Friday, April 25, 2008

Bottom Line

It's something that's been in the air for quite a while, but just to solidify the matter, let's be outright blatant. Conservatives are far more generous than liberals. Not me, mind you -- I only care about myself ... I've learned my lesson. But statistically speaking, conservatives give far more to charity, give more blood, volunteer more time. I know that you, with your gently-hued pink soul, want to argue with it. Don't bother. I'd destroy you. Would you like that, to be destroyed verbally by me? I didn't think so. So just sit back, be quiet and learn something, for once, alright?

Arthur Brooks published "Who Really Cares", a statistical analysis of the data. His findings surprised him, but being that rare thing, an objective man, he went with the evidence. George Will summarized his findings:
-- Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).

-- Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.

-- Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.

-- Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.

-- In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

-- People who reject the idea that "government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality" give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.

The major factor isn't conservatism itself, as we may discern from the fact that secular conservatives are among the stingiest. It's religious conservatives. What shall we take away from this finding? That those superstitionists are so afraid of a vengeful God that they try to buy their way out of Hell? I suppose there are some cult members who think that way. For most of us though, we don't give much thought to Hell. Not on our own behalf. We have this idea of grace, see, that lets us know we don't have to be perfect. We get good things that we don't deserve, as we get bad things we don't deserve. That's not it. Grace is not about what happens to you. It's about who loves you.

I can promise you that The Planet doesn't love you. It isn't The Planet that knows when a sparrow falls. And with this in mind, this idea of grace, we conservatives are liberated to share. Tomorrow will certainly take care of itself. It may kill us, in doing so, but there's a part of us that accepts the fact that our bodies are not immortal. With this example, this knowledge, of grace, however, we can afford to be, statistically, far more generous than the lefties. It isn't the money. It's not the things. It's the human touch -- the fact that some blessing came from some actual person, not from the boundless and impersonal general fund, the welfare trough, the entitlement plantation. Some single person cared enough to give out of his own resources -- the way poor parents will go without that their children may eat well. Oh, did I say poor parents? I meant financially challenged. Their love makes them good parents.

So there's the God aspect, that makes us statistically more generous. Then there's the conservative aspect. We understand that almost always, the government just wastes. And when it does make a difference, it is often toward corruption. Nobody is owed welfare. It is charity, but unmoored from any sense of virtue, sacrifice or humanity. Gimme. Now gimme more. A nation of spoiled children. Conservatives must certainly have their shortcomings. Faith in bureaucracy isn't one of them.

Says Will, "While conservatives tend to regard giving as a personal rather than governmental responsibility, some liberals consider private charity a retrograde phenomenon -- a poor palliative for an inadequate welfare state, and a distraction from achieving adequacy by force, by increasing taxes. Ralph Nader, running for president in 2000, said: 'A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.'" See? He thinks that justice is the same as government handouts.

The lefty reaction is to some movie they saw once, maybe Oliver Twist, where charity was such a dirty and degrading thing. But just as sex can be made pornographic, so can any virtue be corrupted. That's what hypocrites are for. Are we to shun virtue because there are evil men? Madness. And there is something powerful, in finding your own humility. False pride hardly ever gets anyone anything worth having. Our character doesn't grow until we see that it must.

Have I made my point, amid all these words? It's that generosity is a virtue, whereas taxes are at best a necessity, and typically just a form of legal extortion. And as we saw from the data, it is along this line that conservatives divide from liberals. Make of it what you will. It's not about better or worse -- self-esteem need not enter into it. It's about effectiveness. Welfare subsidizes dependency. Charity subsidizes virtue. Which are you more moved by? Individual kindness, or a government check?


No comments: