Howard County Maryland Blog

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Those Mean Republicans

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What a coincidence and “Who Really Cares

This past Tuesday I read a Thomas Sowell article about the book referenced above and was going to write about it.  I held off because I haven’t read the book and can’t cite the author’s sources.  I still haven’t read the book, but as coincidence would have it as I was traveling home from Northern New Jersey tonight I had the opportunity to speak with the author.

On my drive I was listening to Bruce Elliott on WBAL.  His guest was the author of this very book, Arthur Brooks, a Professor of Public Administration and Director of the Nonprofit Studies Program at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

So I called in to the show and asked Professor Brooks about his sources.  He replied that the book documents his sources thoroughly, and then reminded me of what he has said earlier which was that he doubted his original conclusions so he went back and got new data.  What happened?  He came up with the very same results.  He also said that his book (released on Tuesday) would certainly lead to a lot of recriminations and “do overs”.  However, he stands by the book and would defend his conclusions.

All the rage

John Stossel, ABC 20/20, did a report on the topic.

Bill O’Reilly did too

A Primer for you.

One of the primary differences between liberals and conservatives is what the role of the Federal government has in meeting the social welfare needs of its citizens.  I think we almost all agree that government has a role here.  However, the rub is how much of a role.  Pardon the stereotypes here, but I adhere to these beliefs.

Liberals typically think the Feds have a larger role in this area than conservatives do.  Conservatives tend to lean more toward personal responsibility.  Liberals tend to believe that the government should provide more services and if a redistribution of wealth (via taxes) is required to do so then they are more inclined to go that route. 

Like most people I have compassion for those less fortunate than me and I want to help.  I don’t want to give government a blank check to do so.  Not because it is my money.  Not because that blank check means money at all.  That blank check means more government power, intervention, and authoritarianism.  Government does great things.  Government (particularly the Feds) also does things that it should not be doing because it doesn’t have the constitutional authority to do them.  They also don’t do them that well.

I am not the only one who thought so.

Thomas Jefferson said many things and is often quoted like the bible.  Here is one for you:

“The greatest [calamity] which could befall [us would be] submission to a government of unlimited powers.”

Thomas Jefferson and his peers were all to aware of the calamity of the man named Oliver Cromwell and the King of England and what absolute power can do to the people of a nation.  They wanted limited Federal government for a very good reason – they were afraid of a Federal government that would grow so large that it would threaten our liberties.  That it would create an Oliver Cromwell.

What am I talking about?  I am talking about a Federal government who redistributes wealth to everyone.  Corporate welfare.  Social welfare.  Agricultural welfare.  Perscription drug welfare.  Congress has a great thing going.  They take our money and use it maintain power by giving money to the special interest of the day.  IBM one day and the bridge to no where the next.  Over 2/3rds of the Federal budget goes to these kinds of programs moving money from one group to another group.  That creates great constituencies and a “submission to a government of unlimted powers.” that keep them in power.

My point being that conservatives are concerned about limiting the role and influence of the federal government in order to preserve our liberty.  That is why they favor limited taxes and limited government programs.  That does not mean they don’t believe in charity and it doesn’t mean they are not generous.  In fact…

Conservatives are the most generous of all.

When it comes to charity we are a generous nation.  In addition to what Government provides via our tax dollars 75% of Americans give money to charity and 50% donate time to charity.  In those terms Conservatives are the most generous of all.

According to Professor Brooks research conservatives and especially religious conservatives are much more likely to put their money where their mouth is and contribute more money and time to both secular and religious charities.

In Who Really Cares, he demonstrates conclusively that conservatives really are compassionate-far more compassionate than their liberal foes. Strong families, church attendance, earned income (as opposed to state-subsidized income), and the belief that individuals, not government, offer the best solution to social ills-all of these factors determine how likely one is to give. Charity matters–not just to the givers and to the recipients, but to the nation as a whole.

Some might argue that Government spending is charity.  I think the IRS would beg to differ.  Taxes are not voluntary and do not constitute charitable giving by individuals.  Regardless of the necessity, intent, or purpose of taxes they are a redistrtibution of wealth when spent on social services. 

It isn’t just that conservatives are more likely to donate to charity but on average a conservative family gives 30% more than a liberal family and what is more on average liberal household income is 6% higher that a conservative household.

This is an interesting factoid:

If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply in the United States would jump by about 45 percent.

Residents of the top 5 red states were twice as likely to volunteer to help the poor than the botton 5 red states.  The more red the state the more volunteers for charitable causes (remember both secular and religious).

The average percentage of household income donated to charity in each state tracked closely with the percentage of the popular vote it gave to Mr. Bush. 

In other words.  The redder the state the more money they give to charity.

What is more is that the more money conservatives make the more they give to charities who provide all kinds of services to those not as fortunate.  Let them keep more of their tax dollars and the more they will give to charity.

There is one State that is an exception to all of this.  Maryland.  Maryland votes blue but is as generous as the red states.  I wonder what he would have learned about Maryland if he had looked at this data down to the county level.  Would Maryland’s red counties and blue counties follow the same trends?

So are we a bunch of uncaring republicans or are liberals … never mind.

Is the Professor’s study conclusive evidence that conservatives back up their belief in personal responsibility and limited government with donations of time and money?  It would seem so.

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13 Responses to “Those Mean Republicans”

  1. bsflag2007 said

    David –
    Does the author attribute the “qualities” of “liberal” and “conservative” to democrats and republicans exclusively?

    you say, “So are we a bunch of uncaring republicans or are liberals … never mind.”

    are the terms really that interchangeable?

    Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are “social liberals” — and have supported Democratic and Republican candidates — they are hard to “pin down” … even Gate’s parents’ who were moderately GOP were outspoken liberals on social matters.

    Though I apprecite your qualifying remarks about “general” assumptions…. I believe this is the root of the current problem with both parties —- those socially generous conservatives who believe in personal responsibility and limited government have no political home.

    By “adopting” them based on “general” and “traditional” understandings of the “conservative repiblican party” you are taking the same leap as the Bush “conservatives” — which has finally begun to cost the GOP as the.

    Cindy V.

  2. I haven’t read the book yet. I will have to go back and read excerpts. However, liberals tend to be democrats and conservatives tend to be republicans. I know that we have blue dog democrats and RINOs in the GOP – so exceptions exist. For the most part – I do think they are interchangable.

    As to Bush. You are right. GOP Conservatives are out in the cold. They feel like they have no home.

  3. Nanners said

    Did anyone catch 20/20 last night? Stossel devoted an hour to this topic. Very interesting. I “think” you can go on ABC.com and watch it again.

  4. MBT said

    O’Reilly covered it too!

  5. bsflag2007 said

    David,
    As I have said – I beleive most of us are more in agreement on most things than it would seem.

    And… I agree that “traditionally” or “historically” it would have been fairly accurate to assume “most” republicans were “conservative” and “most” democrats were “liberal” ….

    however, I believe that the the fundamental difference between “you” and “me” is the degree to which we believe this has changed.

    With the exception of the real fringe groups —- on both sides —– I don’t know any thinking people who are truly comfortable with their “traditional” assignments (party wise).

    Here you are feeling “left out in the cold” by the republican party — though it doesn’t sound like you have considered turning to the democrats…. I feel “left out in the cold” by BOTH of them.

    Although most people I know have turned to the “vote for the individual not the party” method of self-soothing…. all of them have found themselves in the uncomforatble position of feeling like their support for an individual candidate (for lack of better choices) has been misinterpreted to mean support for the agendas they abhor.

    I remedy that by voting for the third party/independent/outsider candidates, but this is an unsatisfying compromise.

    What do we do?

    Cindy V.

  6. John B. said

    I’ll be curious to see if the data is analyzed to examine megawealth contributors. As a fundraiser, that has always appeared to be more “even” than the more standard levels of giving where faith-based philanthropy really does lead the way.

  7. Steve Fine said

    As a liberal I don’t think you correctly characterize my world view. First of all, lets realize that liberal means a lot of different things to different people and that almost everyone holds some “liberal” views and some “conservative” views.

    So let’s just take a look at the issue of poverty and how to deal with it. People like Rush Limbaugh (and certainly not all conservatives are like Rush Limbaugh, we are dealing with generalizations here) like to portray the liberal solution to poverty as simply having the Government give poor people money. But this a false characature of liberalism used by people like Rush to score debate points. What do we liberals belive needs to be done about poverty? (1) Keep our economy healthy, (2) have good K-12 schools, make sure secondary education is available to everyone, and have preschools available to help disadvantaged kids “catch-up.” and (3) Keep our economy fair (upward mobility should be availble on the basis of merit as opposed what family you are born into).

    Liberals also belive in community, if someone can’t work because of a disablity, or if there are not enough jobs to go around (like in the great depression) everyone should pitch in and care of the disabled and unemployed. Liberals also recognize that with wealth comes power and with power comes the potential for abuse, so liberals realize that all powerful interests, be they governmental or private, need to be kept in check and held accountable.

    I hate to see the term “personal responsibility’ used when discussing poverty, it assumes the Rich are rich and deserve to be rich because of their superiority (like George W. Bush and Paris Hilton) and the poor are poor because they are inferior and don’t deserve to be wealthy.

    The truth is a lot of people got rich because they were born that way (the majority, in fact according to most academic studies of the issue) or sheer ruthlessness (more money is made in the United States selling illegal drugs than automobiles).

    On the otherhand, while there are some deadbeats on welfare, the vast majority of those living in poverty in the United States are either working full time, disabled, or children.

  8. Steve,

    I think we are mostly in agreement on your comments.

    David

  9. This is very interesting, though the only part about it that surprised me was the blood part. The results can be explained by various theories of the role of government.

    It’s an inherent liberal precept that we give money to the government so that the poor are cared for in our name in a uniform and fair fashion. As I mentioned over on the pillage idiot, I pay the government to make the tuna casserole so I don’t have to. It gives me more time to say, make money for my family and to pay into the system. It’s a delegation of labor and skill sets. The government has better bargaining power with regards to the price of tuna and noodles than I do, and I believe pooling resources is a more efficient way to help.

    And even though I dutifully give to our local firemen every single year, I resent that the government isn’t funding them sufficiently. I would rather have a tax raise so that the pain can be shared equally to support a fire house that serves all, instead of having to wonder if they really have all the resources they need and whether or not I need to go bang on the doors of my neighbors to help ensure they do.

    I expect government to work for me so that I can do the other work that I’m better at, and that is important to keeping our economy strong.

    But blood drive giving makes no sense whatsoever. We might like to assume that the government is somehow managing this process and collecting blood from people, but blood doesn’t work like that. I know that our local Democratic club hosts seasonal blood drives and they are well attended, but I wonder if that’s just a Maryland thing.

  10. Stephanie,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response.

    I don’t expect government to work for me because I don’t want to end up being beholden to government. Empowering government like that means an erosion of personal liberty. As government takes on more and more responsibilities because we let them is dangerous.

    I think that a position that government should be responsible for such activities so that we don’t have to do anything in that area is very concerning to me. It is an abdication of personal responsibility for our fellow citizens and a threat to our personal liberties.

  11. See, you think you’d be beholden to the Government. I think the government is my employee and beholden to me.

    I have not abdicated personal responsibility for my family when I hire a doctor to cure them. I could do the cutting and the administration of medicine, and perhaps I would even do it in a more loving fashion. But it is better for my family that it be done in the best, most skilled way. And it’s better for the country that not everyone’s parents are trying to get medical degrees to care for them, but that we hire talented people to do it for us.

    What would be an abdication of personal responsibility is if I gave no oversight to the doctor whatsoever, blindly believed everything he or she told me, and did not make sure that the job was getting done.

    If I were unwilling to pay the taxes, and unwilling to help the poor, and unwilling to provide government oversight, then your comment about personal responsibility would apply.

    To the contrary, I believe that making the care of our fellow citizens solely a matter of optional charity, we enable a whole swath of Americans to abdicate their personal responsibilities altogether.

    Division of labor is an old and venerable concept that has helped fuel the greatest economic expansion the world has ever known, and promoted the freedoms that we all cherish.

    The preamble of the Constitution demands that the government provide for the general welfare. And in matters such as buying the ingredients for tuna casseroles for the homeless, and baking them, they will be better at this and more efficient than a bunch of separate households doing the same thing.

    Which is not to say that I discourage charity, or that I don’t engage in it. But I like to give to causes that the government is not better at than me. Like blood drives. Like Goodwill Industries. Etc.

    You’ve inspired a post, I think. Thank you for the thoughtful discussion.

  12. Stephanie,

    Hopefully you understand that I believe government does have a role here. I don’t believe it should be as great as it is or that we should permit it to grow.

    The preamble of the Constitution demands that the government provide for the general welfare. True, however, I think it has been abused and stretched beyond its intent.

    The problem with the doctor analogy… You doctor can not threaten your personal liberties and become an Oliver Cromwell.


  13. Hopefully you understand that I believe government does have a role here.

    I think I do, but it’s good to hear. I have had my share of debates with libertarians who don’t think so. 🙂


    I don’t believe it should be as great as it is or that we should permit it to grow.

    I believe that the role of government should be absolutely no greater than required to prevent the personal travesties that are a blight on any civilized society. To the extent that it is not currently doing so may be a function of the government needing a greater role, but what if it just needs to _do a better job_? Perhaps that’s one place where both sides of the political spectrum can maybe find some common ground and make some positive changes.


    The preamble of the Constitution demands that the government provide for the general welfare. True, however, I think it has been abused and stretched beyond its intent.

    Certainly. I absolutely agree. Though I doubt we would both agree on just what those abuses and stretches have been.


    The problem with the doctor analogy… You doctor can not threaten your personal liberties and become an Oliver Cromwell.

    The doctor analogy was meant as a direct rebuttal to the accusation that I was the kind of person who abdicated personal responsibility for the less fortunate in our society because I want to employ efficiency and expertise in the venture.

    More in a forthcoming post on Jousting for Justice . . .

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