Are conservatives generous or are liberals?

Real Time with Bill Maher March 16 2012 – Alexandra Pelosi Interviews Welfare Recipients in NYC

Published on Mar 18, 2012 by

Real Time with Bill Maher March 16 2012 – Alexandra Pelosi Interviews Welfare Recipients

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Liberals like the idea of the welfare state while conservatives suggest charity through private organizations serve the poor better. I ran across this attitude on the Arkansas Times Blog. The person using the username “Elwood” noted:

Indeed the Bible teaches us a lot about where our concerns should be:

Proverbs 29:7) The righteous is concerned with the poor: but the wicked regardeth them not.

Seeking the Welfare of the City

By
May 1, 2012

 

Conservatives are often portrayed as selfish scrooges who only care about their own bottom lines. But when it comes to truly meeting people’s needs, they’re the leaders of the pack.

Star Parker knew poverty personally. As a young drug addict in southern California, she lacked money, employment and hope. At one point, she was arrested for helping to rob a liquor store, and over the span of a few years, she had four abortions—all paid for by the government. Parker survived on welfare checks and free medical-care stickers, which she would sell to purchase illegal drugs.

The scriptural call to care for people such as Parker is clear: Loving our neighbor entails helping those in dire straits and working for the common good of their community.

In the biblical sense, seeking welfare has to do with promoting circumstances that allow people to flourish. It means helping people thrive in their homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, economies and political communities. This goal characterizes a true conservative political framework.

Now the president of a social policy research center focused on poverty issues, Parker testifies that a biblical view of human flourishing is at home in a conservative agenda—one focused on basic human dignity, strong families, a vibrant civil society, prosperous free markets and limited government.

Who Cares?

Many conservatives—and especially those motivated by faith—are on the front lines of caring for the poor. They’re the “street saints” who work quietly but tirelessly in the trenches, providing critical services in education, health, drug rehabilitation, prisoner re-entry, job training and disaster relief.

In fact, research shows conservatives actually give more to the poor than liberals. Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks compiled this body of research in his 2006 book Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. Brooks found that conservative-headed households tend to give about 30 percent more money to charity than liberal-headed households, even though liberal families earn an average of 6 percent more each year than conservative families. Conservatives also tend to volunteer more time and give more blood than do liberals.

Despite such data, conventional wisdom portrays liberals as being the ones intent on fighting poverty and conservatives as selfish scrooges. Sadly, the promotion of free markets and limited government is often mistakenly equated with a disregard for people in need. Meanwhile, support for government redistribution programs functions as a kind of litmus test for genuine care and compassion. (Never mind the paradoxical fact that, according to Brooks, Americans who favor income-redistribution policies are significantly less likely to behave charitably than those who do not.)

True compassion, though, isn’t measured by how much money the federal government spends. The real question is which approach actually helps people escape poverty and flourish over the long-run. Conservatives tend to answer that question differently than liberals, although they both share the goal of “seeking the welfare of the city.”

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