Thursday, March 27, 2008

Conservatives are more liberal

In their charitable giving, that is. In a recent column, George Will revisited this issue that most recently came up with the publication last year of "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism."

Will cites the findings in that book of Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, which demonstrate that regardless of how one breaks it down, the residents of those parts of the country that vote Republican and express conservative sentiments give a significantly higher portion of their incomes to charity.

And it isn't because of issues of wealth, as Will points out: "Democrats represent a majority of the wealthiest congressional districts, and half of America's richest households live in states where both senators are Democrats."

But not to worry -- the saintly former Vice President Al Gore shows the way personally. Although it was revealed in 2000 that Gore gave at 1/7th the rate for the average donating household, Will points out that Gore "gave at the office."

Not through having money withheld from his paycheck in an office charity drive though:

By using public office to give other peoples' money to government programs, he was being charitable, as liberals increasingly, and conveniently, understand that word.

Indeed, the very definition of liberal has always tended to mean, "liberal with other people's money." What is surprising is that conservatives continue with this rate of charitable giving in spite of being overwhelmingly in the broad middle class that is most adversely affected by our tax policies. (The very wealthy -- who can shelter their money, and the very poor -- who pay very little in taxes, both tend to be heavily Democratic.)

Talk about an inconvenient truth.

Addendum: David, in the comments, asks about the question of giving related to religious organizations. In the Chronicle of Philanthropy's review of the book, this is addressed --

(Brooks's) initial research for Who Really Cares revealed that religion played a far more significant role in giving than he had previously believed. In 2000, religious people gave about three and a half times as much as secular people — $2,210 versus $642. And even when religious giving is excluded from the numbers, Mr. Brooks found, religious people still give $88 more per year to nonreligious charities.

He writes that religious people are more likely than the nonreligious to volunteer for secular charitable activities, give blood, and return money when they are accidentally given too much change.

"There is not one measurably significant way I have ever found in which religious people are not more charitable than nonreligious people," Mr. Brooks says. "The fact is, if it weren't for religious people in your community, the PTA would shut down."


David said...

I wonder how much of this, if any, is explained by church-related giving.

Montana Headlines said...

Response in an addendum to the post.

Anonymous said...

Recent news reports said that the Obamas gave about one percent of their income to charity from 2000 to 2004.

Then the percentages jumped to the 5-7 range in 2005-07, with a lot of that going to their church. (be interesting to know if that was in anticipation of running for higher office)...

Some would say those numbers tend to all in line with this analysis...

Montana Headlines said...

All part of a picture. The liberal way is to be generous to a fault -- with other people's money.