Jon Shields, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado, writes an excellent review of Arthur Brooks’ Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism in the latest issue of Books & Culture. I read parts of this book last year and found it very intriguing. The upshot of the book is that despite the stereotypes of “uncaring, tight-wad conservatives” and “bleeding-heart liberals” it is actually conservatives who are significantly more generous with both their time and money. Interestingly, those who advocate wealth distribution on the part of Uncle Sam envision their political position as a substitute for personal sacrifice. And religion also plays a huge role. Some excerpts from Shields’ review:
1. Religious citizens who make $49,000 gave away about 3.5 times as much money as secular citizns with the same income. They also volunteered twice as often, are 57% more likely to help homeless persons, and two-thirds more likely to donate blood at work.
2. Some states are more charitable than others. Arkansas citizens give away 3.9% of their income on average. In Massachusetts, the value is only 1.8%. Citizens of South Dakota gave away 75% more of their household income than those in San Francisco. Of the 25 states that gave a percentage of household income above the national average, 24 voted for George W. Bush in 2004.
3. 75 million Americans never donate money and 130 million never volunteer their time. But Americans who give time and/or money tend to give a lot of both. Brooks concludes there is a clear demarcation between “Charitable America” and “Selfish America.”