Religious Folks More Generous

A couple days ago, Ben Hackett wrote a piece called Charitable conservatives and dictatorial Democrats. I found a follow up. I still do not know if Republicans are more generous than Dems, but the evidence that indicates if you are religious, oppose government income redistribution programs and are married with kids, you are more generous and that the single secular male is the stingiest of all. How might these people vote?

My information come from an article by Arthur C. Brooks, professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs, is the author of "Who Really Cares" and a Harvard study on social capital. This study is still in progress, but it tracks with others things I have read and makes sense in light of the state ranking

Some key points

Religious people are 25% more likely to give than the non-religious and they give nearly four times more dollars per year than secularists and volunteer more than twice as frequently.

People who are generally against government income redistribution donate four times as much those who support redistribution.

Couples, even when they earn the same amount as single people, are more likely to give to charity.

None of this comes as much of surprise to me and I would be surprised if it came as much of a surprise to others. We just pretend we do not believe it. Basically decent people to decent things.

BTW - Income is not a big factor in generosity. The poor also give.

My own take on this is that we are talking connections. People who attend church have a wider variety of acquaintances, since religion tends to mix people from different social and economic groups more than most other more self selecting clubs or social groups. It makes them more aware of others and besides people are more likely to do good things when they belong to a supporting group. Married people have shown a commitment to working with someone else. (This is a good thing for most people and why I support single sex marriage.) Single people more often lack long term relationships. The greater generosity of the non-redistribution folks may have something to do with their greater belief in personal responsibility, but I think it might just be a characteristic that goes with the others.

Posted by Jack at November 27, 2006 6:37 PM
Comments
Comment #196602

1)Do those who support generous social welfare measures through the government consider what they do a form of charity?

2)Do those who are religious give outside of their religious organizations, or do they rely upon the organization, giving the money to them and letting them give on their behalf?

3)What kind of correlation is made between basic materialist values and the level of giving?

4)What is the overall effect of charitable efforts in comparison to social welfare programs?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 27, 2006 7:08 PM
Comment #196603

Hey, by Brooks’s definition of traditional conservative he probably counts me and my wife as conservatives! And are tithings and donations to the church counted among the ‘charitable’ donations. Around the Bible Belt here there are mega-mega churches with private climbing walls, bowling alleys, movie theatres, megaplexes of soccer and baseball fields, in short, private tax-free country clubs. Are contributions to these considered ‘charity’? The article I read seems to raise more questions than it answered. I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable saying that conservatives are more generous than liberals. Many CEO’s who make multi-millions per year may be very, very generous towards particular charities while making sure that the board members have golden parachutes and huge bonuses whether the company is tanking or not. They may in fact represent a large portion of the conservative giving. They get tax breaks, too, for donations. Are they really giving with ‘their’ money or are they indirectly giving with ‘other’ people’s money as so gleefully accuse liberals of doing?

Posted by: LibRick at November 27, 2006 7:12 PM
Comment #196606

Interesting article, Jack. Although I truly am uninformed on this topic, I’d hazard that your speculation on connections is probably correct — at least, if they are not the primary factor it seems intuitive that they would be a major factor. I’d even go so far as to say that part of the reason could be that charity is a key concept in Christianity. And I speak as an agnostic, though that doesn’t mean I’m hostile to Good Works performed by those who don’t share my beliefs.

As a former data slicer, I know that with very complicated issues such as this one, you can get results that seem to support any position. So I’m glad, Jack, that you treated this topic with the caution it warrants.

Posted by: Trent at November 27, 2006 7:51 PM
Comment #196609
…in short, private tax-free country clubs. Are contributions to these considered ‘charity’?

Back when Arianna Huffington was a conservative, she was a big believer in ad-hoc charity rather than reliable government programs for helping out the less fortunate among us. She was at the forefront of private anti-poverty drives — and came to the conclusion that only the government had the resources to make an appreciable difference.

At the risk of misquoting, she told her conservative friends something like, Donating your Picasso collection to the Guggenheim for a big tax break doesn’t count as charity.

Posted by: American Pundit at November 27, 2006 8:17 PM
Comment #196610

LibRick
Eleven lines and 250 words. What are you trying to say? If you are upset that certain people give very generously, then get your own 501(c)3 and “get your own dough”. The liberals do it too. So you won’t be out of place.

My wife and I head up a non-profit. We give a whole lot more in time, treasure and talent than one should be blessed with.

Here is a good way to give and feel good about it.
For your first time, get 1,000 bags the size of a lunch bag. Fill it with a couple of fruit, some candy, other small item. On Christmas Day go deliver those bags to the people in the poorest part of town. Just tell them Merry Christmas.

Here is another. Find someone to donate 25, 50 100 or blankets. Go to the homeless part of town and just walk up to a homeless person and wrap a blanket around them and say “Merry Christmas”. They will feel better and so will you.

If you want more, I got more. They have been tried by our family and friends and it works.

Posted by: tomh at November 27, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #196611

And by the way, as a religious folk, I do consider myself more generous. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at November 27, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #196619

Stephen

1)Do those who support generous social welfare measures through the government consider what they do a form of charity?

I think some do, but it is hypocritical. I wrote a post saying that you cannot be generous with other people’s money.

2)Do those who are religious give outside of their religious organizations, or do they rely upon the organization, giving the money to them and letting them give on their behalf?

According to the study and other things I read, they do. They give more generally. They even give blood etc more often.

3)What kind of correlation is made between basic materialist values and the level of giving?

I do not think you can know that. I can see materialism working both ways. Those who do not care much about material goods might be more generous or they just might assume others also can live w/o those sorts of things.

4)What is the overall effect of charitable efforts in comparison to social welfare programs?

This question is not valid based on the research or my post. The study says that people who do not support government redistribution of wealth. You might well believe in a safety net of social welfare & some government programs to help the poor help themselves and still disagree with a more general equalization. I do.

Librick

I am only pointing to correlations. There are religious liberals and atheist conservatives. It is the lifestyle variable that seems to make the difference.

AP

I do not think it counts are charity either if you get more than you give. You are giving away other people’s money. However, the tax break makes not much difference. If I give away $100 and get a 25% break, I still gave away $75.

All

As I wrote above, I think the correlation between religion and giving has a lot to do with feeling of community. People who go to church, whether the really believe or not, spend at least some time in contemplation. It is possible for a secular person to do the same. There are books you can look at regularly to seek inspiration or you can just think deeply. Few people do this, however. For most ordinary people religion is their main dose of contemplation, introspection and philosophy.

The major religions also all have an aspect of giving. You would assume if you believe in it, you would be affected by it at least a little everything else being equal. I would be very surprised if relgious people on balace were not more generous.

Posted by: Jack at November 27, 2006 8:49 PM
Comment #196637

I’m not buying this study for one minute. A study based on comparing married “conservatives”, to single “liberal seculars” seemed like apples and oranges when Hackett wrote his post, and still does, Jack.

I’m liberal, secular, married, we volunteer time, we donate blood (my husbands is really special — it’s earmarked for saving the lives of babies) and we give to several charities — but folks like us would have been automatically exempt from the study. So I remain skeptical that it is really determining anything. Isn’t it only natural that people who are more settled in their lives would be more generous? I think so.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 27, 2006 10:36 PM
Comment #196639

1)It’s hypocritical to you, but remember these are people who have yet to come to your senses. What matters in terms of this question would be whether a person could satisfy their urge to be generous in part by supporting social programs.

2)Could you be a bit more precise on this? What I’m trying to distinguish here is whether group behavior is a factor here.

3)I’m asking this particular question because we have to ask whether we’re dealing with materialism(in the sense of greed) or secularism at work. The assumption that they are one and the same can well be erroneous. It would be interesting to test whether the more materialist of the religious conservatives give that much.

4)The question is valid, and its not equalization I’m speaking of here, but basic results.

I’m always wary of broad claims, given my knowledge of scientific methods. The language of the report seems to me to be a semantic circular argument: we don’t consider social welfare programs generosity or charity, these people give less to charities, so therefore, they’re stingier, despite their support for programs to help the poor and the needy (you win the argument because you’ve excluded those from your definition)

I seem to recall an article on either the blue or the green column talking about how people in Scandinavia suffer less from many of the problems of poverty than we do. So, results matter more than semantics. The question really is, can you really call these people stingy, if they’re primary mode of helping others is effective?

Maybe its just different strokes for different folks. Maybe it’s just vanity to toot our own horn about how being religious makes us generous.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 27, 2006 10:55 PM
Comment #196642

Adrienne

You are not left out. These are corelations. You have one of the three attributes. Corelation is not causality.

Married people are generally more stable. They more often tend to be conservative, especially when they have kids.

It is interesting to chart the relationships, but that does not mean everyone fits.

Stephen

I think I used the word stingy. Not the report. Again, we are talking tendencies.

Re social programs, I think there is a real difference here. I believe in the safety net. I do not think there are many people who do not. We are talking about putting a floor under the poor. Most people also want some equality, but the degree makes a big difference.

A social program that seeks to equalize results is, IMO, bad, even immoral.

Re Scandinavia. I lived in Norway for four years. The system there is not really comparable to our welfare state. Most of their programs are not needs based. They are availble to all. But it worked because you had a small, homogeneous society There is a down side. There is alot of envy. There are sayings like “the nail that sticks up gets pounded down” We can talk more about that. I have to run.

Posted by: Jack at November 27, 2006 11:12 PM
Comment #196648

It comes as no surprise that religious folks are more charitable than nonreligious. The church I’m a member of sits along side I 75. We have travelers stop by about 30 to 40 times a year needing gas, food, help getting their car repaired, or shelter for the night. We’re not a big church, 45 members, or a rich one. But every time someone stops needing help the members reach into their own pockets and help the person out.
I can’t say how many of the members give to charitable organizations or how much they give. So I can’t comment on that.
Not far from the church is an exclusive country club. The members their have been known to call the sheriff on folks that stop there looking for a little help.
BTW, the church membership is made up of mostly married folks with children at home.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 28, 2006 12:16 AM
Comment #196661

“Do those who support generous social welfare measures through the government consider what they do a form of charity?”

They probably do but being generous with other people’s money (taken by force) is stealing.

Posted by: traveller at November 28, 2006 8:17 AM
Comment #196696

I guess money for:

Police, military (including war in Iraq), public works, is stealing — nice logic

Posted by: Sarantos Soumakis at November 28, 2006 1:03 PM
Comment #196698

I’m really getting tired of the mantra that taxes represent money taken by force. That’s how our system of government is set up, like all governments. In a democracy you can fight for lower taxes and you can fight to have tax dollars spent the way you want them to be, but taxes are a fact of life no matter where you live. No society exists without them. Of course, no one, not even libertarians, want to eliminate taxes all together; they just object, as is their right, to specific government expenditures. If you really believe taxes are injust, then refuse to pay them and take your punishment like a man. I can respect that approach much more than constant whining about an inevitable fact of life.

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 1:06 PM
Comment #196699

I guess traveler, who is too much of a coward to use his real name, thinks that fighting a war that will bankrupt our kids future, because he does not want to pay taxes is fair.

You want a war, you should pay for it now, rather than give tax breaks to the Waltons and banrkupt our kids

Posted by: sarantos soumakis at November 28, 2006 1:09 PM
Comment #196704

Trent

Most people pay most taxes more or less voluntarily, but there is the element of coercion. That is the important way that taxes differ from charity. So we can agree that taxes are necessary, although we disagee maybe about the rates. But nobody should feel generous for advocating the use of tax money for anything. You cannot be generous with someone else’s money.

Posted by: Jack at November 28, 2006 1:21 PM
Comment #196708

Jack,

I really don’t have a dog in that hunt. I’ve never thought I was personally generous for wishing for universal health care. To me, it’s a public policy issue.

As far as safety nets go, I’ve read enough of your posts to know we don’t fundamentally disagree.

If I believed that personal charity could provide an adequate safety net for the 300 million people in this country, I wouldn’t be a liberal. But I don’t. You don’t either :)

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #196714

Stephen,

You said, “I seem to recall an article on either the blue or the green column talking about how people in Scandinavia suffer less from many of the problems of poverty than we do. So, results matter more than semantics. The question really is, can you really call these people stingy, if they’re primary mode of helping others is effective?”

Jack then clarified that he said stingy, the study said gives less.

I think that you have changed the results the study is seeking. The study is not geared toward figuring out who is helping most to eliminate poverty or solve social ills. It is rather geared toward determining patterns in charitable giving, i.e. who are the most generous among us.

The study has many practical implications that could aid charities that are trying their best to do what you think needs to be done to solve social problems. Understanding patterns of giving would be an important asset for these charities as the launch their giving campaigns to
raise money for their causes. If they know that those that attend church give more often or more in total than those that don’t, then they may tweak their campaigns to better target these groups.

Jack has used this study as the basis for his article and has highlighted the results to show the differences in political affiliation and religious affiliation. He also drew some of his own conclusions. You could have taken issue with the way that he wrote the article or drew his conclusions, but instead you took issue with the study.

The study was conducted by a professor affiliated with two very reputable institutions. I’m assuming that if the study has flaws, they will be discovered by social scientists in peer reviews.

However, you seem to think that there is some inherent bias in the study against liberals. I find this ironic since in the past you and many liberals on these boards have stood by the mantra, that “truth has a liberal bias,” and other nice pedantic cliches that basically discredit conservatives claims of bias in scientific studies and reporting. Basically, you don’t like the results, right?

You then went so far to make this statement to discredit the study, “The language of the report seems to me to be a semantic circular argument: we don’t consider social welfare programs generosity or charity, these people give less to charities, so therefore, they’re stingier, despite their support for programs to help the poor and the needy (you win the argument because you’ve excluded those from your definition).”

So you are now back to confusing the goal of the study with your personal goals. The study seeks to understand giving patterns; you seek to evaluate who is a better person. So now it is time to start your own study.

I’m guessing that this is the hypothesis:

Those that believe that the government should solve social ills with the ancillary involvement of charity are more generous than those that believe that charity should solve social ills with the ancillary involvement of government.

Note: This doesn’t get to which method is more effective because your goal seems to be to prove that liberals are more generous, not that they are more effective. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Not sure what method you would like to use to measure that or how you will interpret your results, but I look forward to finding out. I think that you will have a problem quantifying what political support and good wishes count for as opposed to time and money, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Because after all the proof is really in the results, Mr. Brooks has his. We need a definitive rebuttal, Dr. Daughtery.

Posted by: Rob at November 28, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #196715

From what I see, most people in church give either TO thier church or THROUGH thier church. In most people’s mind is the gospel message. It’s worth less to give someone food than it is to give someone food AND knowledge of Christ. That is why they do it through church. Missionaries generally have a permanent presense in thier areas, which helps them to understand the true needs of the people in need.

There is also an element of community. When friends need help, they have a place to get it. It is easy to give $10. If 100 people do that, it is significant. It is also a place where missionaries come and show thier need and petition for help. The same is true for local needs.

Another thing on the giver’s mind is the assurance that thier money is well spent. People trust thier church more than secular organizations. The United Way supposedly has reduced thier overhead significantly, but still can’t shake thier reputation of high overhead. Some organization like the GoodWill have a good reputation. So does the Red Cross. But the RedCross doesn’t get much regular giving, only in tragedy. Most people who give don’t realize that the Salvation Army is a Christian organization.

We all know how inefficient the government is. I don’t trust them to distribute charity.

Posted by: jacktruth at November 28, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #196719

It has been a while since I’ve been here. For centuries, man has always been told: “Give to the poor.” I am a conservative Christian, but I have become distrustful of giving money to the poor. It is because many poor spend it on drugs, alcohol and things that plunge their lives into deeper misery. I just give to the church. I think many other religious people are developing that un-PC distrust against the poor.

I do not think the Govt should give money to the poor. Where does that money come from? Me and You. Leave the Govt out of the poor’s aid. It is big enough already. Churches and Charities should handle that.

Posted by: stubborn conservative at November 28, 2006 2:36 PM
Comment #196720

I guess stubborn conservative is one of the hypocrite christians. FAKES like your type give a bad name to christians. Christianity’s first command is to help the poor.

what will happen if you have a percentage of your population unable to make a living? what happens to people who get sick and can’t pay or go bankrupt paying for the doctors under the insurance scheme forced upon us by the HMO’s?

How about the elderly who barely struggle alone with social security and the fake pharmacy coverage, that leaves a big whole to cover?

Posted by: Sarantos Soumakis at November 28, 2006 2:44 PM
Comment #196723

“That’s how our system of government is set up, like all governments.”

How many other govts can you name in which their Constitution was written so as to limit what govt can do rather than what its people can do?

“In a democracy you can fight for lower taxes and you can fight to have tax dollars spent the way you want them to be, but taxes are a fact of life no matter where you live”

Yes, they are a fact of life no matter where you live, but our country was great because it clearly limited what and how our govt taxed in order to protect the people from govt oppression and control.

Libertarians don’t complain about taxes because of how they are used, they complain about taxes that are not Constitutional.

“If you really believe taxes are injust, then refuse to pay them and take your punishment like a man.”

Already doing that, no punishment yet.

Now, if you really believe taxes are just, then why don’t you actually support your beliefs and pay extra?
A man, as you say, wouldn’t sit around and expect everybody else to do it for him.

Posted by: kctim at November 28, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #196725

kctim,

it does not ban taxes either. the same way it does not ban any of your favorite topics - limit the choices of people etc.

I guess you don’t need police, roads, firemen or any other services provided by government.

Posted by: sarantos soumakis at November 28, 2006 2:52 PM
Comment #196726

Sarantos Soumakis
I am thankful you used the word “guess” in reference to stubborn conservative. That means you could be right or you could be wrong. I vote for the later. Guessing is like farting in the wind; you don’t know where it is going.

Posted by: tomh at November 28, 2006 2:53 PM
Comment #196728

TomH,
selective application of the bible. rejecting one of the main principles of Jesus teaching, of assisting the poor, as well as his edict of the rich (something about a camel)

Please next time you get robbed or you have fire at your house, send the policemen and the firemen away. by the way, do not drive on public roads since you do not want to pay for them.

also, this is the first time we cut taxes for the billionaires in time of war.

Posted by: Sarantos Soumakis at November 28, 2006 2:59 PM
Comment #196730

kctim,

You refuse to pay taxes? I hope you are not one of those who call the poor “freeloaders,” because that’s what you are doing. When you get imprisoned, society will have to pick up the tab for that, too. In the meantime, I hope you don’t drive on roads, enjoy police protection, take advantage of city services, enjoy liberties paid for by blood and money, etc.

I appreciate your attempt to say that because I don’t complain about my tax burden that I should pay more in taxes. Ironically, because of tax dodgers such as yourself, I do.

Btw, prove to me that some of our taxes our un-Constitutional. A claim such as that needs strong support.

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 3:18 PM
Comment #196731

Sarantos

There are plenty of ways to look at the New Testament.

The kingdom of God is not of this world.

Besides the argument here is not whether or not to help the poor. Christians do more than their share of that according to the studies. But helping the poor through governmetn programs may not actually be helping the poor.

We declared war on poverty in the 1960s. Poverty won and demanded war reparations. Misguided anti poverty programs helped create the underclass and many of the pathologies the poor now suffer.

Posted by: Jack at November 28, 2006 3:25 PM
Comment #196736

Sarantos
No, it doesn’t ban taxes at all. In fact, it mentions direct and indirect taxes. It also mentions what the Federal govt is responsible for using tax money on. Things such as raising armies (our military) and post roads.
Weird that it doesn’t state that the Federal govt is responsible for providing the lifestyle and retirement of its people though, don’t you think.

Police and firemen are the responsibility of the individual states and local towns.

“selective application of the bible. rejecting one of the main principles of Jesus teaching, of assisting the poor, as well as his edict of the rich (something about a camel)”

I didn’t think the bible or any of its teachings had any right to influence our laws in any way?
Which is it? We can’t use the bible and its beliefs to deny gay marriage but we can use it to force compassion?

And why is your belief of how to assist the poor more valid than my beliefs on assisting the poor?
I do not believe in taking from one and giving to another and I do not believe giving money to somebody for nothing is productive. Should you be forced to not give money based on my beliefs? Why am I forced to give money based on yours?

Also, none of my friends are billionaires but they all got tax cuts.

Posted by: kctim at November 28, 2006 3:36 PM
Comment #196737

have you considered your total tax burden - local, state and property - as well as fed? because, yes my fed taxes went down, but Property taxes doubled, as well as other local taxes got raised wiping any gains in federal taxes.

and, the way conservative christian put it, every poor person is a drunk or on drugs. generalizations, to cover his distaste of common benefit programs like police, fire, roads, and yes, the military
george

Posted by: Sarantos Soumakis at November 28, 2006 3:45 PM
Comment #196738

Trent
“I hope you are not one of those who call the poor “freeloaders,” because that’s what you are doing.”

No, only 3/4 of the poor who demand money for nothing are “freeloaders.”

“I appreciate your attempt to say that because I don’t complain about my tax burden that I should pay more in taxes.”

Thats not what I said. I said that if a man really thought social welfare taxes were so great, then that man would go that extra mile to support them himself rather than expect everybody else to do it for him.

And you don’t pay more in taxes because of people who don’t pay them. You pay more in taxes because the system is prone to abuse because you support the something for nothing mentality.

“Btw, prove to me that some of our taxes our un-Constitutional. A claim such as that needs strong support”

Show me where the Constitution says the federal govt is responsible for clothing, feeding and sheltering everyone of its citizens and that its job is to collect from one citizen, against his will and give it to another citizen, for doing nothing.

Yes, I know, “general welfare of the US,” right?
I love the way its been perverted so as to also include all of the people rather than just the country.

Nonetheless Trent, I do realize that our Constitution is far gone and the people are now too dependent on govt for that to change. Its the way of life now and I just go with the flow.
I just wish I was free to live my life as I see fit rather than how others think is best. Like the old days when the Constitution actually meant something.

Posted by: kctim at November 28, 2006 3:56 PM
Comment #196739

Sarantos

“It is because many poor spend it on drugs, alcohol and things that plunge their lives into deeper misery”

Nice out of context quote. Can you see all or every or even most, in his quote?

You misunderstand the conservatives here. It’s not taxes we mind, it’s the who, what where, when and how of federal taxes we disagree with. Federal departments like HUD and education to name two,have no place in the federal system. You may complain about spending money in Iraq or Afghanistan. However there is much more justification in the Constitution for the federal government spending money over there than there is for spending billions of dollars rebuilding New Orleans.

Posted by: Keith at November 28, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #196740

Sarantos
“have you considered your total tax burden - local, state and property - as well as fed?”

I think they have, but would have to ask them if I were to be completely honest.

“because, yes my fed taxes went down, but Property taxes doubled, as well as other local taxes got raised wiping any gains in federal taxes.”

Mine didn’t.

“and, the way conservative christian put it, every poor person is a drunk or on drugs.”

Well, I’m not a conservative or a Christian, but I would say the majority of people with money problems don’t want to work, live beyond their means, think they deserve more or make bad decisions.
You shouldn’t be forced to not care for them and not help them and I shouldn’t be forced to care for them and help them.

“generalizations, to cover his distaste of common benefit programs like police, fire, roads, and yes, the military”

You kind of lost me on this one. I can show you where the US govt is responsible for the military and roads and where the states responsiblity begins. Can you show me where the US govt is responsible for local police and fire?

Posted by: kctim at November 28, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #196743

jack, has donating labor to groups like Habitat been included into the stats you show on your post?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 28, 2006 4:58 PM
Comment #196748

kctim,

Well, the “general welfare” clause is it, of course. Sometimes I wish, like you, that the framers didn’t create such a wide open door. Regardless, I don’t think you can legitimately claim that taxes for reasons not directly mentioned are therefore un-Constitutional. The way it’s written, it gives the government the power to tax for about any damn thing. That means that the people, of course, through their representatives were given that right.

I do think we need a broad national discussion on government expenditures. Even a liberal like me knows there is enormous waste and enormous money spent on pet projects. I used to be have much more faith in the two party system — liberals would propose idealistic things and conservatives would provide the reality check. Lately though, starting with Reagan in my view, the conservatives have not held the line on spending, and in fact have increased it dramatically — while at the same time cutting taxes. I realize that during WWII we carried large debt, but in more modern times, the huge deficits started with Reagan. That just can’t be good. It may be a pipe dream, but I sincerely hope the Dems learned a lesson from the 90s and can become the party of fiscal responsibility. Maybe what we really need is a Republican congress to control spending and a Democratic president to hold the line on tax cuts. With sole party control of both branches, it seems we just get greater deficits. I don’t know. Sometimes it does seem hopeless.

There are a slew of things I wish the government didn’t spend money on. We waste an enormous amount of money. I realize we disagree on specifics — for example, I believe that public education is utterly necessary in a democratic society, particularly one that hopes to be competitive. I know, I know, people complain about the quality of education, and I’ve done it myself, but when you look at it historically, it’s been amazingly successful. Modern literacy rates were unheard of even a century ago. And these high school graduates we love to diss — some of them go on to college. It says a lot that Americans receive a disportionate number of Nobel prizes. I live where I do, despite higher property taxes than in surrounding counties, because of the excellent school system here. Those not fortunate enough to live within a good school district need to raise hell and demand answers.

You know, this country is set up so that the values of the people prevail. All cynicism aside, that’s pretty damn remarkable. We can complain about dishonest politicians, and God knows I do that too, but we can also kick the bums out.

I honestly don’t find my tax burden that, well, burdensome, but I do worry about the debt we are passing on to our children.

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 5:28 PM
Comment #196760

Sarantos Soumakis
Where did I quote the Bible. I was just saying that you were guessing, which opens the door to if your are right or wrong; you know 50-50.

Btw I have friends who serve as firemen and policemen. They are very fine individuals. Its a mystery to me why you would question my attitude about them.

In fact your response is a total mystery.

Posted by: tomh at November 28, 2006 6:40 PM
Comment #196762

Sarantos:

Read again. I won’t give money to the poor directly. I give money to them through Church donations which say: “100% of this offering will go to those in need.” If I gave money to someone off the street, and then read a story about how they were busted for being high, drunk, or if they used the money to buy a gun. I have friends that gave money to the poor and a shooting was the result. They to this day bear the painful memory. READ EVERYTHING YOUR OPPONENT STATES before calling your opponent a “fake”.

Posted by: stubborn conservative at November 28, 2006 6:48 PM
Comment #196785

“But helping the poor through government programs may not actually be helping the poor.”

And how! Right off the top of my head I can think of two people that I know who receive government disability checks for supposed mental illnesses, while smoking hundreds of dollars worth of crack a week. One young lady claimed to have such intense social anxiety that she could not leave her house to work. But as soon as her disability money started coming in she began planning a trip to Amsterdam to celebrate.
No, you cannot make a general assumption that every poor person is a drug addict, but it happens a lot more than you would like to think. Handing these people a government check does not help them. A massive centralized government program is not the way to help them.

Posted by: Liz at November 28, 2006 9:07 PM
Comment #196791

Liz, Its people like you that have this personel information of fraud and do nothing, but complain that those that are disabled should not receive help from the government, that frustrate people like me..

Posted by: j2t2 at November 28, 2006 9:59 PM
Comment #196799

j2t2

It depends if they need the money or not. I know it sounds mean, but I see no reason why diabled or elderly people should get discounts. A disabled millionaire probably does not need money.

We also have a problem with the definition of diabled. We would all probably agree on the extreme cases and I would agree that they should get help IF they need the money, but what about somebody with sore joints? Or really fat people?

Where I work some people are “sick” a lot. They are sick exactly to the extent of their sick leave - what a coincidence. They do not seem very sick the day before or the day after, BTW.

Posted by: Jack at November 28, 2006 11:01 PM
Comment #196809

Sarantos,
You might try using some logic after you learn how.
Your posts are filled with assumptions, bigotry and a large dose of ignorance.

Taxes are, by definition, money taken by force. Taxation has been the way governments are financed throughout history, largely because nothing else has ever been tried, as far as I know. That doesn’t change the fact that it is money taken by force. It also doesn’t change the fact that taking the property of others by force is stealing. Indeed, it is the definition of stealing. I’ve never met a rational person that would pay taxes if they weren’t forced to.

There is a big difference between collecting taxes to pay for the essential and Constitutionally authorized functions of government and taking the property of people who earned it to give it to people who haven’t. People who advocate such are NOT morally superior to those of us who object to it. It’s my belief that muggers are morally superior to the cowards who advocate forced charity (now there’s an oxymoron). Muggers take their own risks rather than hire guns to do it for them and they don’t demand the sanction of their victims. Neither charity nor morality exist at the point of a gun.

There was nothing hypocritical or fake about stubborn conservative’s post. I, too, have learned to be distrustful of the poor. I’m a member of an organization that engages in a great deal of charitable and philanthropic work and I won’t give money directly to the panhandlers, “homeless” and “street people”. I have encountered many bums(yes, that’s what they are-if they’re not bums they don’t stay on the street long. They pick themselves up and make a better life for themselves.) trying to panhandle me. I won’t give them money but I’ve taken many to a restaurant and bought them a meal. When I make that offer most of them refuse it.

Coward? How do you know that any of the names here are real? Just be glad you were brave enough to say that while hiding on the other side of a computer screen.

Posted by: traveller at November 28, 2006 11:51 PM
Comment #196811

btw- A long time ago, because of my own foolishness, I was “homelesss” for a while. We called ourselves “street people” back then.
The people who weren’t bums didn’t stay on the street for more than a few months. People who have been homeless for years are there because that’s where they want to be.

Posted by: traveller at November 29, 2006 12:04 AM
Comment #196816

Traveller
You are commended for picking yourself up and moving ahead in life. I obviously don’t know the particulars how you have achieved it, but it appears that you are much more happier with life and yourself.

Posted by: tomh at November 29, 2006 12:43 AM
Comment #196831

Trent
Very reasonable post and I would say that we do agree on many things. Seems like the classic “how we do it or get there” is probably where we differ.

I to worry about the debt we are passing onto our children which is why I’m teaching my kids the value of saving and fending for themselves. Rely on nobody.
Thanks

Posted by: kctim at November 29, 2006 9:01 AM
Comment #196834

j2t2,

I just looked at the questionairre that was cited in Jack’s link above, and it does inlcude questions about volunteerism including where they volunteer and how many times they did so in the past year.

Here is the link, http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/data_access/data/datasets/social_capital_community_survey.html. You have to choose the download option from there.

Posted by: Rob at November 29, 2006 9:11 AM
Comment #196839

ok, let’s kill public education. Not mentioned anywhere in the constitution.

let’s have the teachers be like last century, barely able to live independent, but depend on rich donations to live.

let’s go back to when business did not pay with real money, but just with vouchers to be spend at company’s store.

Governement needs money to enforce laws that are not specifically mentioned in the constitution, but are needed for a livable society - environmental, labor laws, and all other things people in this group generally opose.

Posted by: Sarantos Soumakis at November 29, 2006 10:10 AM
Comment #196856

Sarantos
No need to kill Pub Ed all the way, just put it in the states hands where it belongs.

The federal govt was given a way to get money to enforce the laws it was designed to enforce. It was when we allowed the federal govt the power to create and enforce laws which should be handled at the state level that we ran into problems.

And a “liveable society?”
Who should determine what that is? The federal govt which is influenced by special interest groups like greenpeace, moveon and others OR the people in their own state who actually knows what the people they are representing really want and need?
California and Missouri are very different and neither should be forced to enforce laws that the people of the other state believe is whats best.

Posted by: kctim at November 29, 2006 12:30 PM
Comment #196858

Liz
Have you tried to turn these two women in to the SSI office? If not your part of the problem.

j2t2
Have you ever tried to file a complaint with any government office? The amount of paper work will make even the most determined person want to call it quits.
In the case of welfare fraud or SSI fraud they make you prove the party guilty before they will even think of investigating your complaint. Even then there’s no guarantee that they’ll do anything to the person. If they even investigate at all.
A couple of years ago I turned in a man that was holding a full time job and collecting a SSI check. I knew this because he cashed both checks at my store. The SSI office told me that I had to turn in both the payroll and SSI checks for at least one year before they could start an investigation. When I asked them if they would reimburse me for the money I gave the guy they told me no. Do you know how much money a business can loose that way? In this case I stood to loose a little over $32,000. That’s about $10,000 more than the net profit of the store. How long do you think I could stay in business loosing that kind of money?
They also wanted the tapes from my security camera. I didn’t have a security camera at the time. They said the needed footage of the guy cashing the checks in order to determine if they should investigate or not.
As it is I lost the two checks I took down there. Both had his signature and drivers license number on them. Ya would think that alone should have been enough for them to investigate.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 29, 2006 12:46 PM
Comment #196864

This debate seems to be teetering on the brink of ridiculousness. Everyone believes in a social safety net. We just disagree on what it should look like. No one is demanding we force people to needlessly suffer.

Most Americans do feel that there is a direct correlation between the period of time one spends on the street and their motivation to make a better life for themself. This IS America, after all, and it is not especially difficult to make a little bit of money. You just need to show up to a job on time and be ready to work hard. No magic. So it is not surprising that arguments are commonly put forth saying that a universal, government-funded war on poverty would be, at least partially, a waste of time, money, and effort. After all, is it not reasonable to only want to help those who want to help themselves?

On the other hand, when people say that something is not the responsibility of the federal government, they are not saying that it cannot exist in any way, they just mean that it should not be universally managed and mandated nationwide. There are many reasons for coming to that conclusion, and very few of them have anything to do with not being personally generous or charitable.

The original post by Jack is nothing much more than trying to make a general statement with a small amount of focussed information. Pretty meaningless, unless you are a religious person who is needing a reason to feel superior this morning.

Charity is done for many reasons by all people at some point. Some give to their families and take care of disadvantaged relatives, thereby cutting down the burden on society. Some expect more from their government and are willing to pay higher taxes to pay for it. Some give to churches because they believe the churches will spend their money in a way that conforms to their social views. Some give money to anyone that asks. They ALL have their benefits and shortcomings, but all seek to achieve the same goal…to prevent hopelessness if at all possible.

I have no doubt that christians are more robust givers to charitable causes that are in line with Christian ethics. Just like I have no doubt that true conservatives are more effective in providing a safety net to their families because of their distrust or disdain for government involvement. Similarly, bleeding heart liberals are much more actively involved in trying to use public funds to resolve what they see as societal problems. This is why the majority of government programs have such liberal sounding missions statements.

We can definately argue about which method is best for a stated goal, but any attempt to say one method is universally better, or trying to quantitatively compare them and make general value judgements is misleading and innapropriate. Jack should know better. Or maybe there is some other motive. Either way, I’d like to see more attention given to the actual results of charity work rather than just the dollar amounts. And I’d like to see much less of the “who is better?” questions…they serve no purpose other than promoting pompousity.

Travelor-

I sympathize. When I lived in NYC, I used to offer panhandlers food instead of money quite often. The VAST majority of the time I got turned down. I even watched a few of them throw away food I had given them. I learned very quickly that people are not to be trusted when all they focus on is your money.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 29, 2006 1:43 PM
Comment #196868

Ron Brown

Good point. And you are right. Unfortunately one of them is a member of my husband’s immediate family and that is not a can of worms I have been willing to open. The other is a young lady whose state-appointed therapist knows about her drug use and still considers her mentally disabled. Which she is. Because she can’t stop smoking crack. The disability checks keep her off the street, which is nice, but they also enable her to continue her addiction. They do not help her.

j2t2

I am far from believing that disabled people should not receive money from the government. My husband used to work for an organization that served adults with developmental disabilities. (Down’s, cerebral palsey, real disabilities!)
Many these folks were able to live full, practically independant lives due to the money they received from the government. Some of them were not, as there is only so much in funding to go around. Some of them had to work less hours than they were able to so that they would not earn too much money and lose their disability funding.

My argument is that the system we have for determining who gets the money is extremely flawed. The federal government is good for some things. This is not one of them. Maybe this could be more effectively handled at the state or county level. Pumping money into social welfare programs does not always equal helping the poor.

Posted by: Liz at November 29, 2006 1:50 PM
Comment #196918

Liz:

I have CP and I have stayed off of welfare. I am determined not to receive other people’s money. I have refused welfare. Welfare should go to people with mental disabilities or temporarily to injured people. Not pregnant teens or lazy people. We get closer to eliminating the welfare of lazy people or foolish teen girls.

SOLUTION TO SCHOOLS:

No elimination of public schools. Give them competition by charter vouchers. Here’s how I want it to work:
1. Receive charter from Govt.
2. Read charter.
3. Select school system to support with your taxes (public or private).
4. Sign it and mail it back.

This will give the public schools competition and that will force them to reform.

Posted by: stubborn conservative at November 29, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #196935

stubborn
Good for you. As long as you can take care of your self do it.
I have a problem with private schools getting tax money. Once the Government starts giving money to any organization it has the tendency to start dictating how to use it and what to do to keep it.
Most my grandchildren go to church run schools. Their parents, like most parents that send their kids to church run schools, don’t want their kids to be indoctrinated in the atheism they feel the public schools are pushing.
I don’t want the Government telling the schools my grandyougins go to what to teach and what not to teach.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 29, 2006 7:08 PM
Comment #196939

I haven’t looked the figures up recently, but from my understanding, a large percentage of the homeless have mental problems. I don’t think many will defend the ablebodied staying on welfare — like other posters here, there was a time I could have qualified for food stamps but was too proud to do that. Besides, those undergraduate years were some of the best in my life and I never ever thought of myself as poor, even when I was living during the 80s on $200 a month. I couldn’t have done it without the friendship of other poor students, though — we pooled our resources, floated each other money, etc.

I have compassion for the disabled, or the mentally ill, or the kids of poor mothers, but not a whole lot for those, are there are some, who just refuse to improve themselves. I also have compassion for the vets suffering mental problems — I believe statistics state they make up a large fraction of the homeless.

Posted by: Trent at November 29, 2006 7:21 PM
Comment #196966

Trent
I reckon there was a time when food stamps would have come in handy for us. The military doesn’t pay all that good and a whole heap of military personnel could use them. We were raising six hungry youngins on a Sergeants pay. Things sure could get tight in a hurry.
But call me stubborn or prideful but I never even considered applying for them. Reckon it’s just part of my upbringing. I was taught that if you can do for yourself don’t go sponging off others.
While I have no problem with helping those that truly need it, I have a problem with those that are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves getting my hard earned money so they don’t have to work.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 29, 2006 10:28 PM
Comment #196968

Sarantos
In today’s environment it isn’t very wise to give money directly to folks asking for help. Stubborn is right most will use it for drugs and alcohol. Not for what they claim they need it for.
I mentioned earlier that the church I’m a member of helps around 30 to 40 travelers a year. While we take up a collection to help them we don’t give them the money directly. If they need gas, one of the men will take them to the nearest gas station and buy it for them. If they need food, someone will take them to the store. If they need motel room, they will be taken to the nearest motel and the room will be paid for for them. If they need their car repaired then our member mechanic will take the car to his garage and fix it. The church pays him for the parts and would pay him for his time if we could only get him to give us a bill with labor cost on it.
If someone really needs what they are cliaming they need they will except it and not ask just to be given the money.
BTW, there have been times when we have provided the needs of someone and some money is left over. This is usually given to the person. But only after their need is taken care of.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 29, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #197003

stubborn conservative let’s even the ground.

Nobody or everybody has the option to drop students - private schools can drop troubled children, public schools have to provide education until at least 18.

public schools can pick or reject their students

where is it mentioned that education should be at the state level.

and by the way, the reason I pay too much in taxes is because 40% of my money (in NYS) go to other states (for every one of my $ I get 60 cents).

also, distribute homeland security funds to where they belong, big cities in the coasts and not in states that have no reason to be afraid

Posted by: sarantos soumakis at November 30, 2006 8:04 AM
Comment #197016

sarantos

Read the United States Constitution and pay particular attention to the 10th amendment. That will explain why education should be controlled at the state and local level.

Posted by: tomh at November 30, 2006 11:23 AM
Comment #197026

Federal, state or local does not change the fact that you need taxes to pay for it.

unless you do what the rest of new york state does to new york city, and spend only half the dollars in NYC that they get from NYC, and the rest is spend in NYS.

again, I pay for the taxes you don’t

Posted by: sarantos soumakis at November 30, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #197035

sarantos
Right, tax money has to be collected for education. But the closer control of schools is to the local level is the more say the folks that use them schools have on how they’re run.
Public education is not the job of the federal government. It can’t fit the system to meet the needs of the local citizens that use it. That’s something that only can be done on the local level.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 30, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #197107

Sarantos:

Even ground? I wasn’t talking about dropped students. But now I will. I have been called elitist for my opinions on this topic. Failing students are failing because of two things:
1. The system is corrupt and stress-inducing
2. They are irresponsible losers that don’t care or try.

Here is an answer to mostly Ron Brown’s concern: I still think the contract vouchers will be a success. I do agree the the Govt will be bossy if private schools start receiving taxes. That is the root of the problem. Let everything be run LOCALLY, not stately or federally. Local parents, teacher’s and the school system staff should set the curriculum, not the mayor, governor, senate, etc. Parents should be the dominating voice in the schools.

Posted by: stubborn conservative at November 30, 2006 5:41 PM
Comment #197108

Correction: The students are failing because of ONE of the 2 reasons. Not all failing students are lazy and irresponsible. The result of work is 90% effort and 10% intelligence.

Posted by: stubborn conservative at November 30, 2006 5:45 PM
Comment #197116

Sarantos

“I pay for the taxes, you don’t”.

Gimme a break. I pay taxes all over the place.
Sales tax, income tax, property tax, etc. I pay them all!!

Posted by: tomh at November 30, 2006 6:14 PM
Comment #197132

S.C.-

“The result of work is 90% effort and 10% intelligence.”

In all reasonableness, it completely depends on the work.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 30, 2006 7:06 PM
Comment #197214

Tomh, as you said those taxes are local - not federal.

also, if you live anywhere but the liberal states, your tax liabilities are covered from my taxes in NYS.

I repeat I want the full dollar I send to Washington in taxes to be spent in NYS

Posted by: sarantos soumakis at December 1, 2006 8:58 AM
Comment #197226

Sarantos

Why send it to Washington. Keep it home.

Getting tax money back from Washington is like getting a blood transfusion from one arm to the other only spilling half of it in the process.

My AZ federal taxes go to other states. We finance other states and federal projects that could be done better at home.

Posted by: tomh at December 1, 2006 10:30 AM
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