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  • The Selfish Left

    Posted by Shannon Love on December 22nd, 2008 (All posts by )

    In the NYTimes,  Nicholas Kristof asks why leftists give less to charity [h/t Instapundit] than do those on the Right. Why do the people who collectively advocate redistributing wealth from producers to the poor donate so little as individuals to the same cause?

    I think the reason simple: Leftism isn’t about compassion. Leftism is about control. Leftism is about freeing the individual from personal responsibility for anything, including charity.

    Redistribution via government coercion enhances the power of leftists in two ways: First, it takes from the productive segments of society, reducing their freedom of action and forcing them them to kowtow to leftists in order to try to avoid even harsher confiscation. Second, it creates a large population of individuals who depend on leftists for the necessities of life. A poor person in America today relies on government for food, shelter, jobs, medical care, transportation, etc. They can’t be defined as “free” in any meaningful sense. 

    The surest indicator of leftist true motives can be seen in the specific mechanism they seek to employ to redistribute wealth to the poor. Whenever possible, they employ a centrally managed system that takes the power of choice out of the hands of beneficiaries, and they wage open warfare on any type of redistribution mechanism that might let beneficiaries make their own independent choices. For example, leftists oppose voucher systems across the board. Voucher systems seem like the ideal solution. People get the money they need for things like health care, education or housing, and they have to spend on the need mandated but still retain personal choice and benefit from the efficiency and flexibility of the free market. 

    Yet, leftists oppose vouchers-based redistribution with a passion. They base their arguments against vouchers almost entirely on the premise that individual citizens are simply too stupid to make their own decisions about their own lives. Instead, they advocate systems in which benevolent leftists will use other people’s money to force others to behave as the leftists wish. 

    Coerced redistribution also allows individual leftists to escape personal responsibility for making the world a better place. To receive accolades and garner self-respect a leftist doesn’t have to do anything more than verbalize support for the leftist cause du jour. If I were a leftist, I would feel that merely by writing this blog post (on a different subject, naturally), I would have engaged in an actual compassionate act. I could feel as good about myself as someone who, you know, actually helped another human being. Leftists off-load their responsibilities to care for others onto the state, leaving themselves free to pursue a narcissistic lifestyle with a clear conscience.  

    For the religious conservative, charity and community involvement become matters of deep personal obligation. They believe that each individual must account for their own efforts to make the world a better place. They don’t believe they can “outsource” that obligation to a third party. Secular leftists, by contrast, don’t even talk about their own personal, individual obligation to devote their own resources to help others. Instead, they blame everyone else for the evils of the world and demand that those people sacrifice. 

    Leftism always comes back to the power, status and freedom from responsibility of the leftist. Actually writing checks to the poor, serving on juries, being foster parents, donating blood, etc. don’t contribute to their power, status or freedom from responsibility, so they don’t bother. 

     

    54 Responses to “The Selfish Left”

    1. C. Smith Says:

      Yes. Love thy neighbor as thyself, by proxy.

    2. Mitch Says:

      Condition of the Working Class in England, by Engels, 1845
      The Attitude of the Bourgeoisie Towards the Proletariat

      What? The wealthy English fail to remember the poor? They who have founded philanthropic institutions, such as no other country can boast of! Philanthropic institutions forsooth! As though you rendered the proletarians a service in first sucking out their very life-blood and then practising your self-complacent, Pharisaic philanthropy upon them, placing yourselves before the world as mighty benefactors of humanity when you give back to the plundered victims the hundredth part of what belongs to them! Charity which degrades him who gives more than him who takes; charity which treads the downtrodden still deeper in the dust, which demands that the degraded, the pariah cast out by society, shall first surrender the last that remains to him, his very claim to manhood, shall first beg for mercy before your mercy deigns to press, in the shape of an alms, the brand of degradation upon his brow.

      ….

      The English bourgeoisie is charitable out of self-interest; it gives nothing outright, but regards its gifts as a business matter, makes a bargain with the poor, saying: “If I spend this much upon benevolent institutions, I thereby purchase the right not to be troubled any further, and you are bound thereby to stay in your dusky holes and not to irritate my tender nerves by exposing your misery. You shall despair as before, but you shall despair unseen, this I require, this I purchase with my subscription of twenty pounds for the infirmary!” It is infamous, this charity of a Christian bourgeois!

    3. david foster Says:

      Leftists tend to regard the government as an idealized parent-figure. The children look to the parent to help the other children.

    4. td Says:

      Perhaps. Or it could be that because I have less income there is less incentive for me to give money to charities to reduce my tax burden and more incentive to volunteer my time directly and participate in other altruistic behaviors that don’t happen to give out a receipt. But wild asses dogmatic assumptions are certainly more fun…..

    5. sol vason Says:

      Mitch,

      Thanks for giving us the source of modern liberal attitudes towards charity. Based on the Marxist interpretation of history as a class struggle – a notion which thoroughly corrupted histories of the past 500 years written in the last century, giving money or assistance to another person insults the recipient and is a form of self-agrandisement for the giver.

      A true liberal is never chariable. Rather he pass laws recognizing that all people have a right to an equal outcome and are obligated to contribute their fair share to the common good. Thus liberals are dedicated to “community service” which is not charity but a sacred obligation required by the mantra “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. People who fail to docommunity service” are “rehabilitated” in “re-education camps”.

    6. Paul from Florida Says:

      Maybe because all the lefties are in Iraq? Or is it Darfur now? I keep forgetting what is the ‘in’ bumper sticker cause de jour for lefties. Coffee farms, somewhere? Or the Sandalistas? What about that ‘Free Tibet’ thingy? God, those stickers were on every Volvo for decades. Tibet must be free now, what with that exhausting bumper sticker campaign.

    7. Shannon Love Says:

      Td,

      Or it could be that because I have less income there is less incentive for me to give money to charities to reduce my tax burden…

      The given patterns studied are invariant to income. Poor social conservatives give a higher percentage of their income than do wealthy secular leftist.

      It’s clearly a matter of a sense of personal obligation and responsibility versus a sense of no personal obligation or responsibility.

    8. jaed Says:

      I’m not completely sure what Td’s point was – he seems to be saying liberals volunteer where conservatives give money, but isn’t the stereotype that conservatives are poor and uneducated while liberals are vibrant, talented, high-earning “New Class” types? – but it’s not just that giving patterns are independent of income; if I remember correctly, conservatives also volunteer at a noticeably higher rate.

      That being said – when these statistics were being widely discussed a couple of years ago, didn’t it turn out that being actively religious was the actual determiner, and it just looked like a conservative/liberal divide because more conservatives are religious?

      (Side not: What kind of person gives money primarily to “reduce my tax burden”, anyway?)

    9. Jimbino Says:

      Leftism is about distributing the wealth from the poor to the rich and from the disadvantaged to the advantaged! Look at the National Parks and Forests and the country’s public universities to see the truth of that.

      All of them are supported by the taxpayer, but they are run as White Country Clubs. At our local University of Texas, largest in the counrty, black and Hispanic Americans are grossly underrepresented. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Black, Native American or Hispanic face among the visitors to the nation’s many national parks and forests, even in places like Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde and the Great Sand Dunes, smack dab in the middle of Hispanic and Native American territory!

      The last time I was at Mesa Verde, there were no black, brown or red faces among the 250 or so visitors, and the last time I was in the Great Sand Dunes there were none among the 30 or so visitors, 10 of which were Japanese tourists.

      The government will never achieve fairness, especially leftist ones. You want fairness? — look to Disney World and Walmart, who cater to minorities throughout the world. Privatize all universities and national parks and forests!

    10. Harold P. Butts III Says:

      The article by Kristoff is simply wrong and dumb. Those on the Left believe that govt ought to be involved in helping those less fortunate and push for programs that are for all members of society. If they do not give as much as conservatives (who do not want govt to do much of anything except bail out for the free market), that is simply because they realize that a goodly percentage of just about any and every charity goes to “administrative costs,” and a lot of money never gets to where it is meant to go.

      Now take giving for helpless kids in Africa and elsewhere: I don’t give because often such charities do not believe in birth control but do believe that those of us who do should support helpless kids who have no parents able to care properly for them. I don’t personally give for AIDS because charities do not believe in birth control.

      Give, if you feel so inclined. But do not, please, tell me I am selfish, for I will match what I give to anything that you personally have given this past year.

    11. Anonymous Says:

      Mitch’s quote (#2) from Friedrich Engels totally explains the liberal attitude toward charity. First, please accept the fact that liberals fundamentally believe in the faith of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In their view charity insults the recipient. The recipient is being given something that was stolen from him by the person who gave it to him, not as a return of stolen property but as a gift for which he should show gratitude!!

      Liberals live in a different universe from ordinary human beings.

      Liberals believe that charity insults the recipient because it requires him to show gratitude for getting back his stolen property. Liberals believe charity puffs up the giver because he demonstrates that he is so powerful or so clever and amoral that he has more wealth than he needs by giving it away! Notice how liberals justify charity – they want ordinary people to give money not because it is morally right or humane but because we get a tax deduction. They insult us and sully our honor because liberals have no comprehension of why ordinary humans are charitable! A liberal is never charitable, but he will give money to a charity if the act buys him a benefit such as prestige, votes or sex. He assumes ordinary humans have the same motives.

      Remember the Golden Rule for liberals is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” If some one commits charity, this means he has taken more than he needs and therefore has committed a crime against society.

      Liberals do not believe that what they do is income redistribution because they are simply making sure that no one gets more than his fair share. Liberals believe they are taking money from the overly greedy and giving to those who are entitled to it merely because they need it.

      Ordinary humans are confounded by this world view.

      Liberals believe that in a perfect society everyone will contribute to the common good to the limit of his ability and will take only what he needs. After all, they point out, didn’t this system make medieval monasteries incredibly rich and powerful? Isn’t this the basis of the Mir? (“Mir” is the Russian word for a kind of village where happy peasants used to live by the Marx-Engles Golden Rule. American liberals use the term “village” or “community” instead of “mir”. eg: “it takes a village” or “community organizer”).

      As ordinary humans we know all the reasons why liberals are wrong about what we call human nature. Liberals argue that we ordinary humans are polluted by western learning and capitalism. Pot Pol, the famous leader of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia tried to set up the ideal liberal society by excluding everyone who was polluted so that only liberals would be left. He killed over half the people of Cambodia (liberals at Yale claim it was “only” 21%) before ordinary humans stopped him – so I guess we will never know if liberalisam can work.

      But at least now we know the price liberals will exact from us in order to create the ideal liberal society.

    12. Shannon Love Says:

      Harold P Butts,

      If they do not give as much as conservatives (who do not want govt to do much of anything except bail out for the free market), that is simply because they realize that a goodly percentage of just about any and every charity goes to “administrative costs,” and a lot of money never gets to where it is meant to go.

      As opposed to the overhead on government programs? Come on, you really think that the reason that secular leftist as a population don’t give is that they have all done an analysis of charity programs and found them inefficient? Even if this is true, why don’t leftist just individually donate more in taxes to the government. Indeed, why haven’t they set up a special fund that people can donate to when they pay their taxes? The highly efficient politicians could then benevolently distribute these resources to the poor. Everybody would be happy.

      If you look at the broad pattern of leftist policy proposal in all areas and in historical context you see a pattern not of compassion but of lust for power. Leftist cling to programs that enhance their power even when their impact on the poor is catastrophic. Witness the hysterical resistance to welfare reform back in the 90’s. Programs designed in the 60’s supposedly to help the poor instead devastated poor communities. Yet leftist still pushed the programs.

      Now take giving for helpless kids in Africa and elsewhere: I don’t give because often such charities do not believe in birth control but do believe that those of us who do should support helpless kids who have no parents able to care properly for them. I don’t personally give for AIDS because charities do not believe in birth control.

      I’m sure the children who died as result appreciate your grasp of the big picture. I’ll bet their last thoughts are something like, “I’m sure glad Harold P. Butts III didn’t try to help me but instead wisely spent that money on a round of beers for his palls.”

      The picture is very clear. Leftist talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Leftist are quite content to use the plight of the poor and the suffering to gain power and status but they have little interest in making personal sacrifices to make the world a better place.

    13. td Says:

      Shannon if all you’re measuring is rate of money given then its impossible to deselect entirely for income. Without at least some attempt to measure rates of volunteering then “studies” like this are essentially worthless beyond the soundbite value.

      Jaed seems to insist on dealing in broad generalities, and odd ones at that. And if you’re curious as to who might donate just to reduce their tax burden then you might give some thought as to why so many people keep their donation receipts and make sure their accountants get them.

    14. Shannon Love Says:

      Td,

      Not sure I understand your point. Brooks controlled for income in his study. If your saying that conservatives give more because they have more money, its been long shown that the correlation between political affiliations and income is largely a myth.

    15. david foster Says:

      Here’s another behavior pattern that strikes me as somewhat parallel: Some of the Rockefeller heirs, who own a lot of Exxon-Mobil stock, have been beating up on the company to put more emphasis on “alternative energy.”

      Now, one might ask why these Rocks don’t just sell their XOM stock, combine the resulting cash with their other substantial assets, round up a few like-thinking friends, and start their *own* alternative-energy company. Two possibilities come to mind:

      1)They think (incorrectly) that such a venture is more likely to succeed if it is part of an established company like XOM.

      2)They feel (probably at a subconscious level) that telling other people what to do is a more aristocratic and appropriate behavior than the bourgeois/proletarian behavior of actually doing something.

    16. td Says:

      The entire discussion presumes a level of disposable income that ignores large swaths of population. Im making no assumptions about income and political affiliation though I don’t share your confidence that those assumptions have long since been dispelled. Im questioning the validity of any conclusions about charitable impulses that don’t include levels of volunteering or other types of giving that don’t show up as a tax credit.

    17. LotharBot Says:

      Td,

      no, this discussion does NOT presume a level of disposable income. Statistics going back many, many years show the same pattern among people of the SAME income levels, including among the reasonably poor: people on the right give more money than people on the left.

      There are lots of possible explanations for that phenomenon. You’ve attempted to give the reason that people on the left give more time. But you have confused that point by trying to bring it back to income (“because I have less income there is less incentive for me to give money”) — because among people at your income level, people on the right still monetarily outgive people on the left; even with the same monetary/tax incentive, people on the right give out more money. So if you wish to make the “people on the left give more time” argument, you must do it without trying to bring in tax incentives etc. Here’s a challenge for you: can you find any credible information that suggests people on the left volunteer more time than people on the right?

      Going back to the established fact that people on the right give more money than people on the left, there are several possible explanations:

      – It’s possible that people on the right tend to be more religious, and religious people give due to religious commands (note: giving to a church may or may not be “charitable” depending on who you ask.) In other words, the right/left divide is a proxy for a religious divide.

      – It’s possible that people on the right give more money while people on the left give more time. I’ve heard this explanation, but have yet to see credible documentation of it. (Of people who volunteer time at the non-profit aerospace museum where I work, my impression is that they’re more conservative than the city as a whole, but part of that is because there are so many aerospace engineers.)

      – It’s possible that people on the right believe it’s their personal responsibility to be generous while people on the left believe it’s the state’s responsibility. People on the right are more likely to say “let me help you” while those on the left are more likely to say “damn that George W Bush for not helping you.” I can attest to this in an anecdotal way, which is why I find this explanation so easy to believe. When I think of who among my friends are likely to offer help to someone who needs it, my conservative friends are far more likely than my liberal friends. (It’s not that they’re more likely to brag/publicize it; I mean they’re more likely to offer help in private. The only reason I know about it is I’ve worked with people to evaluate/decide on their sources of help.)

      Again, any of these are possible, but I find the last explanation most credible, due to personal experience. I suspect the first explanation colors the statistics somewhat, but the last explanation is what I’ve seen in practice.

    18. Ginny Says:

      Td – the very poor may give more in time, but if they are religious, they are likely to give more.

      The common rationalizations spring up within this thread: only the rich have money for charity, the charities don’t have the same positions I do; charities waste money. Certainly charity should begin at home; I don’t see starving our children of money or attention is good; I don’t give to certain organizations whose values differ from mine; some charities waste money. But apparently those rationalizations come more easiily when you are not. . . well, probably, religious, though it may be conservative.

      The pedigree of such doubts is not only Marxist but can also be seen in Emerson and Howells – two who came from poverty to some respect and income. But the comments demonstrate the bind: charity gives us power over another. This diminishes the recipient’s independence and self-respect; on the other hand, supporting a cause we find wasteful or wrong diminishes ours. If we expect someone to accept our faith before we give them their bread, what we do is blackmail. On the other hand, we should not be shamed into giving to a cause we believe is wasteful or destructive.

      I don’t blame you for not wanting to give to organizations that don’t encourage birth control, but certainly your motive is control. That desire appears among conservatives and people of deep religious conviction, but it is certainly powerfully strong in those without such convictions and who see themselves as liberal.

      (And if your comments seem to come from the gilded age, I would prefer Soros was spending his money on lovely brick libraries across the country than on political campaigns. Those old guys wanted to inspire us; some of the modern ones want to manipulate us in a less open-ended way.)

    19. Ginny Says:

      I have a friend who is active in a church with many immigrants from countries in which the government sponsors the churches (this is true of many, of course). He complains that the church has trouble paying its bills because such members give a smaller percentage than those that have been in America for a generation or two. This is not a lack of generousity – the immigrants merely do not see their responsibility in terms of the church. I don’t think this tendency has anything to do with the main discussions, but it does show how generousity may wither in some cultures – with the result that independence in religious circles is likey to be diminished. Expecting the government to take care of what have traditionally been the responsibilities of the community, the congregation, or the family is likely to damage the independence of these institutions.

    20. Shannon Love Says:

      Td,

      Im questioning the validity of any conclusions about charitable impulses that don’t include levels of volunteering or other types of giving that don’t show up as a tax credit.

      The work of Brooks and other show the same pattern in volunteer work and similar actions. Blood donations, foster families, jury duty etc. I haven’t found any area in which the research show that leftist, especially secular leftist are more giving of their time and money.

    21. Jeff Says:

      I too have noticed the peculiar trend of left leaning people to pontificate their great love of mankind, but yet be mean as snakes on a personal level, while right wingers espouse a cruel social and economic philosophy, but yet on a personal level would give you the shirts off their backs if they thought you needed it.

      That being said, I’d really like to remove the stigma to the label “Liberal”. A lot of the prosperity that the average American enjoys today are as a result of government programs and acts that were considered “liberal” or leftwing in their day.

    22. td Says:

      While I appreciate that you all doth protest a bit too much finally it doesn’t convince. This is classic confirmation fallacy on your part. You clearly argue from a prejudiced position and devalue or ignore or are ignorant of conflicting information. Shannon, Brook;s works show that “liberals” give more to secular charities than do conservatives, not surprising since liberals are less likely to be church members, gays tend to be the most generous of ALL groups. Both of which do significant damage to the thesis in the eyes of anyone with even a passing interest in fairness. This is an annual attempt at collective back patting and nothing more. And btw, when did jury service become charitable?? I get a nice fine if I don’t show up.

    23. Shannon Love Says:

      Td,

      Brook;s works show that “liberals” give more to secular charities than do conservatives,

      Liberals give more absolute but they give less a a percentage of individual income. Liberals tend to be more wealthy than conservative so this gives them an edge.

      …gays tend to be the most generous of ALL groups.

      Why? Sexual orientation does not determine political outlook. Indeed, I would hazard that if you removed gay rights issues from the picture, gays would split 60/40 left and right. Most of my gay friends are libertarians for example. Further, I would hazard to guess that gay charitable giving goes largely to AIDS charities and other interest specifically to gays. That would explain why gay liberal give significantly more than straight leftist. If so, that would point to giving driven more by a sense of collective self-interest than altruism.

      And btw, when did jury service become charitable?

      When it became relatively easy to get out of it. You show up, give an excuse and you’re gone. Jury duty has a lot of interesting patterns. Small business people, veterans and the religiously observant are more likely to serve when called than other groups. But remember, we’re looking at a wide range of behaviors such blood donations, foster parenting, military service etc in which conservatives give more of themselves than liberals.

      The key point here is that when an individual makes a personal sacrifice for the common good, that person is more likely to be a conservative than a liberal.

    24. LotharBot Says:

      Td,

      If you believe we display confirmation bias, present the evidence we have devalued/ignored/missed. Merely claiming that such information exists does not grant your position credibility.

      Nor does it grant you credibility when you attempt to present such information, but fail to understand it. As Shannon has pointed out, Brooks’ work shows that liberals give less in comparison to overall income, but because they have more, that’s disguised by sheer volume. Shannon mentions Brooks’ work also shows that liberals at the same income level give less time in several categories. Your theory seems to be falling apart.

      You began this thread by asserting that the “giving gap” is explained by a giving of time. Thus far, the evidence has not borne that out, and in fact large chunks of evidence explicitly contradict that explanation, but you continue to insist upon it. Perhaps you should turn your suspicions of bias upon yourself.

      So, returning to my earlier point: there are several possible explanations for the fact that conservatives tend to out-give liberals at the same income level:

      – conservatives tend to be more religious, and religion is the “common cause” between political philosophy and giving. Plausible, but incomplete.

      – conservatives tend to give more money, but liberals tend to give more time. The data says this is false.

      – conservatives’ belief in individualism makes actual charitable giving more likely than liberals’ belief in government-sponsored solutions. The philosophical difference is well known, and my personal experience makes me believe it leads to a significant behavioral difference.

      Mere disagreement is not enough. Disagreement must properly account for the data in question (which shows a difference in giving both money and time), and it must plausibly describe a reason for that difference. Or disagreement must provide a plausible explanation for why the data is incomplete or flawed. Thus far you have failed to do either.

    25. Harold P. Butts III Says:

      dear
      Shannon:
      any number of studies have shown what percentages various charities take from what they get. Additionally, though govt does “cost” too, it is our tax money and we can vote out those we don’t like but are not able to fire those that take in huge salaries at charities.

      Is it possible to comment without a sneering comment, a poke at someone you don’t agree with? Where has civility gone?

    26. td Says:

      Shannon writes:

      “Liberals give more absolute but they give less a a percentage of individual income. Liberals tend to be more wealthy than conservative so this gives them an edge.”

      Im not sure what the “poor conservative” line of reasoning does for your point but its hardly the settled matter you’ve given it to be. Brooks cites only data from the Social Capital Community Benchmark to support that point but ignores completely data from organizations he cites later that suggest conservatives make MORE money. Either way Im willing to allow that its an unsettled issue but the way Brooks goes about it indicates a level of intellectual dishonesty on his part. How are you supporting that assertion?

      “Why? Sexual orientation does not determine political outlook. Indeed, I would hazard that if you removed gay rights issues from the picture, gays would split 60/40 left and right”

      So if we just ignore the reasons people tend to coalesce around a particular point of view we can assume what we like about them?? Well….okay…if we remove 7 or 8 issues from the equation Im a conservative. Regardless, gays as a groups skew socially liberal and yet give more than all groups. Thats a major problem for this hypothesis because among other things conservatives want to use this data to suggest liberals have no sense of communal responsibility…. except I guess when they do.

      Now it gets really hairy……From ” Who Really Cares….” pp 21-22.

      “When it comes to giving or not giving, conservatives and liberals look a lot alike. Conservative people are a percentage point or two more likely to give MONEY each year than liberal people, but a percentage point or so LESS LIKELY TO VOLUNTEER [citing the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) and the 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS)].”

      Emphasis mine but do note the sarcastic arch of my eyebrows…….

      But, its the holidays and Im taken with the spirit so just for fun lets accept all of this at face value.
      Ignoring all methodology and quality of cognition and even pretending like Brooks isn’t president of AEI for heaven’s sake, lets see what we got finally……

      Brooks concludes that on average the difference between giving in conservative/liberal households amounts to $373 annually….. that’s your fastball gentlemen. Now somehow many of you have taken that information and found it to be entirely supportive of the idea that liberals are merely power hungry, lacking entirely the milk of human kindness, and more inclined toward global catastrophe. Presumably some figure less than $373 has triggered that conclusion and I suppose that if the difference were only $100 you’d moderate your responses……in that case I guess liberals might only be sometimes churlish.

      Now, am I to believe that these are points of view you came to only AFTER having read Brooks or is it perhaps possible that these are points of dogma you have long been emotionally invested in? This is a conclusion gone hunting for supporting arguments, and the choir isn’t the most discerning audience typically.

      Regards.

    27. anomdebus Says:

      A man from Butts looks for civility after opening his comments with a curt dismissal of “simply wrong and dumb”? …

      I wonder about the distinction about religious charities. Does this include AIDS charities for Africa that promote abstinance, for example? I believe that would skew the numbers as the solution, though religiously inclined, actually focuses on the problem. As opposed to a famine program that feeds only church goers.

      As far as charities go, it is possible to remove the officers in cases of mismanagement. But, more importantly, you have the option of taking your money to another charity if you are unhappy with them. This is not so easy in the case of government. Indeed, the government takes it due regularly and without you having to do anything. For charities, you generally have to cut another check manually. Btw, I am not sure I believe there is not one worthwhile charity in the world to give money to, practically no matter what your philosophy. (the exceptions being the extraordinarily strange) Indeed, your admission that there are studies does suggest that there are ways of finding those charities that do best in their mission.

      Now, one reason for the difference may have to do with cost of living. If liberals use a greater percentage of their income for expenses, it would leave less for charity. A minor counterpoint is that they made the decision to live in those places, though.

    28. Shannon Love Says:

      Td,

      Im not sure what the “poor conservative” line of reasoning does for your point but its hardly the settled matter you’ve given it to be. Im not sure what the “poor conservative” line of reasoning does for your point but its hardly the settled matter you’ve given it to be.

      Simply that conservatives do not give more because they have more money. Brooks repeatedly corrects for income. If you take any two people that have identical incomes, the conservative will donate more time and money. Since we are assessing personal compassion for others, the degree of sacrifice is relative to income.

      Now it gets really hairy……From ” Who Really Cares….” pp 21-22.

      “When it comes to giving or not giving, conservatives and liberals look a lot alike. Conservative people are a percentage point or two more likely to give MONEY each year than liberal people, but a percentage point or so LESS LIKELY TO VOLUNTEER [citing the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) and the 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS)].”

      You should have continued to the next paragraph:

      But this similarity fades away when we consider average dollar amounts donated. In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money to charity than households headed by a liberal($1,600 go $1,227). This discrepancy is not simply an artifact of income differences; on the contrary, liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, and conservative famile gave more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to the middle class to rich.”

      That $373 your deride is enormous when spread across tens of millions of households. Further as a statistical number its is highly significant.

      Now somehow many of you have taken that information and found it to be entirely supportive of the idea that liberals are merely power hungry, lacking entirely the milk of human kindness, and more inclined toward global catastrophe.

      You miss the point. Liberals claim to seek power and control over others out of compassion. Yet when it comes to making personal sacrifices for the good of others they are, at best ,merely the equals of conservatives. Since liberals are not in truth more compassionate than conservatives why is their true motive in advancing “compassionate” political policies?

      Clearly they do so out some reason other than altruism. I think it is merely about power and status. That is why they always choose redistribution systems that take away choices and increase dependency.

    29. virgil xenophon Says:

      Shannon Love @3:22pm/22 DEC./08

      Don’t mean to pick as I’m a big fan of yours (and most others who host site) but a pet peeve of mine is misuse
      of the phrase “Talk-the-talk, walk-the-walk.” If you think about it; it makes no sense. The ORIGINAL saying was :
      He “talks the talk, but he doesn’t WALK the talk,” i.e, put one’s words into action.
      (A fresher take on the old: “He talks a good game,” etc.) That’s the proper way to utilize the phrase, but through laziness, ignorance or whatever, most have slipped into using the mistakenly modified take on the original expression instead. Just sayin’…….

    30. anomdebus Says:

      virgil xenophon,
      I can’t say I have heard the phrase “walk the talk”. In perhaps the same way you find “walk the walk” ungainly, so I find this “new to me” expression. Being a descriptivist, I couldn’t care less what expressions you use, but I don’t believe you can deny a widespread usage. If it indeed went from “walk the talk” to “walk the walk”, I think you lost that battle a long time ago.

      As far as what it (talk/talk, walk/walk) means, I always took it to conjecture a duality of thought and action. So the subject does one but not the other with a kind of alliteration with the verb and object. I don’t think this makes any less sense that how you “walk talk”.

      Google fights doesn’t seem to clear it up, in part because “walk the talk” alone appears now to be a management slogan.

    31. anomdebus Says:

      Well, according to this link [http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/walk-the-walk.html], talk/talk:walk/walk dates back to 1921. It also claims walk/talk only dates to 1993, so YMMV.

    32. Obloodyhell Says:

      > Perhaps. Or it could be that because I have less income there is less incentive for me to give money to charities to reduce my tax burden and more incentive to volunteer my time directly and participate in other altruistic behaviors that don’t happen to give out a receipt. But wild assed dogmatic assumptions are certainly more fun…..

      Well, if you are having fun making them, by all means, go ahead. Just don’t expect us to take you seriously.

      Me, I stick with facts, which includes a vast array of leftist people making buttloads of money (including lefty politicos like Obama and Biden) and quite a few of the Hollywood Left, who are anything but people with “less income”. Even a casual search for this information would find it, but, of course, you’re having too much fun making those wild-assed dogmatic assertions…

    33. Liberal Says:

      It’s a barometer of how the rightist conservatives who read this blog are feeling right now– is it too much to say your world is crumbling around you?–that they seize on this study. Leftists aren’t people we disagree with, who have bad ideas; they’re bad people. Morally bad. I would be insulted by it (especially since I do give money to charity) but I’m feeling smug instead.

    34. Shannon Love Says:

      Liberal,

      It’s a barometer of how the rightist conservatives who read this blog are feeling right now– is it too much to say your world is crumbling around you?

      Why, its just politics. We’re not like leftist whose worlds and self-worth center around politics.

      Leftists aren’t people we disagree with, who have bad ideas; they’re bad people. Morally bad.

      That what leftist believe about the right. You know, how we don’t care if poor people starve in the street and that we start wars just to make a few bucks.

      I would be insulted by it (especially since I do give money to charity)…

      And that charitable given is matched or exceed by a conservative. Therefore, your support for coercive redistribution does not rise from your superior compassion.

      …but I’m feeling smug instead.

      I would suggest that if politics makes you happy in any way, then you need a life.

    35. Tyouth Says:

      Leftists aren’t people we disagree with, who have bad ideas; they’re bad people. Morally bad.

      Well, yeah. Socialist policies encourage individual and social weaknesses (ie: broad welfare schemes, identification politics and economics); they capitalize on ignorance on one hand and greed on the other (as evidenced in the last election when naive young people and Philistine-like union members helped put a socialist in the White House). So yeah, willful, emotional, ignorant, and selfish are people morally bad.

      Of course I may be judgmental and may be becoming a misanthrope because my fellow citizens would have been “bad” enough to put the Republican candidate into office – only a slight improvement.

    36. Obloodyhell Says:

      > except bail out for the free market

      Yeah, cause it was *only* the GOP who voted for that crap. Uh-huh.

      I refrain from making insulting observations about your reasoning capacity.

      > that is simply because they realize that a goodly percentage of just about any and every charity goes to “administrative costs,” and a lot of money never gets to where it is meant to go.

      1) Almost all, if not all, charities, I believe, are REQUIRED to indicate these numbers and make them available for public consideration. It’s not hard to pick charities which are fairly good about this. If you’d ever given enough to actually care about such, in reality, as opposed to making excuses, you’d know this.
      2) As someone else notes, “As opposed to using the government to hand out largess, with ITS overhead?” If I wasn’t laughing so hard at the sheer absurdity of this claim, I’d take the time to include an appropriate snide comment.
      3) Note that the government, unlike the charity, is excluded from giving you actual numbers about its overhead expenses. There’s often ways to estimate, however, and it’s not a small percentage by any means.

    37. td Says:

      Shannon,

      Brooks own hand notes that liberals are more likely to donate their time than conservatives which jibes nicely with my point. Further as I note Brooks’ “research” on supposed income variables is just flat bogus. He only sites the one source that reinforces his point and ignores at least two other sources which do not though he does see fit to make use of the disagreeable sources later in his work. You’ll agree I trust that falls well short of rigorous?

      As for the $373… You aren’t buying into a generalized argument of averages, you’re talking about matters of individual action and on that level you’ve got $373 dollars to make that “point”. In other words you’re willing, on the basis of THAT figure, to assume that I have a much darker heart than you. Isn’t that what it all boils down too? It goes without saying that it does. And in any event this kind of thing hardly begins to justify the conclusions you fellas draw from it. You bring that baggage to the discussion.

      Regards

    38. Obloodyhell Says:

      > It’s a barometer of how the rightist conservatives who read this blog are feeling right now– is it too much to say your world is crumbling around you?–that they seize on this study. Leftists aren’t people we disagree with, who have bad ideas; they’re bad people. Morally bad. I would be insulted by it (especially since I do give money to charity) but I’m feeling smug instead.

      BWAAAAAAAAAhahahhahahhahahhahahahahahhaaaaaaa….

      Don’t refute it, revel in it!!

      Use it as an excuse to claim that conservatives feel the world is “crumbling”….

      Project, much?

      You idiots have been whining and apoplectic for eight friggin’ years, and after 8 years of acid-bathed vitriol, anything which points out how uncharitable the Left is despite its supposed “high airs” and “concern for the downtrodden” is somehow equally vitriolic.

      a) This is far from the first time it’s been noticed. I recall reading comments about it at least 2 years ago.
      b) We don’t think our world is crumbling. We’re accepting that we’ve let the wrong people get in charge of the GOP and are in the process of fixing that. It’s unfortunate that Obama’s going to get to screw things up for four years, but then, one of the concerns was that McCain would not have done any different, really — he was never a conservative and barely qualified as a Republican.

    39. Mitch Says:

      Well, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah anyway, to the left, to the right, and all around.

      If you are concerned about minimizing administrative costs in favor of delivered services, I recommend AmeriCares. They are 98% efficient and get into some of the most urgent situations around the world (Darfur, the Burma typhoon, the Indonesian tsunami, etc.). Never heard of them? That’s a good thing – they spend almost nothing on advertising and fundraising.

    40. wilderness of meres Says:

      Well, I see this is still going on, so I guess someone may read this.

      Correlation is not causation. And just how many studies of this are there?

      This should be seen, not as an opportunity for patting oneself on the back, but for framing further research.

    41. Ginny Says:

      Well, some speculation about the causation might be interesting – that is why several people posited a stronger correlation to religion than politics (much like the correlation to child-bearing, but that’s another topic). Still, this is not a new discussion – in fact, I remember considerable discussion contrasting the Republican/Democratic national candidates in 2000 and again in 2004. (By 2008 it was an old topic, but one in which McCain & Palin fit in to the pattern established earlier.)

      Secondly, we always want further research when other’s conclusions make us uncomfortable, that’s why I’d like more about global warming (and it is true, more research has undercut some of those assumptions – perhaps they would this. But then this isn’t the product of projections but of facts).

      But asking others to do research is not the same as disproving their argument. Sure, more studies would be interesting, more analysis would be, too. But a higher level of honesty and introspection might lead to less knee-jerk responses from those who appear to be less generous. Or perhaps more generousity.

    42. Tyouth Says:

      Republican/Democratic national candidates in 2000 and again in 2004

      Since you bring it up Ginny, one has to think that, however distant Obama is intellectually from the mainstream of conservative thought, he is apparently not the vacuous empty suit that Kerry and Gore are. He’ll appease the boobs in his party to greater or lesser extent for the sake of party unity and support but there may be moments during the next four years when we will be glad to have an individual who, at least, seems to bring some intellect to bear, focus, and work through a problem. Let’s hope such moments come later in his term rather than sooner.

    43. wilderness of meres Says:

      Ginny, is your comment a reply to mine?

    44. MD Says:

      I think Brooks is doing something very cheeky – using a lefty ‘the personal is political’ method to show that conservatives are more generous. Like when some Swedish lefty says, ‘hey, we give more of our GDP in percentage’ than the US to charity and the US righties say, ‘yeah, but we give more overall.’ It’s a way of making your political side seem more, well, moral. Better. I think Brooks is just responding to a certain lefty narrative of, ‘hey, we are better people because of our beliefs’ with the same sort of study often used against conservatives.

      *You can’t tell from a person’s politics if they are good are not in their personal life. I don’t think there is such a correlation because people don’t always think as hard about their political beliefs as they do about their own personal lives. Well, that’s what I think anyway.

    45. MD Says:

      “…but I’m feeling smug instead.”

      And this differs from the norm for ‘Liberal’ how?

      *Sorry, and this the day after Christmas, too! I really should know better. I live in a very lefty neighborhood and am constantly surrounded by the superiority and goodness said lefties. I’m sure if I lived in a very righty area I’d feel the same about smug righties, although, I’d probably nod in agreement a lot more about stuff.

    46. MD Says:

      Okay, I read the actual article linked.

      Brooks is doing no such cheeky thing, he did the think I thought he was being cheeky against: he did the study because his hypothesis was that liberals were more generous. Haha. I guess those kinds of hypothesis are just fine!

    47. wilderness of meres Says:

      Kristof’s editorial contains a number of vague statements, such as “Among the stingiest of the stingy are secular conservatives.” (Did I miss the comments on that statement?)

      A more informative review of Brooks’s book is this one at Amazon by a former Heritage Foundation fellow.

    48. Shannon Love Says:

      Wilderness of Meres,

      It’s not really pertinent to this conversation. The real question in the parent was whether leftist chose the policies they do out of true compassion or whether they do so out some other motive.

    49. wilderness of meres Says:

      Aaaah, so it’s mindreading.

    50. Shannon Love Says:

      Wilderness Of Meres,

      Aaaah, so it’s mindreading.

      As much as any other attempt to explain human behavior is.

      Given the left’s long history of attempting to reduce the behavior of non-leftist to that of economic robots, to explain military policy in terms of freudian phallicism or, more recently, to pathologize non-leftist political beliefs, I feel more own efforts to hold the mirror up to them rather modest.

    51. td Says:

      I didn’t think this thread would survive the holiday.

      My final (maybe) thoughts are these:

      If the Chicago Boi perspective here held any water then gays and religious liberals would not be as generous as religious conservatives or MORE inclined to give than secular conservatives. In fact they could not be as you’re making a mutually exclusive argument. Brooks is really just demonstrating that to the extent that people are members of a defined community they’re inclined to support the activities of that community. Once again factual nuance proves to be the natural enemy of dogmatic posturing.

      Where’s the middle here?? Since most of the citizenry does not self define as either liberal or conservative I really don’t see how any sort of judgment can be drawn without comparing giving patterns among moderates. And if the difference aint substantial then this is all just silliness.

      Regards

    52. Shannon Love Says:

      Td,

      Since most of the citizenry does not self define as either liberal or conservative I really don’t see how any sort of judgment can be drawn without comparing giving patterns among moderate

      Brooks used the 1/3 extreme on both the left and right of people who self-identified as either liberal or conservative.

      Once again factual nuance proves to be the natural enemy of dogmatic posturing

      I couldn’t have put it better myself. The dogmatic posture of the left has always been that they represent the compassionate and caring individuals while conservatives represent the cruel and indifferent. Clearly, based on giving patterns, this is not true.

      Instead conservative oppose liberal policies because they have a nuanced understanding of the complex interactions in human affairs. Liberals choose to address some problem and not others and they chose some solutions over others, based on how those solutions to those specific problems benefit liberals as a population.

      So, in the end, I think that liberals are actually the selfish ones.

    53. wilderness of meres Says:

      Shannon Love:

      The mirror tactic, which you claim to be adopting, is unlikely to succeed if the object of your attentions sees any distortions in the reflection. Thus, moves such as substituting “leftist” for “liberal” in your first sentence (in this column Kristof uses the word “left” once, and “leftist” not at all) and contrasting religious conservatives with secular leftists while ignoring the cases of religious liberals and secular conservatives, as you do in the penultimate paragraph of the parent, will be counterproductive.

      On the other hand, such moves work extremely well to rally the troops. But even well-written polemics hold no appeal for me.

      Happy New Year.

    54. td Says:

      “Brooks used the 1/3 extreme on both the left and right of people who self-identified as either liberal or conservative.”

      And everyone’s response should be “so?”. Setting aside for a moment the methodology of how one would arrive at that representation it matters not if its not compared to the charitable impulses of moderates. If the giving patterns of moderates are not VASTLY different from their politically more rabid counterparts then not only do you not have causation you don’t even have correlation. In which case we could just as easily be talking about people who prefer chunky to smooth peanut butter. For the record put me down for chunky.

      “So, in the end, I think that liberals are actually the selfish ones.”

      Yes, yes I know. But the point here is that Brooks’ book really doesn’t back that assumption regardless of how much one would like it to be so.

      Again if giving patterns “clearly” made that case then gays and religious liberals would not be making contributions at or above the levels of conservatives. Finally I think Brooks makes some moderately interesting points. They just aren’t the ones breathlessly represented here and elsewhere.

      Regards