Charitable giving is the right (wing) thing to do
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.