i just listened to an absolutely wonderful, insightful and nuanced kqed forum on charitable giving (follow the link and you'll find you can listen too!). michael krasny spoke with arthur brooks, an academic who recently wrote "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism." (pdf of wall street journal review)
don't let the title fool you that the book is wrapped up with the fact, borne out by numbers, that conservatives are more charitable than liberals. that's certainly interesting, but there's so much more to learn.
first off, brooks says he defines charity quite broadly, and so this includes not just what's on tax forms, but political action donations, blood donation, volunteer work, etc.. he uses massive amounts of data gathered over many years, both nationally and internationally, and he makes some surprising conclusions.
one of the most surprising conclusions was that young liberals are the worst givers (money and time). some people called in saying that they knew young liberals who do work X, and that work itself is charitable, and did brooks take that into account... brooks answer was quite reasonable, in my mind. how do you judge the "charity" of a particular job? ie, is a teacher doing a "better" thing than someone working at microsoft? he did acknowledge that certain people go into professions where they make far less money than if they went elsewhere, but they take that job for the "good" it will do. however, brooks was quite worried about making that value judgement, and i have to say that i'd have some trouble too, not just because i'm a scaredy cat.
there was lots of discussion about religion. brooks pointed out that religious people give WAY MORE than those who aren't religious. he speculated religious institutions do a very effective job of teaching about charity (there was some discussion about the motive "getting into heaven" if you are charitable). i was thinking that it'd be great if this kind of teaching moved more into the secular world, and that was discussed as well.
finally, people who give more are happier and more successful than those who give less. not sure how he measured those things, but it sounds good. i'm going to get the book and read more. stay tuned :)
- ► 2008 (66)
- ▼ 2007 (72)
- ► 2006 (89)