Saturday, November 18, 2006

Conservatives Back Ideology with Cash

Ralph Luker points to a new book by Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks called Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism. According to this story:
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."

...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...

"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."

Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.

...Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard University and 2004 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, does not know Brooks personally but has read the book.

"His main finding is quite startling, that the people who talk the most about caring actually fork over the least," he said. "But beyond this finding I thought his analysis was extremely good, especially for an economist. He thinks very well about the reason for this and reflects about politics and morals in a way most economists do their best to avoid."
Brooks seems very reluctant to embrace his findings. I would bet it's because he isn't too keen on the idea of the political hammer it could become for social (religious) conservatives. I also think he'll get his wish of having other academics putting his findings through rigorous analysis! Finally, Ralph poses a good question: "do people on the left actually say: 'I gave at the IRS.'?"

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