Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Meanies vs Greenies

Here are some facts taken from surveys where people self-report attitudes and behaviors, taken from Peter Schweizer's new book Makers and Takers. The information was correlated with whether or not they described themselves as "conservative" or "liberal" (and there were labels from "very conservative" to "very liberal"), and confirmed by checking on charitable behaviors. Here's what he found:
  • 71% of conservatives say you have an obligation to care for a seriously injured spouse or parent versus less than half (46%) of liberals.
  • Conservatives have a better work ethic and are much less likely to call in sick than their liberal counterparts.
  • Liberals are 2½ times more likely to be resentful of others’ success and 50% more likely to be jealous of other people’s good luck.
  • Liberals are 2 times more likely to say it is okay to cheat the government out of welfare money you don’t deserve.
  • Conservatives are more likely than liberals to hug their children and “significantly more likely” to display positive nurturing emotions.
  • Liberals are less trusting of family members and much less likely to stay in touch with their parents.
  • Do you get satisfaction from putting someone else’s happiness ahead of your own? 55% of conservatives said yes versus only 20% of liberals.
  • Rush Limbaugh, Ronald Reagan, Bill O’Reilly and Dick Cheney have given large sums of money to people in need, while Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Moore, and Al Gore have not.
  • Those who are “very liberal” are 3 times more likely than conservatives to throw things when they get angry.
The American left prides itself on being superior to conservatives: more generous, less materialistic, more tolerant, more intellectual, and more selfless. For years scholars have constructed—and the media has pushed—elaborate theories designed to demonstrate that conservatives suffer from a host of personality defects and character flaws. According to these supposedly unbiased studies, conservatives are mean-spirited, greedy, selfish malcontents with authoritarian tendencies. Far from the belief of a few cranks, prominent liberals from John Kenneth Galbraith to Hillary Clinton have succumbed to these prejudices. But what do the facts show?

Peter Schweizer has dug deep—through tax documents, scholarly data, primary opinion research surveys, and private records—and has discovered that these claims are a myth. He balances these findings with a few issues where liberals come out ahead. He says liberals are more likely than conservatives to be open to new experiences in travel, art, and music. But Schweizer exposes hypocrisy at the core of liberal beliefs. Indeed, he shows that many of their claims actually apply more to liberals than conservatives.

Much as he did in his bestseller Do as I Say (Not as I Do), he brings to light never-before-revealed facts that will upset conventional wisdom. The biggest for me is that, while liberals claim to be compassionate and to care about the poor, conservatives are much more likely to donate their time and money to charitable causes. This has been true in my personal experience on a liberal seminary campus, but it extends to political liberals/conservatives. Here are some examples:

  • When former Clinton secretary Robert Reich ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, his tax returns revealed income of more than $1 million, but he contributed just $2,714 to charity, or less than 0.3% of his income.
  • Ned Lamont, the anti-war Democrat who ran against Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, is worth $200 million and made $2.8 million in 2005. He has talked about the need to raise taxes because the wealthy are not doing enough to help those in need. Yet in 2005, he donated only $5,385 to charity, or less than 0.2% of his income.
  • In contrast, George Bush gave 10% of his income to charity in 2005. In 2005, Barack Hussein Obama made $1.7 million, or 2.5 times what Bush made that year, but gave the same amount to charity as Bush did. That same year, Dick Cheney gave away 77% of his income to charity.

Conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Robert Bork have long argued that liberal policies promote social decay. Schweizer, using the latest data and research, exposes how, in general:

  • Liberals are more self-centered than conservatives.
  • Conservatives are more generous and charitable than liberals.
  • Liberals are more envious and less hardworking than conservatives.
  • Conservatives value truth more than liberals, and are less prone to cheating and lying.
  • Liberals are more angry than conservatives.
  • Conservatives are actually more knowledgeable than liberals.
  • Liberals are more dissatisfied and unhappy than conservatives.

Schweizer argues that the failure lies in modern liberal ideas, which foster a self-centered, “if it feels good do it” attitude that leads liberals to outsource their responsibilities to the government and focus instead on themselves and their own desires.

This is nothing new. An increasing amount of research is being generated - based on both real behaviors and self-reported attitudes - that show how uncaring these hypocritical “guardians of society” generally are. Syracuse University professor Art Brooks is a fine example of a social scientist and former Democrat who was convinced by the evidence that conservatives really are more compassionate.

Here's a quote from the book that lifts up childlessness as a prime example of liberal self-centeredness.
For dramatic proof, go to the streets of a liberal enclave like San Francisco, Seattle, or Vermont. There will be plenty of expensive boutiques, antique dealers, health spas, sushi bars, and upscale coffee shops. But you won't see very many children. The reason is not that right-wingers have dumped buckets of birth control pills into the San Francisco municipal water supply. The simple fact is that many on the liberal-left today just don't want to have children.

A 2004 survey showed that a typical sample of 100 unrelated adults who called themselves liberal will have 147 children. That contrasts with the typical conservative, who is likely to have 208 children per 100 unrelated adults. That's 41 percent more.(3) Why is this important? Because raising children is a difficult and selfless act that is also an important civic duty. The survival of our society--not to mention our Social Security system!--rests on individuals bringing up a new generation.

The liberal Northeastern states--Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York--have the lowest fertility rates in the country. They also have the lowest percentage of population under the age of five. In progressive San Francisco, there are more dogs than children. Joel Kotkin points out that Seattle (my hometown) has roughly the same population as it did in the 1960s, but barely half as many children. Indeed, there are nearly 45 percent more dogs than children.(4) Dogs, of course, offer companionship without the burdens and responsibilities of children.

Some might conclude that this is a result of the high cost of living in desirable cities like Boston, New York, and San Francisco. But in these childless meccas we also see some of the highest per capita expenditures on luxury goods, spas, and personal therapies. (Kotkin regards San Francisco as a “childless liberal boutique city.”)(5) It's not a lack of money; it's a lack of interest. The General Social Survey found that 69 percent of those who called themselves “very conservative” said it was important to them to have children. Only 38 percent of corresponding liberals agreed. An online survey (admittedly not scientific) taken by the left-wing website daily kos.com asked readers if they had children and how many. The most popular answers: “No children,” “Not going to have any," and “Don't want any.”

Meanwhile, the highest fertility rate in the country is found in the most conservative state, Utah, followed by Arizona, Alaska, and Texas, otherwise known as “red states,” according to the latest National Center for Health Statistics survey. States with the lowest fertility rates are Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, all "blue states.” Over half of the women of childbearing age--15 to 44--are childless in liberal bastions such as the District of Columbia, Vermont, and Massachusetts.(6)

Many on the left proudly proclaim themselves to be “child-free.” (They angrily reject the term child-less because it implies that they are missing out on something.) Partly this is a result of liberal pessimism about the future. Concerned about overpopulation, dwindling environmental resources, global warming, etc., some liberals don't want to have children because they see them as an environmental hazard. Billionaire Ted Turner reflected this attitude when he thoughtfully announced his regret at having five children. “If I was doing it over again, I wouldn't have had that many, but I can't shoot them now and they're here.”(7) No doubt this sort of sentiment makes for charming conversation around the Turner dinner table.

About the Author
Peter Schweizer , MPhil (Oxon) is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and is the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller Do as I Say (Not as I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy.


Anonymous said...

This is a great post!

Thanks for calling this data and analysis to my attention, meanie! ;)

Bill Crawford said...

another good job

Dave Moody said...

Read this the other day, and didn't comment. I echo BC and Toby-- very interesting. Thanks for writing it.


Chris said...

Aw...you guys are just being conservative to me...I mean nice.

Doug Hagler said...

Would you really prefer if "women of childbearing age" - which you identify as starting at *15* - started having loads of children? What about that seems like a good idea?

As for the statistics - my criticism of your previous barrage of pro-conservative book quotes still stands. The data lacks the key correlation...again. In the date from your previous book-quote-fest, when religious liberals were compared to religious conservatives, the differences shrunk dramatically. The fact is, liberals tend to be more secular, and there seems to be a correlation there.

When conservatives stop telling me its not just ok but necessary and good to torture and kill people, I'll begin to be open to their suggestions about charitable giving. Until that day, I'll be the aberration that is charitable and also pacifist.

As for the childbearing obsession you seem to have - I just don't buy it, but we've been over that bridge already. I'm glad for you that you're having children that you want and can care for responsibly. Please don't teach them that its ok to torture and kill people and we'll call it even. You guys close Gitmo and stop starting wars of choice, and I'll do what I can to get the Sodomites to close their boutiques and trade their dogs for kids. And also to try and find a party that will at least vote to stop you (that is, conservatives) from building torture prisons and starting wars of choice.

I think your argument here is just as valid as an argument that could be made, that across the board in every society that we've measured, childbearing rates drop as literacy, affluence, education and gender equality go up.

By which I mean to say, it is not all that valid.


Chris said...


You should know that I'm not a Republican. I'm a member of the Constitution Party (although, since they are small, I normally vote Republican).

Second, if we closed Gitmo, there would be no where left for Michael Moore to take really sick people for free (I mean, tax-payer borne) healthcare. Like Al Franken, I was originally for the war. Now I am not. However, history teaches that if we pull out now, it is very likely that the result will be more bloodshed and massive destabilization. I can't, in good conscience, advocate that.

Third, I preach and teach against torture. I'm not convinced that water-boarding is torture. (That doesn't mean I want it done to me - it is an unpleasant interrogation technique.) There is torture in our world, I just don't see the American government using it.

Presbyman said...

Doug has a rich and wonderful fantasy life, where Republicans wear black hats and gleefully twirl their mustaches after tying a damsel to the railway tracks.

Chris said...

I like the part where Dudley Dogooder (the Democrat) swoops in at the last minute and says: "They'll pay the rent!" (pointing to a hapless group of bystanders whom Dudley has deemed as not in sufficient peril)

Then he walks off and takes the credit while the bystanders get tied up.