Friday, March 28, 2008

Bleeding heart conservatives?

In the media and policy arenas, conservatives are portrayed as cold and heartless to the needs of others. While of course liberals are full of compassion for the downtrodden and less fortunate. Well, if you consider what conservatives and liberals actually do with their own money the exact
opposite is true.

This is pointed out by a George Will column entitled, "Conservatives more Liberal Givers". And highlighted by charitable giving patterns of Barak Obama who in 2002 gave only $1,050 to charity
despite having income of $259,000; this was the year before he ran for the US Senate. (The last two years his giving has gone up because of royalties from a book he wrote have increased his income dramatically.)

Will highlights Professor Arthur C. Brooks' book, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism."

Will points out:
-- Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of
conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30
percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600
per year vs. $1,227).

-- Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood...

-- Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above

-- In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent
majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was
3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent,
donated just 1.9 percent.

-- People who reject the idea that "government has a responsibility to
reduce income inequality" give an average of four times more than people who
accept that proposition.

Brooks demonstrates a correlation between charitable behavior and "the
values that lie beneath" liberal and conservative labels. Two influences on
charitable behavior are religion and attitudes about the proper role of
All of this flows from one's worldview. Will quotes an individual who says religious beliefs are the biggest indicator of charitable giving patterns. Of course, religion is a major shaper of worldview for most people. If you think it's government's responsibility to care for the poor then you don't need to be personally charitable. However, if you believe you have a God-given responsibility to be personally generous, to help others then you'll be more generous.

Marvin Olasky pointed out in his book, "The Tragedy of American Compassion", the word compassion presumes personal involvement. And that personal element is what really changes lives. Why? Because that's where the moral, spiritual and personal challenge arises, the tough love which is necessary to change lives. (At their core, most of people's personal problems are moral in nature.) And these elements are inherently absent from government social programs.

The moral of the story? Talk is often cheap. What one does with one's time and treasure are the best indicator of who really cares.


Troy said...

And when many church goers are told they OWE 10% to god and that keeping this money is stealing from god, I am not surprised.

At Oral Roberts University this was stressed (and in my Assemble of God Church), We were also told that we were to give over and above the 10% as an offering.

No doubt the threat of hell's fire may have something to do with the conservatives "generosity".

Anonymous said...

Hey Troy,
The average "church goer" gives about 2% to their church. These donations are going to organizations other than the church. He's talking about conservatives generally.

Troy said...

Could you provide a valid citation, none of that is in the article referenced.

Troy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.