Affluenza

This was a new one to me. A young drink-driver responsible for the deaths of four people in Texas in February has pleaded in his defence that he was suffering from ‘affluenza’ at the time. ‘Affluenza’ apparently refers to the disadvantage of being brought up in a rich family, in circumstances which therefore render you unable to tell right from wrong. Apparently it has been known about for years: (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/04/affluenza-history-disease-wealth-privilege-ethan-couch). One common symptom is that if you do wrong – trash a restaurant, for example – you never apologise, but simply offer the victim money. The Oxford Bullingdon club obviously comes to mind. (See the splendid 2014 film, The Riot Club. No, it’s not fiction. I saw quite a lot of that sort of thing at Cambridge.)

Is there a diagnostic test for ‘affluenza’? If so, I could suggest a few people it might be tried out on. Two of them live next door to each other in Downing Street. Both, coincidentally, were ‘Bullers’ themselves; as was Boris. Someone ought also to tell Sir Alan Duncan (below, April 12), and all those other Tories who believe that being born into affluence, as well as or even more than having achieved it, somehow qualifies a person for power. At the very least, it’s a factor to be taken into account on the other side.

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