Let's Do It!
New York Times columnist Nicholas D Kristof, a confessed liberal, admits something. That when it comes to giving of their own means Conservatives are considerably more generous than liberals. Since liberals typically make more money than conservatives, if one takes actual income into account, conservatives actually give twice the percentage of their income to charitable causes as liberals do.
Now he makes a concession. A lot of conservative donations go to religious activities, that don't directly benefit the poor, but a lot of liberal donations go to museums, universities etc that mostly benefit the elites so these pretty much cancel each other out.
I am also willing to concede a point that he makes against us. Because my admiration for Ayn Rand is limited at best, I just can't bring myself to see selfishness as a virtue, I have no trouble believing that secular conservatives give less than most other groups. (Ayn Rand was a very smart, informed, and logical woman, but I think she missed a few important lessons of her Ethics class.) Still there are some very generous conservative atheists as well, but they are generous with their own money. Plus he notes, and I concede, that religious liberals tend to be very generous as well.
It's like the story of two brothers, one conservative and one liberal, come upon a family begging for food. The conservative brother takes out his own wallet and gives them enough money to eat for a few days and tells the husband about a few places that might be hiring. The liberal gives them the address of the welfare office and tells them that he is trying to increase (other peoples') taxes so that there will be money in the system for people like them (and of course he would like a well-paying job in the welfare bureaucracy himself.) Now I am not against welfare as an idea, but I am very much against no-strings-attached handouts to those who have no desire or intent to work. I am a big fan of "Workfare" as long as it's doing real work and not the government paying two men to dig a hole and the third to fill it back in.
I think of the old Disney flick Pollyanna where her grumpy, foul, hateful old aunt demonstrated her greed every Sunday by making sure that food baskets were distributed to the poor. Yes her servants did the actual work but she bought the materials and paid her servants to do it.
I am also aware of a well known limousine liberal who was lecturing a group of students and said that wealth needed to be redistributed better. A student suggested that he start with his own wealth and the limousine liberal told him "Don't be smart-ass." (I won't name him because I don't have a reference at this time.)
I believe everyone who can give should give as much as they can, and as my teachers used to say, "If it doesn't hurt you're not giving enough." Charity is an old English word for "spiritual love" and it should be based on love, not the law.
To quote the final line of Mr. Kristof's article, but I believe it applies to everyone, not just liberals.
So, even in tough times, there are ways to help. Come on liberals, redeem yourselves, and put your wallets where your hearts are. It is a challenge that conservatives too need to meet, and I need to do a better job of it myself.
I like this line too.
What I want for Christmas is a healthy competition between left and right to see who actually does more for the neediest.
Let's do it.