November 22, 2006

Charitable conservatives and dictatorial Democrats

The stereotypical perspective on the Democratic Party states that the Democrats are the party of the little person. Conversely, Republicans are painted as rich, bigoted, and intolerant. Neither of these stereotypes holds any water when analyzed. The myth of the charitable liberal seemingly knows no bounds. And I agree that liberals are infinitely more charitable — with other people’s money. However, when it comes to their own money, a recent study reveals where the true charity resides.

The misconception that liberalism is for the common man has been ingrained into the popular American political mythology. Liberal Democrats purchased this stereotype with taxpayer (read: your) money. Today, however, these sloppy entitlements threaten our nation’s economy, which is arguably the strongest in American history.

Social Security and Medicare will burst the United States’ budget in the next 50 years without proper reform. The Medicare prescription drug plan that was thrust on seniors, many of whom do not benefit from it or do not want it, promises to cause similar budgetary woes. Welfare has long kept people in poverty instead of giving them the means to raise their socioeconomic status. Yet, Democrats continue to benefit from the lie of helping the little guy, when it is primarily their own political fortunes that benefit.

Even the most basic long-term policy analyses of entitlement-type programs point to methods of reform, or replacement, that improve their recipients’ long-term real welfare. Today’s history lesson concerns another conservative fix to a sloppy governmental entitlement policy. The conservative reformation of welfare to “workfare” took citizens off the public payrolls and gave them a stake in their own lives. When the Gingrich Congress took Capitol Hill, welfare reform was a major component in the Contract for America.

Welfare reform was enacted in 1996 and subsequently had a profound effect on unemployment and a serious lessening of the number of people on the welfare payrolls. In 1995, 5.2 percent of U.S. citizens were on the welfare rolls. After the start of welfare reform that number went down annually, dropping to a nearly all-time low of 2.1 percent in 2000. People are better off when they have ownership of their own lives. While oft demonized as hating the poor, the conservative reforms had a net positive benefit for the impoverished. A reduction in the percentage of welfare recipients is a clear indicator of this benefit.

Above I have outlined the regressive nature, and the eventual need for reform, of an entitlement policy the left uses to maintain co-dependence with a large bloc of its voting base. However, today’s myth-debunking is slightly more narrow: the idea of liberals’ superior generosity. One can understand why this myth is so persistent. Every day, Americans are deluged with images of celebrity giving, or Ted Turner dumping some of his vast fortune into the corrupt, but oh-so-well-intentioned, United Nations. It is practically impossible to find a story about conservative charitable giving between the daily Bono, Madonna, and Angelina Jolie lovefests.

A recent study by Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks outlines the truth behind the conservative generosity. Professor Brooks’ book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, comes out on Friday. In the book, Brooks details how traditional conservatives are the most generous Americans, giving far more to charity than their more secular liberal counterparts.

Traditional conservatives are defined in Brooks’ book as those who practice some form of religion, believe in smaller government with fewer or no entitlements, and have a more traditional family makeup. The liberal group analyzed consists of, on average, liberals with more secular religious beliefs and who are huge fans of government entitlement programs as outlined above. Brooks’ analysis reveals that these conservative Americans donate more than their liberal counterparts, while mentioning it less. It seems that another read on Brooks’ analysis is that liberals are great at giving others’ money away, while conservatives prefer to give charitably of their own accord and in comparatively greater sums.

There is more to this analysis than just the raw numbers. A correct read on this startling revelation is that the liberal philosophy is more intrusive towards the individual and individual rights. When given the option to give on their own or allow government to dictate how others should give, the liberal philosophy on giving chooses to infringe on the choices of the individual in favor of big government.

As well-intentioned as a belief in government entitlement programs might be, liberals lose the moral high ground when they fail to act in the same manner in which they demand others act. This is another case of the vast liberal hypocrisy that is exposed when any of the great political myths that pervade this nation are examined.

In his book, Brooks states, “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.” Hear, hear!

Posted by Benjamin Hackett at November 22, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #196142

Benjamin, you’re basing this on a book that hasn’t been published yet? Can you provide a link to its actual contents, or are you relying on blurbs? At any rate, as you well know, claims such as the ones you make need examination. Just off the top of my head, the way Brooks seems to define liberal and conservative could have been used to achieve the results he wanted. For example, liberals in traditional familes are excluded from the liberal group? What does that mean? That single mothers with kids give less? I imagine they have less to give. With such a study, you first one to compare groups that are as similar as possible except for one variable — in this case, political views. Do Christian liberals in traditional familes give less than Christian conservatives in traditional familes? Do agnostic conservatives in non-traditional familes give more than agnostic liberals in non-traditional families?

My point is simply that these claims mean nothing until examined. You shouldn’t be so uncritical just because these claims support your preconceptions.

Posted by: Trent at November 22, 2006 12:40 AM
Comment #196143

Good little speech but were are all those details at.

Posted by: jlw at November 22, 2006 12:40 AM
Comment #196146

“And I agree that liberals are infinitely more charitable ââ‚‎ with other people’s money. However, when it comes to their own money, a recent study reveals where the true charity resides.”


Show me a link to this “recent study”.

Other than grossly mistated opinion and total “hog-wash” you provide no facts whatsoever.

I’d suggest you read some of the Issue Guides at EPI:

Otherwise you’re just saying the “nasty” poor people are keeping us “true” Americans down.

Well, I’m not nasty and I doubt you’re true!

Posted by: KansasDem at November 22, 2006 12:59 AM
Comment #196150

So, according to folks on the right charity must be strictly viewed as who shells out a higher dollar amount? People volunteering their time and effort, or their own used clothing or household items for the use of others doesn’t count? Because that’s what the “liberal common man” often does instead of giving away money that can’t be spared due to a tight budget.
But aside from this, how about the charitable dollar amounts given out by lefty atheist buddies Bill Gates and Warren Buffet?
In the larger scheme of things their enormous secular contributions, now combined, might be considered to make up nicely for the tight-fisted liberal shortfall, no? You know, just until you manage to substantiate this claim?

Posted by: Adrienne at November 22, 2006 01:43 AM
Comment #196152

Makes me wonder how much charitable giving the Republicans would be doing if there was no tax deduction. We all know how much Republicans hate to pay taxes.

Posted by: jlw at November 22, 2006 02:07 AM
Comment #196154

I love it. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are the nicest guys on the planet, they are so giving.

John D. Rockafeller and Andrew Carnegie were the most charitable guys in the world.

Just look at their foundations and the good they do.

Of course, you have to ignore the man behind the curtain, like Dorothy was told in Oz.

Their monopolistic behavior starved millions, took food from widows mouths, and destroyed competitors in their respective industry.

In the capitalist fantasy, money=sainthood. It may not get you into heaven, but it sure can buy you a saintly image. After you’ve raped and pillaged, just buy a little salvation.

Posted by: gergle at November 22, 2006 02:57 AM
Comment #196157

gergle, I agree with you. But I’m afraid you’re being far too nuanced for this article. The message here is: the ones who shell out the most are the better and most excellent of people.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 22, 2006 03:17 AM
Comment #196169

Good post.
You guys really should look into the facts before you start making excuses and casting blame or making comparisons.
The author is a self admitted liberal who was actually surprised by his findings and he took many things into account. He did not concentrate only on money as some of you are hoping for either. He factored in many varibles and it will be worth a read when it comes out.

No surpise

Not sure why you all are so upset, its not like it wasn’t already common knowledge.

Posted by: kctim at November 22, 2006 09:14 AM
Comment #196187

It would be interesting to really get the meat of this before we all pile on
However a few thoughts come to mind
Is it a direct comparison — without consideration of the relative size of the populations??
($ per thousand people, etc)
I also have a suspicion that there would be quite a bit of this “volunteer” and charity work that is tied to the church (not a bad thing, but helps to explain the disparity)
This person has taken numbers and then applied a label — that may not be appropriate.

This would point to a good thing associated with churches —that the congregation of like-minded people encourages charitable work —
You get a few people up front to initiate a project, do the foot-work — and then a large number of the congregation can participate — quite easily, without having to do all the logistical work.
Those of us not necessarily associated with an organized church have a more difficult time finding opportunities to contribute>
It is interesting, my wife and I want to volunteer (and I do in Search and Rescue work) — and we are amazed at the many public service ads pleading for people to volunteer
Just try sometime
go to any of the Non-profits and TRY to offer your time
You might as well try to get a top-security clearance at the White-House.
It is quite frustrating
and if it isn’t that — TOO many (in my opinion) REQUIRE that you buy into their religious agenda (the applications include a full rundown of religious associations and work — and it is made clear that there are minimum RELIGIOUS requirements in order to be ALLOWED to volunteer your time)
Sooo — it also seems that the religious orgs try to make it difficult for those of us who don’t wish to buy into their beliefs cannot provide help to those who might need it — THAT seems somewhat shortsighted to me
Just some thoughts
But once again, instead of something that should be bringing us together (especially at this time of year) — it is being presented as “We’re better than you”
Conservatives Good,
Liberals Bad (and hypocritical)
again, without going very deep into the numbers, just using them to support the Good vs Bad

As above — I see an opportunity to use this data to see how the “unreligious” might be able to overcome some difficulties in being able to volunteer or contribute to charities.
Or to encourage the religious community to welcome volunteers regardless of their religious (or not) affiliations — after all the hungry, cold and poor don’t really care what your religion is.

Posted by: Russ at November 22, 2006 11:03 AM
Comment #196194

We have written about this before.

I do not think it is possible to tell whether conservatives or liberals are more generous. We do know that the most generous states (in terms of % income and time) are places like Mississippi & Utah and the most stingy are Massachusetts & Connecticut

It is also true that religious people give more than secular people.

There are two things that are true.

1. There is absolutely no evidence that liberals are more generous than conservatives and some indication that they are not.

2. You cannot be generous by giving away things that do not belong to you.

So I am being generous by giving liberals the benefit of the doubt that they are as generous as conservative, but I am morally certain that they are not MORE generous.

Posted by: Jack at November 22, 2006 11:31 AM
Comment #196196

Read this again:

Traditional conservatives are defined in Brooks’ book as those who practice some form of religion, believe in smaller government with fewer or no entitlements, and have a more traditional family makeup. The liberal group analyzed consists of, on average, liberals with more secular religious beliefs and who are huge fans of government entitlement programs as outlined above.

Now read Trent’s post again. IMO Liberals must automatically question the motive behind this study — because who exactly did this professor seek out to comprise the liberal side of this comparison? “Traditional Family” vs. What? Single Mothers? Single people who live with roomates? Why try to extrapolate anything from two groups of people whose lives and situations are as disparate as could be?

Posted by: Adrienne at November 22, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #196213

Someone, kctim I think, posted the link where apparently the article writer got his information. I hope everyone reads it closely. Here’s a sentence that stuck out:

To make his point forcefully, Brooks admits he cut out a lot of qualifying information.

It’ll be interesting to see the book. In the meantime, I’ve got to go give blood before I pick up my daughter and rush over to a neighbors to watch their kids until they get home. I bet I can’t deduct any of that, though, honestly, until now, that thought never occurred to me.

Posted by: Trent at November 22, 2006 01:21 PM
Comment #196217


“The message here is: the ones who shell out the most are the better and most excellent of people.”

Actually that is not was the article is saying. What it is saying is that while the dems are always talking about how the Reps & conservatives are only concerned with the rich and big business, the truth is much different. Unfortunately conservatives are not as good at patting themselves on the back and getting the truth out to the media.

Posted by: Keith at November 22, 2006 01:40 PM
Comment #196218
So, according to folks on the right charity must be strictly viewed as who shells out a higher dollar amount? People volunteering their time and effort, or their own used clothing or household items for the use of others doesn’t count?


Benjamin does reinforce at least one Republican stereotype. That for Republicans money is God. They are constantly screaming, “liberals spend my money!,” (hello, liberals pay taxes too.) “liberals restrict my rights!,” (why? Because they spend my money!), “I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and am going to push my beliefs on you!,” (well except those parts that say we should take care of the poor and needy! Obviously a scribal mistake.) It’s always about money with Republicans.

Posted by: JayJay at November 22, 2006 01:49 PM
Comment #196219

Nope, Keith.

It may be what the article intended, but the data points to the wealthy simply being richer with more disposable income.

What Jack said is true. It is shaky at best to surmise that any branch of politics is more generous and giving away other people’s money is not a sign of generosity whether through earmarks, cozy contracts, welfare (corporate and social), or slick business practices that many call piracy.

Posted by: gergle at November 22, 2006 01:50 PM
Comment #196223

As I do not believe in “giving” somebody money for nothing, any and all of my charity is in the form of my skills.
I have been through the “Top Secret” clearance procedure and they do not relate with each other.
I have volunteered with churches and have never had a problem doing so. I am an atheist. It was never required or suggested that I believe as they do, they were just happy to have an extra pair of hands.

What kind of motive could a liberal have in doing this kind of study? I would think that he was in fact searching for a different outcome so as to use against the religious right.

I don’t think it comes out until the 23rd or something, then we can see how he came to his conclusion. Until then, we are mostly just guessing or making excuses based on which side of the isle we are on.

It does make sense though and one can see it everyday.
Liberals give less because they believe govt should force everybody to give. That way they do not feel the need to actually support what they say is right.
Conservatives give more because they believe in actually doing something rather than waiting for govt to do it for them.

My main point though, is along the lines of what Keith just wrote. The left tries to convince everybody that Reps and Conservatives are only concerned with themselves, the rich and big business, even though they know it is not true, and this book may hamper that rhetoric.

To be honest, I really don’t care who gives what and I don’t believe people should be forced to do so either, such as we are now.
But to me, it seems that some people prefer to let govt do everything so they don’t have to and some people prefer to actually do the things they believe in, themselves.

Posted by: kctim at November 22, 2006 02:09 PM
Comment #196226

Please stop spreading that Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity MANURE around!

Can’t you see this whole country now sees through it?

Posted by: RGF at November 22, 2006 02:14 PM
Comment #196228

“They are constantly screaming, “liberals spend my money!,‎ (hello, liberals pay taxes too.)”

Maybe so, but Conservatives don’t let charity end there.
If somebody needs help, it seems as if Conservatives will try to personally help them, while the liberal answer would be to raise taxes.

““liberals restrict my rights!,‎ (why? Because they spend my money!),”

Actually, its because they spend the money they had govt force us to give. And they do so as to force us to support what they believe.

““I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and am going to push my beliefs on you!,‎ (well except those parts that say we should take care of the poor and needy! Obviously a scribal mistake.)”

“Nobody should have anothers beliefs pushed onto them” (well, except those that say we should take care of the poor and needy! That part of the Bible is ok)

“It’s always about money with Republicans”

Its sad that you believe that JayJay.
Some people believe in actually doing what they say is right, while the rest of you believe in govt forcing others to do what you say is right.

It’s always somebody else’s problem with liberals and govt is always the answer.

Posted by: kctim at November 22, 2006 02:21 PM
Comment #196242

This guy seems to be a self-described liberal who nonetheless takes a bunch of conservative stances. What the publicity material fails to speak to is the fact that he found Religious Liberals to be equally giving as Religious Conservatives.

The very way he writes indicates that he takes the Conservative standards of what constitutes giving to heart, which is a rather biased way of addressing overall philantropy.

I don’t think this kind of article does the Republicans much good. The Republican broke their arms patting themselves on the back for years on what superior people they are, and they ended up doing substantial damage to our economy, our military and our nation in the process.

There are plenty of good Republicans out there, but they got that way by paying attention to what they are doing, rather than strutting around boasting.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 22, 2006 05:53 PM
Comment #196289

I am a conservative republican. I am V-P of a non-profit that feeds people. We also clothe people. We supply other needs to those people. So, those who say republican, conservative, church people have as their god, money need to re-examine the facts. All they said was a rant and rave and no substance.

Posted by: tomh at November 23, 2006 01:34 AM
Comment #196300

Ben - Whe you say or the study says conservatives donate more to charities, the question is more what? Time? Money? or moneyas percent of income? clothes and other goods? You need o quantify and be specific. Whatar ewe measuring here?

You generalization between conservatives and liberals I can accept. But we need to go deeper and there are profound differences. As one who leans more left than right, I see government as the last stop. The question is what responsibility do we as a society have towards people that need help? What is our responsibility towards our fellow human beings? And how do we help them? Should government be involved in any way?

Suppose no one gave any donations to any charity? No one volunteered. Or not enough was being given by individuals to help all that can and should be helped be helped. Do we let these people suffer? or do we enact some governement program to help? What is the fall back? Or should there be a fall back?

How can we rationalize as a society with so much wealth and resources to have an infant mortality rate in the inner cities higher than any other industrialized nation in the world? How can we rationalize 41 million people without health care?

With all this so called generous giving by conservatives, people are still suffering. To end this suffering only nation wide initiatives and programs can stop it.

Posted by: Stefano at November 23, 2006 08:25 AM
Comment #196320

Meaning, get the government involved? How ridiculous. The government always does things in an incompetent manner and it always cost more and furthermore the problem is never solved. People need to get involved more. We are our brothers keeper. As Jesus said, The poor will be with you always. No government help, just people helping when they can, who they can, while they can.

Posted by: tomh at November 23, 2006 12:00 PM
Comment #196508


I remind you that Jewish law permitted the poor to glean the fields owned by individuals. In other words, they were entitled to a portion of the food harvest. Jesus not only did not repudiate that particular Jewish law, but also he and his disciples took advantage of it.

Posted by: Trent at November 26, 2006 05:47 PM
Comment #196590

So what is your point in relation to what I posted. I am very much aware of the Jewish law that allows gleaning the fields. No controversy there.

Posted by: tomh at November 27, 2006 05:55 PM
Comment #196607


I seem to have responded to the wrong person, and without re-reading the thread, I’m not certain now whom I intended that post for. At any rate, my implicit point was that a government law requiring, in essence, charity, was used (and went unremarked) by Jesus. I love the idea of charitable giving, and do it myself, but I also don’t think that alone is enough.

Posted by: Trent at November 27, 2006 08:14 PM
Comment #198329

To answer whether this is primarily religious giving… Also a large amount of $ that is given to religious organizations is then passed along to charitable causes.

His 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.

Posted by: Split Down the Middle at December 8, 2006 02:08 PM
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