The Charity Gap: What Does It Mean?

When it comes to translating political positions to moral ones, I’m as transparent as they come.  I have some qualms with the standard righty portfolio of views, but general I find plain vanilla lefties distasteful.  They almost always strike me either as straightforwardly selfish, hypocritical (views vs. actual life practices), or borderline “character deformed” to use Scott Peck’s terminology.  (The extremes on either side, by the way, are horrifying, and I’m not talking about “Minister” Farrakan or David Duke here.)

And since I’m lazy, I really want to take George Will’s article and conclude that the charity gap is clear evidence that, in general, righties are better people than lefties.  And the explanation that lefties believe it’s the job of government to be charitable, taking them off the hook, is hollow — the guy who takes the biggest pieces of pizza without hesitation is not exhonorated by explaining that he has to look after himself first because he can’t count on anyone else to do it.  That’s what being a selfish asshole is.

I’m the first to admit that as a huge fan of simplicity I often miss the subtleties, and what better place than to go to for instruction on the complex nature of being a cheap bastard.

Have a read, and tell the crowd what your take is!


5 Responses to “The Charity Gap: What Does It Mean?”

  1. David Fitzgerald Says:

    I wonder what the numbers would look like if one controlled for donations to a church? Is a capital campaign to fix the central air at St. Mary Star of the Sea really a charitable donation in any meaningful sense? Not to mention the tithing that goes on at multimillion dollar megachurches? On the other hand, liberals would probably look a lot worse if they controlled for donations to educational institutions?

    My political philosophy professors at Georgetown taught me to be distrustful of positivism in all its forms, so I must admit that these type of surveys don’t convey much to me in the way of meaning.

    Can you tell I’m on holiday at home in London this week?

  2. Timothy Peach Says:

    I’d like to see more granularity myself — good point.

    I’m home with the brats and typing one-handed with infant in the other, while watching the other two destroy the house.

    What does it say about me that THIS has become my refuge?

  3. Mark Grannis Says:

    Thanks for this, Tim — I had seen statistics like this before but this gave me a chance to read up a little on the book and the things that have been said about it, some favorable and some not.

    I went to the web site of the author, Professor Arthur Brooks, and found it quite informative; I congratulate him for what appears to be a pretty impressive commitment to reason and civility even in the criticism of his own work. One poster on Professor Brooks’s forum raised quite a few serious questions about the methodology and tiptoed right up to the edge of suggesting outright bias. The author’s response to such critical comments is everything reasonable minds could wish.

    Indeed, Professor Brooks singled out one fairly critical reviewer for particular praise, calling him a “first-rate scholar” who did a “great job” reviewing the book. That first-rate scholar was Jim Lindgren at the Volokh Conspiracy. I found his comments on the book to be particularly interesting because he seems to say both liberals and conservatives give more than moderates. I’m afraid this only exacerbates my methodological concerns. If there is any label in American politics that is more misleading than “liberal” or “conservative,” then it must surely be “moderate.”

  4. Timothy Peach Says:

    Assuming for the moment that some common sense interpretation of that last conclusion is correct, does that really offend the “reasonable mind”? A natural translation of that would be drawing a distinction between those of strong commitments, politically, with those who don’t give much of a crap.

    That’s a gross generalization, but it goes a long way to explaining why the libs and cons outgive the “whatevers”.

  5. Timothy Peach Says:

    And oh by the way, what the real conclusion of the study seems to be is that faith in God makes people charitable. Most of those folks are also conservative, but that’s a corollary. What’s important is the faith — the sense of an imperative larger than oneself.

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