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Who is more compassionate?

Arthur C. Brooks, writing in the January 16, 2006 Wall Street Journal, debunks a stereotype about conservatives (those in favor of smaller government) being less compassionate and caring than those who are in favor of more government spending on social programs.

Professor Brooks tells us that according to the General Social Survey in 2002, “the proponents of government spending are six percentage points less likely to give money to charity each year than the opponents, and a third less likely to give money away each month.” But that’s money. What about something else, like donating blood? “Once again, it is those opposed to government aid. These supposedly uncompassionate folks are 25% of the population, but donate more than 30% of the blood each year. Meanwhile, supporters of government spending to the poor are 28% of the population, but donate just 20% of the blood. If the whole population gave blood like opponents of social spending do, the blood supply would increase by more than a quarter. But if everyone in the population gave like government aid advocates, the supply would drop by about 30%.”

Is this an example of “do as I say, not as I do?” Or are advocates of big government really more comfortable with government-run social program than private programs?

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