January 19, 2006
According to the General Social Survey in 2002, Americans who support more government spending are six percentage points less likely to give money to charity each year than those who support spending cuts, and a third less likely to give money away each month. Similar trends are seen in blood donation:
- Those opposed to government aid make up 25 percent of the population, but donate more than 30 percent of the blood each year.
- Supporters of government spending to the poor are 28 percent of the population, but donate just 20 percents of the blood.
- If the population as a whole gave blood like the opponents of social spending do, the blood supply would increase by more than a quarter.
This gap in blood donations is more than an intellectual curiosity: It can mean the difference between life and death. It also represents the livelihood of important charities serving our nation's needy, such as the Red Cross, which receives nearly 70 percent of its revenues from blood sales.
Given these facts about giving, Arthur Brooks, professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs, suggests that people who caricature others as "uncompassionate" because of their views on government spending can afford a bit more humility and introspection, and a bit less pious sloganeering.
Source: Arthur C. Brooks, "Bleeding Hearts," Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2006.
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