Reader sammy on Conservatives v. Liberals

This one is by reader sammy.


It’s a recurring theme on this blog and in public political discourse that Republicans/Conservatives are mean, greedy, don’t care about the poor etc., while Democrats/Liberals are caring and compassionate. Of the Liberals and Conservatives I know personally, I cannot distinguish any difference in levels of altruism.

James Q. Wilson writes this forward to the book “Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide – Who Gives, Who doesn’t, and Why it Matters” by Arthur C. Brooks:

When President Bush coined the term “compassionate conservatism,” many conservatives were understandably miffed. It seemed to concede to liberals that traditional conservatives are indeed a greedy, selfish bunch – unlike liberals, with their “commitment” to the poor and disadvantaged. Now comes an amazing new book that buries that old canard forever. In Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide – Who Gives, Who Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, Arthur C. Brooks uses hard data to prove that, when it comes to charitable giving, conservatives – especially religious conservatives – are far more generous than liberals, who seem to believe that “compassion” begins and ends with voting for government handouts.

Among his findings:

Conservative households in America donate 30% more money to charity each year than liberal households, even in spite of lower average incomes

Conservatives are also more generous in other ways, such as blood donations, and volunteer work. In fact, if liberals gave blood like conservatives do, the blood supply in the U.S. would jump by about 45%

People who mistrust big government give more than those who rely on the government to take care of the poor. This includes giving and volunteering even to traditionally “progressive causes” such as the arts and the environment
Conservative “red” states give away far more of their incomes than liberal “blue” states do

Thomas Sowell reviews the book here:

While both sides argue that their opponents are mistaken, those on the left have declared their opponents to be not merely in error but morally flawed as well… (w)hat is remarkable is how long it took for anyone to put that belief to the test — and how completely it failed that test

I never understood how the Left and those in government (including the Right) feels it it is morally superior because it gives away other people’s money. “POSSIBLY THE EASIEST act for any human being is to spend money which does not belong to him,” wrote Robert L. Smitley in his 1933 classic, Popular Financial Delusions.

Best wishes,



cactus here. A few comments of my own.

1. Considering I’ve spent the past couple of months putting up data showing that Republican Presidents do not perform better (and usually perform worse) than Democratic Presidents on things that Republicans like to campaign on (real economic growth, fiscal responsibility, abortions, marriages, etc.) turnabout is certainly fair play
2. I don’t have enough information to comment on most of the assertions made above. But I do question (and have had a post on this) the one about charitable giving. Here’s my quick summary (so I don’t overwhelm sammy’s post)… A very significant part of conservative charity is to the local church or house of worship. But in many instances, the local church is also a center of activity. Kids play basketball there after school or go to camp, the wife attends a book club, and the husband attends bible study. And that’s not even counting Sunday Services. In other words… in addition to the religious activities, its the equivalent of a gym membership plus entertainment. Non-church goers also engage in these activities – but membership in the local gym, sending the kids to a secular summer camp, attending adult education classes, and the like, is not considered charity (and cannot be written off on one’s taxes).