Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who cares? Hint: not liberals!

Excellent analysis by Thomas Sowell, smashing the left's reflexive crutch that they are inherently the "compassionate" ones:
More frightening than any particular beliefs or policies is an utter lack of any sense of a need to test those beliefs and policies against hard evidence. Mistakes can be corrected by those who pay attention to facts but dogmatism will not be corrected by those who are wedded to a vision.

One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring. It is liberals who advocate "forgiveness" of loans to Third World countries, a "living wage" for the poor and a "safety net" for all.

But these are all government policies -- not individual acts of compassion -- and the actual empirical consequences of such policies are of remarkably little interest to those who advocate them. Depending on what those consequences are, there may be good reasons to oppose them, so being for or against these policies may tell us nothing about who is compassionate or caring and who is not.
To translate "the actual empirical consequences of such policies are of remarkably little interest to those who advocate them": Judge me by my words, not by my deeds. I care, dammit...to hell with facts! Continuing:
A new book, titled "Who Really Cares" by Arthur C. Brooks examines the actual behavior of liberals and conservatives when it comes to donating their own time, money, or blood for the benefit of others. It is remarkable that beliefs on this subject should have become conventional, if not set in concrete, for decades before anyone bothered to check these beliefs against facts.

What are those facts?

People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes.

It is not that conservatives have more money. Liberal families average 6 percent higher incomes than conservative families.

You may recall a flap during the 2000 election campaign when the fact came out that Al Gore donated a smaller percentage of his income to charity than the national average. That was perfectly consistent with his liberalism.

So is the fact that most of the states that voted for John Kerry during the 2004 election donated a lower percentage of their incomes to charity than the states that voted for George W. Bush.
Actually, Gore donated about $350, about 0.002% of his income, compared to that evil Cheney who donated about $7 million, or about 78% of his income. But I digress. Skipping ahead a bit...:
The two visions are not completely symmetrical, however. For at least two centuries, the vision of the left has included a belief that those with that vision are morally superior, more caring and more compassionate.

While both sides argue that their opponents are mistaken, those on the left have declared their opponents to be not merely in error but morally flawed as well. So the idea that liberals are more caring and compassionate goes with the territory, whether or not it fits the facts.
That's exactly why I've grown intolerant of the left in general, albeit quite tolerant of a number of decent liberals in particular. In the early days of forming my political ideology, I simply assumed that liberals were misguided folks who were not immoral or amoral...just wrong in their approaches to identifying and solving problems. I had assumed that by merely disagreeing with them, I wouldn't be lumped into a category of "bigot" or "homophobe" or "sexist" or (insert other emtionally-charged and factually-absent pejorative here). I assumed incorrectly, for I was so labeled.

Disagreeing with a liberal automatically made a liberal view me through such a perverted prism. I mean, isn't it possible that the right and the left have American interests at heart and simply disagree on how to accomplish things? To the left, the answer was always "No, it's not possible. If you disagree with us, you're evil." One can hardly blame me for becoming so jaded against an ideology that has precious little use for facts or different ideas; an ideology that favors feelings over thinking; an ideology that seems, at times, psychotically intent on national self-destruction; and an ideology that is steeped so deeply in hypocrisy when it comes to "tolerance" and "diversity" yet cannot properly stomach either.

In closing:
Those on the left proclaimed their moral superiority in the 18th century and they continue to proclaim it in the 21st century. What is remarkable is how long it took for anyone to put that belief to the test -- and how completely it failed that test.

The two visions are different in another way. The vision of the left exalts the young especially as idealists while the more conservative vision warns against the narrowness and shallowness of the inexperienced. This study found young liberals to make the least charitable contributions of all, whether in money, time or blood. Idealism in words is not idealism in deeds.
Perhaps liberals don't give to charity as much as conservatives do because liberals feel that it is the proper role of the federal government to replace charities in terms of functional role in society. To be sure, I personally know a few liberals (on this blog and beyond) who, I am confident, genuinely care about their fellow man.

Where these folks and I part company is on how best to help, even if we share the same compassion for people. That they entrust government while I entrust people should not make me less compassionate than they; however, in the eyes of the vast majority of liberals, I must indeed be less moral.

Fortunately, as Sowell has demonstrated, I have facts on my side.