Conservatives Back Ideology with Cash

{N.B. Cross-posted at Spinning Clio–MAC}
Historian 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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Justin Katz
14 years ago

“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”
Sorry. The early Christmas music must have gotten me in the spirit…

John
John
14 years ago

Perhaps in the second edition of his book, the good Prof. Brooks will include some date from RI. Check out our social welfare programs lately? Most generous in the nation. Check out our taxes? Some of the highest in the nation. Check out our charitable giving — practically the lowest in the nation (or lowest, depending ohn the survey and year).
Keep that in mind later this year when Marti Rosenberg, Kate Brewster, and Bob Walsh are all demanding higher taxes to avoid cuts in social welfare spending.

John
John
14 years ago

Perhaps in the second edition of his book, the good Prof. Brooks will include some date from RI. Check out our social welfare programs lately? Most generous in the nation. Check out our taxes? Some of the highest in the nation. Check out our charitable giving — practically the lowest in the nation (or lowest, depending ohn the survey and year).
Keep that in mind later this year when Marti Rosenberg, Kate Brewster, and Bob Walsh are all demanding higher taxes to avoid cuts in social welfare spending.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

Actually, John, highest welfare benefits, lowest charitable donations, strong Democrat presence: Arthur Brooks can make Rhode Island Exhibit A of his counter-intuitive (to liberals, anyway) point.

jay
jay
14 years ago

This is Bull…It is a FACT,that Liberals give the most,moderates are next.and conservatives are the least
charitable,by far..
Robert Novak has penned a few articles on the miserly conservatives

Marc Comtois
14 years ago

You’re right Jay. The empirical, peer-reviewed study performed by an academic economist is definitely outweighed by your use of all caps when writing “FACT”.

jay
jay
14 years ago

Marc.
Is this the same economist that said the
disastrous Iraq war would cost 1.8 Billion,(then the oil money would take over)we are at 370 billion,will be a trillion in a few years.
I worked for a charity,conservatives
do not spend..

John
John
14 years ago

Jay,
Since you work at a charity, perhaps you’ll find interesting these other facts about the Ocean State.
Did you know that, according to IRS data, Rhode Island has more 401(c)(3) organizations per capita than any other state?
Those same IRS data also break down charitable organizations’ sources of funding. I’ll be it comes as no surprise that Rhode Island 401(c)(3)s received a higher percentage of their funding from government programs than almost any other state.
Let’s face it: Rhode Island is a classic “nanny state” or “workers paradise” — take your choice of euphemism. And the consequences of this philosophy are clearly visible in the data about our taxes, our social welfare spending, our charitable giving, and our economic growth.

Julien Peter Benney
14 years ago

Whilst I had seen this book before it was even published, it fits in with my own experience.
My mother and brother, both of whom have not the slightest sympathy for religious conservatives, admit that people who advocate extreme wealth redistribution are extraordinarily ungenerous and never work with the poor. Examples are members of Socialist Alternative, the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) and the Democratic Socialist Party. I naïvely assumed them to dominate student politics until I found they could have as few as 20 members!!
My mother and brother say these radicals really do not care about the poor – a conclusion I myself reached from the fact that they engaged only with a tiny number of students generally from extremely wealthy backgrounds. An example: one ISO member was apparently the child of a surgeon from Toorak.
When Brooks says conservatives are much happier than liberals, I can agree too. The extremely conservative and highly religious populace of outer suburban Australia shows no tendency to become angry (as I do) at government policy – judging by the lack of extreme music from Australia and the tiny membership of radical groups. Australia’s working poor are probably even more religious and socially conservative than their US counterparts, and will never support grups like the ISO.

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