“One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring.” –Thomas Sowell
The compassion argument is used as a jumping-off point for nearly every single liberal economic policy. It’s their defense of amnesty for illegal immigrants, big government spending programs that “help” the poor, and their continued refusal to address the entitlement programs that are strangling Republicans’ attempts to be fiscally responsible.
Indeed, liberals tout food stamp and welfare programs designed to, theoretically, aid those who simply need a hand up to get back on their feet.
And so, the big government programs came and come; faltering, flailing, and failing to fix the problems their not-so-well intentioned administrative bureaucrats deem important uses of taxpayer money. Insomuch as government involvement in addressing whatever happens to be the trendy perceived societal woe serves only to worsen the wound and waste money, perhaps a re-examination of the liberal “compassion” claim is warranted.
In short, nary a reasonable person would consider sweet-talking an old lady before robbing her to be “compassionate”, but that’s precisely what happens when government throws its weight behind an effort to fix problems. Fluffy platitudes and kind-sounding remarks are the name of the game in compassionate governance, while honest to goodness results matter not.
It’s why President Obama can appear sympathetic to the “many millions in this county” who go without health insurance (not without health care, by the way, but that’s a separate argument) while painting opponents of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as heartless Republicans who, as Nancy Pelosi famously cackled, “want women to die right there on the floor.” Never mind that there are only about 10-15 million Americans (3-4% of 330 million) who want health insurance but don’t currently have it. In other words, President Obama has decided it’s both financially and morally beneficial to handicap 97% of the population to supposedly aid 3-4%.
The same tactic has been used to justify the government-led “War on Poverty”. The thinking is that a nation as prosperous as America surely has an obligation to provide for those in need. I wrote in a June 5th column for The Right Sphere that “The much ballyhooed War on Poverty is a failure. In fact the impoverished would have been better off had the government left them alone. The national poverty rate was 11.2% in 1974. 30 years later in 2004 it was 12.7%, and it’s above 15% under the presidency of Barack Obama. Liberals claim “compassion” to justify their big government charity programs, but the facts tell us they only make things worse.”
Meanwhile, conservatives are compassionate in reality, but don’t break their arms to pat their own backs.
A 2007 study by Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse, found that, as George Will put it, “Conservatives are far more liberal givers.” Brooks’ data revealed that, nationally, conservative households give 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household, even though liberal families in America, on average, make six percent more than conservative counterparts.
Additionally, conservatives donate more time, blood, and other resources both in America and overseas. And here’s the kicker – those who reject the notion that “government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” (the basic goal of the government “compassion” programs) gave an average of four times more than those who hold that notion as truth.
Conservatives walk the compassion walk by reaffirming their sincerity with money, time, and honest generosity. Liberals would prefer government just keep reaching into our wallets, provided they smile and wave.
This certainly blows holes all over the “Conservatives are insensitive, uncaring, greedy jerks who only care about corporations” ship steered by liberals trying to justify the failure of government programs because “at least we care enough to try”.
When confronted with the evidence that conservatives consistently give more to the needy than do liberals, the retort is usually that removing religious donations from the equation makes the numbers essentially even. My response to that is two-fold: 1) It’s pretty remarkable, given that removing religious donations only makes the figures basically balance out (consider the massive amounts of religious donations, and the fact that conservatives include far more religious folks in their ranks) and 2) Who cares? Religious organizations are amongst the biggest givers of time and money in this nation (Catholic Charities, the single largest). Their impact is enormous. America would be a far worse place without the charity and charitable acts provided by religious organizations.
The point is, even if the source of the compassion (for conservatives – personal obligation; for liberals – promoting government spending) was a wash, failing to provide positive results can hardly be described as compassionate.
Obama has been dubbed the “Food Stamp President” by right wingers pointing out the fact that food stamp recipients have increased by 76% in the last 3-plus years. Additionally, the President has lengthened the amount of time one can draw unemployment benefits to an obscene 99 weeks. While liberals cheer these stats as a sign of a moral responsibility being met and, unfathomably, as “economic stimulus”, Ronald Reagan got it right when he noted that the welfare and food stamp programs are best judged by how many people are able to leave them, not how many are added. If the government is simply enabling people to remain impoverished (or pushing more people below the poverty line, as has been true of late), it’s hurting, not helping.
Parents aren’t assisting a child with bad grades by increasing the amount of time he’s allowed to watch television.
Stealing from Peter and giving to Paul isn’t compassion. Liberals pretend it is, but nothing could be farther from the truth, especially when liberal policies take from Peter and then make Paul dependent on a wasteful and inefficient government, thus impairing them both.
Compassion requires self-proclivity. It’s an individual inclination (for the religious, often motivated by love, duty, and obligation), not collectively forced money pooling and delving. True compassion contains an emotional element, and is demonstrated through action and results. Conservatives are superior at both, and are more than happy to aid – through individual giving and fundraising – those who need it, thus accomplishing both ends by purer and far more efficient means.
If your goal is to really help people, give like a conservative. This does far more actual good than does the liberals’ attempt to treat a wasteful and corrupt government as the world’s largest soup kitchen.
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