Char­i­ta­ble giv­ing is the right (wing) thing to do

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Bill O’Reilly

So what are we to make of the fact that con­ser­va­tive Amer­i­cans do­nate 30 per­cent more to char­ity than lib­eral Amer­i­cans? A new book called “Who Re­ally Cares,” by Syra­cuse Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Arthur Brooks, is not go­ing to please the Howard Dean crowd. The book states flat out that re­li­gious Amer­i­cans who vote Repub­li­can are far more likely to be gen­er­ous to the down­trod­den than sec­u­lar-pro­gres­sives.

The big ques­tion is, of course, why? Lib­eral phi­los­o­phy is all about “nur­tur­ing” peo­ple who need help. The “tax the rich” crew can’t yell loud enough that more money needs to go to Amer­i­cans in need. Just not their money.

That may be un­fair but prob­a­bly is not. The cor­ner­stone of lib­eral eco­nomic thought is “in­come re­dis­tri­bu­tion,” that is big gov­ern­ment tak­ing as­sets from the af­flu­ent through tax­a­tion and giv­ing said as­sets to the less well off through en­ti­tle­ments like sub­si­dized health care, hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tional schol­ar­ships and the like. The left is also big on im­posed “eco­nomic jus­tice,” things like guar­an­teed wages and life­time job se­cu­rity.

But a funny thing hap­pened on the way to so­cial­ism. Amer­i­cans who be­lieve in “in­come re­dis­tri­bu­tion” give 75 per­cent less to char­ity than Amer­i­cans who do not, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Brooks. That is a stun­ning dif­fer­en­tial.

I be­lieve this is a re­li­gious thing. Sec­u­lar-pro­gres­sives be­lieve in in­di­vid­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion, and that of­ten takes money. Buy­ing that jazzy new SUV and a vacation home can de­plete dis­pos­able cash fast. If it’s all about you — then you are think­ing about you — not about poor Dave down the street.

But de­voted Chris­tians, Jews and Mus­lims are com­pelled to help the poor by their be­liefs. Per­sonal grat­i­fi­ca­tion is not a big theme in Scrip­ture. Je­sus was a huge “help your neigh­bor” guy. For J.C. it is all about Dave down the street, not the latest ma­te­rial pos­ses­sion.

The sta­tis­tics say that re­li­gious Amer­i­cans give four times as much money to char­ity each year than sec­u­lar peo­ple and are 23 times more likely to vol­un­teer to help peo­ple than folks who never at­tend church. And here’s an­other crush­ing stat: If lib­er­als do­nated blood at the rate con­ser­va­tives do, the na­tion’s blood sup­ply would rise 45 per­cent.

So in this sea­son of giv­ing, Christ­mas, a word some lib­er­als don’t like to say, it might be worth pon­der­ing just who is re­ally look­ing out for the have nots. The left­ist me­dia of­ten por­trays con­ser­va­tives as mean, cruel and in­sen­si­tive to the plight of the down­trod­den. But, as the tax re­turns of multi-mil­lion­aires Dick Cheney and Al Gore prove, the me­dia im­age is false. The vice pres­i­dent gives mil­lions to char­ity, Mr. Gore very lit­tle.

So the next time you hear a big gov­ern­ment lib­eral blovi­ate about help­ing the poor, please trot out the sta­tis­tics men­tioned in this col­umn. And then tell that per­son that in Amer­ica to­day giv­ing money to char­ity seems to be the right thing. What’s left is not even close.

Bill O’Reilly is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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