power corrupts

Reading the following passage in Losing My Religion by William Lobdell, I had the thought that it reflects a truth of all human populations. He's writing about his wife's journey from faithful Catholic to unbeliever.
For years, she said she had been "judged up the gazinga" by priests during confession and counseling sessions, making her feel guilty and worthless. Now she was finding out that these same preiests had been convering up fro their molesting brethren, or that they themselves had unconfessed sins far greater than hers. She came to see Catholic priests as regular people who belonged to an all-male clube that absurdly believed its members held special powers -- like turning bread and wine in to teh literal body and blood of Christ -- that set them apart [from] the rest of humanity.
My insight was that the more any culture or group of humans sets some members apart with special status and powers, the more it creates the opportunity for abusive and fraudulent behavior on the part of the privileged group. That is, power corrupts, etc. And it seems that this effect is proportional to the distance between the classes and the impermeability of the barrier between them. The greater the distance between the privileged and the disenfranchised, the greater the incentive to present oneself as a member of the privileged class, even if such is not the case, the less the incentive for the privileged to treat the disenfranchised fairly, and the greater the opportunity for the privileged to abuse the disenfranchised. The more difficult it is for a disenfranchised to pass the barrier and become a member of the privileged, the greater the resentment and pain of the disenfranchised is likely to be and the less the incentive for the privileged to treat the disenfranchised with respect. Such dynamics are likely to encourage the privileged to make the barriers even higher and the distance even greater, to isolate and protect themselves from the understandable resentment and rage of the disenfranchised.

These considerations are relevant within nations as well as without. As the gap between wealthy and poor continues to increase in the U.S., the greater the pressure for equalization as well as the greater the incentive of the wealthy to keep the poor at a distance and unable to move into the privileged class. Similarly, as the developed nations move farther and farther ahead of less developed nations in terms of technology, energy consumption, per capita pollution, per capita comfort, and so forth, the greater the incentive for the developed nations to maintain the gap and the greater the pressure for social justice.