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Who gives more? Breakdown right/left wing giving: studies of charitable conservative vs: liberal political party charity
Surveys are not cast in iron.
Questions are raised.
Recently, James Watkins offered me two links explaining how conservatives are more charitable than liberals. We had exchanged comments on his anti-Union hub and, as I respect (though usually disagree with) this conservative hubber, I read the suggested links with interest. (There's two plugs for you, JW!)
The first link, written with glee by known conservative journalist George Will revealed the results of a 2008 survey conducted by an "Independent" voter:
"Of those surveyed, those who live in conservative households donated an average of $3,255 to charities outside of places of worship during the past year. By comparison, moderate households donated $2,926 and liberal households donated $1,879."
The second link reviewed a book by Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism , which concluded,
"The surprise is that liberals are markedly less charitable than conservatives."
I found these links fascinating because of what they did not say, more than in what they did say. These articles raised several unaddressed clarifications I need before I can conclude that they communicate valuable information:
- These articles articulated generosity in terms of giving money versus giving time. Time is money, as we all know. Why isn't time calculated into the study? When a person contributes time, they are losing the opportunity cost of making money. Time, therefore, should be a factor. Do conservatives contribute more time to charities?
- They did not address what types of jobs liberals versus conservatives held, they only addressed how their incomes were distributed to charities. How many liberals work directly with at risk populations as opposed to conservatives? This raises another question for me: of those who work directly with at risk populations , how many do not report the many, many dollars, meals, clothing donations, etc. that slip into the hands of these populations without being recorded?
- They did not address to whom this philanthropy was given, i.e, did these folk donate money to benefit their children's schools or activities in the form of auctions, golf tournaments, benefits? Did they donate cast off furniture to charity and write that off? There is an interesting study done by Indiana University titled Giving Focused on Helping the Poor. "This analysis finds that less than one-third of the money individuals gave to nonprofits in 2005 was focused on the needs of the economically disadvantaged. Of the $250 billion in donations, less than $78 billion explicitly targeted those in need." Is there a breakdown of who gave the $78 billion versus the remaining $172 billion?
- When the survey said liberals contributed a smaller percentage of their income, might it be because they had less disposable income? Consider this:
- Sandra Bullock giving $1 million dollars to Japan Relief is wonderful, but in terms of her actual income (Annual: USD 22,000,000.00; Monthly: USD 1,833,333.00; Weekly: USD 440,000.00; Daily: USD 88,000.00) it's about one day's work.
- Compare that to a $250,000 annual wage earner making less than $700 per day, yet paying the same for groceries, gas, utilities; what's left over at the end of the day for that guy?
- Or worse, the 4 million people earning minimum wage in 2010 who made $7.25 an hour or $58 a day, $290 a week, $1160 a month, and totaled $13,920 for the entire year. Can these earners afford to give one entire day's salary to charity?
Conservatives happier because they rationalize away poverty?
I have heard of marginalizing poor in the United States, but rationalizing away poverty? That's a new concept to consider.
New York University's Jaime L. Napier and John T. Jost conducted a fascinating study on liberal versus conservative responses to the poor, called Why are conservatives happier, anyway?
In an astonishing revelation, these men found that "political conservatives are more likely than liberal and moderates to accept and justify the existence of unequal outcomes and to see them as fair and legitimate"!
Specifically, they "found that right-wing (vs. left-wing) orientation is indeed associated with greater subjective well being and that the relation between political orientation and subjective well-being is mediated by the rationalization of inequality. In our third study, we found that increasing economic inequality (as measured by the Gini index) from 1974 to 2004 has exacerbated the happiness gap between liberals and conservatives, apparently because conservatives (more than liberals) possess an ideological buffer against the negative hedonic effects of economic inequality."
Nowhere is this clearer than in the Budget Debates on the floor of the Senate and the House, where The Difference Between Liberal and Conservative Cuts are laid out. I cannot tell you, James, how researching this subject has literally made me sick to my stomach. Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but oh God, I prefer that to what Conservatives have done to the least of U.S.
May God forgive our greedy souls.
Which statement is most true from your perspective?
© 2011 Barbara