Friday, November 17, 2006

Christian Givers

Anyone who has been through a Hurricane (a Red-State phenomenon), knows that it wasn't the Federal Government who saved ordinary citizens from harm or helped them recover from catastrophe. No, other ordinary citizens, predominantly Christian citizens, from churches and business stepped in to help.

The local church-goers gave time, food, clothing, microwaves, beds, bedding, housing, nearly every concrete thing someone needs to live. They also gave money. They gave lots of money and they kept giving until, as the old Christian saying goes, it hurt. Lots of sermons about the Widow's two pennies and lot's of empathy for the pain and suffering.

Then there was the indirect giving. In Houston we have hospitals sponsored by Secularists, no by Methodists and Baptists (Baylor). There are Catholic charities. The majority of hospitals and all their affiliates are funded by church-going people...again.

Well a Behavioral Economist named Arthur Brooks has drawn attention to what most of us have observed in his new book titled "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism". Here are his conclusions:

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.

Such an attitude, he writes, not only shortchanges the nonprofits but also diminishes the positive fallout of giving, including personal health, wealth and happiness for the donor and overall economic growth.
All of this, he said, he backs up with statistical analysis.
Well, we'll see. If my experience is any indication, it would be true. The local very conservative, very Christian community where I live, gave and gave. Our business was slow for six months and we weren't the only ones, as people gave any extra income they could to help Katrina and Rita survivors.

When the Government raises taxes and redistributes wealth it's way, I think spontaneous giving gets restricted. One, people just don't have as much money to give, so charities suffer. Two, people are less psychologically inclined to give because they feel that they are being taken from themselves. This creates resentment towards the "needy" because the giver has no direct connection--emotional, spiritual or otherwise to the recipient.

I am just curious, too. When 9/11 happened, a huge outpouring of money went from the Red States to the Blue States. I wonder, did the reverse happen during the Hurricanes?


Christy're said...

When 9/11 happened, a huge outpouring of money went from the Red States to the Blue States. I wonder, did the reverse happen during the Hurricanes?
Sure, they gave a lot, if by "giving" you mean "crabbed that the federal government should 'do something.'"

Anonymous said...

I wonder, did the reverse happen during the Hurricanes?

Can you hear that Glenn Frye tune?
(Oozing Concern & Compassion (TM), of course...)