11/17/2006

Religious Conservatives More Generous Than Secular Liberals
















This article was brought to our attention by frequent commenter CATO:
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Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks is about to become the darling of the religious right in America -- and it's making him nervous.

The child of academics, raised in a liberal household and educated in the liberal arts, Brooks has written a book that concludes religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income.

In the book, he cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives -- from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services -- make conservatives more generous than liberals.

The book, titled "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism" (Basic Books, $26), is due for release Nov. 24.

When it comes to helping the needy, Brooks writes: "For too long, liberals have been claiming they are the most virtuous members of American society. Although they usually give less to charity, they have nevertheless lambasted conservatives for their callousness in the face of social injustice."

For the record, Brooks, 42, has been registered in the past as a Democrat, then a Republican, but now lists himself as independent, explaining, "I have no comfortable political home."

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.

Such an attitude, he writes, not only shortchanges the nonprofits but also diminishes the positive fallout of giving, including personal health, wealth and happiness for the donor and overall economic growth.
All of this, he said, he backs up with statistical analysis.

"These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago," he writes in the introduction. "I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book."

2 comments:

Cato said...

Also consider that conservatives typically complain about taxes more than liberals. Even afterward they still give more. Imagine how much more we could give if we stopped being so oppressed with taxes.

I also saw an interesting article on how in some European cities they are getting rid of traffic signs. Well, lets call the "towns" not cities.

They are still safe because now people are really more considerate when driving. Instead of (wrongly) assuming that everyone else is following the rules so you can bend em a little and no one would get hurt, you realize that there are no rules and you need to be aware of other drivers. This naturally slows things down, but it makes it safer. It seems odd but I read a study years ago that said that since seat belts came around accidents have gone up but deaths, aside from with pedestrians, have stayed the same. Pedestrians obviously die more. Why? The illusion of safety. You don't fumble with something on the floor of the car going 80, but you do going 30.

I think something similar may be happening for many liberals in giving. "We already give ours in the form of taxes, just like everyone else." There is an illusion that when the government does it is is done well and it does enough and further more that the government is needed for quote, "giving". What would happen if government just stopped redistributing money? Something similar that if it removed road signs I'd imagine.

Remember comments I made about "Libertarian Christians" being far more true to Christianity than others? -- others didn't do it themselves. They didn't give a damn thing, things were taken from them. They slough responsibility and want Mommy and Daddy to do it for them. Apparently there are more conservative people that like to actually go and help their fellow man than more liberal people who want someone else to do it for them and don't go above and beyond what Mom and Dad says is necessary.

Conservatives don't want government to do it for them. They want to do it. I think this study shows it quite clearly. It will be an interesting read once his book comes out, no doubt.

AndyRand said...

CATO:
As I said before, this book is referrng to religious conservatives, not Ayn Rand conservatives.
I see little or no concern for the less fortunate from the OTBL crowd.
While I'm reluctant to get personal, even you have often displayed an attitude of "It's not my problem" or "let them get a job" in regard to people in need. I don't know your personal giving habits so I will reserve judgement.

As for ridding the streets of traffic signs.... I know a few streets in town where streets intersect and there's no reason for partied in either direction to suspect someone about to cross their path. If you want a good example of disregard for law and public safety you only have to try driving in Juarez, Mexico. You take you life your hands at every intersection where cars make mad dashes acoss flowing traffic out of the blue.

Back to taxes and the general welfare. Trying to discern where valid needs are is a full time plus job. I don't have the time and I doubt you do either to adaquately assess what is and what is not a valid need. While private charities do a huge amount of good there are also a multitude of increasingly clever charlatans all to ready to prey upon the generous. At least when government is involved there is some accountability and a reasonable percentage will go to an assessed need. I think a combination of public and private aid is the best formula to deal with real need.
That said, it has been my experience the religious conservatives are indeed more generous than secular liberals. But I think it's the emphasis on religious, not conservative that makes the difference.
Ayn Rand conservatives taking a bow for the generosity religious conservatives is tantamount to Mommy and Daddy doing it for them.