Beaton: Giving away other people’s money is not altruistic
November 22, 2015
One of the catechisms of the liberal faith is that they are altruistic while conservatives are selfish. Liberals like this part of their faith because it makes conservatives not only wrong about politics but bad people to boot. (And I do mean boot.)
This belief being a matter of faith and not fact, it is unsupported by the data, which I'll get to in a moment. So, instead, liberals support it with parables.
One I recently saw is typical. A liberal wrote about his conservative friend who purportedly is selfish, as conservatives purportedly are.
In contrast was this liberal himself, who, he modestly reported, is altruistic. He informed us that his altruism is good for his soul.
Apart from the incongruity of performing altruism for the purpose of benefiting one's own soul, I have two questions about this story, and then we'll get to the data.
First, what kind of altruist goes around advertising his altruism? I think I know the answer: a fake one.
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Second, what kind of friend goes around publicly declaring his friend to be selfish? I think I know the answer to that one, too: same answer.
Now the data. Surveys universally show that American conservatives donate much more money to charities than liberals do. That is true no matter how you slice the data. It's true on a dollar basis as well as a percentage basis. It's true across all income brackets. Rich conservatives donate more than rich liberals. Poor conservatives donate more than poor liberals.
Ah, you say, but liberals donate more of their time.
Wrong. Conservatives also donate more of their time. Again, that's true across all income brackets.
You can find the studies discussed in The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21kristof.html?_r=0.
Since anecdotal evidence is all liberals can offer to rebut this information, here's some anecdotal evidence, as well:
Liberal Vice President Joe Biden donated an average of just $369 a year to charities over the past decade. That's about one-third of 1 percent of his income. In contrast, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney donated nearly 30 percent of his income to charity.
Before polishing his image in preparation for his campaign for president, Barack Obama never donated more than 1 percent of his income to charity. Dick Cheney regularly gave more than 10 percent of his income to charity.
Hillary Clinton charges charitable colleges a quarter-million dollars for speeches and keeps it all for herself or her political foundation. Former GOP Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice charges far less and rebates nearly all of it to the college.
Speaking of Hillary, the tax returns of her and that husband-ish guy show that they took $2 deductions for donating old underwear to Goodwill.
But, you say, it's a fact that liberals are more generous in giving money to others.
Yes, but it is other people's money, not their own. To a liberal, "altruism" means wielding the power of Big Government to confiscate other people's money, skimming a cut off the top for themselves and their liberal-establishment cronies, and redistributing the rest to their constituencies in order to ensure their dependency on, and to buy their votes for, that same Big Government controlled by those same liberals who confiscate that same money.
Liberals don't believe in real charity for the same reason they tend not to believe in real religion. Both pose too much competition to their self-serving faith in Big Government.
I have a suggestion for liberals: Real altruism is indeed good. Try it sometime.
But beware. Real altruism costs money — your own. And once you boast of it, the elixir for your soul turns to vinegar.
Here's one more suggestion for liberals: If you want to have conservative friends — or any other kind — maybe you shouldn't publicly insult them by calling them "selfish."
If you do, at least wait till after they've picked up the check.
Glenn K. Beaton lives in Aspen. Correspond and subscribe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter and Facebook.