Posts Tagged ‘Ethan Couch’

Purely speaking, we all know money can only get us so far. The finer things yes, like cars and homes and private schools. But I always thought it can’t buy you happiness. Rich people can be just as miserable in their second home as somebody in their rented walk-up. Optimism is available to one and all. And I like to think we can all still aspire toward that American Dream with enough hard work and luck!

What money certainly can buy you, in this country, is legal representation should you screw up.

Which is exactly what happened to Ethan Couch, that “Affluenza Teen” in Texas. How many of us have done something dreadful, used poor judgement in whatever shape or form, at the age of sixteen? Admit it. Bob has often said he would never get away with some of things he did then, if his sixteen-year-old self tried them now.

My point is that the Texas teen may or may not know right from wrong when he royally screwed up, killing four people while driving drunk. His parents hired a great legal team that came up with that defense, and he was tried as a juvenile. Which is as it should be, we’d all want our child to have a second chance at life. To find redemption eventually once his brain stops growing at around age 25. To become a mensch. We are a country that believes in second chances.

But let’s face it, Couch received probation because he came from a wealthy family. Let’s think what might have happened to a poor boy of color. In Texas.

I thought a lot about him while I was reading this article in The Atlantic at the gym: “The Silicon Valley Suicides” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/12/the-silicon-valley-suicides/413140/ It was all about the stress of top tier high school students wanting to go to Stanford, taking lots of AP classes, not sleeping and some are jumping in front of trains. In fact, they have a second cluster of high achieving teen suicides in Palo Alto, California. What I found fascinating was a secondary Yale Psychiatry study that was referenced.

In the inner-city school, 86 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches; in the suburban school, 1 percent did. Yet in the richer school, the proportion of kids who smoked, drank, or used hard drugs was significantly higher—as was the rate of serious anxiety and depression. This anomaly started Luthar down a career-long track studying the vulnerabilities of students within what she calls “a culture of affluence.”

The researcher, Suniya Luthar, found that in comparing students across the board along socio-economic standing, she came up with a statistical U curve, ie the poorest students and those from the wealthiest families had the highest incidence of discipline and behavior problems. Aha, so someone actually is researching what’s going on in our schools! But surely it’s not ALL about the money.

To paraphrase F Scott Fitzgerald, the very rich are very different from you and me. I would only add because they can afford a good defense. Why should we expect their children to hold any better virtues, to have a moral compass,when their parents do not? A mother who runs to Mexico with her fugitive son, and pays his tab at the strip club, deserves our sympathy. And maybe some counseling while she sits in a jail cell awaiting her right to due process.    5p0fkm-L


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