Charitable conservatives and dictatorial Democrats

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The stereotypical perspective on the Democratic Party states that the Democrats are the party of the little person. Conversely, Republicans are painted as rich, bigoted, and intolerant. Neither of these stereotypes holds any water when analyzed. The myth of the charitable liberal seemingly knows no bounds. And I agree that liberals are infinitely more charitable — with other people’s money. However, when it comes to their own money, a recent study reveals where the true charity resides.

The misconception that liberalism is for the common man has been ingrained into the popular American political mythology. Liberal Democrats purchased this stereotype with taxpayer (read: your) money. Today, however, these sloppy entitlements threaten our nation’s economy, which is arguably the strongest in American history.

Social Security and Medicare will burst the United States’ budget in the next 50 years without proper reform. The Medicare prescription drug plan that was thrust on seniors, many of whom do not benefit from it or do not want it, promises to cause similar budgetary woes. Welfare has long kept people in poverty instead of giving them the means to raise their socioeconomic status. Yet, Democrats continue to benefit from the lie of helping the little guy, when it is primarily their own political fortunes that benefit.

Even the most basic long-term policy analyses of entitlement-type programs point to methods of reform, or replacement, that improve their recipients’ long-term real welfare. Today’s history lesson concerns another conservative fix to a sloppy governmental entitlement policy. The conservative reformation of welfare to “workfare” took citizens off the public payrolls and gave them a stake in their own lives. When the Gingrich Congress took Capitol Hill, welfare reform was a major component in the Contract for America.

Welfare reform was enacted in 1996 and subsequently had a profound effect on unemployment and a serious lessening of the number of people on the welfare payrolls. In 1995, 5.2 percent of U.S. citizens were on the welfare rolls. After the start of welfare reform that number went down annually, dropping to a nearly all-time low of 2.1 percent in 2000. People are better off when they have ownership of their own lives. While oft demonized as hating the poor, the conservative reforms had a net positive benefit for the impoverished. A reduction in the percentage of welfare recipients is a clear indicator of this benefit.

Above I have outlined the regressive nature, and the eventual need for reform, of an entitlement policy the left uses to maintain co-dependence with a large bloc of its voting base. However, today’s myth-debunking is slightly more narrow: the idea of liberals’ superior generosity. One can understand why this myth is so persistent. Every day, Americans are deluged with images of celebrity giving, or Ted Turner dumping some of his vast fortune into the corrupt, but oh-so-well-intentioned, United Nations. It is practically impossible to find a story about conservative charitable giving between the daily Bono, Madonna, and Angelina Jolie lovefests.

A recent study by Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks outlines the truth behind the conservative generosity. Professor Brooks’ book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, comes out on Friday. In the book, Brooks details how traditional conservatives are the most generous Americans, giving far more to charity than their more secular liberal counterparts.

Traditional conservatives are defined in Brooks’ book as those who practice some form of religion, believe in smaller government with fewer or no entitlements, and have a more traditional family makeup. The liberal group analyzed consists of, on average, liberals with more secular religious beliefs and who are huge fans of government entitlement programs as outlined above. Brooks’ analysis reveals that these conservative Americans donate more than their liberal counterparts, while mentioning it less. It seems that another read on Brooks’ analysis is that liberals are great at giving others’ money away, while conservatives prefer to give charitably of their own accord and in comparatively greater sums.

There is more to this analysis than just the raw numbers. A correct read on this startling revelation is that the liberal philosophy is more intrusive towards the individual and individual rights. When given the option to give on their own or allow government to dictate how others should give, the liberal philosophy on giving chooses to infringe on the choices of the individual in favor of big government.

As well-intentioned as a belief in government entitlement programs might be, liberals lose the moral high ground when they fail to act in the same manner in which they demand others act. This is another case of the vast liberal hypocrisy that is exposed when any of the great political myths that pervade this nation are examined.

In his book, Brooks states, “For too long, liberals have been claiming they are the most virtuous members of American society. Although they usually give less to charity, they have nevertheless lambasted conservatives for their callousness in the face of social injustice.” Hear, hear!