You know, there was a time when I would have said all people, no matter their politics, want to see a decline in poverty and a better life for all. However, as we witness the same damaging government programs from the past being resurrected by our current administration, we must question their motivations. The Liberals shed crocodile tears over the plight of the poor and then profess absolute innocence over having anything to do with it.
Conservatives do not believe that the principle problem of the poor is a simple lack of money. If tomorrow, we gave every member of the underclass enough money to bring them above the poverty line, do we really think that would achieve anything? If we provided them with shelter every night and food in their tummies, would that cure what ails them? Of course not. Those actions simply prolong a bad situation. The problems of the underclass are psychological, moral and spiritual.
Through most of our nation’s history, the federal government stayed within its Constitutional bounds and out of the charity business. It was the recognized duty of every solid citizen to help those in need and this responsibility to help one’s fellow man was taken very seriously. Communities worked together and where there was government involvement it was on a local level.
But the 20th century saw a disastrous expansion of the federal government through the policies of first the New Deal and then LBJ’s Great Society. We saw the beginning of serious income redistribution through confiscitory taxation. The responsibility for helping your fellow man was taken away from the people and handed over to the state. The most fruitful charity work, that done by the private sector, was slowly siphoned off to the grossly inept public sector. The results were disastrous. I strongly recommend the book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, by Marvin Olasky, which delves into the reasons why government action fails and suggests solid solutions for the poverty problem.
Conservatives believe in a complete dismantling of the federal entitlement state. We believe there is nothing compassionate about taking one man’s hard earned money and giving it to someone else. We believe we know the best use for our charitable dollars and we do not trust the government to be discriminating enough to funnel our money to the people that really need it. Who can doubt that a dollar given to a private charity will be used more effectively than a dollar travelling its way through the government bureaucracy, where, after each department takes it’s chunk, a public servant then distributes the remaining pennies to the masses, with no effort to distinguish the deserving from the undeserving?
Liberals claim Conservatives cannot be bothered to care for the poor, but in fact, our solutions require a great deal more effort than simply abrogating our duty to the federal government. A Conservative believes in freedom to the greatest extent possible consistent with an orderly society. And the price we pay for our liberty is to be untimately responsible for our own lives and the lives of those around us. Welfare in all its forms needs to be administered at the state and local levels.
But let’s step beyond ideology for a moment and see who puts their money where their mouth is. Studies show year after year that Conservatives give an average of 30% more to charity than Liberals, even though Liberals have higher average incomes. Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood. There are two main reasons for this, but the first and most obvious is religion. Religious people are typically more charitable than their secular counterparts. Another main reason for the altruism of Conservatives seems to be their values. Studies have shown that 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. For an interesting read on this subject, I would recommend Who Really Cares, by Arthur Brooks.
This disparity carries over into the lives of our politicians as well. Al Gore, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Barack Obama all have a dismal record when it comes to charitable giving. Personally, I believe the amount you donate to charity is between you and your conscience. However, as we are always told that Liberals “care more”, it is interesting to see these guys prefer to give at the office – – with OTHER people’s money.