Another Thought on Government

One line from Michelle Obama’s speech on the opening day of the just concluded Democratic Party’s convention jumped out at me, and it did so because it epitomizes the difference between Progressive and Conservative views of government and responsibility.

[W]hen you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.  You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

Indeed, conservatives not only believe this, we live it.  Arthur Brooks, the author of Who Really Cares, says:

[W]hen you look at the data, it turns out the conservatives give about 30 percent more.  And incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less [6% less] money.


…conservatives are 18 percent more likely to donate blood.

Here are some more numbers from Brooks, via George Will:

In the 10 reddest states [in 2004], in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

There are notable exceptions to this.  The Clintons and Obamas, on the other hand, gave significant per centages of their income to charity.  But these exceptions demonstrate the truth in the data.

Conservatives already are, as a matter of course, reaching back and helping others.  We’re reaching sideways and helping others with current problems, too.  And we reach forward—we pay it forward [emphasis added]:

…lower income people give more [than those better off] because they think they are more likely to need charity or know someone who needs charity.

We don’t need government to force us to do our duty.  We don’t need government to dictate to us what our charities will be, or the mechanisms by which we will help.

Progressives, though, do need government to prod them, apparently, as they project this shortcoming of theirs onto all Americans.  From Brooks (Will), again [emphasis in the Will cite]:

People who reject the idea that “government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.

Mrs Obama was, in fact, preaching to the choir.  She was just in the wrong church.

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