Sunday, February 18, 2007

Are conservatives more generous?

OK, so I managed to find the Jonah Goldberg column. Read it. Marvel at Bruce Tinsley's lack of reading comprehension. Jonah Goldberg in fact, explicitly warns at making precisely the claim that Tinsley does.

And let's note that the Goldberg column is referring to the same study in his second footnote that Goldberg is in his column. So we get two citations out of one study. And as any good social scientist knows, a single study, taken in isolation isn't particularly useful, especially when the study doesn't really compare what you think it does (note that Goldberg has to take the route charitable giving ➝ religiousness ➝ political conservatism). It's been years since I've had access to GSS data and the tools to analyze it, but I'd imagine that one could check the strength of this correlation with the questioning in that survey). I would argue that that last correlation is probably the weakest of the lot and one that's already beginning to break down as religious folk begin to realize that political conservatism is, in fact, generally the direct opposite of what their religious tradition teaches (or so says the devout Catholic who's never intentionally voted for a Republican in his life).

It is worth noting that the most charitable are the working poor (in terms of percentage of their income) while the middle-class are the least charitable. But I think that there's a lot to be said about having disposable income as a factor in giving and the fact that working poor incomes are so low that even a widow's mite of a contribution can be a larger fraction of their income than is the largesse of the wealthy (many of whom donate for the explicit reason of tax avoidance).

But that said, my cursory search found nothing but commentary on the Brooks study, most of which seemed to be of the flavor: See, I told you those damned secular liberals weren't giving their money away.

Having said all of this about charity, let me point you at one that is worth giving to, regardless of your political affiliation: My friend Camilo is doing the AIDS LifeCycle challenge. He's supposed to raise a total of $2500 for the ride and is just one tenth of the way there. So follow the link there, put a donation on your credit card (tack on an $.07 if you're conservative, $.11 if you're liberal, and let's see who's more generous). I'm already in for $100 (donated before the liberal/conservative challenge went into effect).

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

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