Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
by Steve Fair

Republicans and particularly conservative Republicans are generally defined by liberals as being rich, selfish, uncaring people. But the truth is conservative Republicans are the most generous and compassionate people in America.

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks, an admitted life long liberal, has written a book entitled Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism. Brooks found that conservative Republicans who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject that notion the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans. Brooks says, "people who attend a house of worship give four times more money per year than people who don't." "For people who are deeply religious, there is the notion that religion or religious behavior and charity come from the same God-given impulse. In other words, God makes you charitable."

Kristi Hamrick, a spokeswoman for American Values, said Brooks' research is a breath of fresh air for conservatives tired of being lambasted by liberals as selfish. "Despite all the bad press that the liberals and elitists like to give people of faith," she said, "the truth is, that those Christian values of tithing, of helping the poor, of seeing the needy -- these things motivate the community of faith to give and to give generously and to give above and beyond the call."

Brooks was shocked himself at his findings. In the foreword of his book, he says, “These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving. I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book.” And its not just money that conservatives give more of. They give more of their time and donate more blood than liberals.

Syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell said of Brooks findings, “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. So the idea that liberals are more caring and compassionate goes with the territory, whether or not it fits the facts. Those on the left proclaimed their moral superiority in the 18th century and they continue to proclaim it in the 21st century. What is remarkable is how long it took for anyone to put that belief to the test — and how completely it failed that test.”

Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard says about Brooks’ findings, “His main finding is quite startling, that the people who talk the most about caring actually fork over the least.” In effect liberals like to talk about compassion, but as former 4th district Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts says, “Republicans don’t measure compassion by how many people are on welfare, but by how few are on welfare.”

Liberals believe they are charitable because they advocate government redistribution of money in the name of social justice. They maintain conservatives are uncharitable because they oppose these policies. The key is understanding that liberals believe government spending is a form of charity. But its not really charity when its someone else’s money- the taxpayers money.
Government spending is not charity. It is not a voluntary sacrifice by individuals. No matter how beneficial or humane it might be, no matter how important the social program is government spending is still the redistribution of wealth- the robbing of Peter to pay Paul.

Liberals like to think and act globally. It’s often hard to lay out a general solution to a problem when that problem is affected by local conditions. The large organizations necessary to keep track of these endeavors require many layers of management, which does nothing for those whom the organization is trying to help. This actually becomes counter-productive since these time consuming positions become paying jobs, which tap resources that could have gone to help someone.

Conservatives would rather help their fellow man than ask someone else to do it for them. You'll find conservatives giving at church to support local shelters and food banks. They'll be helping out at the soup kitchen or visiting inmates in jail. While at the prison, they will work towards making the inmates aware of their duties in society so that they can truly be useful and responsible citizens when they are released.

Conservatives think and act locally. They look for and try to solve problems in their own communities and let other communities look out for themselves. It’s a lot easier to see the extent of the problem when it’s in your own community. Its also easier to find a way to solve it when you know what local resources are at your disposal- many times right in your hip pocket.

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