Monday, March 31, 2008

Worth Reading: Are Conservatives More Altruistic Than Liberals?

In an editorial published last Thursday, George Will made the case that "bleeding hearts" are all talk and no action.  His thesis is that there is more compassion in conservatism than there is in liberalism. 

While conservatives tend to regard giving as a personal rather than governmental responsibility, some liberals consider private charity a retrograde phenomenon -- a poor palliative for an inadequate welfare state and a distraction from achieving adequacy by force, by increasing taxes. Ralph Nader, running for president in 2000, said: "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity." Brooks, however, warns: "If support for a policy that does not exist . . . substitutes for private charity, the needy are left worse off than before. It is one of the bitterest ironies of liberal politics today that political opinions are apparently taking the place of help for others."

Some scholars, of course, argue that humans are incapable of true altruism.  Instead, they give for self-fulfilling reasons, including efforts to assuage their own guilt.  Just a thought.

dkj

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Comments

That secular conservatives give less than religious left and right and about on par w/ the secular left confirms what he should've intuited immediately: controll for tithing and the difference largely goes away. And a decent argument that giving to the church is no more altruistic than a gym membership. I pay money to pay for a service I get.

Posted by: jpe | Mar 31, 2008 2:38:46 PM

There is some pretty good research which backs up Will's argument - see Who Really Cares - Arthur Brooks.

Posted by: drtaxsacto | Mar 31, 2008 10:17:10 PM

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