Liberal columnist Nicholas Kristof once again displayed his counterintuitive bona fides. In his Sunday column, "Bleeding Heart Tightwads," Kristof (just in time for Christmas) admitted to being disturbed by a survey showing that liberals, for all their talk of compassion, are less charitable than conservatives when it comes to spending their own money.
This holiday season is a time to examine who's been naughty and who's been nice, but I'm unhappy with my findings. The problem is this: We liberals are personally stingy.
Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.
Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, "Who Really Cares," cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.
Conservatives also appear to be more generous than liberals in nonfinancial ways. People in red states are considerably more likely to volunteer for good causes, and conservatives give blood more often. If liberals and moderates gave blood as often as conservatives, Mr. Brooks said, the American blood supply would increase by 45 percent.
So, you've guessed it! This column is a transparent attempt this holiday season to shame liberals into being more charitable. Since I often scold Republicans for being callous in their policies toward the needy, it seems only fair to reproach Democrats for being cheap in their private donations. What I want for Christmas is a healthy competition between left and right to see who actually does more for the neediest.
On his nytimes.com blog "On the Ground," Kristof responded to the protests of huffy liberals:
I think there's a basic misunderstanding among many readers about the kind of conservative driving the trend. Those behind these figures aren't Upper East Side zillionaires, but rather Idaho farmers and Alabama factory workers and Kansas insurance salesmen. They aren't fabulously wealthy, but they tend to be embedded in smaller communities - including churches - where everyone knows everyone else and volunteering and donations are part of the grain of life.)