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Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 27, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, November 27, 2006
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Editorial Reviews


"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

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)


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (November 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465008216
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,563,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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The book uses data from many sources to prove that the one overwhelming predictor of generosity is religion. Political affiliation is almost irrelevent - the statistics for religious liberals and religious conservaties are identical. Religious people are statistically more likely to give than secularists (91% to 66%), and give more of their money (3.5 times more than secularists), are more likely to volunteer their time (67% to 44%), and volunteer more of their time (almost twice as much). The fact that the conservative population is more charitable than the liberal population is due to the fact that religious people tend to be politically conservative.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I teach a course in which we read Tocqueville's Democracy in America and I was looking for current information to supplement our discussion of Tocqueville. The book is on the whole a wonderful book but it has one flaw that leads me to give it 4, not 5, stars. The flaw is conveyed in the book's subtitle: "The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism." Now, as Brooks demonstrates, it is indeed the case that conservatives are more charitable and more likely to volunteer than liberals. Nonetheless, as Brooks also points out, this is the case because conservatives are more likely to be religious than liberals and the religious are more charitable and more likely to volunteer than the non-religious. By far the most important variable accounting for charity and voluntarism is religious participation, as Tocqueville asserted over a century and a half ago. It could be that Brooks (or his publisher) wants to obscure the relative importance of political ideology and religion in order to target an audience that will purchase the book, and one can hardly fault him for that. After all, his CSPAN discussion of the book was held at the Heritage Foundation. Still, as he states on pages 47 and 50, religious conservatives and religious liberals give to charity at the same rate--91%-- although religious conservatives give 10% more than religious liberals. Religious liberals are slightly more likely to volunteer, however, and although among all liberal and conservative households, liberal households earn 6% more than conservative households (p.22), I suspect very strongly that religious conservative households earn at least 10% more than religious liberal households.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Brooks research shows that 1) Americans are charitable, 2) Conservitives/religious individuals care, 3) government negatively impacts charity, and 4) charity will make your life better. The appendix and notes section of the book is large and thorough. Furthermore, Brooks takes the time to explain complex analysis of charity and simplify it for everyone.

The main point that stood out to me was religious people are the real givers; it doesn't matter what their voting preference is. If you have faith in the Almighty you're more likely to love ("charity" according to 1 Corinthians ch 13) your neighbor.

The one negative is that the book has a political slant. No, it doesn't say we need to vote conservative and Brooks goes as far as even challenging liberals to change their philanthropic ways. But, it seems as if everything in our society revolves around politics.

Brooks is a clever writer that uses common language. The chapters are well thought out and the book is short enough to digest in one reading. I recommend this book to all non-profit organizations, economics students, and anyone looking to affirm their faith in charity.
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Format: Hardcover
Keep this quote from John Adams in mind as you read this book: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

The author is a professor at Syracuse. He was raised a liberal, was liberal most his life, but in grad school he studied public policy and then became an independent.

The author did not conduct these surveys. He used data from reputable sources (government agencies, non-partisan research groups, etc.). Here are some key findings of his research:

Nearly the same percentage of liberals and conservatives do volunteer work (1% difference), but conservatives donate much more time

The same percentage of liberals and conservatives donate money, but conservatives donate 30% more and earn 6% less

Conservatives give more money than liberals in every income class

Poor people who don't accept welfare give much more than poor people who do accept welfare

religious people give more than non-religious people

religious people give more to secular causes than non-religious people

The average family in San Francisco and South Dakota both give $1300 away each year, even though families in San Francisco make 78% more!

The percent of people that give to charity is higher among poor people who don't believe in income redistribution than rich people who favor income redistribution (welfare, closing the income gap, etc.) !!! [It is easy to want to give other people's money away and pat yourself on the back for advocating it, all the time calling people uncompassionate for not agreeing with you.
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