19 February 2007

Oh those altruistic conservatives

Well, my favorite fucked up duck, Malnard Fillpants (See my 20 Aug. 06 post.), shot his bill off on the comics page again yesterday. He shoveled the old hooey about conservatives giving more to charity than liberals, citing a column by Jonah Goldberg. Goldberg is, of course, an impeccable source, given that he's a right-wing whore and can't tell the difference between criminal and noncriminal behavior (See my 6 Oct. 06 post.).

Goldberg's source isn't any better, although it looks good on the surface. I'm referring to Arthur C. Brooks's Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism. Brooks is a professor at Syracuse, but he gets his real scratch from the American Enterprise Institute (As Mark Twain put it, "Show me where a man gets his corn pone, and I'll show you where he gets his opinions."), so he's paid to preach the Norsefire party line. His book purports to show that conservatives donate more than liberals. Of course it seriously downplays another point its sources make, namely that liberals are more likely to volunteer time. It also only pretends to deal with the issue of income discrepancy between liberals and conservatives. After all, if conservatives make more than liberals, it only follows they would have more to donate. Brooks has four data sources: the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS) and three more recent General Social Surveys (GSS). The GSS are drawn from statistically representative samples; the SCCBS is not. The SCCBS says liberals make more money; the three more recent GSS say conservatives do. Guess which data set Brooks uses?

Setting aside the questionable scholarship, let's look at reality. Where does conservative charity go? Churches. How much of that really goes to charity? If you're Catholic, how much of it goes to pay lawsuits over pederast priests? If you're evangelical, how much goes to build megachurches, defend abortion clinic protesters, or lobby for anti-gay legislation? If you're Mormon, how much goes to the billionth cookie-cutter ward house (The LDS Church has more churches than McDonald's has served hamburgers.) or buying downtown property for a commercial development? Let's take a measurement of how much conservative charity actually goes to charity.

While we're at it, let's measure how charitable your lifestyle is. Do you ever stop to think of the effects on the poorest people on this planet of your SUV, your McMansion, your sweatshop-made clothes, your opposition to labor and environmental protections? Have you ever thought about how much charity has been made necessary by your systematic dismantling of the social safety net? In all your compassion and all your giving, has any of this even crossed your mind?


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