Anecdotal evidence has long indicated that leftists, though they earn more on average than their conservative counterparts, are far more stingy when it comes to charitable giving. A recent study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy focused specifically on that topic and seemingly proved its validity beyond any reasonable doubt.
The results showed that the eight states with the highest level of giving voted Republican in the previous Presidential election, while each of the bottom seven states went for the Democrat candidate.
Though that conclusion is accurate, the study suggests a more nuanced reason for the discrepancy: God. Utah and Idaho, two of the nine most generous states, are also home to a large Mormon population who, as Mitt Romney proved, share a belief in giving to their church and other charitable organizations. The remaining seven states are all situated nicely along the nation’s aptly-named Bible Belt.
By contrast, each of the bottom six states on the list are snugly located within the less-religious Northeast region, with New Hampshire taking the dubious honor of most stingy. The state reportedly gives just 2.5% of its collective expendable income to charity, compared to Utah’s 10.6 percent average.
Of course, charitable giving includes tithes given to a church, which non-religious people are obviously less likely to do. The fact remains, though, that religious conservatives are more likely to voluntarily give their money to help another than their humanist liberal neighbors.
My contention is that conservatives and liberals define charity in glaringly different ways.
The left wants government to take money from citizens and redistribute the funds to the needy. This constitutes state-sanctioned theft to many on the right who are willing to give on their own and on their own terms.
Conservatives don’t want to support a bloated government’s view of charity, where funds purportedly for a worthy cause are wasted by bureaucrats, and the money that does make it to its intended destination is often squandered by recipients gaming the system.
The right as a whole understands that forced giving is not giving at all. Additionally, private charities are far more effective at getting assistance to those with the most need.
It all goes back to the most critical difference of opinion between the political left and right. Liberals believe government is the answer, while conservatives think “We the People”, individuals dedicated to creating a better nation for all, hold the real key to societal improvement.B. Christopher Agee founded The Informed Conservative in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @bcagee.
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