16 September 2008

Compassionate Conservatives: Putting Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

I've had an ongoing debate with so-called moderate/independents (post-partisans, if you will. and I know Morgan will) about supposed conservative hypocrisy. They bought into the pro-abortion talking points about conservatives which allege that social conservatives only care about babies until they are born, and then, well, who cares. I have argued, w/o getting much headway, that this is a grossly inaccurate characterization.

A new book by economist Arthur C. Brooks provides the empirical evidence to back up my arguments. Thank you Mr. Brooks. According to one write-up/review of Brooks' forthcoming book:
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.


liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.
Finally, evidence for something I and others have known intuitively for some time.

Anytime you read something like this: Christians are hypocrites, etc. You should exercise a little skepticism. There is a hostility towards religious persons and especially Christians among elements of the political left, secularists, and in higher education.

Alternatively, the title of this post could have read:
Compassionate Conservatives: As Charitable With Their Own Money As Secular Democrats Are With Other People's
Hopefully this will quiet the critics who say that conservatives hypocritically only care about the unborn, etc., etc, whatever.

And, lest you think this is some conservative screed, consider this quote from a Harvard professor:
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."
For more information, take a look at these findings on charitable giving.

(h/t M. Lybbert, Greg Mankiw)

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.