Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Conservatives give more

I just heard of some research that established that conservatives, by and large, give more money and time to charitable causes than their liberal counterparts, at all socioeconomic levels. The whole "compassion conservative" label took a beating in the last few years, mostly because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the concept still has some currency in American politics because it's true. When push comes to shove, the conservatives are doing more material good to help others than the liberals are.

Why? I haven't read the research, but I could guess:
  • Conservatives believe individual actions, not government programs, are the best way to address social ills. Conservatives are not likely to sit around saying, "The government should have a program to address that," because they don't want more government. They would rather use a free market of charitable causes, competing with each other for charitable dollars, to address the issues about which they have the strongest opinion.
  • Liberals judge themselves according to their intentions, while conservatives judge themselves according to their results. In the liberal mindset, the most important thing is to have the right opinions, the right "stands on the issues." They have a very noble dedication to wanting the best for all people . . . but the philosophy seems a little weak on actually getting things done. It tends to generate a lot of "activists" who "raise awareness," but not the kind of rank-and-file generosity that does what it can to help those who need it, especially close to home.
  • Religious conservatives have an explicit moral obligation to fiscal generosity. Christians and Muslims (and perhaps Jews, too, I'm not sure on this) are explicitly commanded to give to the poor. A tradition of tithing -- giving up a percentage of one's income for the good of others -- is well established in Christian society. Not all religious people are conservatives, but they tend to be. Not all liberals are non-religious, but they tend to be.
  • Conservatives are better people. Well, no, this isn't an argument, so much as an opinion. But ask yourself: if you had to come up with an objective standard for who good people would be, what would it include? Don't you think material generosity with time and money would be on the list? And is there anything the liberals are especially good at that could trump that?



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