OK, I’m just kidding about the headline. But Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks (the guy who opined that the liberal-conservative birth divide was going to doom liberalism) has a book coming out that argues conservatives (specifically, religiously-believing, nuclear-family-dwelling, welfare-state-disliking conservatives) are the most generous Americans, in terms of charitable giving, volunteerism, and blood donation.
I’ve written before about this (but am not going to dig for the link, because I’m just going to say the same thing again) – assuming the professor’s analysis is correct, I suspect that the reason has to do with the differing view of human nature espoused by liberals and conservatives. Oversimplifying for the sake of pithiness (and if we can’t oversimplify for pithiness, what can we oversimplify for?), liberals believe that people are basically good and will take care of one another. Conservatives believe that people are basically heartless bastards who will kill orphans to harvest their organs if they have the opportunity.
So why the heck would that result in conservatives being more generous? Easy peasy: the psychology of the individual. A decent liberal sees a problem and thinks that society should do something, and further, assumes that someone will help (people are good), so “I don’t need to get personally involved”. A decent conservative sees a problem and thinks that the other callous pricks who comprise society will point and laugh, and so if anyone is going to help, “it’s gotta be me. ” Result: conservative check, liberal raincheck.
That’s my theory. What’s yours?