Saturday, March 01, 2008

liberals give more to charity, right?

The next time you feel the urge to buy into the lie that secular liberals do more charitable work than religious conservatives, check your facts. A philanthropic expert and professor from Syracuse University did a study to find out the truth. The article below was written about that study.

A study by philanthropy expert Arthur C. Brooks, a Syracuse University professor, has found that conservatives, especially religious conservatives, give far more money and volunteer time to charity than liberals and non-religious people.

The study shows that conservatives give 30% more money to charity than liberals, even though liberals earn 6% more money. Brooks also found that liberals who are religious give more money to charity than liberals who are not religious.

In fact, religious conservatives give 100 times more money to charity than secular liberals or “progressives.” They also volunteer more.

Also, Brooks, author of "Who Really Cares?," found that people in wealthier, more liberal states like California and New York are below average in charitable giving compared to people in poor states like Mississippi and Alabama.

In fact, the working poor in the United States give a larger percentage of their incomes to charity than any other income group, including the middle class and the rich.

Finally, the study shows that Americans are far more charitable than Europeans – 14 as much as the Italians, seven times as much as the Germans, and three and one-half times more charity than the French.

Brooks surmises that Europeans and liberals, especially secular ones, believe the government should take care of people, but Americans and conservatives, especially religious ones, tend to believe in personal charity and individual responsibility.

This may explain why those on the political "left" are more comfortable with raising taxes. If they aren't giving as much money to charity as conservatives, then they can afford higher taxes. If we assume that both government programs (which require higher taxes) and charity (which requires personal giving) help the poor equally, then how does each mode of addressing poverty affect the tax-payer?

I think personal giving does more for the transformation of the heart of the giver than higher taxes does. I think higher taxes don't create generous people, but instead, often create frustrated tax-payers. The only advantage that higher taxes has is that it can be "controlled." Generous personal giving cannot be demanded from the outside, but must come from a desire within.

So the next time we feel compelled to make generalizations like "conservatives don't care about the poor," we need to remember this study.


At 8:09 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Yeah, I read something about that before. It is interesting. In the thing I read(can't find it) it said that more liberal/progressive people in liberal/progressive states are just happy paying more in taxes and letting the government take care of people. I think that probably fits most of western europe as well.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Yeah, it makes sense. If progressives/liberals expect the government to be the main caretaker of the poor then they would be ok with higher taxes.

And if conservatives give more to charity, then they would be less excited about taxes.

It shows the fundamental difference in how to address social issues between the right and the left.

I guess the best of both worlds would be to have both charities and government working together. But for that to happen, it will take progressives/liberals giving more to charity and conservatives being ok with higher taxes.


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