Taxes

The Giving Patterns of Liberals and Conservatives (Veiled Subscription Pitch)

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From the Chronicle of Philanthropy via Arts & Letters Daily:

In Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism (Basic Books), Arthur C. Brooks finds that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals, and that those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others….

His initial research for Who Really Cares revealed that religion played a far more significant role in giving than he had previously believed. In 2000, religious people gave about three and a half times as much as secular people — $2,210 versus $642. And even when religious giving is excluded from the numbers, Mr. Brooks found, religious people still give $88 more per year to nonreligious charities….

Mr. Brooks calls it a "bitter irony" that those favoring income redistribution are not doing much redistributing from their own bank accounts — and he blames liberal leaders like Mr. Nader for letting liberals off the hook. In essence, for many Americans, political opinions are a substitute for personal checks," Mr. Brooks writes.

More here.

Critics say that Brooks, who teaches at Syracuse University, is a stealth conservative with crap data, though he says he's politically independent and that his research improves on past findings. He is one of the talking heads on John Stossel's 20/20 special, Cheap in America, which airs tonight (details here).

Well, as long as we're talking about giving, let me take a moment to remind you to give the gift of Reason this holiday season.

Really, what better way is there to annoy and educate your right-wing and left-wing loved ones?

Or reward friends who believe in "Free Minds and Free Markets" but are too broke, cheap, and/or lazy to sign up for the award-winning, lushly produced print edition of Reason?

Or help those who suffering from arteriosclerosis? As Christopher Hitchens writes, "I find that Reason keeps my…arteries from hardening, or from flooding with adrenaline out of sheer irritation, because in the face of arbitrary power and flock-like comformism it continues to ask, in a polite but firm tone of voice, not only 'why?' but 'why not?'"

Gift subs start at $20 for the first one and then drop to a mere $17 per for any additional ones. And if you order by December 2, we'll make sure that your lucky friend (and don't forget yourself) gets the first issue by Christmas.

NEXT: One Cheer for Iran

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  1. Well no duh. The redistributionists are trying to get resourses distributed in their direction, not the other way around.

  2. Christopher Hitchens is bonkers. An endorsement from him should not be a point of pride.

  3. I was going to buy a gift subscription to Reason, but now I’ve decided to give the money to a homeless person instead.

  4. This premise was disproven two years ago, when the methodology of the “Index of Charitable Giving” was reviewed. Because these researchers look at % of overall income donated, rather than available income, the results are skewed towards low-cost-of-living areas, which tend to be more conservative than the high-cost, liberal coastal and urban areas. Once costs like housing and energy were factored in, the results showed a slight advantage for “Blue” states.

    And why, exactly, should a willingness to pay more taxes in order to help the poor not count as evidence that one is willing to pay more to help the poor? You might as well argue that Ronald Reagan was no more supportive a strong military, because he only worked to spend tax dollars on it, rather than donating money to fund a private militia.

  5. Giving money to your church, so that it can have a larger proselytizing war chest, is not charity. If you exclude this from “charitable giving” as it should be, then conservative christians are the least charitable people on the entire planet. None is going to give a cent to anyone if they don’t get to feel their lighter pocket means they are going to heaven for spreading the word of christ. They get something for their dollar, so it’s the antithesis of charity.

  6. “And why, exactly, should a willingness to pay more taxes in order to help the poor not count as evidence that one is willing to pay more to help the poor”

    Because paying taxes to help the poor rarely actually helps the poor.

  7. Did you read the article Joe? If you had, you would have noticed the following,

    “Mr. Brooks says the data show that religious people, on average, give 54 percent more per year than secular people to human-welfare charities. Some of those charities may be religiously affiliated, but their work is focused on charity and not religion, he says.

    In 2000, religious people gave about three and a half times as much as secular people – $2,210 versus $642. And even when religious giving is excluded from the numbers, Mr. Brooks found, religious people still give $88 more per year to nonreligious charities.

    He writes that religious people are more likely than the nonreligious to volunteer for secular charitable activities, give blood, and return money when they are accidentally given too much change.

    “There is not one measurably significant way I have ever found in which religious people are not more charitable than nonreligious people,” Mr. Brooks says. “The fact is, if it weren’t for religious people in your community, the PTA would shut down.”

    Yeah, I guess those housing costs in San Fran prevent people from volunteering or giving blood. The guy’s argument really is that religious people give more than non-religious. The fact religious people tend to be conservative means that conservatives give more than liberals, but it is the religion not necessarily the conservatism that causes the increased giving.

    “And why, exactly, should a willingness to pay more taxes in order to help the poor not count as evidence that one is willing to pay more to help the poor?”

    That question pretty much sums up the corrosive effect that the welfare state has on civil society. “I pay my taxes, fuck you” doesn’t sound like a very good model for society.

  8. “If you exclude this from “charitable giving” as it should be, then conservative christians are the least charitable people on the entire planet”

    Again Bruce did you read the article?

    “And even when religious giving is excluded from the numbers, Mr. Brooks found, religious people still give $88 more per year to nonreligious charities.”

    But don’t let the facts get in the way of you and Joe’s bigotry.

  9. Arthur C. Brooks finds that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals, and that those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others….

    In addition to what joe said above, this conclusion should kind of go without saying as you’re talking about two different philosophies as how to best help the less fortunate.

    You might as well say that people who prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla are more likely to buy chocolate ice cream over vanilla.

  10. I got my education at a tax-supported university with tax-supported grant money, and I was catpulted into the middle class. Taxes must have done that for a lot of folks. Didn’t only wealthy kids used go to college?

  11. Because paying taxes to help the poor rarely actually helps the poor.

    That’s silly. Taxes fund Food Stamp programs, for example, which allows the poor to purchase food. Which helps them.

  12. I am perpetually amazed that people give any money to charity. (I don’t know anything about tax law, as I only ever use the EZ form, out of laziness, so maybe charitable donations are a major tax write off?) I work at a public academic institution, and know numerous people who have worked in various non-profits, and, from what I can see and what I hear, waste, corruption and fraud are the norm. I only give money to family members, and, to be honest, there are instances about which I am not sure even they used it for what they said they needed it for.

  13. andy,

    “Because paying taxes to help the poor rarely actually helps the poor.”

    The upshot of this argument is that people who donate to charities that later turn out to be bogus didn’t actually perform a charitable act by giving, which is just foolish.

    John,

    Any time you’d care to attempt to refute my statement about % of total income not being the correct measure, I’d love to hear it. But you won’t, because you can’t.

    BTW, as far as bigotry, you’re the only one on this thread singling out peole for abuse based on their affiliation with a group you don’t belong to.

  14. Arthur C. Brooks finds that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals

    How do religious liberals compare to secular conservatives, I wonder?

  15. Taxes are like modern medicine–they keep a lot of organisms going that nature would have culled out.

  16. Mitch,

    You are right about big non-profits. I never give to them. Despite this, there are local groups that are not like that. Despite what Bruce says, churches tend to run the most effective and least wasteful programs. There are ways to actually help people, but you are right that writing a check to the United Way is probably not one of them.

  17. “How do religious liberals compare to secular conservatives, I wonder?”

    I bet religous liberals give more. It is the religion not the conservatism that is the cause.

  18. “I bet religous liberals give more. It is the religion not the conservatism that is the cause.”

    That’s probably true. It would be even more interesting to compare secular liberals vs. secular conservatives.

    I don’t recall seeing the sentiment “screw them, it’s their own fault” expressed after Hurricaine Katrina in the comment threads of any liberal blogs. Not that all comments on Reason threads were of that type, but there was certainly a vocal Randroid minority.

  19. Taxes are like modern medicine–they keep a lot of organisms going that nature would have culled out.

    True of civilization as well.

  20. I read somewhere that Jews give more to charity than any other ethno-religious group.

  21. Ya know, shouldn’t a true Conservative not give any money to charity? After all, how are people going to learn Personal Responsibility if they are going to rely on free money from others? Especially when the main cause of being poor, as George W. Bush has stated, is laziness?

    So in a way it’s kind of funny – conservatives who brag about giving to charity are inadvertently boasting about how liberal they are.

  22. those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others…

    I don’t see the inconsistency here. If you believe that it is a personal responsibility to help the poor, you should be more likely to give than someone who thinks that gov’t should (and IS), right?

    I do find it funny that once you take out religious giving, the number drops to $88 more per person. It’s a meaningful difference, but not an enormous one. It doesn’t make much of a headline to say that religious conservatives give 13% more that secular liberals, does it?

  23. According to the article, religious liberals give almost as much as religious conservatives and secular liberals give more than secular conservatives.

    One of the amusing parts of the article is that it said that welfare rercipients give less than the working poor and blames it on the increased liberalness that welfare supposedly causes. It’s not like the fact that someone is so poor that they need to be given money to survive prevents them from having money to give to other poor people. Who are the poorest of the poor going to give charity to?

    Also, joe’s point about available income is a good point and I would like to see Brooks’ numbers adjusted accordingly.

  24. those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others…
    Actually, it’s the economists who are least likely to donate.

  25. Or at least admit it.

  26. Brad (and many others),

    You’re just being intentionally dense if you think all the “religious donations” are thrown into a big pile and set on fire as a sacrifice to Jebus.

    Is there a food pantry in your town? Nine times out of ten, there’s a church directly supporting it.

  27. And Joe,

    You must have missed the “NOT ONE DIME!” fiasco that frittered through the blogs back in 2005.

    Not saying that it’s representative of those on the left, and the guy wisely shut up, but it is pretty pathetic.

  28. FATMOUSE,

    I read Kos, Atrios, and Talkingpointsmemo daily, often following links to other liberal sites from there, and I do not recall ever seeing that sentiment expressed. I don’t think it actually filtered anywhere.

  29. Well no duh. The redistributionists are trying to get resourses distributed in their direction, not the other way around.

    Not exactly. Many of them figure that whatever they make is THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF MONEY, and therefore anyone who makes significantly more than them should give all their “excess” to everyone who makes significantly less than them.

  30. John, I assure you, giving $88 to your church’s hunger drive (where homeless people can eat something if they listen to a bible lecture and get converted) was not included in “religious giving.” Religious giving is very narrow – $100 donation to your church, or to the 700 Club, or the Families Against Faggots, or some other religious group. Actually the latter very well might not have even been counted in “religious giving” but rather to a “social charity.” If it’s jesus oriented, it’s religious, and thus not charitable. Jesus is a product.

  31. Brad (and many others),

    You’re just being intentionally dense if you think all the “religious donations” are thrown into a big pile and set on fire as a sacrifice to Jebus.

    My intentions aside, I don’t think it is dense to think that the church uses much or most of the money it receives to fund the church. Not that this is excludes charitable giving, but I don’t view them as primarily a charity vehicle.

    On an unrelated topic, I’d also note the following from the article:

    “If somebody called you up and asked you how much you gave last year, God knows what number you would pull out of the air,” he says.

    Mr. Brooks writes in the appendix that he tried to overcome this problem by using 15 sets of data, based on surveys conducted with individuals in person, over the phone, or through the mail. Every survey led to the same conclusions.

    15 surveys are still 15 surveys, whether they are done by phone, web, or mail. If the problem is with a survey, having more surveys doesn’t help. I wonder whether religious people are more aware of how much they give (and to the church in particular), due to the fact that many tithe.

  32. It seems that tithing and supporting higher taxes on one’s self demonstrate roughly the same degree of charitableness, but the study counts the former as 100% charity, and the latter as 0%.

  33. It seems that tithing and supporting higher taxes on one’s self demonstrate roughly the same degree of charitableness, but the study counts the former as 100% charity, and the latter as 0%

    Who are these mysterious people who support only raising taxes for themselves? 🙂

  34. Not exactly. Many of them figure that whatever they make is THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF MONEY, and therefore anyone who makes significantly more than them should give all their “excess” to everyone who makes significantly less than them.

    This possibly explains my completely anecdotal observation that all the people I know who think “taxes need to be higher” are always looking for some way to avoid paying taxes themselves.

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