Over the holidays I found myself reading Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism by Arthur C. Brooks. Some article I read lead me to this book and it is an eye-opening must read.
Arthur C. Brooks is a Seattle native, currently living in Syracuse, New York and is the President of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. He was raised liberal and is a self-proclaimed independent. This is noteworthy because his findings on who gives to charity and who doesn’t in America is not very flattering to liberals. Brooks himself was so shocked by the data his research yielded that he re-ran his analysis and gathered new data. as he says, “nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.”
Here are just a few of Brooks’s findings:
- “The working poor in America give more of their money – not less – to charity than middle class people.”
- Religious Conservatives “are as charitable, or more so, than any other part of the population, including to secular causes.”
- “Secular liberals are poor givers.” “They give away less than a third as much money as religious conservatives, and about half as much as the population in general, despite having higher average incomes than either group. They are 12 points less likely to volunteer than religious conservatives, and they volunteer only about half as often. They are less generous than others in many informal ways as well. For example, they are significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier.”
Are you shocked?
I was and wasn’t. I’ve personally had the experience of sitting at a charity function at a table with 8 other attorneys and been the only person (I’m counting Jim and me as one here) in the group to “raise the paddle” to give money to that charity even though I made less that the other 8 people at the table, the charity was not one in which I am actively involved, and the remaining 8 persons are self-professed democrats. Huh? So I wasn’t particularly shocked about the secular liberal finding (although I do know exceptions to this rule).
The fascinating part of Brooks’s findings is the why. Why does the working poor give more? Why do liberals give less money to charity? Why does this all matter?
I also found that after reading this book, the way I thought subtly changed. On a flight back from Vegas someone from the flight before had left a unopened, gift-wrapped box of cookies on her seat. Did the person who sat at that seat turn them over to the flight attendant, even though we were 15 minutes from take-off and they could have been sent into the terminal? NO. She loudly marveled about her good luck and kept them. When we arrived in Seattle, SHE TOOK THEM HOME! I sat there – appalled – and thought, “she must be a secular liberal.”
Please take a look at Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism and let me know what you think. I would love to hear your take-aways from this book.