Liberal Tightwads and Compassionate Conservatives

It truly is a Christmas miracle that the New York Times printed an article over the weekend called Bleeding Heart Tightwads. The columnist, Nicholas D. Kristof, admits what many of us have always instinctively known, that conservatives are more generous than liberals. He cites three studies in his column, all of which support the conclusion that liberals are far more stingy in their charitable giving than conservatives:

  • Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals.
  • A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.
  • The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states (Republican voting states) are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states (Democrat voting states) are least likely to do so.

Kristof further says, “when liberals see the data on giving, they tend to protest that conservatives look good only because they shower dollars on churches — that a fair amount of that money isn’t helping the poor, but simply constructing lavish spires…(but) according to Google’s figures, if donations to all religious organizations are excluded…(still) conservatives are more generous than liberals.”

Now after reading this, I wanted to dig into the numbers myself. Not that I don’t believe Kristof or his sources, I do, but like the name of my blog indicates, I like to analyze things. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find on the Internet any of the data he referenced in his column. Good data is so hard to come by 🙂 But I did find a report called Volunteering in America, which has state by state trends from 2002 to 2005. The volunteer rate cited in the report is the percentage of the population, 16 years of age or older, that participates in volunteering activities. As you can see in the chart below, 8 of the top 10 states are traditional Republican states, so the data seems to back up Kristof’s conclusions that conservatives are more generous in their giving.

Be Prepared, the Scout Motto, Hoodwinked Style

The motto of the Boy Scouts is Be Prepared. Be prepared means you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.

It is said that someone once asked Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, “be prepared for what?” To which he answered, “why, for any old thing.” Powell further said, “the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. ‘Be Prepared’ in this way, to live happy and to die happy.”

A couple of things have got me thinking about the importance of being prepared. One is the recent economic turmoil in the country and world, volitility in gas prices, wheat shortages, unemployment rising, etc. My family has been trying to do better with our finances, pay off our debts, and build up our food storage, all in an effort to be prepared for whatever my come our way.

But the real thing that got me thinking on this topic was watching Hoodwinked with the kids this weekend. It’s a hilarious movie, and there is a great song in it with a bewitched mountain goat singing about being prepared. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

My Proposal for a Government Welfare Program

See if you can guess who uttered the following statements regarding welfare and caring for the poor. By the way, I really do think these principles make for a pretty good welfare program. Our government would be wise to follow such principles.

“Every man and woman ought to possess the spirit of independence, a self-sustaining spirit, that would prompt him or her to say, when they are in need, “I am willing to give my labor in exchange for that which you give me.” No man ought to be satisfied to receive, and to do nothing for it. After a man is brought down to poverty and is under the necessity of receiving aid, and his friends give it to him, he should feel that it is an obligation under which he is placed, and when the Lord should open his way he would return the gift.”

“It is a bad thing for men to think the world owes them a living, and all they have to do is to beg or steal to get it….I don’t refer to the cripple, or to those who are enfeebled by age, because I look at them in an entirely different light; there is a necessity for them to live, and there is a necessity for us to assist such, but there is no great need in this world for men and women who are able to work and will not work.”

“Even the poor who have to be assisted should be willing to do all in their power to earn their own living. Not one man or woman should be content to sit down and be fed, clothed, or housed without any exertion on his or her part to compensate for these privileges. All men and women should feel a degree of independence of character that would stimulate them to do something for a living, and not be idle; for it is written that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer.”

“Remember the poor, and to give means for their support…. No call for help [should ever be] heard in vain by them.”

“It is clear that plans which contemplate only relieving present distress are deficient. The Church has always sought to place its members in a way to help themselves, rather than adopting the method of so many charitable institutions of providing for only present needs. When the help is withdrawn or used up, more must be provided from the same source, thus making paupers of the poor and teaching them the incorrect principle of relying upon others’ help, instead of depending upon their own exertions…. Our idea of charity, therefore, is to relieve present wants and then to put the poor in a way to help themselves so that in turn they may help others.”

“Our people have learned through the commandments of God how to take care of themselves and are trying to help others to do likewise. They are ever helping each other and it is seldom that poor are found among them who are unprovided for. They are practically independent and may become entirely so by a stricter adherence to the law of the Lord! We believe that if other communities would adopt [these] plans…that poverty and pauperism would be greatly reduced or entirely overcome. Opportunities would be presented so that all might obtain work and thus provide for themselves.”

And the answer the answer is…Joseph F. Smith, 6th President of the Mormon Church. These quotes were taken from his book, Gospel Doctrine, pages 234 – 238.

Equality has Evolved into Entitlement

Last night, I was watching the FoxNews channel and they were discussing the Hispanic community’s support of Hilliary Clinton. Several so-called leaders of the Hispanic Community, including California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, mentioned how much the Clintons have done for the Hispanic Community (though she was amazingly vague on the details of exactly what they have done). All of these people interviewed during this segment said that the Hispanic Community would remember how much the Clintons have done for them and come out to vote for Hillary.

This entire exchange bothered me because it highlights a troubling trend in American politics: The voter attitude of ‘What have you done for ME?’ or ‘What will you do for ME?’ if you want MY vote. And of course, it’s not just the voters to blame, the pandering politicians are equally at fault.

This selfish attitude especially hit home to me on the day we celebrate the life of civil rights equality advocate Martin Luther King. Dr, King did not seek for preferential treatment; he sought simply for Black Americans to be treated equally to White Americans:

  • “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal
  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
  • The people on this FoxNews segment made it clear that having their interest group be treated equally and given the same opportunity as every other American was not sufficient. They wanted hand outs in exchange for their votes. This is a manifestation of the “Entitlement Mentality” (feeling entitled to government hand outs) conservatives have been concerned about for years.1

    Polar opposite to the entitlement mentality is a famous quote from President John F. Kennedy:”Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

    I agree with that sentiment, but there is little or no chance of hearing a similar sentiment from a presidential candidate today. It’s interesting to note though, that even JFK waited until after he had been elected to express this concept as the aforementioned quote was from his inaugural address.

    1. I found this good definition of entitlement mentality on Connor’s Conundrums blog:
    “Due to continually creeping socialism and the ever-expanding welfare state, American citizens are now being raised with an entitlement mentality. Rather than being instilled with a desire to work hard and follow the law of the harvest, children are ingrained with the errant notion that they will be able to depend on government for their social well-being.”