Smells Like BS: Affluenza

 

By now you’ve probably heard of Ethan Couch, the 16 year old man/boy who was sentenced to rehabilitation and 10 years of probation for plowing his pickup truck into 4 people, killing them at the scene. Couch, son of Fred Couch, the wealthy owner and manager of a Texas manufacturing company “Clerburne Sheet Metal”, was driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.24, making his intoxication level triple the legal limit, had he been the legal age to drive.

 

Interestingly enough, the defense his legal team offered Judge Jean Boyd was that the boy was afflicted with a condition called “Affluenza”. If you’re wondering why this affliction sounds so similar to the word “Affluent”, it’s because it is. Affluenza is a condition in which one is raised under such affluent and privileged circumstances that they are unable to grasp consequences, thus absolving them from any accountability for basically anything (including vehicular manslaughter).


Photo courtesy: ABC News

 

America is up in arms about this seemingly fictitious defense which exonerates the privileged, but this defense shouldn’t come as a surprise considering, America has been a paradigm for a successful capitalist country for over half century. Being the poster boy for capitalism, America must reward and empower the wealthy, even if it means that we place them above the law. It wasn’t until recently that most of America was even aware of the scope of the immorality of financial institutions. Most people would call bankers “greedy” because it was as stereotypically sound as an Asian who couldn’t drive, a cheap Jewish person, or a violent African American. But then, in 2008, the shroud behind the Wizard of Oz was revealed, and we discovered what was behind the curtain of sub-prime mortgages. It was a group of greedy bankers giving out what they knew were bad loans. They were even greedier than we had imagined, so much so, that they were willing to sacrifice the livelihoods of the common person by immersing them in debt that would lead them to default and lose their homes. So what exactly happened to these corrupt financial institutions? They were given even more money by the government in order to avoid bankruptcy and prevent them from defaulting, something they ironically allowed to happen to a large portion of society.

 

The assumption is that the heads of these surviving financial institutions who were aware of and in support of these wrongdoings would be held accountable for crippling and nearly collapsing the economy. However, once these corporations were once again financially healthy, they were basically exonerated with the payment of hefty fines to the SEC and investors. Once again, money served as a substitute for any real justice.

currency
If money can buy forgiveness at this large of a scale, why would society be surprised when it happens in a smaller scale as is the case in the Ethan Couch scenario?

 

Affluenza abounds! We don’t know what was said behind closed doors between the SEC and these CEO’s but I’m willing to bet it was something like this:

SEC: Your corporation has ruined so many lives, what do you have to say for yourself?
CEO: I’m actually completely unapologetic because I have a really bad case of Affluenza. It’s been going around the office.
SEC: Jesus! Well I hope you’re getting treated. Let me know if you need some chicken soup or something.

 

Affluenza shouldn’t be limited to corporations, in fact, if you’re wealthy, you should immediately begin using this defense for everything. For example, if you get stopped for a driving violation.

 

Police Officer: Sir, do you know why I stopped you?
Rich Guy: Can you stop asking me stupid questions?
Police Officer: You were going ninety in a sixty five zone.
Rich Guy: Here’s a note from my doctor, I have Affluenza.
Police Officer: Uhhh… this is just a wad of hundred dollar bills.
Rich Guy: Booya! Now leave me alone, your mediocrity is depressing me.

 

And why stop at forgiving the affluent? What about the famous and overly confident? They too seem to be completely oblivious to consequences. For example, didn’t Kanye West jump up on stage and grab the mic during Taylor Swift’s VMA award speech in 2009? Doesn’t Lindsey Lohan frequently steal things and refuse to pay bills for no other reason than “I don’t pay for drinks! This is ridiculous! I’m freaking out!” Or what about the dozens of idiotic things Justin Bieber does on a daily basis including reckless driving, procuring prostitutes, punching DJ’s, walking around with his shirt off, telling chicks they look like beached whales, etc. These celebrities are suffering from a new variant of the Affluenza strain called “EgoTrippenza”.

 

It’s time that we as a capitalist society embrace that justice only applies to the middle and lower classes and we stop bashing innocent people like Ethan Couch, a clear victim of being too rich for his own good. If you’re really upset about the outcome of his case, then as the saying goes, “don’t hate, player participate”. Become rich and powerful, and you too can get away with murder. Just ask O.J. Simpson.

 

I’d like to end this piece quoting the uncooperative Ethan Couch at the scene of the accident, “I’m outta here!”

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