to make anyone super duper rich.

So perhaps Gov. Walker is right: the rich are stigmatized. Considering that they make up such a small percentage of our population, call it the new “class-ism”. However, in Falk’s definition, they brought it on themselves, through Derp. I suspect that their stigma wouldn’t be so bad if they gave up their false ideas. However, in order to prove my theory, they actually have to give up their ideas in lieu of other ideas.


Goffman, Erving, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Touchstone, 1986

Falk Gerhard, Stigma: How We Treat Outsiders, Prometheus, 2001

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