Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bah Humbug

Well, knock me over with a feather. It seems that those heartless religious conservatives give more to charity than the more secular, anti-traditional types. Jim Lindgren has a series of posts on the book at Volokh Conspiracy, in which he links to his own complementary research and in which he questions whether moderates, rather than liberals, are the outliers in terms of charitable giving. Lindgren's general reaction to the book is here.

Lindgren's research suggests that "redistributionists" figure they gave at the tax office.

Gee, that kinda reminds me of someone . . .

"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge. "Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. "And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.

"Both very busy, sir."

"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"

"Nothing!" replied Scrooge.


Blogger alex said...

Eh, I don't know about this research. The book is not out yet so that I can't evaluate this thoroughly, but from the articles written about this it sounds spotty. The problem is how the authors determine how much money people give: they ask them.

How do they know that the data they get are not garbage? One possibility is that if charitable giving is more important in your worldview (as it is if you are religious, for example) you are more likely to overestimate how much of it you do.

This is not outlandish at all. People regularly tell untruths to pollsters if the question is uncomfortable - see here, for example. The point is that without some way to actually measure giving, one shouldnt have much confidence in these results. A better way to discuss these results may be to say that conservatives say they give more than liberals.

A caveat is that may be the book deals with these issues in a convincing way.

November 25, 2006 3:15 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Hey, Alex,

I just noticed your comment. I don't know about the research, and to be honest, I probably won't read the book (so many books, so little time), but frankly I couldn't resist an opportunity to tweak the bleeding hearts among us.

November 27, 2006 10:27 PM  

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