Arthur C. Brooks’s new book Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism concludes that religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income. He cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives, from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services, make conservatives more generous than liberals.
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.
This chimes with recent UK Government research that found that people who actively practice a religions are more like to give to charity and to give more (see posting June 27 2006), although it is not clear how significant religion alone is in Brooks’s research.
Nevertheless we should be cautious that the findings paint a negative picture of secular liberals. High levels of philanthropy and resistance to government redistribution has given us the most unequal developed country in the world, whereas high taxation characterises the most equal states like
Digging into our pockets might make us feel good but it runs the risk of maintaining power inequalities and directing money only to those that we approve of, further disadvantaging the most excluded. Properly established redistribution on the other hand appeals to principles of justice and makes sure that the poor are not at the mercy of the rich.Also covered by Jewish Atheist Blog
Subsequent comment received: There are few key things to recognize with this work. #1 He plainly says that he doesn’t go into the details of any of his findings, which basically means that he isn’t clarifying the data and is taking liberty with his interpretations. #2 “Liberals” /Leftists have long been pointing out the fact that the poor give a larger portion of their income to charity than the wealthy. This is for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they are asked to give more often, they are closer to donation centers, and they are more familiar with the need for charity and more likely to personally know the recipients. There is also an important fact here though, the poor are vastly more religious than the wealthy, thus all of his statistics are explained by this fact, since in America I would *guess* that religiosity is about 98% among the poor, and about 60% among the wealthy.
The fact that the poor give more to charity is not a good thing, and one of the major reasons WHY we need a graduated income tax and things like the estate tax to encourage more giving and contribution among the wealthy, who, in reality are the primary free riders.