The false narrative of the heartless conservative

Liberals are called bleeding-hearts and conservatives are called heartless. The former because of their desire to provide hand-outs, and the latter because of their desire not to.


It is part of the narrative modern liberals have used to play on the cultural elite’s white guilt and the biologic imperative of the poor’s need for survival to conjure up support.

If you want to keep getting your government check and food stamps (you wanna eat right?), vote Democrat.

If you want to feel better about the inequality in our world even though you have more than everyone else (not to mention that you also don’t feel like doing anything about it), vote Democrat.

Whispers around the Democratic party are growing louder that these are the two major demographics the Democrats should use moving forward since the number of people on public assistance continues to grow, as do the minority groups in this country.

Of course, keeping those minorities on government subsidies (i.e. keeping them poor) is the best way for Democrats to achieve this end, but they also need the first-world guilt of the culturally elite like professors, actors and musicians to keep the money coming in to party coffers.

Here’s the problem: this liberal narrative is a myth. (although after “liberal” I think the “myth” is implied when it comes to an ideological discussion).

Michele Bachamnn received tremendous criticism for telling a young man he should rely on charity, not the government, for his health care if he can’t afford it.

This issue gets a little sticky because the poor already use charity to pay for health care. Hospitals write off billions a year in charity care from people the hospitals know full-well will never pay them. Basically, the idea that poor people can’t afford health care is a lie, at least in practice, because many people who can’t afford health care don’t simply not get care. They just don’t pay for it.

Her point though, about the importance of charity, should be well-taken. In fact, it isn’t that conservatives don’t want to help the poor. Quite the contrary.

Conservatives don’t want the government to be the one taking money from hard-working people, to help the poor.

Rather, they believe each of us should take our own time, be responsible for our own moral futures, and give ourselves.

It’s why conservatives give 30% more money to charities than liberals. They also tend to give that money to religious charities, far more likely to help the poor than the arts and societal charities that liberals donate to.

Conservatives are also almost 20% more likely to give blood.

In fact, Nicholar Kristoff wrote an op-ed in the New York Times several years ago lamenting his party’s failure to live out its ideology.

Liberals like Kristoff, though, will likely dismiss the notion that if liberals did a better job of being charitable, we could actually help people without having to tax everyone else.

This notion dovetails into the liberal myth that in order to achieve social justice, the rich need to be paying more in taxes.

According to the Social Community Bench Mark Survey, the wealthiest Americans make the majority of charitable donations. In fact, according to an ABC News report, those making more than $1 million make about 50% of all charitable donations.

As a group, those who make over $100,000 give 10% more of their income than their middle class counterparts. Only the impoverished give a higher ratio. It should also be noted, those who make $100,000 are not part of “the 1%”

(The numbers in that case are somewhat skewed given that nearly everyone at this level is receiving government assistance, tax credits, and a myriad of other welfare hand-outs, all while not paying any income tax).

In 2010, that means $145 billion was given to charity from those apparently not paying their fair share.

Now consider that the top 1% pays a little less than 40% of all taxes according to the National Taxpayers Union’s 2009 data.

That would be $560 billion of the $1.4 trillion in tax revenue brought in that year.

Remember though, that 50% of all charitable giving is from millionaires only. The top 1% of earners from a tax standpoint make about $350,000, so the charitable giving number is likely significantly higher.

But even just accounting for millionaires, “the rich” are actually giving 26% more money to people who need it than what their tax bill reflects.

Social responsibility among “the rich” is actually at an all-time high with gazillionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett getting their ultra-rich friends to all agree to donate their billions to charity.

But true responsibility comes with a choice. There’s nothing benevolent about taxing someone to help the poor, at least not by the person being taxed.

Robin Hood was the noble hero, but acting heroic because you pay taxes is like saying the people Robin Hood stole from were heroes because their money went to a good cause.

Liberals are considered the party of social responsibility for wanting to be taxed more. There’s nothing noble about desiring higher taxes, just a shirking of your own moral accountability for the people taking your money.

Not only do you not know where that money is going, or if it’s done any good, you don’t have a choice to pay or not pay taxes. It’s a forced responsibility, a false responsibility.

If you don’t have a choice, you don’t have true responsibility.

Conservatives believe in the efficacy of each of us. Of the individual. The power for each of us to make the right choice.

That’s true responsibility.

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3 thoughts on “The false narrative of the heartless conservative

  1. Doug says:

    You write, “Conservatives believe in the efficacy of each of us. Of the individual. The power for each of us to make the right choice. That’s true responsibility.”

    I agree. But a right choice presuppose a not so right choice which suggest one has options. Like the options to better one’s circumstance of birth and economic station, by maximizing one’s gifts and talents and luck. Now if those options are actual and apply to all in a society, then, they came about by a conscious and collective acceptance of some form of constitutional order. And how that order is managed is the rub and raw of governance. Right?

    So which “conservative” managerial style are we dealing with here. Burke, Adams, Taft, Goldwater, Laffer, Reagan, or Palin.

    How about Philip Bobbitt:

    “The “market-state” is the latest constitutional order, one that is just emerging in a struggle for primacy with the dominant constitutional order of the 20th century, the nation-state. Whereas the nation-state based its legitimacy on a promise to better the material well-being of the nation, the market-state promises to maximize the opportunity of each individual citizen.“

    It’s go global or revert back to Jeffersonian agrarianism.

    Has “conservative” governance of the last thirty years increased the options available to maximize the opportunity of each “individual” citizen. The numbers suggest loudly, No. In fact, and, you know this, the nation is at best treading water in the global marketplace and apt to go under. Conservatives missed and didn’t prepare for the coming market-state because they were obsessed with our piss poor imitation of a “welfare state.”

    Someone needs to pay for the missed opportunities of the past three decades. Who do you suggest should do the responsible thing.

  2. youngright says:

    Doug, your point is well taken that opportunity, at least for many, has decreased not increased.

    Your assumption of the mutual exclusivity of the nation state and market state is somewhat misguided.

    The nation state is legitimate because we accept it as such. Political philosophers have long touted the importance of the covenant we build as part of our social fabric. The social contract is what we make it.

    Furthermore, it can be easily argued that the “market state” is not a threat to the nation state based simply on the fact that the two never truly have to compete.

    Much to your point when it comes to criticism of “conservative” leadership, don’t confuse conservative with Republican. If we have less government involvement in the market, the market forces have a chance to work. Subsidies and tax breaks interfere with the market structure and decrease our individual freedoms.

    It’s more, not less government, in the case of the markets, which negatively impacts our liberty.

    We’ve never lived in a market state because the nation state has long held considerably more controlling interest in our economic system than the market state would have them.

    Finally, Jeffersonian democracy is not based solely on an agrarian society. The tenants of Davis’ ideology don’t preclude modern capitalism, although his policies then were, in a way, anti-industry.

    When you say “Conservatives missed and didn’t prepare for the coming market-state because they were obsessed with our piss poor imitation of a ‘welfare state.’ ”

    I’m not entirely sure of your point or the following about someone needing to pay. We’re all paying for the failure of government to be responsible. It’s why we have a $14 trillion deficit and why the government takes 30% of your paycheck every two weeks to pay for a wildly inefficient and mostly ineffective government.

    To say this failure is one of the conservatism is to totally miss the mark of what has happened over the last 40 years. One could easily argue that conservative principles, particularly on the federal level, have never been fully tried. We don’t know what the outcome would be.

    We see what tax and spend policies do. We also see that growing the economy, not government, is the best way for our citizens to get what they need.

  3. […] cast conservatives as heartless for not wanting to take care of the poor. I’ve argued against this in a multitude of […]

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