Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just Ordered: Who Really Cares

Arthur C. Brooks, a Syracuse University Economist, has a new book Who Really Cares? It purports to show that conservatives, religious folk, and Red Staters are more generous. I have ordered it and will report on it.

I don't have a particular interest in proving to anyone that conservatives are more generous with time and money than liberals. As everyone is well behind where they should be, that would not be helpful in the long run. I am, however, tired of the opposite claim being made: that conservatives are selfish people who wish to abandon the poor.

My own experience working with charities, especially working in Romania, was that conservatives wildly outnumbered liberals. The few statistics that I read which suggested otherwise struck me as contrary to my observations. But, I reasoned, my observations were not the whole data set. Perhaps liberals just volunteered and gave at different places.

I may find flaws with the book. I hope its conclusions are true, but the evidence may not be solid enough to make the claim. I'll keep you posted.


bs king said...

Can I borrow it when you're done?

Kelly said...

Perhaps you simply are looking in the wrong places. Liberals tend to care more about volunteerism in theory, while conservatives do it more in practice. It just depends on which one you think is more important ;)

On a less snarky note, people of the left tend to think compassion works better in top-down organizations, while the right is more bottom-up. And people put their time and effort where they think it has better results. In my church, for example, the people who organize and administer missions and ministries aren't always the same people who go on them. There's some overlap, but also some divergence.

Both are necessary; just not in the same numbers.

GraniteDad said...

Kelly, I think that's a good point. Putting aside the results of larger command-and-control charities vs. smaller or individual acts, you can see how both sides would see the other as not contributing to the solution, since they're not participating in the "correct" solution.

terri said...

My husband mentioned this theory to me as something he had recently heard about. It could possibly be true...who knows?

on a global scale....

What it made me think of is the many times that the US is criticized for giving so little, as a percentage, in comparison to other nations. It' an unfair judgment because most americans give directly to aid organizations, charities and missions. It would be interesting to know what the true percentage would be if it were possible to take into account all of the private giving that occurs.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Terri, depending what you count as giving, the Americans measure very well. The Scandinavian countries also score high.

There was a recent discussion of this over at Atlantic Review, a German-American discussion site. One of my posts over the next few days will be submitted there for the Carnival of German-American Relations as well.