I am engaged in a spirited ongoing debate with tax blogger James Maule about the relative motivations of conservatives and liberals regarding America’s tax policy.
Mr. Maule contends that I and those like me who oppose high taxes and the commensurate and inevitable permanent increase in the size of the federal government are motivated primarily by a desire to increase our own wealth while he and others like him who favor high taxes and bigger government are motivated primarily by a desire to help the less fortunate.
I found a blog post by conservative Michele Malkin which addresses better than I ever could the absurdity of these claims (emphasis is Malkin’s):
A few years ago, economist Arthur Brooks wrote a must-read book on volunteerism in America titled, “Who Really Cares.”
Here’s an excerpt:
The conventional wisdom runs like this: Liberals are charitable because they advocate government redistribution of money in the name of social justice; conservatives are uncharitable because they oppose these policies. But note the sleight of hand: Government spending, according to this logic, is a form of charity.
Let us be clear: Government spending is not charity. It is not a voluntary sacrifice by individuals. No matter how beneficial or humane it might be, no matter how necessary it is for providing public services, it is still the obligatory redistribution of tax revenues. Because government spending is not charity, sanctimonious yard signs do not prove that the bearers are charitable or that their opponents are selfish. (On the contrary, a public attack on the integrity of those who don’t share my beliefs might more legitimately constitute evidence that I am the uncharitable one.)
To evaluate accurately the charity difference between liberals and conservatives, we must consider private, voluntary charity. How do liberals and conservatives compare in their private giving and volunteering? Beyond strident slogans and sarcastic political caricatures, what, exactly, do the data tell us?
The data tell us that the conventional wisdom is dead wrong. In most ways, political conservatives are not personally less charitable than political liberals—they are more so.
…People living in conservative states volunteer more than people in liberal states. In 2003, the residents of the top five “Bush states” were 51 percent more likely to volunteer than those of the bottom five, and they volunteered an average of 12 percent more total hours each year. Residents of these Republican-leaning states volunteered more than twice as much for religious organizations, but also far more for secular causes. For example, they were more than twice as likely to volunteer to help the poor.
Studies like this one by Mr. Brooks should have long ago put an end to the left’s charges that conservatives are heartless bastards. But, alas, they haven’t because there is simply too much political gain to be had by liberals from the continued demonization of those who have the temerity to oppose their agenda.¹
¹ To be fair, there is no evidence whatsoever that liberals are less patriotic than conservatives, yet conservatives continue to accuse liberals of anti-Americanism because it is politically fruitful to do so.
- Anti-Taxers are Either Rich, Plan to be Rich or Think the World is Flat
- Taxes, Saints & Sinners
- Truth, Taxes and the American Way
- Liberals, Conservatives, Economics and the Conflict of Visions
- Strawman Argument Used in Tax Debate
- If You Oppose Tax Increases, You’re Stupid, Exploited or Dishonest