Paved with Good Intentions

We conservatives are always being attacked by leftists for being “cold-hearted” or “uncompassionate” or whatever.  But there’s a major factor that’s missing in these charges: what actually works.

Leftists are considered compassionate for supporting poverty programs.  Yet since the “War on Poverty” began in 1964, we see that the number of people below the poverty line are exactly the same as they were (when adjusted for population), in spite of billions of dollars “invested” in poverty programs.

Leftists are considered compassionate because they support federal education programs.  Yet since the Department of Education was founded, education—by virtually any measure you care to use—has gotten worse.  And it has done so for every socioeconomic group.

Leftists are considered “concerned” or “caring”, because they supported the establishment of the Department of Energy in the 1970’s.  The reason for creating the Department was “to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”  Forty years later, we have an agency with a budget of more than $26 billion, and a dependence on foreign oil that is as bad or worse than it was when the department was created.

Leftists are considered compassionate because they support entitlement programs.  Yet those programs are going broke, are so poorly designed that there’s real doubt as to how long we can keep funding them, and often harm the very people whom they purport to help.  “Aid to Families with Dependent Children” (AFDC), for example, is practically single-handedly responsible for the destruction of the black family.

And on and on and on.  In each case, a supposedly “compassionate” program costs a fortune and either does harm or doesn’t work—and in most cases both.

No conservative that I know objects to helping people who are in need, who need a “helping hand”.  We do often question how that help is given, whether government or private charity is a more effective means of helping, or what level of government (federal, city, state, local) ought to be involved.  And for that, we’re pilloried for being uncompassionate.

It’s a poor excuse for leftist thought that simply argues that more money at the federal level towards a “good cause” is the only means of being compassionate.  In his 2006 book “Who Really Cares”, Arthur Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, has some very interesting statistics:

  • If leftists donated blood at the rate conservatives do, the nation’s blood supply would rise 45%.
  • Americans who believe in “income redistribution” give 75% less to charity than Americans who do not.
  • Political conservatives donate more money than leftists, despite having incomes that are on average 6 percent lower than leftists.

To put the kindest spin possible on it, conservatives believe in donating money and time to those in need on an individual basis and not though government.  Leftists believe in using government—with all of its coercive mechanisms—to enforce charitable giving.   And in the governmental process, the money is generally wasted on programs that are ineffective and often harmful.

If it’s the purity of intentions you want, by all means, vote for leftists.  But if you want things that actually work, vote for conservatives.  But don’t ever forget who is more “compassionate”, at least according to those selfsame leftists and their shills in the press.


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