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Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 27, 2006
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"Who Cares is not just about how we contribute time and money; it is also about how our culture may affect our politics and our economy. It is the best study of charity that I have read." -- James Q. Wilson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
"There will of course be many readers (and many more nonreaders) of Mr. Brooks's book who will dismiss it on its face, and there will be fierce efforts mounted to discredit his analysis and data. Let them come. Who Really Cares should serve to change the public discussion dramatically. With any luck, it will be for our decade what Charles Murray's "Losing Ground" was for the 1980s (challenging the disincentive logic of welfare) or what Michael Harrington's "The Other America" was for the 1960s (highlighting the persistence of poverty amid affluence) ─ the text at the center of a constructive national debate." ─Wall Street Journal
"The next time you find yourself in a conversation about how liberals are caring and compassionate while conservatives are selfish and hard-hearted, you might want to refer your interlocutors to Who Really Cares."--First Things (December 06)
"Provocative... It's not just that charity helps those on the receiving end, says Brooks, an economist at Syracuse University in New York. It also strengthens the cohesion of society at large. Moreover, it appears to make the givers themselves more successful, possibly because the activity transforms them somewhat into better or happier people. Whatever the reasons, he finds that higher income tends to push up charity - and that greater charity tends to push up income."--Christian Science Monitor (11/27/06)
"[B]reaks new ground... In WHO REALLY CARES, Arthur C. Brooks finds that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals, and that those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others."--Chronicle of Philanthropy (11/23/06) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
This book goes into great detail and uses only the data. It is not biased. It's interesting the read that the working poor give more than the rich when you take into account the percentage of their income.
It's also interesting to read that people who give are happier and that giving creates prosperity. I've always believed that --- in a secular and not religious way.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in giving and people who give and also to people who would like to increase their own prosperity by putting the law of giving into effect.
This is a well documented, well written book.
Amongst other findings he notes the US electoral map and the charity map are remarkably similar: "For example, registered Republicans were seven points more likely to give at least once in 2002 than registered Democrats." Furthermore, he finds, "religious people are far more charitable with their time and money than secularists." And "people deeply embedded on the political left are usually not part of a "culture" of giving."
Most of the research is presented lucidly ad compellingly. My one cavil being the author's tendency to present and then re-present similar findings with minor variations. The style becomes somewhat repetitive. The section which for me was the hardest to digest was one in which Brooks discusses the notion that charity stimulates prosperity not only at societal level but also at the individual: the so called "Rockefeller Hypothesis" first stated by the founder of the eponymous philanthropic foundation. Brooks presents a statistical analysis of the causal relationship between individual giving and individual prosperity about which I remain skeptical.
These last concerns aside this is a book that belongs in collections devoted to the serious study of charity, philanthropy and the third sector.
Brooks defines religious people as those who attend a place of worship at least once a week (roughly 30% of the population), and secularists as those who do not believe in a diety or attend a place of worship one time a year or less (20% of the population). That clearly leaves a large "middle class" where I suspect the statistics are hazy.
Contrary to comments in a previous review (by Richard Bennet), Brooks does address the issue of who the aid is given to. The statistics hold independent of the recipient of the donation or how the donation is solicited. Compared to secularists, religious people are more likely to donate to secular organizations or when the recipient is not local or is unknown. Religious people are more likely to make a donation when asked (by any organization, religious or not) than secularists.
Brooks also addresses the issue (in an entire chapter) of comparing US generosity with the generosity of other countries. Foreign aid as a percentage of GDP by the US federal government may be smaller than some nations, but private donations more than make up for the difference. For example, even accounting for the cost of living, Americans give twice as high a percentage of their incomes as the Dutch (and since there are many more Americans than Dutch, the total dollar amount is overwhelming). Brooks does have some data on other countries that shows the religious versus secularist statistics are not limited to the US population.
There is a lot of discussion in the book about the definition of charity which in some ways is more interesting than the statistical conclusions. How do you compare "compassion" versus "charity"? What is more important, motives or actions? Can charity be measured simply by donations or should the results of the donations be considered? The one area that Brooks is clear on is that charity must be consensual and beneficial. Charity is a personal, voluntary sacrifice for the good of another person. That means government aid as a result of taxation is not charity since the giver is forced to give (pay taxes).
Overall, this is a very good book with a lot of references and data contained in a long appendix. Data is from multiple sources including religious and secular charities and government organizations. Its well written and the numbers and statistics don't overwhelm the reader. Its obvious that the conclusions will be controversial and some are very surprising (such as the working poor are the most charitable of any group, but the nonworking poor are the worst even though they both have the same income).