Thursday, April 12, 2012

Libertarians and Charity: A Follow-Up

   In my last post, I mentioned Susan Jacoby speaking of some statistics on charity based on political alignment. Now, since it was said on a TV panel discussion, no source was given. So I went about doing a Google search to see what I might be able to find. And I found this article from four years ago written by George Will. There are a few interesting things to note in this article, some of which are surprising and others that are not.
  • "The single biggest predictor of someone's religion."

       This is not surprising. If people often go to a place that is asking for 10% of a person's income, potentially including threats of torture in an afterlife (or maybe just claims that they need the money to spread the "Good News" to prevent others from being tortured), then it's not surprising that some of those people will be quite giving. (And if a church doesn't use fear, they always have guilt.) If you don't deal with such an environment, then where is one to get constant reinforcement? Therefore it makes sense that liberal giving would be less. Like the article states, "the percentage of self-described Democrats who say they have 'no religion' has more than quadrupled since the early 1970s." Liberals such as myself have to be our own motivators, and it would appear we are failing at that.

       By the way, I should point out that Jacoby claimed that the religious give more to secular charities than do the secularists. So they are not just giving to church (which I don't count as particularly being "charitable"). This article does not address this point. Yet, I wonder how much of that money goes to religious charities that are disguised as secular. For example, if Focus on the Family is considered a charity (I don't know if it is), it would probably be considered "secular," yet many secularists know better. So I'd like to see some deeper investigation on that front. Though secularists still need to do better regardless!

  • "The least charitable cohort is a relatively small one -- secular conservatives."

       This seems to line up with what Susan Jacoby said in that interview. (Interesting, too, is that George Will himself is part of this group.) It is something that does not personally surprise me, but when you consider this point and the next point together, there seems to be a disconnect.

  • "People who reject the idea that 'government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality' give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition."

       This in itself isn't surprising. If you think private charity is the better way to go, then you'd better demonstrate your commitment to that idea, which is why I posed a challenge to Libertarians at the end of that last post. However, as I said before, there seems to be a disconnect with the previous point. It has been my impression of secular conservatives that they tend to be part of this group that rejects the idea of government having responsibility. So why are they so horrible at charity? Perhaps my impressions of secular conservatives are wrong; perhaps they are not as against this idea as I think.

       What would be nice to see is a breakdown of this group that rejects the idea of government responsibility between religious and secular conservatives. Heck, it may even be a good idea to know how many liberals are in this group. And it would also be very nice to know how many people consider themselves to be libertarians, instead of having a binary breakdown between conservative and liberal (that goes for the entire study). I hope I need not state that politics are more complex than this! (I myself score highly on the social questions on this quiz called the "World's Smallest Political Quiz.")
   The disappointing point about that last point is I would like to see that not be true. Much of the article is to point out liberal hypocrisy. It appears to unfortunately be true. As the article highlights, liberals should be donating to private charity until there are more government programs in place, as promoting such programs alone does nothing for those in need. There's not much else to say other than I am disappointed. Yet, I know one of the first places I need to start is with myself. Otherwise, when I complain about libertarians possibly being more talk than action, it's like the pot calling the kettle black.

No comments:

Post a Comment