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AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: CONSERVATIVES BEHAVING CHARITABLY

WHO REALLY CARES: THE SURPRISING TRUTH ABOUT COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM. Arthur C. Brooks. New York: Basic Books, 2006. Pp. xi, 249. $26.00. Reviewed by THE HONORABLE DON R. WILLETT *

I. INTRODUCTION .................................................................... 182 II. THE CULTURE OF CHARITYRHETORIC V. REALITY......... 185 A. Religious Commitment.................................................. 188 B. Skepticism About Government's Role in Economic Life191 C. Strong Families............................................................. 195 D. Personal Entrepreneurism............................................ 198 III. SELFISH AMERICA V. CHARITABLE AMERICAWHY ALTRUISM MATTERS ........................................................... 200 IV. CONCLUSION ....................................................................... 204

* Justice, The Supreme Court of Texas. B.B.A. 1988, Baylor University; J.D. 1992, Duke University; A.M. 1992, Duke University. He previously served as a Deputy Texas Attorney General, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice, and Special Assistant to the President in The White House, where he was Director of Law & Policy for the White House Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives. Justice Willett clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He lives in Austin with his wife, Tiffany, and their two boys, Jacob and Shane-David. His intrepid law clerk, Christine M. McMillan, rendered stellar cite-checking and research assistance with this article.

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I. INTRODUCTION

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I live in Austin, the capital of Texas and inarguably the most liberal city in an otherwise solidly conservative state. How singular is Austin, the so-called Berkeley of the South? Of Texas' 254 counties, Travis County, which Austin dominates population-wise, was the

1. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/better_bleeding_heart_500.gif (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 2. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/liberal_definition_500.gif (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 3. StickerGiant.com, http://www.stickergiant.com/page/sg/PROD/magfunpol/y8065 (last visited Dec. 16, 2007).

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only county that opposed a 2005 constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. 4 In fact, I inhabit the epicenter of Austin liberalism: the way-cool 78704 zip code, a hippie South Austin neighborhood that revels in its left-wing funkiness. One familiar bumper sticker reads, "78704: Not Just a Zip Code, A Way of Life." Another, "78704: We're All Here `Cause We're Not All There." To be sure, Austin, a blue speck in a vast red sea, 5 is home to many kind-hearted Good Samaritans, and I love it deeply, but according to a provocative new book by Syracuse University Professor Arthur Brooks, liberal bastions like Austin are not necessarily bastions of charity. 6 As it turns out, conservatives, particularly religious conservatives, are the most generous Americans by any measure-- money given, hours volunteered, blood donated. His 2006 book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, suggests that while plenty of Austinites may sport nannying bumper stickers exhorting me to "Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty" or declaring "The Moral High Ground is Built on Compassion," this rear-bumper sanctimony seemingly comes cheap. The gut-punch of Who Really Cares--aptly described as a "tidy time-bomb of a book" 7 --is prefaced on page 10: "This story has some sharp elbows, culturally and politically." 8 Razor-sharp, it seems. It is an article of faith among political liberals that they care more about the poor than political conservatives, but Professor Brooks, a born-and-raised liberal and professor of public administration at Syracuse's Maxwell School of Citizenship and

4. Gardner Selby, Gay Marriage Ban Affirmed, AUSTIN AM.-STATESMAN, Nov. 9, 2005, at A1. 5. The Texas Secretary of State website indicates that in the 2004 presidential election, 4.5 million Texans voted for Bush-Cheney and only 2.8 million for Kerry-Edwards. Texas Secretary of State, Presidential Election Results, http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/historical/presidential.shtml (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). This twenty-three-point GOP landslide, however, stands in stark contrast to the huge proDemocrat turnout in Austin's home county, which went for Kerry-Edwards by fourteen points. Travis County, County Clerk, http://www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/20041102/enight_results.pdf (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 6. ARTHUR C. BROOKS, WHO REALLY CARES: THE SURPRISING TRUTH ABOUT COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM 11­13 (2006). 7. Wilfred M. McClay, Yes, There Are Two Americas, WALL ST. J., Dec. 22, 2006, at W6 (reviewing BROOKS, supra note 6). 8. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 10.

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Public Affairs, demonstrates that what may be politically correct is frequently empirically incorrect. 9 The fact that "the electoral map and the charity map are remarkably similar" 10 is sure to rile political liberals. This evidence of a stark rhetoric-reality gap is dispiriting to proud Austinites like me, but it is also mounting. A September 2007 study by The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Austin forty-eighth out of America's fifty largest cities in per capita charitable giving. 11 Austin is accustomed to topping countless national "Best Of" lists--hippest, fittest, greenest, most pro-business, etc. 12 Shouting "We're Number 48!" hurts, especially when the measure (caring) goes to the core of Austin's liberal self-identity. City leaders' reaction to the ranking was one of disbelief: "`But we're a caring community. How can this be?'" 13 The data represent an inconvenient truth, to be sure, but as John Adams observed, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." 14 So while a slew of Austin-area bumper stickers cheer liberal selflessness and jeer conservative selfishness, the unflinching data obliterate a stubborn conventional piety. "Compassionate conservatism"--when measured in terms of personal voluntary sacrifice (both monetary and nonmonetary)--is far from a contradiction in terms; if anything, it is redundant.

9. Id. at 13 (explaining the impact of the research that went into this book: "the irresistible pull of empirical evidence in this book is what changed the way I see the world"). 10. Id. at 24. 11. See Andrea Ball, Experts: Austin's Tight Fists Linked to Its Youthful Nature, AUSTIN AM.-STATESMAN, Oct. 21, 2007, at A1 (discussing the recent report and the implications for Austin's self-identification as a "weird" and generous place). 12. See, e.g., Carl Hoffman, Best Little City in America, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER, Nov.­Dec. 2006, at 89 (describing Austin as capturing the best of Texas while creating a vibe that is unique within an already-unique state). 13. Suzannah Gonzales, City Wants to Change Poor Giving Record, AUSTIN AM.STATESMAN, Sept. 19, 2007, at A1 (quoting the director of an Austin campaign to boost charitable giving as she recalled peoples' reactions to the study). 14. John Adams, Argument and Report, in 3 LEGAL PAPERS OF JOHN ADAMS 98, 269 (L. Kinvin Wroth & Hiller B. Zobel eds., 1965).

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Peanuts: © United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

II. THE CULTURE OF CHARITY--RHETORIC V. REALITY The exquisiteness of Brooks's book is that it peeks behind dense, mind-numbing economic data to plumb why people give--the culture of charity and the values that animate people's good works. 16 In doing so, a herd of prized oxen gets gored, but Brooks's commitment is unswerving: to discover hard, and often surprising, truths, "whether they happen to conform to preconceived notions or not." 17 In fact, Brooks admits that when his early findings showed that conservatives were more privately charitable than liberals, he immediately assumed he had goofed. 18 He assembled fresh data. He re-ran his analyses. The charity calculator stubbornly yielded the same result. Ambushed by the data, which ran totally contrary to Brooks' political and cultural roots, he relented: "I had no option but to change my views." 19 (My kingdom for universities, newsrooms, and courthouses inhabited by professors, journalists, and jurists of such refreshing modesty!) When even preeminent, scrupulous, truth-seeking social scientists like Brooks harbor bogus assumptions, you know the cult of charity is deeply embedded and one-dimensional: conservatives are meanies. The culture of charity, though, is multi-dimensional and far less prone to caricature. Actually, today's dominant thinking about compassion is less cult than cant, which a century-old Webster's Dictionary aptly defines this way: "To make whining pretensions to goodness; to talk with an affectation of religion, philanthropy, etc.; to practice hypocrisy . . . ." 20 Brooks's focus, to our profound benefit, is on the culture of charity and, as the sub-title reads, "America's Charity Divide--Who Gives, Who Doesn't, and Why It Matters." He paints a

15. Peanuts, AUSTIN AM.­STATESMAN, Nov. 1, 2007, at E5, http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/peanuts/archive/peanuts-20071101.html. 16. See James Q. Wilson, Foreword to BROOKS, supra note 6, at xi­xiii. 17. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 10. 18. Id. at 12. 19. Id. 20. WEBSTER'S REVISED UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY 211 (1913). available at

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vivid story-behind-the-story of America's givers and nongivers and shows us anew why the Apostle Paul was on the money when he taught that charity--sacrificial loving-kindness toward others--is the supreme virtue. 21 A few of Brooks's findings: · Conservative-headed households in America give 30% more to charity than liberal-headed households--despite earning roughly 6% less in income. 22 Altruism is the "right" thing, apparently in more ways than one. · The redder the state, the more charitable its residents. According to IRS data, twenty-four of the twenty-five most generous states are so-called red states (Maryland being the lone blue state). 23 Also, residents of the five deep-red states that voted for President Bush's re-election by more than 60% gave almost twice as much of their income to charity as residents of the five deep-blue states (including D.C.) that voted by more than 60% for John Kerry. 24 The kicker, residents of the most pro-Kerry states earned, on average, 38% more than residents in the most pro-Bush states. 25 · Red-state residents volunteer more than blue-state residents, too, for both religious and secular charities. 26 In fact, they're twice as likely to volunteer to help the poor. 27 · "[I]t is fairly natural and instinctive for most political conservatives to behave charitably. Meanwhile, people deeply embedded on the political left are usually not part of a `culture' of giving." 28 · This one is admittedly picayune, but one of my favorites: "If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as

21. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal . . . . And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." I Corinthians 13: 1, 13 (King James). 22. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 21­22. 23. Id. at 23. 24. Id. at 24. 25. Id. at 23­24. 26. Id. at 24. 27. Id. 28. Id. at 12.

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conservatives, the blood supply in the United States would jump by about 45 percent." 29 Austinites, like me, take some comfort in knowing that while we don't write big checks, we rack up impressive volunteer hours. A 2007 study ranked Austin third in volunteerism among America's largest fifty cities (and seventh in volunteer hours). 30 Finishing fortyeighth out of fifty in money donations is lousy, but finishing third out of fifty in volunteer participation is laudable. As a recent news article put it, "It's a familiar refrain from Austin charities: Austinites are generous with their time, but not so generous with their money." 31 The article chalks up the disconnect to various factors: "a large population of cash-poor students and middle-class government workers, a younger-than-average population" and a larger-thanaverage number of local charities competing for scarce dollars. 32 It's good to see city-specific anecdotes that buck the national trends-- Brooks notes that Seattle shows a similar pattern--but both cities "are more than offset by much bigger communities (e.g. SF, NYC) that are overwhelmingly liberal but not privately charitable." 33 "As a general rule," Brooks says, "liberals are most charitable with their time . . . about equally likely to volunteer as conservatives (although not more so)," 34 but they're far stingier with their money, badly trailing the donations of conservatives, "even when comparing within the same income categories." 35 It is true that conservatives are not metabolically predisposed to generosity, and political ideology does not drive everything. Rather, as Brooks observes, "the things that go along with political beliefs account for most of the differences we see between ideological groups." 36 Brooks flags four controversial-but-uncontroverted "lifestyle and worldview" differences between givers and nongivers in modern America: "One group is religious, the other secular; one supports government income redistribution, the other does not; one

29. Id. at 22. 30. ROBERT GRIMM JR., ET AL., CORP. FOR NAT'L & CMTY. SERV., VOLUNTEERING IN AMERICA: 2007 CITY TRENDS AND RANKINGS 12­13, 14 (2007), available at http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/volunteering/cities.asp. 31. Ball, supra note 11, at A1. 32. Id. at A1. 33. E-mail from Arthur C. Brooks to author (July 25, 2007, 1:37 pm CST) (on file with the Review). 34. Id. 35. Id. 36. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 30.

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works, the other accepts income from the government; one has strong, intact families, the other does not." 37 Brooks put it plainly: "It is simply undeniable that today, conservative principles are most congenial to the four forces of charity. Even more, it is obvious that America's political left has increasingly developed a reverse polarity to these forces." 38 But while political conservatives are, on average, more personally charitable than liberals, it's not because conservatives' politics make them inherently more virtuous, says Brooks; the forces underlying charity aren't ever-present on the right and never-present on the left. 39 As Brooks explains, "[t]he worldview and lifestyle of charitable people are usually just more in sync with the right than they are with the left." 40 Those who possess all four factors have hit the altruism jackpot, and those who have three are still far more likely to give generously than those who don't. At bottom, the link is less about politics than about certain charity-linked lifestyles that are more prevalent among self-described conservatives. The following discussion examines each of Brooks' four factors (sprinkled with a few characteristically contrarian Austin bumper stickers along the way). A. Religious Commitment

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37. Id. at 182­83. 38. Id. at 12. 39. Id. at 11. 40. Id. 41. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/practice_preached_500.gif (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 42. Evolve Fish, http://www.evolvefish.com/fish/premiumstickers.html#3540 (last visited Dec. 16, 2007).

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The data reveal a huge "charity gap" that tracks religion, and religious participation is the single biggest predictor of someone's altruism. To a large degree, America is split between religious givers and secular nongivers. 46 Religious Americans are far more generous than their secular neighbors, and the former "are disproportionately politically conservative." 47 Brooks stresses a strong relationship between religious faith and conservatism, with religious people being "far more likely than secularists to be political conservative." 48 This link between religion and politics is striking: a self-identified conservative is almost twice as likely to attend church weekly as a self-described liberal, "and a liberal is nearly twice as likely as a conservative never to attend." 49 Moreover, "the percentage of selfdescribed Democrats who say they have `no religion' has more than quadrupled since the early 1970s." 50

43. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/jesus_liberal500.gif (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 44. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/spiritual_fruits_500.gif (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 45. Bark Magazine: Bumpersticker, http://www.thebarkmagazine.com/copilot_bumpersticker.php (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 46. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 52. 47. Id. at 42­43. 48. Id. at 177. 49. Id. at 109. 50. Id. at 180.

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Key findings: · The more religious you are, the more charitable you are, in both time and money. 51 · Conservatives are more likely to practice a religion than liberals--a gap that is steadily widening. There are presently about three times more religious conservatives in American than religious liberals. 52 · Those who attend church are 25% more likely to give and 23% more likely to volunteer, and religious Americans donate three and a half times more money to charity than secular Americans. 53 · People who pray daily (whether or not they attend church) are far more likely to donate money to charity than those who never pray. 54 · Religious Americans are inarguably more generous "in every measurable nonreligious way--including secular donations, informal giving, and even acts of kindness and honesty--than secularists." 55 · Religious people, regardless of their specific faith, donate far more time and money to charity than their secular neighbors--and not just to religious charities (like churches) but to explicitly secular causes, too. 56 · The least charitable group in America today is secular conservatives (a relatively small subset), demonstrating that religiosity is the difference-maker. 57 Facts like these help explain why more religious South Dakotans (half attend church every week) give almost exactly the same annual amount to charity as more secular San Franciscans (almost half never attend church)--despite a 78% income differential. 58 Certainly there

51. Id. at 36. 52. Id. at 46­49 (identifying 18 million religious liberals compared to 50 million religious conservatives). 53. Id. at 34 (noting that the average religious family donates 4% per year while the average secular family donates just over 1%). 54. Id. at 36. 55. Id. at 38. 56. Id. at 38­41. 57. Id. at 47­48 (estimating 20 million Americans, 7.3% of the population, are secular conservatives). 58. Id. at 31­32. Although the amount of money is about the same, in percentage terms, the difference is stark. Without adjusting for the cost of living, people in South Dakota give 75% more of their income to charity. After adjusting for the cost of living, South Dakotans give 50% more of their income to charity. E-mail from Arthur C. Brooks to author (Nov. 16, 2007, 7:52:56 am CST) (on file with the Review).

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are devoutly religious liberals and devoutly nonreligious conservatives, and Brooks never argues that conservatism equals virtue. 59 We all know secular folks who are exceedingly generous and religious folks who are exceedingly tight-fisted. And there is certainly no shortage of religious liberals and secular conservatives. The data, though, are stubborn in showing that conservatives tend to be more devout and philanthropic than liberals 60 and also that religious people are far more charitable than secularists, no matter their politics. 61 Not only that, but that the right-left charity gap "correlates with a broader gap in everyday virtue, and that both are related to religious behavior--or a lack of it." 62 But Brooks does contend that the values and culture that underlie a conservative worldview, particularly religious commitment, strongly propel charitable habits and that secularism depresses giving. Says Brooks, the convictions held by America's most generous givers are far more likely to be held by political conservatives. In short, religion hard-wires a charitable impulse into people. B. Skepticism About Government's Role in Economic Life

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59. Id. at 39 ("This is not to say that secularists never engage in acts of kindness and charity, not that religious people always do. But the data show very large differences between the groups."). 60. Id. at 45. 61. Id. at 50. 62. Id. at 40. 63. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/not_outraged_500.gif (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 64. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/fema_big_500.jpg (last visited Dec. 16, 2007).

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Givers and nongivers have fundamental differences in ideology, and one of those differences tracks a core issue that most strongly divides liberals and conservatives. 66 Givers, by and large, think helping others is less a governmental responsibility than a personal one. They are more generous with their own money than with government money (i.e., their taxpayer-neighbors' money). The result, those who favor big government and the compulsory redistribution of tax revenue don't write big checks. The liberal-conservative disconnect is captured best by Ralph Nader, who said during his 2000 presidential campaign: "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity." 67 There you go. Nonprofits are evidence of injustice, and real charity equals cash--specifically, government (i.e., taxpayer) cash--and aggressive redistribution would eliminate the need for private charity. And if I support income-redistribution-via-taxation (forcibly donating other people's money), then I am by definition charitable, even though I am personally allergic to charitable behavior. Recall the brief flap during the 2000 presidential election when it was revealed that Al Gore had donated a relatively small amount to charity--specifically, 0.2% of his family's income (one-seventeenth of what donating households give on average). 68 Brooks would say that is perfectly consistent with Gore's liberalism. When billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2004 cut public funding to various city nonprofits and filled the gap with $140 million of his own money, however, redistributionist liberals were wholly unimpressed. 69 Bloomberg's personal sacrifice got yawns because it ran counter to the "government spending equals charity" canard. Because conservatives favor a smaller redistributionist role for government, they are branded as heartless, even though as a group they dig deeper into their own wallets and out-give their liberal neighbors. Brooks takes dead aim--"Let us be clear: Government spending is not charity," 70 --and with data from a 2004 Syracuse University

65. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/our_national_health_500.gif (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 66. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 66 ("Income inequality . . . is the issue that most strongly separates liberals and conservatives today."). 67. Id. at 53. 68. Compare id. at 167 (stating that Al Gore gave 0.2% of his family income to charity), with id. at 4 (stating that the average family gives 3.5% (seventeen times 0.2%) to charity). 69. Id. at 60­61 (presenting arguments from people who discounted this personal sacrifice because of the assumed benefits he would gain in return). 70. Id. at 20.

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survey concludes that if you take two people who are identical in every way--age, income, education, gender, religion, race, and political convictions--and their only dispute was whether income redistribution was the government's responsibility, the person who thought "It's none of government's business" will be more charitable. 71 Liberal opposition to seemingly callous public policy may be justified, he says, but outrage alone won't relieve anyone's suffering. 72 "Worse yet," he adds, "if moral outrage is only a substitute for private charity, the needy will become worse off than before." 73 Put simply, a bumper sticker is not a charitable donation; it doesn't feed or clothe anyone. Nor will a political opinion, however well-reasoned and fervently expressed, help a nonprofit meet payroll or pay its light bill. The reach of good works is extended by charitable giving, not charitable groaning. Key findings: · Those opposed to government efforts to reduce income inequality by redistributing wealth--taxing then transferring the haves' income to the have-nots--give over ten times more to charity than those who favor such intervention. 74 · In 1996, those who believed government should not intervene more to reduce income inequality gave, on average, four times more money to charity annually than those who believed government should do more. 75 (The government skeptics volunteer far more, too.) 76 · People tend to see private charity and government aid as substitutes, and higher government spending displaces private charitable giving. (Brooks notes that when the New Deal was expanding the welfare state from 0% to 4% of gross domestic product between 1933 and 1939, church-based charitable activities were shrinking by 30%.) 77 This is why charities effectively use cuts in

71. Id. at 56­57. 72. Id. at 25. 73. Id. See also id. at 73 ("Furthermore, if support for a policy that does not exist . . . substitutes for private charity, the needy are left worse off than before. It is one of the bitterest ironies of liberal politics today that political opinions are apparently taking the place of help for others."). 74. Id. at 56­57. 75. Id. at 55. 76. Id. 77. Id. at 58­59.

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government spending to stimulate private giving. As one sage philanthropic expert notes, "Adversity is the mother of donation." 78 Here, too, Brooks never argues that all liberals are Scrooges and all conservatives are Good Samaritans. But, as with religion, one's attitude about the proper role for government in our lives plays a huge role. As a group, proponents of bigger government strongly favor the forced redistribution of wealth but not the voluntary redistribution of their own wealth. (Brooks also takes a glib shot at Thomas Frank's 2004 polemic, What's the Matter with Kansas?, which insists that red-state, blue-collar Kansans have been duped by Republicans and vote irrationally because GOP policies benefit the wealthy at the expense of "honest toilers." Brooks's rejoinder to Frank's title: Nothing "unless you are a liberal politician who is having a hard time winning votes.") 79 A prime example is the minimum wage debate. Liberals yearn to raise the minimum wage and the now-Democratic Congress has done exactly that, hiking it from $5.15 per hour to $7.25. 80 The political left says income inequality proves social injustice, 81 and 77% of liberals believe government should take firm steps to close the economic gap between the haves and have-nots. 82 Conservatives, by and large, believe that minimum wage hikes actually harm the working poor by pricing many of them out of jobs altogether, 83 and a mere 24% think government should do more to reduce the economic gap. 84 Eureka! Liberals care more about the poor! Not so fast. Conservatives just don't define compassion as expropriating more money from higher-income Americans. Conservatives believe a truer measure of compassion is individual sacrifice--personal acts of compassion--and government-coerced taxing and redistribution get

78. Id. at 60. 79. Id. at 179. 80. See, e.g., Xiyun Yang, Democrats Cheer Wage Hike, WASH. POST, July 25, 2007, at D2 (noting that even the law's backers admit that it will have limited economic impact and will not take full effect until July 2009). 81. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 67, 71. 82. Id. at 61­62. 83. Jonathan Weisman, House Passes Increase in Minimum Wage to $7.25, WASH. POST, Jan. 11, 2007, at A6 ("Republican leaders, backed by small-business lobbyists and restaurant groups, argued fiercely that raising the minimum wage would cripple the economy and must be accompanied by significant tax cuts for small businesses to lessen the effect on them."). 84. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 61­62.

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no brownie points when it comes to person-to-person generosity. More than believe it, they do it. 85 And when liberals vilify conservative selfishness in the context of government programs, they often invoke overtly religious language, accusing conservatives of selfishness that is downright ungodly. "That is," says Brooks, "conservative lawmakers violate the basic premises of Christian charity in proposing cuts to government social welfare spending." 86 But the reason many conservatives oppose statist policy prescriptions is precisely because they do care--deeply--about the poor. Conservatives insist it is compassionate to despair of taxpayer money spent on government programs that yield little, if any, empirical upside, much less if the programs inflict empirical harm. But the prevailing political vision of soft-hearted liberals and hardhearted conservatives is pervasive and fixed in concrete. The question is whether personal altruism--responding to human need with your own money and time--is a meaningful proxy for compassion. According to Brooks, many on the left believe otherwise, that given their preference for bigger government, voting for like-minded liberals is itself an act of compassion 87 --in essence, "I didn't write a check, but I gave at the ballot box." C. Strong Families

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85. Id. at 55­57. 86. Id. at 19. 87. See, e.g., id. at 20, 60­61. 88. StickerGiant.com, http://www.stickergiant.com (follow "funny everything" hyperlink, then follow "marriage & divorce" hyperlink) (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 89. Id. 90. Id. 91. Id.

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There is an undeniable link between family and charity. Charity is emphatically not, as the data show, "just a by-product of income or wealth--it is not primarily a financial phenomenon at all," says Brooks. 92 Rather, it is "a unique and transcendent human virtue . . . a natural family value." 93 Charity, it seems, really does begin at home. Thankfully, charitable Americans outnumber uncharitable ones, 94 and roughly 75% of American families give money to charity each year. 95 Moreover, most American families volunteer their time, too. 96 When it comes to who digs deepest, however, givers tend to hail from strong families where the virtue of generosity is deeply embedded. Key findings: · Broken homes and poor parenting "are terrible for charity," and "strong families are good for charity." 97 · People with kids are generally more generous (with both time and money) than people without kids. 98 · "Generous parents make for generous kids"--parental giving boasts an undeniable impact on the charity patterns of their children. 99 · Children raised in religious households are far more likely to be charitable, even if the child doesn't practice the parents' faith or attend church as an adult. If you have two adult non­churchgoers who are identical in every way (age, race, education, political views, etc.) except that one attended church as a child, that person will be twice as likely to give charitably as an adult. 100 · Married people are generally much happier than unmarried people, and there's a strong association between giving and personal happiness. In one survey, 84% of "very happy people" donated to charity, versus 70% of "not too happy" people. 101

92. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 98. 93. Id. 94. Id. at 3. 95. Id. 96. Id. at 4. 97. Id. at 106. 98. Id. 99. Id. at 99. 100. Id. at 102­03. 101. Id. at 104.

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Married adults--particularly married parents--donate time and money at far higher rates than those who are single or divorced. 102 · Conservative families are typically more traditional, religious, and stable than liberal families, with secularism and single parenthood more prevalent among liberals. Overall, secularism and family breakdown are less common among conservatives. 103 · "Single parenthood is a disaster for charity," with single parents far less likely to give both formally (time and money) and informally (blood) than married parents and childless singles. 104 Although giving parents produce giving children, there are plenty of non­giving parents and plenty of giving nonparents, but being a parent--like being religious--increases the likelihood of giving, says Brooks. 105 Moreover, generous parents are most likely to model charity and instill charitable habits in their children, and as anyone with children knows, the potency of teaching by example (so-called learned charitability) is hard to beat. Given the striking empirical link between religion and politics, those on the political left are, says Brooks, "less likely than conservatives to put their children in a religious environment that is almost singularly conducive to charitable giving . . . ." 106 Brooks also points out that conservatives are far more likely to be married than liberals. 107 Conservatives also have more children, a gap explained principally by religious differences and marriage patterns (and as we saw above, people with more children contribute more time and money). 108 Consequential, too, is the prevalence of single-parent homes. Roughly 35% of American children will sleep tonight in a home where their father doesn't live, hands-down the most urgent social trend of our time. 109 And father absence has a grave impact not

102. Id. 103. Id. at 111, 179. 104. Id. at 105­06. 105. Id. at 98. 106. Id. at 109. 107. Id. 108. Id. at 109­10. 109. See Father Facts, http://www.fatherhood.org/fatherfacts_t10.asp (last visited Dec. 16, 2007) ("24 million children (34 percent) live absent their biological father.").

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only on overall childhood development, an indisputable truth, but also on the charity habits of such children. 110 Again, resilient families don't exist only on the right. There are plenty of happily married, churchgoing liberals who donate big bucks to charities. But the unflinching data show that altruism is learned, practiced, and reinforced within intact families--particularly religious families, given that religious practice "is the most important predictor of American charity." 111 There are family characteristics, specifically religious participation and stable marriage, which uncannily predict charitable giving. D. Personal Entrepreneurism

112

113 114

115

116

110. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 107. 111. Id. at 103. See also supra Part II(A) (providing detail on the link between charity and religion). 112. Carry a Big Sticker, http://www.carryabigsticker.com/images/labor_movement_500.gif (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 113. StickerGiant.com, http://www.stickergiant.com/will-work_dcs247.html (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 114. StickerGiant.com, http://www.stickergiant.com/God-Made-Beaches_dcb2492.html (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 115. StickerGiant.com, http://www.stickergiant.com/page/sg/PROD/funwor/zbs704 (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). 116. StickerGiant.com, http://www.stickergiant.com/retired_zbs792.html (last visited Dec. 16, 2007).

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Brooks spends some time focusing on the real-world relationship between income and giving, a relationship that "holds some surprises," as he understates. 117 While those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are themselves less likely to donate, "the beneficiaries of that redistribution are less likely to give as well." 118 That is, support for redistributive policies not only displaces private giving, it also discourages charity in the recipients of such policies. 119 Key findings: · Charity and economic liberty "are mutually reinforcing virtues." 120 · While the rich donate the most total dollars to charities, those who give away the biggest chunk of their household income--the truest measure of financial sacrifice--are America's working poor. 121 As a group, low-income working families are our nation's most charitable citizens. 122 · By contrast, "[t]he nonworking poor, . . . --those on public assistance--give at extremely low levels." 123 On average, "the working poor family gives more than three times as much money to charity as the welfare family" and is more than twice as likely to donate and almost twice as likely to volunteer. 124 · "The charitable working poor tend to be far more politically conservative than the working poor." 125 · Inherited money sparks charitable giving more than earned income, and earned income sparks charitable giving more than welfare income. 126

117. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 77. 118. Id. at 93. 119. Id. at 95. 120. Id. at 114. 121. Id. at 8, 80. In fact, the city that ranked first among America's most charitable large cities is low-income Detroit, where average discretionary income is only $26,827 (with percapita donations at $3,239), compared to $67,879 in Austin (with per-capita donations at $3,913). Gonzales, supra note 13. 122. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 83­84. 123. Id. at 178. 124. Id. at 83. 125. Id. at 176. 126. Id. at 101, 106.

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Forced "giving" via taxation depresses both giving incentives and work incentives, and these redistributionist policies, along with an overweening government that supplants private action with government action, are downright "dangerous--they squander the magical synergy between generosity and productivity." 127 Strong givers, rich or poor, are by-and-large self-reliant and believe less in handouts than in helping their needy neighbors help themselves. It's not poverty per se that makes people uncharitable, Brooks says, "but rather the government's conventional policies for eradicating it," policies that promote chronic dependence on government aid and diminish virtues like thrift, hard work, etc. 128 Brooks posits that freedom and opportunity, not welfare or other government-forced income transfers, are the sister virtues to charity and that those who don't extol these virtues likewise don't extol individual solutions to social ills. III. SELFISH AMERICA V. CHARITABLE AMERICA--WHY ALTRUISM MATTERS

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No doubt, sheer repetition can make certain assertions, however spurious, virtually unassailable, and Brooks frets that clinging to the entrenched but phony notion of liberals' compassion superiority skews understanding and impedes an earnest effort to elevate public discussion about charity. To Brooks, spotlighting surprising truths and shattering stereotypes about who gives and why matters little. "It matters a lot," he warns, "that we are two nations." 130 Brooks posits that we indeed inhabit two Americas--one altruistic and the other selfish--and that "giving is about far, far more than just money changing hands." 131 "America the Charitable spills abundance over onto the rest of us," he says, while "America the Selfish threatens our

127. 128. 129. 130. 131. Id. at 158. Id. at 83. Northern Sun, http://www.northernsun.com/n/s/5827.html (last visited Dec. 16, 2007). BROOKS, supra note 6, at 2. Id. at 94.

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prosperity as a nation through the policies it supports and the culture it encourages." 132 True enough, a large majority of Americans are generous and compassionate, giving money to myriad causes, churches and charities, but a notable slice of our population is starkly and conspicuously uncharitable. 133 Brooks hopes that calling attention to the chasm between givers and nongivers will worry all of us no matter our politics, no matter our faith, and spark "a call for ideas on how people of good will of all beliefs can be brought in greater numbers into the ranks of the charitable." 134 To his credit, Brooks spends considerable time detailing the tangible benefits of giving--not just to givers themselves but to local communities and our nation. In a chapter styled "Charity Makes You Healthy, Happy, and Rich," he describes an undeniable connectedness between prosperity--both financial and nonfinancial--and charity; "giving and receiving exist in a virtuous cycle," 135 and happiness, health, and income "coexist in a self-reinforcing cycle with charity." 136 Key findings: · We should give for our own good. Giving makes us happier, healthier, and, surprisingly, wealthier-- especially for so-called stretch donors (supposedly ordinary folks who make larger-than-expected gifts) who give in a way that pinches. 137 It sparks substantial personal transformation, which helps produce a healthier, more prosperous society. 138 · While giving is integral to personal health, happiness, and prosperity, the rewards of charity flow not just to the giver, but to the rest of society. 139 · Charitable giving also generates "social capital" that elevates social cohesion and community health and strengthens social networks between people, which in

132. 133. 134. 135. 136. 137. 138. 139.

Id. at 2­3. Id. at 2. Id. at 52. Id. at 139. Id. at 152. Id. at 146­47. Id. at 140­42. Id. at 140.

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·

· ·

·

·

turn stimulate economic success and a range of nonfinancial benefits, too. 140 Givers of time and money are "far more likely than nongivers to behave generously in informal ways as well." 141 There's an interconnectedness to generosity, with money donors also more likely to give food or money to a homeless person or to offer their seat on a crowded bus. 142 Givers are, as a group, more honest than nongivers--far more likely, for example, to return change when a cashier makes a mistake. 143 And one finding sure to rile the political left, "Givers are also more sympathetic and tolerant than nongivers." 144 ¡Ay, caramba! For example, Brooks cites data showing that givers express less prejudice than nongivers toward racial minorities. 145 In fact, he writes, "Givers are more favorably disposed to everybody than are nongivers. (Everybody, that is, except for two groups: Nongivers like political liberals and the news media slightly more than givers do.)" 146 Evidence suggests that besides helping make us happier, healthier, and wealthier, "charity is also a crucial element in our ability to govern ourselves as a free people." 147 Brooks highlights the indispensable role played by the charity-supported institutions of civil society--churches, secular and faith-based nonprofits, voluntary associations, etc.--expressions of active citizenship that serve as what one expert calls "the army ants of civil society, leveraging many times their [own] weight in social good." 148 Looking at other countries, Brooks argues that "the anemic economic growth rates of most Western European

140. Id. at 141. 141. Id. at 5. 142. Id. 143. Id. at 5, 39­40, 94­95. 144. Id. at 5. 145. Id. 146. Id. at 6. 147. Id. at 153. 148. Jim Wallis, The Complete DiIulio Interview, SOJOURNERS, May­June 2001, http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0105&article=010510c.

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countries may be partially explained by Europeans' low rates of charitable behavior." 149 Brooks insists, convincingly, that fortifying America the Charitable "is essential to our health and happiness, community vitality, national prosperity, and even to our ability to govern ourselves as a free people." 150 Because society as a whole is impoverished when giving wanes, Brooks seeks to stimulate two outcomes: (1) prodding all of us to scrutinize our own giving and to give more and (2) jump-starting a national conversation (one that generates more heat than light) about the paramount importance of charity. The stakes are sky-high, he insists, because charity is not merely a nifty personal trait, like being able to hit a curve ball. The policies, politics, and cultural forces that undermine personal charity "induce a personal flaw into citizens that impoverishes them, stunts their opportunities, and has negative repercussions for our communities, our politics, and our nation." 151 For one thing, the evidence shows that giving correlates positively with honesty--"low giving levels," says Brooks, "are accompanied by an `ethics gap': Givers are simply more honest than nongivers." 152 Helpfully, in a chapter titled "The Way Forward," Brooks also tees up various concrete policy prescriptions aimed at boosting charitable giving in America. All in all, he notes, "[g]overnment at its best does a modest amount of good for charity with incentives to give," but "government at its worst can create massive damage by putting barriers in the way of giving." 153 So first, when it comes to charity, government should basically adopt the first law of medicine and "do no harm"--and certainly not actively suffocate charity through burdensome bureaucratic rules and procedures. 154 He also echoes President Bush's proposal of expanding the tax deduction for charitable donations to those taxpayers who don't itemize their deductions--namely, low-income families--and mentions other

149. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 157. 150. Id. at 2. See id. at 153 ("Charity appears to help us financially and to improve our health and happiness. But evidence suggests that charity is also a crucial element in our ability to govern ourselves as a free people."); id. at 183 ("[Charity] is an essential ingredient in our prosperity, health, happiness, and freedom."). 151. Id. at 13. 152. Id. at 95. 153. Id. at 170. 154. Id. at 162­66 (offering the example of a New Jersey program that allows high school students to earn credit towards graduation for volunteering).

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reforms like a "tax or give" option where you give a portion of your taxes directly to charity instead of to the government. 155 Most of this chapter, though, is devoted to Brooks' exhorting liberals to put their money, literally, where their mouths are and to confront head-on "one of the greatest political hypocrisies of our time . . . the pious sloganeering about liberals in America being more compassionate than conservatives." 156 Brooks is adamant: "This stereotype is false, and it is a disservice to our country." 157 Liberals should be proud liberals, he insists, and not reject their core values, but they should reject those forces that depress personal generosity: "I am asking liberals to stand up for charity." 158 It is also worth mentioning that Brooks merits bonus points for avoiding tedium and distilling data-heavy findings into accessible, easy-to-grasp language. For example, he mines the Book of Proverbs, a wealth of timeless wisdom, to fortify his paramount point that all Americans, irrespective of ideology, should see philanthropy as indispensable to individual and societal progress: "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." 159 IV. CONCLUSION So we're 48....The truth hurts. Austin Mayor Will Wynn 160 There is clearly a gap between our values and our behavior. Kenneth M. Jastrow II, Austinite 161 Maybe [Austinites] should work a little less on being weird and a little more on contributing whatever we can to our favorite causes. Giving won't make us feel any less weird and it will feel good. Arnold Garcia, Editorial Page Editor, Austin AmericanStatesman 162

Id. at 168­70. Id. at 177. Id. Id. at 182. Id. at 144. Gonzales, supra note 13. Kenneth M. Jastrow II, Editorial, Give Back to the Community, AUSTIN AM.­ STATESMAN, Sept. 19, 2007 at A11. See also Gonzales, supra note 13 (quoting the director of Austin's "I Live Here, I Give Here" effort to spark individual giving: "There is `a gap between our values and our action.'"). 155. 156. 157. 158. 159. 160. 161.

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Tenure has its benefits. Arthur Brooks is an academic entrepreneur who has written a subversive book that would likely ostracize a nontenured thinker (much like my wife and two boys are shunned from neighborhood playgroups by our fellow "78704ers" who doubtless chafe that diabolical conservatives have invaded their utopian garden). The tenured Professor Brooks confronts dogma with hard evidence, which he follows wherever it leads. 163 This audacity may yield few high fives within the academic echo chamber--or among his students, it seems, since young liberals, those exalted as the most idealistic of all, also rank among the least charitable. 164 For both liberals and conservatives alike, it is undoubtedly handy to hold tightly to certain beliefs, but some orthodoxies, hard-wired deep into conventional wisdom, are frequently bogus. Certainly, the belief that liberals care more about the poor may scratch a partisan or ideological itch, but the facts are hostile witnesses. Mark Twain once noted that there are, in ascending order of deception, liars, damned liars, and statisticians. 165 To be sure, statistics can often do more to confuse than to clarify, but given the dearth of serious empirical objections, Brooks's numbers are presumably irrefutable--doubtless irritating, too, but irrefutable, demonstrably irrefutable. It puts the lie to the well-worn liberal shibboleth that conservatives are misers who relish sawing the bottom rungs off the social ladder. When it comes to boosting charity, winning Austinites' hearts and minds (and car bumpers) is one thing; winning their wallets is another. Demography is certainly not destiny, and there is no shortage of charitable liberals and uncharitable conservatives. I repeat: There is no shortage of charitable liberals and uncharitable conservatives. I know plenty of each. But I agree with Brooks that compassion is best exhibited by actions, individual acts of compassion, not snarky bumper stickers. (Somehow, a bumper blaring "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" does not pack quite the same, stick-it-to-the-man punch.) Arthur Brooks has written a transformative book and written it well.

162. Arnold Garcia Jr., Austin's Already Weird . . . It Should Be Generous, Too, AUSTIN AM.-STATESMAN, Sept. 23, 2007, at G3. 163. BROOKS, supra note 6, at 10­13. 164. Id. at 22. 165. TwainQuotes.com, http://www.twainquotes.com/Statistics.html (last visited Dec. 16, 2007).

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