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Those Who Favor Income Redistribution Are Less Happy and Less Generous.--

Last fall and winter, I circulated a paper on the relationship of people's views on income redistribution and capitalism to traditional racism and to intolerance for unpopular groups. I presented it to Gary Becker's and Dick Posner's Rational Choice Workshop at the University of Chicago and to the Law, Economics, and Organization Workshop at Yale.

With the publication of Arthur C. Brooks' new book Who Really Cares (tip for the news story to Instapundit), which presents data showing that conservatives tend to be more generous than non-conservatives, I decided to put a full PDF copy of my paper on SSRN. It appears that our analyses directly overlap only slightly, though they are certainly generally complementary.

In the field of social psychology, it is commonly believed that people support capitalism and oppose greater income redistribution because they are racist or want to dominate other people or groups. Indeed, a study of college students in the United States and secondary students in Sweden found that attitudes supporting capitalism were positively associated with racism and an orientation toward social dominance (Sidanius & Pratto, 1993). In my draft article I expand and test this thesis using 16 nationally representative General Social Surveys conducted by the National Opinion Research Center between 1980 and 2004.

In later posts, I will discuss my main results, but in this post I want to confirm one of Brooks' findings (in chapter 3 of his book)--those who oppose greater government income redistribution tend to give much more to charity. What follows is a shortened version of one small section of my paper (the paper includes relevant charts).

In the 1996 General Social Survey, about 900 respondents were asked: "On how many days in the last 7 days, have you felt . . ." happy, sad, lonely, calm, anxious, angry, tense and angry, and twelve other emotions. These results were compared to the results on an income redistribution question:

EQWLTH: "Some people think that the government in Washington ought to reduce the income differences between the rich and the poor . . . . Think of a score of 1 as meaning that the government ought to reduce the income differences between rich and poor, and a score of 7 meaning that the government should not concern itself with reducing income differences."

Strong redistributionists (category 1) reported that they "worried a lot about little things" on about one more day a week than strong anti-redistributionists (category 7). They also reported being "lonely" and being unable to "shake the blues" on about an additional day a week. Strong redistributionists (category 1) also reported about one fewer day a week on which they were "happy," "contented," and "at ease."

In terms of relative odds, strong redistributionists (category 1) had about two to three times higher odds of reporting that in the prior seven days they were "angry" (2.0 times higher odds), "mad at something or someone" (1.9 times), "outraged at something somebody had done (1.9 times), sad (2.1 times), lonely (2.3 times), and unable to "shake the blues" (3.5 times). Similarly, anti-redistributionists had about two to four times higher odds of reporting being happy (3.8 times) or at ease (2.1 times). The data are consistent with redistributionists in the general public being more angry, sad, lonely, worried, and restless, and less happy, at ease, and interested in life.

Not only do redistributionists report more anger, but they report that their anger lasts longer. Further, when asked about the last time they were angry, strong redistributionists were more than twice as likely as strong opponents of leveling to admit that they responded to their anger by plotting revenge. Last, both redistributionists and anti-capitalists expressed lower overall happiness, less happy marriages, and lower satisfaction with their financial situations and with their jobs or housework.

But do these attitudes have behavioral consequences? In other words, are the data consistent with the hypothesis that anti-redistributionists are more generous or altruistic? Data from self-reports appear to support the notion that those who oppose income redistribution are somewhat more altruistic in their behavior than redistributionists. Compared to those favoring greater income redistribution, anti-redistributionists are more likely to report that they donated money to charities, religious organizations, and political candidates (p<.000000001). This hypothesized effect remains significant (p=.001) after controlling for race, gender, age, income, and education. Anti-redistributionists were also more likely to report having returned money after receiving too much change, and to have looked after plants, pets, or mail while someone was away. The one sort of altruistic behavior the redistributionists were more likely to engage in was giving money to a homeless person on the street. Thus, it appears that those who wanted the government to promote more income leveling were less likely to be generous themselves in their patterns of charitable donations and some other altruistic behaviors.

Among the blogs noting or discussing the philanthropy issue are:
Instapundit,
Powerline,
SisterToldjah,
DCNY,
Res Publica,
SpunkyHomeSchool,
BackYardConservative,
SouthernKnight,
Blogs of War,
American Conservative Daily,
Truth About Everything.

UPDATE: Below some commenters speculate that the pattern of greater donations to charity by anti-redistributionists is trivial in size or simply a function of religion. But anti-redistributionists give more to secular (non-religious) charities as well. Brooks reports (p. 56) that strong anti-redistributionists gave 12 times more money to charity than strong redistributionists, and 9 times more to secular (non-religious) causes.

In my own analysis of donation (which was simply part of a paragraph in a much longer paper), I expected to find larger donations and a greater frequency of donation for anti-redistributionists, but I expected that to disappear entirely when one controlled for income. As expected, the effect is lessened but to my surprise, it still remains statistically significant.

2D UPDATE: The insightful Ralph Luker at Cliopatria briefly comments:

Arthur C. Brooks' new book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, is likely to be controversial and his data needs to be tested. But would it be surprising if rightists placed greater trust in private initiatives to do what leftists expect of government?

More at:


Mirror of Justice (Greg Sisk),
Wizbang,
Political Pit Bull.

Brubaker:
I think it is interesting that Lindgren mentions the effect sizes when comparing redistributionist's and anti-redistributionist's emotions (e.g., 2 times more likely to be angry, worrying one day per week more, etc.), and yet when he gets to the behavioral consequences he switches into vague wording that anti-redistributionists are more likely to behave in particular ways than anti-redistributionists. How much more likely? Twice as likely? .001 percent more likely? He provides p-values to show statistical significance, which lay readers on this site might confuse for practical significance (with a small sample size, a large effect can have a relatively large p-value; with a large sample size, a small and unimportant effect can have a very small p-value).

I strongly suspect that the behavioral effects he alludes to are for practical purposes inconsequential, since he would have provided these effect sizes if they helped him make his case. I would love to be shown wrong, however.
11.19.2006 2:56am
Ragerz (mail):
I don't have time to read these papers myself. But it should be noted that Lindgren asserts that these studies control for "race, gender, age, income, and education."

But do they control for religion? I personally don't think the 10% tithe that many people give should be considered, since many believe that such giving is religiously required, rather than a matter of discretion or generousity. Further, in terms of volunteering, how much is religiously motivated? Volunteering to convert people by going on two year missionary trips like Mormons do probably shouldn't count either. These things are often viewed as a religious duty.

To the extent that these things are not controlled for, we can discard these studies.
11.19.2006 3:22am
Ahmed (mail):
Brubaker, It's one thing to determine the emotion of someone taking a survey, and quite another to actually see if they behave a certain way outside the confines of an exam.

Probably the 'more likely' is reflected somehow in the other information.

I found this test to be unsurprising. There are so many hotheaded liberals - and I don't mean that as a strike against liberalism. For whatever reason, a person willing to speak out loudly and angrily about politics in socially awkward ways usually isn't conservative. Though I guess that's going beyond 'redistributivists'.

Completely anecdotal and pointless to bring up, but I recall one girl I knew who was petrified of blacks. She would stiffen visibly when we walked past a very elderly black lady with a young kid (in a bad neighborhood). She was very vehement about progressive race policy (things like reperations and aggressive AA). I'm not pretending that racism has a claim on any particlular political belief, but I thought her liberalism in this area was specifically tailored around her own racism - it made her feel better about herself the way a very naughty child feels vindicated when he steps over cracks to protect his mother from a broken back.

This is the same thing. Selfish, self-centered people find a very distant but superficially forceful way of being conscientious of the poor. Meanwhile people who genuinely care about the harm of dependency and laziness give generously to the salvation army, but are sheepish about political action in this area.
11.19.2006 3:29am
Tek Jansen:
If you are rejecting the null hypothesis with a p<.000000001, then you have done your statistics poorly - that's too absurdly low to be taken seriously.
11.19.2006 3:29am
Ahmed (mail):
Ragerz, I'm not sure I follow. If someone gives money to a mission that feeds people or goes to some foreign country to help, it really matters how they came to the conclusion that they were morally required to do so?

You do realize that virtually everyone has some religiosity to them, I assume. Even the redistributivists. Somehow, they've decided not to do very much. Others have done very much, maybe some because they think Allah commands it (but that could be why they think Allah is good, it's a circle).

You cannot control for religion when discussing moral views. The idea is preposterous. Writing off charity if done because of religion! Disgusting sentiment!

Perhaps religion is actually a central component in the mind of the selfless person. That doesnt make it any less related to morality and political views. These are not independent areas of discussion!
11.19.2006 3:36am
Tek Jansen:
Ahmed - to tone down Ragerz's point a bit - religious people tithe to their church, while non-religious people don't. When Lindgren says, "Compared to those favoring greater income redistribution, anti-redistributionists are more likely to report that they donated money to charities, religious organizations, and political candidates", he wants to attribute charity to opinion on the redistribution of wealth. However, if religious people are more likely to be anti-redistributionists, then anti-redistributionists are more likely to give to religious organizations. Since that charity is ascribed to religious views and not to opinion on redistribution, it needs to be controlled for - otherwise, the statement can be interpreted as "religious people are more anti-redistributionists and donate more."
11.19.2006 3:46am
James Lindgren (mail):
Brubaker:

I am always stunned at the sheer amount of ill will that is frequently expressed in comments here. Remember, this is a community in which people interact directly. While it may be common to attribute bad faith to those outside of the conversation (and I certainly have done it here), it is much less common to do so to people that one is trying to converse with.

I posted here because I thought that people would be genuinely interested in what these data show.

Did it occur to you that the reason that I did not give odds ratios for the donation was that the donation variable I analyzed had 5 outcomes, rather than the 2 normally used for doing odds ratios?

So, to answer your question, if one compares the outlying cells of the 7 category EQWLTH variable with the outlying cells of the 5 category recode of the GIVCHTY variable I used (ie, comparing the four corner cells of a 35 cell table), those who are extremely anti-redistributionist are 3.8 times as likely to donate than those who are extremely redistributionist.

This effect size matches the HIGHEST odds ratio I reported above (3.8 times for the variable HAPPY). If I dichotomize the GIVCHTY variable (donated in the last year or not), the odds ratio is still a hefty 2.3 times higher for strong anti-redistributionists compared to strong redistributionists.

In other words, your speculation of bad faith on my part in not reporting odds ratios for the latter effects is completely unwarranted, and the effect size of the variables I reported is definitely comparable to those I did report.

BTW, Brooks reports (p. 56) that strong anti- redistributionists gave 12 times more money to charity than strong redistributionists, and 9 times more to secular (non-religious) causes. That is a HUGE difference.

These effect sizes are NOT "for practical purposes inconsequential."

Jim Lindgren
11.19.2006 3:56am
James Lindgren (mail):
Tek Jansen wrote:

If you are rejecting the null hypothesis with a p<.000000001, then you have done your statistics poorly - that's too absurdly low to be taken seriously.


With sample sizes of over 1700, getting these levels of significance are quite common when variables are well behaved and effect sizes are moderately large (.15 to .30). I average hundreds of statistical tests a week; I assure you that signif. levels of this size come up all the time. You may be confused because in published tables, the levels reported seldom go beyond <.001, but many that are reported as <.001 are actually more extreme than the one you object to in my post.

Oh, and I reported the significance for a 2-tailed test; I probably should have reported it for a 1-tailed test instead, which would have been a much more extreme number.

Jim Lindgren
11.19.2006 4:11am
happy lee (mail):
From a purely personal point of view, I have generally found conservatives to be more charitable in their private lives and "liberals" (aka pinkos, greens, lefties, etc) to be outright stingy. It is no surprise that the data supports this.
11.19.2006 5:24am
M (mail):
Yeah, and conservatives are better looking, too, and women like them more, and they have more money.
11.19.2006 8:17am
riptide:
I'd like to use myself as a personal example: overall, I give relatively little to charity. I don't even support food drives at work. And yes, I am a liberal.

Why am I so stingy? Because I believe that it is the role of the government to provide a sufficient social safety net to allow the poor to obtain food. And yes, I am willing to pay more taxes to run these types of programs.
11.19.2006 8:21am
Brooklynite (mail) (www):
Compared to those favoring greater income redistribution, anti-redistributionists are more likely to report that they donated money to charities, religious organizations, and political candidates (p .000000001). This hypothesized effect remains significant (p=.001) after controlling for race, gender, age, income, and education.


You don't say in your paper how much more likely the anti-redistributionists are to donate, after controlling for those demographic factors. I'd also be curious to know whether that difference applies separately to religious, charitable, and political donations, or only to the aggregate of the three.

Anti-redistributionists were also more likely to report having returned money after receiving too much change, and to have looked after plants, pets, or mail while someone was away.


But these differences, I take it, lose their statistical significance when you control for demographic variables?

The one sort of altruistic behavior the redistributionists were more likely to engage in was giving money to a homeless person on the street.


If I read the chart on page 39 correctly, the redistributionists were also more likely to give up their seats on the bus to strangers, and to carry a stranger's belongings for them.

I'd also note that many of these actions seem to correlate strongly to urban vs. suburban or rural living. You're more likely to have the opportunity to give money to a homeless person or give up your seat on the bus (as "redistributionists" tend to do) if you live in a city, and more likely to be asked to look after someone's plants if you don't. (I think you're also more likely to return excess change if you know the proprietor of the business, or the cashier, which you're more likely to do in a rural environment.)
11.19.2006 8:51am
subpatre (mail):
riptide (re-written as he is, not what he claims) 'Why am I so stingy? Because I believe that it is the role of the government to provide a sufficient social safety net to allow the poor to obtain food.'

'And yes, I am willing TO FORCE EVERYONE ELSE to pay more taxes to run these types of programs.
'

The willingness to compel everyone else is the difference; not the belief.
11.19.2006 9:01am
Matthew Gross (mail):
I think there is a typo in the original article:

Strong redistributionists (category 7) also reported about one fewer day a week on which they were "happy," "contented," and "at ease."

Isn't Category 7 the anti-redistributionists?
11.19.2006 9:08am
riptide:
subpatre: So instead, you would compel the poor in need of food, medical care, or anything else to rely on the efforts of private and largely religious charities... and clearly these programs will be capable of handling the needs of all their "customers" without government support, and will administer their aid without any discrimination or forced religious message. Americans give about 250 billion per year... but that includes corporate donations (ie, advertising) and include donations to every sort of school and cultural or religious institution, so I don't know how much goes to food aid. The WIC/ food stamnp program costs the taxpayer 4.5 billion, which is a fraction of the amount of total donated "charity".

Put it in an economic perspective if you must: do you believe the government can force you to pay for a police force? Will you need more police (and higher property taxes) in a world where people have enough to eat, or a world where people are hungry and need to steal?
11.19.2006 9:18am
liberty (mail) (www):
"So instead, you would compel the poor in need of food, medical care, or anything else to rely on the efforts of private and largely religious charities..."

You are not compelling them to do anything. They do not have to rely on others, they can rely on themselves.

You are basing your idea of compelling on what is actually a sin of omission where the lack of compelling (the lack of government coercion, where a central authority uses force, backed by prisons and laws, to extract something) and calling the options left coercion. This is absurd. So, if we don't nationalize all industry, are we compelling workers to rely on the kindness of business in making contracts with them? No, we aren't compelling them to anything -- this is simply the natural state of things where people make their own choices, engage in contracts, etc.
11.19.2006 9:27am
Huh:
Ahmed,


I found this test to be unsurprising. There are so many hotheaded liberals - and I don't mean that as a strike against liberalism. For whatever reason, a person willing to speak out loudly and angrily about politics in socially awkward ways usually isn't conservative. Though I guess that's going beyond 'redistributivists'.


Where are you getting your data? I'm interested to know who you think listens to the outrage-oriented commentators so predominant on talk-radio or television. I guess "socially awkward" limits the scope of your generalization enough to exclude these armchair quarterbacks who simply consume, rather than express their "anger."

One of the reasons I'm skeptical about studies that require respondents to self-report their anger is the differences in how we define and act upon our anger. Jim alludes to one such differentiation (i.e., the tendency to plot revenge). I'm interested to know how Jim would control the study for religious persons who believe anger is a sin or a character flaw. These persons might characterize anger or outrage as something different than anger. People who get up in arms over abortion or gay marriage might consider their activism as simple conviction rather than anger. Meanwhile, "redistributivists" might well honestly report their political anger and frustration. I don't think there's a lot of practical differences between their motivations. If you've ever talked to people who oppose gay marriage or abortion, you'll find people willing to BE angry, even if they don't report it.
11.19.2006 9:50am
CG:
is it also possible, perhaps, that our measurements aren't fine enough in this context? for example, if "redistributionists" (or, as this thread has predictably equated, "liberals") include selfish "nobody tells me what to do and I want what's good for me!" types as well as "we, as a society speaking through our government, have a responsibility to society at large" types, they'll likely give two very distinct sets of answers but they'll be lumped together in the research results.

so let's note what the research tells us - overall, the group of "redistributionists" tends to give X answers to this study. it says nothing, however, about subgroups of "redistributionists," who may (or may not - the research simply doesn't tell us) tend to give different answers.

(also, it's interesting to note that the attacks/defenses so far seem to equate all "redistributionists" with one of the two subgroups above - either "all redistributionists are selfish bastards and this study proves it!" or "all redistributionists are happy and generous and this study is wrong!" it seems most likely that both of those approaches contain an element of truth)
11.19.2006 9:57am
T. Gracchus (mail):
I am a little surprised to see political donations included as charity. Why, and does removal have any effect on the results?
11.19.2006 10:07am
riptide:
I think one big difference is this: liberals,typically those not exclusively, support redistribution in order to address the needs of the poor - food, health care, perhaps job programs. The study however doesn't focus on those types of donations - and also includes political donations, donations to churches, donations to schools and universities, operas, little league teams, etc.

Perhaps the two groups are equal (or the stats reversed) when focusing only on charity to the neediest as oppossed to including all donations.
11.19.2006 10:24am
corwin (mail):
Riptide,
When in grad/med school and someone advancd an incomprehensible point,our common rejoinder was,"Were you a Liberal Arts Major?"
Could you please specify some other charitable gifts that aren't actually charitable?(Perhaps we can claim "cultural bias" for reasons of making your argument more sound
11.19.2006 10:27am
Kalliope:
The data are consistent with redistributionists in the general public being more angry, sad, lonely, worried, and restless, and less happy, at ease, and interested in life.

It's feasible that people who support redistribution also feel more sympathy towards people who are different than they are. Exercising sympathy towards the less fortunate will necessarily produce feelings of anger and sadness. For example, a person who puts himself in a homeless person's shoes is likely to feel angry at the homeless person's choices and social opportunities, whereas a person who doesn't identify with the homeless person would not.

Obviously, the normative value of these emotions depends on your view of the world, but it's arguable that people who experience anger/sympathy are better off than those who don't.

Also, I'd be interested to know more about the 1996 poll. Were the emotion questions grouped with questions about redistribution? If redistributionists were dissatisfied with the redistribution status quo (and the redistribution questions were asked first), their dissatisfaction might influence their responses about their emotions.
11.19.2006 10:47am
Christopher M (mail):
From my generally liberal leftist perspective, I tend to think that my financial resources are better spent on political donations with the goal of supporting good lefty government-run wealth-transfer programs than on individual charity. (And yes, I'm happy to say that I am "willing TO FORCE EVERYONE ELSE to pay more taxes to run" such programs). It's a form of financial leverage. I wonder what the results of a similar study would be if that kind of donation were counted in the "generosity" category. Of course, I wouldn't expect libertarians or conservatives to agree that such donations should count as "generous."
11.19.2006 11:09am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Interesting, I'm not too surprised about the redistributionist being more sad and anxiety prone. It makes sense those who worry more and have greater concerns for what way the world is going would be more worried about the poor and so forth.

I don't really find the bit about donating too surprising either. I would guess that this effect is a result of correlation with religiosity, especially with religions that demand tithing. It also would not surprise me to find that the caring for plants buisness is also a result of social differences between the groups (more homemakers, more people living settled lives, or just more religious people).

It would be very interesting to see this data decorrelated for religiosity. It would guess that those who favor redistribution tend to make fewer individual gifts even taking this into account (after all they believe less in the effectiveness of individual donation and more in government compelled donation) but this is far from clear.

However, having said this the implication of the title just isn't supported by the data in the post. It is indeed interesting to know these correlations but the statement that this shows redistributionists are less generous is unjustified. For starters an equally generous person will give more of less dependent on their social circumstances. The higher the charitable expectation from their community the more an equally generous person is likely to give. It would be unsurprising if communities that believed in redistribution put less of an emphasis on personal donations of money making equally generous people give less, i.e., if you believe the government should do it the motivation for you to do it is less (doesn't mean the government shouldn't...the benefits may outweigh this harm).

More importantly this survey doesn't seem to include donations of time and effort through political protests or activism. I would suspect that the pro-redistributionist group puts more emphasis on influencing government policy than private giving and thus expends their efforts in this fashion. Yet donations of time are surely worth a great deal in dollar value. And surely if we are going to count donations used to build temples or fancy churches as charitable gifts these count as well.

In short it's an interesting result but it really should have been titled 'Those Who Favor Income Redistribution Are Less Happy and Don't Donate As Much to Charity'. The bit about being less generous makes an interesting and useful study sound like a partisan hack job, which I suspect you didn't intend.

Also it is good to remember that this result says nothing about the goodness of favoring income redistribution. Ideas are wrong or right because of what they say not the kind of people who hold them. And of course we don't know the kinds of causation/correlation that leads to this result.
11.19.2006 11:09am
SKJ (www):
First, I wonder how much of your variation is attributable to "liberal guilt" and a concomitant willingness to self-criticize? I admit I could not come up with a satisfactory method to control for such subjective influences on the answers provided by respondents. Yet I wonder to what extent personal philosophical beliefs affected the interpretation of both the questions asked and the personal interpretation of one's own thoughts/actions. To me, that question is reinforced by the results of Models 1 and 2 finding racism/intolerance positively associated with support for wealth redistribution.

Perhaps more confounding are the definitions (apparently) used in your paper. For example, I give a very small percentage of my income to traditional charities each year. However, I give far more to family members. In my quick reading, I could not determine how that form of "charity" is handled in your paper. Similarly, giving to one's local church is a bit like recycling the money in your own community and social group. Unless the gift is earmarked for relief work it is probably used for building maintenance, salaries, etc. It seems to me that you aren't giving to "others" in that case. You are, instead, helping folks you view as essentially extended family — a form of "self-charity." If you remove the variable for "given money to a charity" (or control for my "self-charity") from your Table 4: Altruism Behavior Measures and Income Redistribution how much of the ultimate variation between pro- and anti-redistributionists would be eliminated?

I could ramble on but I will close by highlighting your use of the word "altruistic":

"Data from self-reports appear to support the notion that those who oppose income redistribution are somewhat more altruistic in their behavior than redistributionists. Compared to those favoring greater income redistribution, anti-redistributionists are more likely to report that they donated money to charities, religious organizations, and political candidates (p<.000000001)." [emphasis added]

The percentage of charitable giving in the US that goes directly to the poor is quite low, perhaps ten percent. Far more goes to support the arts, local churches and other institutions that, it can be argued, are not valid examples of altruistic behavior. And it seems even more inappropriate to include political donations in any discussion of altruism.
11.19.2006 11:17am
Peter Wimsey:
I agree with T. Gracchus and, to some extent, riptide, that it would be helpful if the donations were broken down more carefully. In no way, for example, can politial deductions be equated with charitable deductions - even the IRS won't categorize them that way. Ideally (although I know this data probably doesn't exist in this survey), I would break up religious donations into those that support the church and those that support, more directly, the less fortunate (tm). Donations to the church generally are, IMO, more like dues to belong to an organization than a donation to a specific charity.

I would also be interested to know to what extent this factor, in isolation, has been controlled for income (I understand that the whole study has been), and in what manner. A person with an income of $300k who donates $30k to a political candidate, religious organization, or charity is not, in my way of looking at things, more generous than a person with an income of 30K who donates 3k. IMO, he is slightly less generous, since he still ends up with $270k left over after the donation.

And of course if the bulk of either of the donations were to a political party, the calculus would change.

Why does this matter? It matters because one of the article's main claims is that nonredistributionists are more compassionate than redistributionists. However, if the excess giving can be explained by the fact that nonredistributionists give much more to political parties, are more likely to belong to church, but give donate about the same amount of money to poor-helping charities - well, the claim falls apart.
11.19.2006 11:35am
Byomtov (mail):
When in grad/med school and someone advancd an incomprehensible point,our common rejoinder was,"Were you a Liberal Arts Major?"
Could you please specify some other charitable gifts that aren't actually charitable?


And what did you say when someone failed to understand a simple point?

Riptide was suggesting that much philanthropy does not go to helping the poor. Giving money to cultural institutions, universities (other than to financial aid funds), etc. is admirable, but is not directly comparable to government redistribution programs in terms of its beneficiaries. That seems clear enough.


Nor are political contributions, especially those made with the objective of obtaining benefits, redistributive. Billionaires are free to give money to politicians who promise to reduce their taxes, but calling that philanthropy rather than bribery is a laugh.
11.19.2006 11:39am
Truth Seeker:
It's so nice when science disproves leftist myths!
11.19.2006 12:07pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Perhaps anti-redistributionists (1) oppose redistribution and (2) give more, because they tend to have more money?

And redistributionists favor redistribution, while feeling less happy and fulfilled, because they tend to have less money?
11.19.2006 12:07pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I think it's really important to try to show that not only are my political beliefs correct, but that people that hold my political beliefs are happier, better people (and as one poster above acutely observed, no doubt better looking). It's really important that we all understand that folks that disagree with us on politics are, generally, miserable, miserly, malcontents.
11.19.2006 12:17pm
godfodder (mail):
Aside from the obvious "you're a hypocrite. No! You're the hypocrite!!" argument, I think there is an interesting psychology at work here.

People who feel more anxious, depressed, angry, unsatisfied are looking for something to set the world right. A force for good with the power to actually enact change. Is it any wonder that they see the government as this possible savior?

Just look at the politics of today. People who worry over the threat of terrorism are no doubt more likely to support a stronger, more intrusive government to deal with this source of anxiety. Politicians of all stripes use fear and dread as an argument for consolidating power.

People (ie., voters) that see the world as a dangerous, hostile, threatening place are more likely to take a "survivalist" mentality (look out for number one, etc).

Likewise, events, ideas, and trends that increase anxiety among a populace is likely to bring out the worst in people-- make them more greedy, selfish, and yearn for someone/something to relieve their desperation.

After all civilization is only a thin veneer over the animal.
11.19.2006 12:24pm
Cathy (mail) (www):
Two thoughts to share:

1) Anecdotally, I would consider myself a redistributionist. I therefore often tend not to give to causes that I think the government should support *because* I think the government should support it.

2) I saw the words, "controlled for gender," but in my experience gender is a massive behavior-shaping force in this area that simply can't be glossed over.

In 1992, and again in 1994 (or so), a friend and I surveyed BART commuters in San Francisco on whether or not they gave to the panhandlers who tended to cluster around the station. The most striking thing about our results is that as income went up for both men and women, the donation patterns were completely opposite.

(IIRC men with lower incomes gave more than wealthier men, and the opposite was true for women. Remembering some of the comments that we got on the survey the reasons seem to be that poorer men tended to identify with the panhandlers, sort of a "there but for the grace of God go I" attitude, which is why they gave more. Whereas for wealthier women money seemed to become more abstract than it was for poorer women who had to watch every cent.)

Unfortunately I don't remember the actual results, and this all needs to be tempered with the knowledge that we were college undergraduates when we did this. On the other hand, we took great pains to control our methodology as best we could and there's reason to suspect we were at least on to something real.
11.19.2006 12:32pm
Tek Jansen:
Jim - you are fundamentally misinterpreting the statistics. The probability you cite is purely statistical that has no basis in reality. That probability is not possible because systematic errors will dominate - so the probability you cite is misleading. It has nothing to do with reading the number off a chart give to you in an introductory statistics course, it has to do with understanding what that number means.

Sometimes, it helps to think when you get a number. Is there really only a 1 in 1 billion chance that the statement you made is incorrect?
11.19.2006 12:46pm
eric (mail):
I do not buy the argument that religious giving should be bifurcated into that which goes to support the institution and that which goes to helping the poor, etc. Perhaps the institutional costs of a church as less or the same as a percentage of money spent than other organizations that engage in charity.

What about those who give money to a charity with a Christian oulook, for example. Are they less generous in giving to Feed the Children because they might be partially motivated by religion?

This thread smells heavily of people who wish to validate their worldview by imputing motivations onto people they do not know or are unfamiliar with. Religious giving should not count because they really are not that altruistic, they are just knuckle-draggers who believe Jebus is going to send them to hell if they do not give 10%.
11.19.2006 12:48pm
Federal Dog:
"Perhaps anti-redistributionists (1) oppose redistribution and (2) give more, because they tend to have more money?

And redistributionists favor redistribution, while feeling less happy and fulfilled, because they tend to have less money?"


It's hard to evaluate this speculation. I, for example, do not give money away because I have none. And I do mean none. However, I have always, already handled multiple pro bono cases at any given time, and every last person I know who does the same is also an evil libertarian/conservative. People do not have to give money away to help those in need: I wonder what the numbers for pro bono labor look like.
11.19.2006 12:49pm
HLSbertarian (mail):

Riptide was suggesting that much philanthropy does not go to helping the poor. Giving money to cultural institutions, universities (other than to financial aid funds), etc. is admirable, but is not directly comparable to government redistribution programs in terms of its beneficiaries. That seems clear enough.


Why should only one sort of redistribution count? Doesn't the gov't support many cultural institutions, universities, etc. Through income redistribution? This is redistribution too. And in my expereience, political beliefs political beliefs about it run down much the same lines as beliefs about aid to the poor.
11.19.2006 12:52pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
It goes the other way, actually : those who are less generous , but who are still subject to strong ethical calls for help, favor state charity, so the burden that they fear doesn't fall on them.

They're concerned with limiting ethical calls on themselves. It's like carrying ethical insurance. The taxes are the premium so you never get called on for something big.

The generous point of view notices that charity builds character :

Q Why do we always have the poor?

A So we are not damned.
11.19.2006 12:56pm
Byomtov (mail):
If your objective is

to confirm one of Brooks' findings (in chapter 3 of his book)--those who oppose greater government income redistribution tend to give much more to charity

then why the digression on emotional states, which, as far as I can tell from the post are not controlled for income, gender, etc.?
11.19.2006 12:56pm
Byomtov (mail):
Why should only one sort of redistribution count?

Because the question to which the charitable giving was compared was specifically about government reducing income differences between rich and poor. It said nothing about government support for museums, etc.
11.19.2006 1:00pm
PersonFromPorlock:
godfodder:

After all civilization is only a thin veneer over the animal.

Throughout history, people have died in great numbers for the sake of 'decent' behavior. The notion that civilization is 'a thin veneer' is just adolescent posturing.
11.19.2006 1:09pm
frankcross (mail):
I'm pretty sure that the bottom line finding is correct, but bet that it can be largely explained by religion. Brooks Social Forces article suggested this. He also found that "faith in government" is a major determinant of altruism.

I suspect that people want to participate in an organized effective effort to benefit the disadvantaged. The religious have a Church structure that both readily encourages and enables this. The "Brights" do not. The secular place greater faith in government to perform this role.

As for attitudinal differences, I suspect that people who believe that life or the world is unfair both favor redistribution and are more angry.
11.19.2006 1:19pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I suspect that people who believe that life or the world is unfair both favor redistribution and are more angry.

Good point, sir.
11.19.2006 1:26pm
Federal Dog:
"I suspect that people who believe that life or the world is unfair both favor redistribution and are more angry.

Good point, sir."


They should do something about it then, instead of just being angry. They are entirely free to redistribute their own income, for example. Why don't they do it?
11.19.2006 1:38pm
Elliot Reed:
re charitable giving: These are interesting results. However, I am somewhat perplexed that Prof. Lindgren seems to think they contradict, or provide evidence against, the purported hopothesis that "people support capitalism and oppose greater income redistribution because they are racist or want to dominate other people or groups". I say 'purported' because I know little about social psychology and Lindgren doesn't refer to any sources that hold the belief.

It would pose a problem for the purported hypothesis if anti-redistributionists were in the habit of giving to organizations that help dominated groups rather than nonprofit organizations that directly support in-group members or directly support in-group dominance. Giving to my church, or my alma matter, or politicians who support policies that help my group against everyone else, helps support the dominance of People Like Me [1] over everyone else; it doesn't oppose it. So to the extent that anti-redistributionists are giving to organizations that primarily help People Like Them it doesn't provide any evidence against the hypothesis tested. It would be interesting to see the results with donations broken down by organization.

[1] I'm assuming that my church and my alma mater comprise People Like Me. This is true in the vast majority of cases, especially for churches, which are the most race- and class-segregated institutions in American society.
11.19.2006 1:39pm
Toby:

Completely anecdotal and pointless to bring up, but I recall one girl I knew who was petrified of blacks. She would stiffen visibly when we walked past a very elderly black lady with a young kid (in a bad neighborhood). She was very vehement about progressive race policy (things like reperations and aggressive AA). I'm not pretending that racism has a claim on any particlular political belief, but I thought her liberalism in this area was specifically tailored around her own racism - it made her feel better about herself the way a very naughty child feels vindicated when he steps over cracks to protect his mother from a broken back.

Much had been made recently, here and in other forums, about a conservative with strong unresolved (and to him shameful) sexuality issues lecturing others about a standard he could not maintain himself. It strikes me there is a strong parallel here.

Far more goes to support the arts, local churches and other institutions that, it can be argued, are not valid examples of altruistic behavior.

Soem believe that culture can be enlightening, and that shaing the fruits of civilization with the poor will give them the strength to rise out of poverty, that strengthening social structures helps the destitute most of all, that contribution to local youth sports groups teaches discipline and hard work to all participants while allowing the children of the poor to interact with a wider realm of society, the mutual benefit, in understanding and empathy,
to both sides of the equation.

If I were as un-generous as to the motives of those I disagree with as some on this thread, I would simply say they feel it is a function of the government to pay off the poor just enough so they can lead their squalid lifes far away from those who do not want the enobling responsibility of taking actual personal responsibility for helpiing the poor.

It might be that if you think life is a lottery, you want the winnings smoothed. As a participant in the lottery you feel angry at the unfairness. If you think life is a game to be won, then you might think teach those less adept the rules and givening them the social/intellectuall/personal equipment to get in the game is better.
11.19.2006 2:15pm
NRWO:
Re: Reliability of Self Reports of Charitable Giving

Jim,

It appears that your (and perhaps Brooks's) conclusions are based solely on *self-reports* of charitable giving from the NORC.

Self reports can be unreliable for a variety of reasons: for example, people might *report* (verbally or on opinion surveys) giving more to charity when, in fact, they really give very little to charity (e.g., they write few if any checks to charities). The usual rebuttal to such criticisms is that people who complete opinion surveys have no reason to lie, because the surveys are anonymous. But people might unintentionally distort their reports of charitable giving if they rely on memory to answer questions -- especially if they have a strong giving ethos.

So, my question is:

Did you (or Brooks) attempt to validate your findings (which are based on self reports) with independent data on actual charitable giving (e.g., real money transmitted to real charities)?

I am not sure I would trust your data in the absence of such support.
11.19.2006 3:05pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
If you think life is a game to be won, then you might think teach those less adept the rules and givening them the social/intellectuall/personal equipment to get in the game is better.

But then again, the anti-redistributionists don't believe in a level playing field. They think that unearned income is better than income earned from labor. That the children of the rich deserve a leg up and shouldn't be taxed on their inherited income (and don't forget should get into elite institutions just because their Daddies went there). And though they claim to care about the poor, they just assume that the poor are only poor because of character flaws and if they just applied themselves they too could be as rich and famous as Paris Hilton (after all, she got where she is today through hard work, perseverance and her considerable talent).
11.19.2006 3:06pm
riptide:
re the "update":

you state that "... simply a function of religion. But anti-redistributionists give more to secular (non-religious) charities as well. "

That's not the point about religion that I (at least) wished to control for. My question is: do those who are religious give more (both to the church and elsewhere)?
11.19.2006 3:19pm
TJIT (mail):
J.F. Thomas

I assume your comment is mostly regarding the imposition of the death tax. If so Paris Hilton gives a powerful example of how tax policy often does not accomplish what its supporters want it to.

Ted Kennedy, Paris Hilton, et al will never be hurt by the death tax. They have a platoon of tax accountants, attornies, and financial specialists to ensure this.

The people who tend to really get hurt by the death tax are family workers in small business who did not realize the value of the business. Since they did not realize the value of the business they did not do the death tax planning the Kennedys and the Hiltons have. As a result they get blindsided by the death tax and have to sell the family business to pay the death tax.

So the death tax that was aimed at people like the Hiltons and the Kennedys ends up mostly hitting people who have worked hard their whole life.
11.19.2006 3:31pm
Brubaker:
James Lindgren,

Your point about my assumption of bad faith is well taken. Certainly, I could have asked for clarification in a more generous way (but then again, I'm a liberal).

However, in my experience with social science research -- I am a former PhD student in social psychology who left academia because I found the enterprise mired in leftish liberal ax-grinding -- researchers are always disposed to describe effect sizes when it helps them make a case, and always seem to switch to vague (and I would say meaningless) talk about 'more likely' or 'less likely' when the effects cannot be translated into meaningful consequences.

Your point that I should have considered other reasons why you left out the effect sizes is not convincing to me. It is always possible to concisely convey information about effect size. (Do you not agree that, in any case, the effect sizes -- not the results of a statistical test -- are what is important and possibly worthy of a little extra effort?)

Finally, Brooklynite noted that your paper does not include information about effect sizes for behavior after controlling for various demographic factors. Without this information, I am still uncertain what to make of statements like:


"I expected to find larger donations and a greater frequency of donation for anti-redistributionists, but I expected that to disappear entirely when one controlled for income. As expected, the effect is lessened but to my surprise, it still remains statistically significant."
11.19.2006 3:39pm
MS (mail):
TJIT,

If you know of even one "little guy" whose been forced by the death tax to sell his family farm, then you should report him immediately to the minority party. They've been looking for someone to parade in front of the Fox News cameras for over a decade.
11.19.2006 3:42pm
Brooklynite (mail) (www):
Following up on riptide, the reason to control for religion is not to control for tithing. It's to separate out the effect of religious belief from the effect of (anti-)redistributionist belief.

Suppose that people of faith A donate, on average, twice as much of their income to charity as people of faith B. Suppose further that two-thirds of people of faith A are anti-redistributionists, and only one-third of people of faith B are. Finally, suppose that whether a person is a redistributionist or an anti-redistributionist has no independent relationship whatsoever to whether he or she donates to charity.

If you compare the giving patterns of distributionists and anti-distributionists without controlling for religion, you'll find that anti-distributionists donate 20% more of their income to charity than distributionists (if I've done my math right). But that statistic is an illusion. The difference in giving patterns between people of faith A and people of faith B is what's relevant.
11.19.2006 3:46pm
BoBo (mail):
I wonder if Dale might be able to share how this affects homosexual policy and law?
11.19.2006 4:12pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
< Could you please specify some other charitable gifts that aren't actually charitable?

I don't think of donations to food banks as being all that similar to donations to symphony orchestras.
11.19.2006 4:40pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Anecdotally, I would consider myself a redistributionist. I therefore often tend not to give to causes that I think the government should support *because* I think the government should support it.

In other words, the source (or non-source) is more important than whether the person actually gets help.

There's nothing wrong with being more interested in mechanisms than ends, but you can't then argue that the ends are a high priority and berate others for their "uncaring".

In fact, given your actual priorities, it would be more honest for you to say that the poor are a means to your redistributionist goal instead of claiming that you support redistribution because it helps the poor. Redistribution is your priority, not helping the poor.
11.19.2006 4:49pm
r78:
Just a question on the definitions here:

If someone supports billions of dollars in no-bid contracts that funnel government money into the pockets of well-connected corporations, does that make you a redistributionist or an antiredistributionist?
11.19.2006 5:06pm
HLSbertarian (mail):

But then again, the anti-redistributionists don't believe in a level playing field. They think that unearned income is better than income earned from labor.


Don't they also drink the blood of little children and plot the demise of Sean Penn's career in walnut-paneled sitting rooms? I'm quite certain I've read that somewhere.
11.19.2006 5:13pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

TJIT,

If you know of even one "little guy" whose been forced by the death tax to sell his family farm, then you should report him immediately to the minority party. They've been looking for someone to parade in front of the Fox News cameras for over a decade.


*raising my hand*

my choices will be, if my mother dies after 2010, to borrow money to pay the tax on her estate, in effect, going into debt to buy it back from the government, or selling it, a parcel of land that has been in our family since 1873.

the whole thing sucks, seeing as none of it belongs to the government, unless they say so.

ya got nine months to make up your mind, or they take it all, in effect.

lessening the tax by degree, year by year, as is the case now, is cruel and unusual treatment. reinstating the tax in full after 2010 is as cruel.

I won't even bring the word "fairness" into the discussion.
11.19.2006 5:24pm
r78:
Bowen

Your family should see a trust and estates lawyer.
11.19.2006 5:46pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Ted Kennedy, Paris Hilton, et al will never be hurt by the death tax. They have a platoon of tax accountants, attornies, and financial specialists to ensure this.

First of all, there is no such thing as the "death tax". And just because rich people have managed to put all kinds of loopholes into the law is not a good reason to get rid of the inheritance tax itself, but rather to get rid of the loopholes and raise the threshold so the apocryphal small business owner doesn't get nailed by it.

my choices will be, if my mother dies after 2010, to borrow money to pay the tax on her estate, in effect, going into debt to buy it back from the government, or selling it, a parcel of land that has been in our family since 1873.

So how much is this particular parcel of land worth? And where it is located. The only circumstance I could think of that would lead to this situation is that it is or was farmland that has now been swallowed up by urban sprawl. So you are playing on some "love of the family homestead" so we all feel sorry for you because you are going to fall ass-backwards into money when your Mom dies and you sell off the ol' farmstead to the next developer that comes along.

Am I really supposed to be crying for you because when you sell your Mom's 640 acres that her great-grandfather got from the U.S. government for practically nothing and you are going to turn around and sell for $10 million and, if the inheritance tax is back, you will have to pay a whopping $1.65 million(the first time it will have been taxed by the federal government in its entire transfer history btw) just because you had the dumb luck of sitting on your ass while some large city grew up around you?
11.19.2006 5:55pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
But then again, the anti-redistributionists don't believe in a level playing field. They think that unearned income is better than income earned from labor. That the children of the rich deserve a leg up and shouldn't be taxed on their inherited income

I've thought it strange that the rationale of progressive taxation is that those who have more can pay a higher percentage with the same sacrifice as others (which makes sense to me), BUT...

In fact we don't have a real tax on wealth, per se, but only on income. (At best we have property taxes on real estate, which generate only a small part of total tax revenue and are based only on one, increasing small, source of wealth).

Side-effect is that the Kennedys, etc. can be in favor of taxation. They, or their ancestors, already made the wealth. At most they pay taxes on current income (a senator's salary, capital gains on investment income from what they already have).
11.19.2006 6:24pm
Fearmonger (mail):
Perhaps anti-redistributionists (1) oppose redistribution and (2) give more, because they tend to have more money?

And redistributionists favor redistribution, while feeling less happy and fulfilled, because they tend to have less money?


The studies control for income.

Interesting, I'm not too surprised about the redistributionist being more sad and anxiety prone. It makes sense those who worry more and have greater concerns for what way the world is going would be more worried about the poor and so forth.

I'm skeptical of the premise that redistributionists worry more about the poor/world issues than anti-redistributionists. Anti-redistributionists simply disagree with government imposed redistributive policies on either moral or practical grounds. It is likely that they have other ideas about the best way to address poverty. The fact that the study finds that antidistributionists are more likely to give to charity is an indication of this.
11.19.2006 6:46pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Bowen

Your family should see a trust and estates lawyer.


we will/are.


So how much is this particular parcel of land worth? And where it is located. The only circumstance I could think of that would lead to this situation is that it is or was farmland that has now been swallowed up by urban sprawl. So you are playing on some "love of the family homestead" so we all feel sorry for you because you are going to fall ass-backwards into money when your Mom dies and you sell off the ol' farmstead to the next developer that comes along.

Am I really supposed to be crying for you because when you sell your Mom's 640 acres that her great-grandfather got from the U.S. government for practically nothing and you are going to turn around and sell for $10 million and, if the inheritance tax is back, you will have to pay a whopping $1.65 million(the first time it will have been taxed by the federal government in its entire transfer history btw) just because you had the dumb luck of sitting on your ass while some large city grew up around you?


I don't give a damn what you do, pal.

I wish it was 640 acres- that furthers my point that you don't have to be in for big stakes to get hit by this.

And my great-grandfather BOUGHT IT.

And my grandfather cleared the portion my mother owns with DYNAMITE and a TEAM OF HORSES.

And it's in the middle of NOWHERE.

...and just for general purposes, go piss up a rope.
11.19.2006 6:57pm
John Noble (mail):
The way the question is worded -- whether the government "ought to reduce the income differences between the rich and the poor" -- would seem to elicit an opinion regarding government intervention in income distribution, rather than redistribution. Maybe I'm over-analyzing it, but notion of government intervention to reduce the income difference between bus drivers and Fortune 500 CEO's smacks of central planning with a whiff of totalitarianism.

I wonder whether the responses would be different if the question was framed in terms of whether the government should use tax policy and welfare programs to reduce the different diets, health care access, and educational opportunities between the children of bus drivers and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Even if most people understand the question the way it was meant, the people who hate the rich are going to recognize themselves as 1's. And by limiting the analysis of charitable inclination to 1's and 7's, excluding the 2's and 6's, you are tilting the table toward the self-identified extremists, and you're going to find that extremism is forged by hate more often than concern.

On the other end, I wonder whether the anti-redistributionists are more generous because they have more money, and they are anti-redistributionists because they want to keep it that way. Having more money would also go a long way to explaining why they're happier and worry less.
11.19.2006 7:37pm
eric (mail):
Bowen - Ignore the typical leftist blabber. One leftist asks for an anecdotal example and when they are given one they simply attack the messenger. (Also note the attack on Fox News where it was not necessary to the "argument" being made.) This is a perfect example of the hatred of those who wish to effectuate massive income redistribution. Any gains that you may have had could not have anything to do with your skill or talent or your grandfather's investment. Nope, you are evil because you have something, the fact that they will assume it is of massive monetary value simply shows the class envy that primarily motivates them. Some people are born fortunate, that does not mean that the estate tax is justified. Some people are born intelligent. How about an intelligence tax - intelligent people make more money (on average) - what about that level playing field?

All the while, they live in one of the most wealthy countries in the world and whine about how unfair everything is. They claim to want a level playing field, but a completely level playing field is impossible. I am convinced that most of these redistributionists are motivated primarily by envy and not by any higher emotion.
11.19.2006 7:39pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
r78: Your family should see a trust and estates lawyer.

Isn't that using one of those loopholes for the rich? I guess we know who really benefits (based on the above) from this tax.
11.19.2006 7:49pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
J. F. Thomas,

Why don't you take the money you'll spend on your next computer and your monthly ISP fee, and do everyone here a favor? Redistribute it to the poor.
11.19.2006 8:12pm
r78:

(Also note the attack on Fox News where it was not necessary to the "argument" being made.)

Oh you mean the network that is shilling for Mr. OJ Simpson after one of it's sister companies paid him 35 million dollars (Oh, I'm sorry, paid his children $35M) for the book about how he killed his ex-wife and Goldman.

THAT Fox?
11.19.2006 8:30pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Wow... the funny part is that you actually quoted the line about how certain people are compelled to randomly attack Fox News right before your random attack on Fox News.
11.19.2006 8:46pm
Truth Seeker:
I don't think of donations to food banks as being all that similar to donations to symphony orchestras.

Ah, but if we don't donate to symphony orchestras then the government will start subsedizing them and have less money for the poor so it all evens out.
11.19.2006 8:52pm
r78:

Wow... the funny part is that you actually quoted the line about how certain people are compelled to randomly attack Fox News right before your random attack on Fox News.

You are so, very perceptive.
11.19.2006 8:56pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Interesting. We find, if these studies are accurate, that the self-announced Incredibly Wonderful are compassionate primarily with other people's money. Like that's news.

Somebody upthread wondered if we ought to count going to protests in order to get government policies changed as charity. The anti-redistribs apparently just give money--mostly being redneck redstaters who, everybody knows, are so broke that their only career options are driving NASCAR or enlisting. Yeah, that makes sense.

I served on a church mission committee and dealt with other church's similar groups. Each had a budget, larger or smaller, some of which they donated to operating groups such as a food kitchen. But the majority of our/their time was spent on organizing group efforts. We did a heck of a lot more hours than money, money being secondary.

At one point in her life, my sister and her husband lived in a cul-de-sac in the Northwest where most of their immediate neighbors were Mormons. My nephew, then three, suffered the first of a number of seizures characeristic of a progressive neurological disorder. Within a week, all the neighbors over the age of twelve had taken a first-aid class designed for such problems.

They now live in Texas where, she says, they have the worst programs and the best people. My nephew, quite literally, cannot take advantage of all of the volunteer programs available. "Nobody ever makes fun of these unfortunates," she said, "because the nearest redneck will kill you and no prosecutor would waste his time trying to seat a jury."

The only problem they ever had was from a group of people generally identified with the redistribs. Unfortunately, my nephew was unable to identify his assailants.

I get a kick of out people who don't give because the government should be doing it. And until that happy day...? You have more money than you would otherwise. I think it's the same thinking which leads people not to tip waitstaff because to do so would validate the employer's practice of paying low wages.
I really get a kick of out their idea that anybody would believe such transparent bilge.
11.19.2006 9:11pm
James Lindgren (mail):
By now there have been many excellent comments.

A few plausible objections or skeptical questions are answered in my larger paper, but many are not.

1. URBAN/RURAL. Brooklynite insightfully suggests that perhaps redistibutionists seem to engage in altruistic behaviors related to a different mix of urban/rural settings. At this early stage of my exploration into altruistic behavior, I have looked at regional controls to some extent, but not urban/rural. But such behaviors as giving blood (significant for a 1-tailed test) and returning excess change mistakenly paid (both slightly more common among anti-redistributionists) do not break down so easily that way, but some others may well do so.

2. CONTROLLING FOR RELIGION? As for the frequent suggestion to control for religion, it is not obvious why one would want to do that. Such an analysis might suggest WHY anti-redistributionists are more generous, but it wouldn't tell us WHETHER they are more generous; indeed, it would tend to obscure that point. I do think it is important to recognize whether the greater donations are simply to churches, but Brooks addresses this in his book, as I note in my UPDATE above.

3. TIME v. MONEY. Some commenters suggest that perhaps redistributionists contribute time, while anti-redistributionists contribute money. But brooks argues that anti-redistributionists contribute more of both time and money.

4. ARE REDISTRIBUTIONISTS MORE BENEVOLENT? Some commenters suggest that redistributionists care more about others, or question the implications of my post for social psychology. These issues are among the few raised in these comments that I deal with extensively in my larger manuscript. Redistributionists tend to be more traditionally racist, more intolerant of unpopular groups, and more authoritarian.

5. IS REDISTRIBUTION BAD? One commenter argues that nothing I report above suggests that redistribution is a bad thing. I agree. Indeed, in the conclusion to my paper, I argue:


Of course, finding that traditional racists tend to support greater income redistribution does not tell us whether increasing government efforts to achieve income redistribution would be a good idea or not. Rather, this recognition can clear away some of the emotional underbrush that might get in the way of considering redistribution proposals on their merits.

If you look at my paper, you will see that my main point is to challenge the prevailing academic idea that opposition to income redistribution is a reflection of a desire for social dominance (a desire strongly linked to racism).

6. DATA QUALITY. As for data quality, which was questioned above, one can never be sure of the truthfulness of self reports of behavior. Yet the General Social Survey is the most carefully done of all large academic surveys. It gets nearly a 70% response rate compared to a typical public opinion survey's 20% response rate. And the attitudinal answers tend to support the reports of behavior. And I take it that most of the data sources that Brooks looks at show similar patterns to the ones that he sees in GSS data.

When one compares these GSS data to the unrepresentative student surveys that many social psychologists have used to brand opposition to redistribution as being a measure of social dominance orientation, the GSS data quality is far superior.

7. THANKS. Thanks for all the interesting comments so far.

Jim Lindgren
11.19.2006 9:32pm
George Tenet Fangirl:
Irrespective of the merits of the article, the irony here is delicious: a paper which purports to prove that liberals are discontent and insecure is being latched onto by discontent and insecure conservatives as proof of how morally superior they are.
11.19.2006 10:00pm
James Lindgren (mail):
George Tenet Fangirl:

So when procapitalists or anti-redistributionists are viciously stereotyped by academics without any good statistical evidence, I guess they shouldn't respond with better statistical evidence because that might create a negative generalization about redistributionists, which over time might develop into a negative stereotype itself.

Jim Lindgren
11.19.2006 10:07pm
Ragerz (mail):
Lindgren writes:

"I am always stunned at the sheer amount of ill will that is frequently expressed in comments."

I think that the ill will is unfortunate too. However, I do think that the title to this post could have been better worded. Are redistributionists really less generous? As logicnozi said above a better title would have been to say that they "Don't Donate As Much to Charity." Leave it to readers to determine whether the donations are equivalent to generousity, reflect a different philosophy for the mechanism by which redistribution should occur, or whether they want to consider particular donations to be considered "generous" or not depending on the cause.

In general, when you say something like that about a particular ideology that tends to reflect badly on them, like that they are "less generous" I think the response will be predictable.

As far as the idea that opposition to income distribution is linked to a desire for social dominance, I don't think that any of your work really goes to that question. Without doing any statistics, I can confidently predict that some opposition to income distribution due to a desire for social dominance, and some of that opposition is due to other motives. Given the diversity of human motives, we can predict that the motives for supporting that particular policy are varied. Perhaps a particular breakdown of the relative percentages of those who are motivated by social dominance versus other motives might be vaguely interesting. But it isn't really useful in resolving the underlying issue. If 99% of anti-redistributionists were motivated by social dominance, this doesn't really go to the merits of the views of the 1% who are not.

Antecdotally, I know from experience that some opposition to redistribution is motivated by a desire from social dominance. When I was a College Republican, before law school which transformed me into a Democrat, a fellow college Republican confided in me that he was glad that property taxes lead to very unequal funding, that this was a good thing in an of itself. Apparently, this is good to maintain the heirarchy. Needless to say, this was hardly the reason I was a Republican! Both parties have their bad apples.

Overall, you are not really getting to the question of to what degree is opposition to redistribution motivated by social dominance. You are only getting at questions that may or may not be related. If redistributions are more likely to be racist, that doesn't really show that those who are non-redistributionists don't take that position for non-racist reasons. First, not all desire for social dominance manifests itself as racism in particular. Second, it is possible that among those with racists tendencies, that some think that racism implies opposition to redistribution while others do not think it is relevant. Likewise, that non-redistributionists donate more does not really establish whether their non-redistributionist tendencies are due to a desire for social dominance. It is perfectly consistent for a person X to donate to, say, a university or a museum or their church where the funds primarily benefit a particular class of individuals, and still believe in social domination of another class of individuals. Do you think that white racists in South Africa never gave to charitable causes or tithed to their churches? I am sure they did.

Overall, I think this research, both the finding that non-redistributions are probabilistically likely to donate to charity more and the finding that redistributions are more likely to have racist tendencies to be very interesting. I don't think those findings really go to point you would like to use them for, however.
11.19.2006 10:26pm
TJIT (mail):
Jim,

One question I think would be very interesting is what is the difference in exposure to government anti-poverty programs programs between the anti-redistributionists and the redistributionists.

I would suspect that those who have actually seen government anti-poverty programs in action, and seen the unintended and often bad consequences that result, would tend to be more anti-redistributionist.

Thanks,

TJIT
11.19.2006 10:31pm
Ragerz (mail):
A related issue that this whole research brings up is to what degree can social scientists wielding statistics, of any ideology, be trusted?

In this case, it does appear to me that to some extent Lindgren has an agenda. That agenda is to prove that anti-redistributionists are not motivated by a desire for social dominance. Having such an agenda is not necessarily compatible with a completely neutral evaluation of the facts, is it? If it is compatible in some exceptional cases where you have unusually punctilios individuals, it probably is not compatible in most cases, right?
11.19.2006 10:36pm
TJIT (mail):
I saw a comment on another board that said something like.

"A liberals great concern for groups of people in the abstract combined with his utter disdain of actual people is what make them so obnoxious"

J.F. Thomas is a pretty good illustration of that with this comment he made
So you are playing on some "love of the family homestead" so we all feel sorry for you because you are going to fall ass-backwards into money when your Mom dies and you sell off the ol' farmstead to the next developer that comes along.
Lovely thing to see such concern and empathy for his fellow human being.
11.19.2006 10:53pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Ragerz: Prof. Lindgren has kindly provided you with his facts and you're free to offer a competing evaluation not quite so plagued by an agenda. There's a term for attacking the person behind a statement instead of criticizing the statement itself. Someone tried to teach this in another thread a few days ago, but you didn't seem very receptive.

For what it's worth, Brooks was a longtime Democrat and has repeatedly said how surprised he is to find himself telling people about these findings, but it's where the data led him.
11.19.2006 10:55pm
Kazinski:
I keep hearing from liberals that they support more taxes to support government programs to help the poor. But most of the programs that the left seems to be pushing are more middle class entitlements than poverty programs. Universal health care, universal pre-school, and college tuition assistance are just three examples where the benefits are overwhelmingly aimed at the middle class, not the poor. The goal seems to be bigger government, not eradicating poverty. In fact they would probably end up hurting the poor, by stagnating job growth.

On the other hand when it comes to globalization, which is the largest anti-poverty program in world history, is fought tooth and nail by the left.
11.19.2006 10:57pm
eric (mail):
Daniel - that was hilarious. r78 cannot help himself.
11.19.2006 11:28pm
vic:
r78:
Just a question on the definitions here:

If someone supports billions of dollars in no-bid contracts that funnel government money into the pockets of well-connected corporations, does that make you a redistributionist or an antiredistributionist?


It would make him a "redistributionist extraordinary". One BIG reson to oppose Govt. involement in things that are none of their businerss is that they invariably lead to the funneling of public money into private hands. The better solution is NOT to give the GOvt. the power to funnel money into the hands of their corporate buddies.

As an aside the 20th century amply illustrated that the most avowedly redistributionist Govets were also the most kleptocratic.
11.20.2006 12:28am
vic:
Redistributionists tend to be more traditionally racist

couldnt agree with this more. As a brown skinned imiigrant to this great land- whenever I have encountered racism of the kind that actually hurts me- the perpetrator has always been a redistributionist.

The important question to me has always been WHY?

My personal solution is that ultimately they by and alrge do not feel confident enough about themselves to compete on alevel playing field. So they need govts/ regulations / institutional devices with which they feel they can exert control- and protect their dominance hierarchy.

My nation of origion in the last decade went from an almost exclusively redistributionist ethos to rampant free market capitalism. The trickle down effect is palpable, as is the fear of the ruling ( formerly redistributionist) elite at being swamped by the unwashed masses.
11.20.2006 12:38am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
It makes sense that those who support redistribution the most would tend to be among those who witness the private sector alternative the least, and vice versa.
11.20.2006 12:51am
Andrew MacDonald (mail):
I think when you controlled for income you weren't really controlling for what you thought you were controlling for. My guess is that donations are likely highly non-linearly related to income regardless of anti- or pro-restributionist policies; poor people have highly inelastic demands for the goods they buy and thus have a much smaller percentage of income left over for things like charitable donations. Conversely, rich people tend to have a much higher percentage of income available for charity.

Given that there is also a well known relationship between wealth and conservatism, I would hazard that most poor people are redistributionists and rich people are anti-redistributionist. So by 'controlling' here you are biasing the study in your favor if poor people by the nature of being poor simply can't give as much as rich people.

You might be much better served by matching techniques in this case...
11.20.2006 1:23am
George Tenet Fangirl:
"So when procapitalists or anti-redistributionists are viciously stereotyped by academics without any good statistical evidence, I guess they shouldn't respond with better statistical evidence because that might create a negative generalization about redistributionists, which over time might develop into a negative stereotype itself."

See, you seem to think the solution to negative stereotypes about your group ("procapitalists are racists") is to level negative stereotypes against other groups ("anticapitalists are misanthropes"). Yet you're unlikely to persuade anyone with that sort of approach; fellow travelers probably already disagree with the first stereotype, and those on the opposite end will probably only find whatever faults they can with your argument.* Anyone without any particular loyalty to either side is likely to either take your statistical prowess as decisive proof simply because they are in awe of numbers, or consider the whole issue a wash because they're not inclined to analyze your findings and furthermore see that many people disagree with you.

So, rather than striking a blow against vicious stereotypes, you simply reinforce the prejudices of both groups. No one is actually persuaded of the merits of the procapitalist or anticapitalist side, nor is anyone encouraged to actually consider individuals as individuals and respect their beliefs as such. Now, if on the other hand your goal is merely to encourage fellow "procapitalists" to feel morally superior to "anticapitalists" then mission accomplished, I suppose, but I would hope that that's not really your goal.


*This seems somewhat confirmed by the actual response to your paper here and elsewhere. Or maybe there have been numerous liberals contacting you privately to express their gratitude at your exposing them as miserable and selfish?
11.20.2006 2:04am
eric (mail):


See, you seem to think the solution to negative stereotypes about your group ("procapitalists are racists") is to level negative stereotypes against other groups ("anticapitalists are misanthropes").



He specifically qualified his comment as referring to those who stereotype "without any good statistical evidence." I think it is safe to assume that he is confident in this evidence as being "good." In no way is trying to prove a point with data "level[ing] negative stereotypes."


Yet you're unlikely to persuade anyone with that sort of approach; fellow travelers probably already disagree with the first stereotype, and those on the opposite end will probably only find whatever faults they can with your argument.* Anyone without any particular loyalty to either side is likely to either take your statistical prowess as decisive proof simply because they are in awe of numbers, or consider the whole issue a wash because they're not inclined to analyze your findings and furthermore see that many people disagree with you.

So, rather than striking a blow against vicious stereotypes, you simply reinforce the prejudices of both groups. No one is actually persuaded of the merits of the procapitalist or anticapitalist side, nor is anyone encouraged to actually consider individuals as individuals and respect their beliefs as such. Now, if on the other hand your goal is merely to encourage fellow "procapitalists" to feel morally superior to "anticapitalists" then mission accomplished, I suppose, but I would hope that that's not really your goal.


Perhaps his goal is not to "strik[e] blows against stereotypes?" "Striking blows against stereotypes" and "enourag[ing] fellow 'procapitalists' to feel morally superior" are not the only possible goals in such a pursuit.
11.20.2006 2:34am
Ragerz (mail):
HLSbertarian,

If you felt attacked in a previous thread, may I suggest that you are unduly sensitive. Deal with it. (Of course, I obviously do not wish to contribute to someone feeling attacked, however, I don't think I should be held responsible for excessive sensitivity either.)

I have not attacked Lindgren. I will note that his decision to use the term "generous" to describe the donations measured in this study is certainy very subjective. That word and that characterization do not merely follow objectively and inevitably from the data. That individual X favors one mechanism of distribution (i.e. government, perhaps because it is thought that helping any one individual does too little to address the underlying systematic problem) while Y favors another (i.e. personal charity that might be directed at bolstering ones own self-image, based on religious motivations, or primarily benefit people like oneself) should not lead one to automatically claim that Y is more "generous" than X. At least, not when one acts as a social scientist, as opposed to a political advocate.

Further, it does seem that Lindgren probably has an agenda. He is interested in a certain question (i.e. "Is opposition to redistribution linked to a desire for social dominance") and he is interested in a particular hoped-for answer (i.e. "There is no such link.") This is clear because, as my previous post shows, there is no clear link between the results of these studies and the actual question Lindgren hopes to answer. If there is no agenda, why is Lindgren so intent on using these results for ends that they are not exactly well suited for (that is, determining the percentage or magnitude of individuals who oppose redistribution due to a desire for social dominance)?

To say that Lindgren has exercised discretion in choosing a word ("generous") for what appears to be the purpose of framing the issue to advance a particular agenda and to say that there is a high probability that he has an agenda is not really a personal attack. If it were personal, I would not have questioned the degree to which we should be concerned about the work of social scientists in general, I would have said we should be concerned about the work of Lindgren in particular.

It is difficult to be simultaneously human and truly set aside our deeply held beliefs. That is, it is difficult to not have an agenda. It is difficult not to be subject to confirmation bias. It is difficult to avoid framing issues in a manner that advances our beliefs. That I am suggesting Lindgren is human, in that he may not always avoid doing that which is very difficult, should not be construed as a personal attack. I don't mean it to be such an attack and I doubt Lindgren views it as such.
11.20.2006 2:36am
vic:
Given that there is also a well known relationship between wealth and conservatism, I would hazard that most poor people are redistributionists and rich people are anti-redistributionist

well that should be relatively easy to answer in the context of JL's study and /or Mr broks's study.

However it would probabely be a waste of time as most redistributionists are wedded to their belief systems in a decidedly unsecular ( should i say with religious fervor) manner. No logic study objectivity numerical data can convince them otherwise.

So I long ago gave up trying very hard- let them wallow in their stupidity. my only concern now is to kepp their idiocy from invading my life and thelives of those dear to me
11.20.2006 2:46am
vic:
addendum to previous post:

Lindgren asserts that these studies control for "race, gender, age, income, and education."

QED

My guess is that donations are likely highly non-linearly related to income regardless of anti- or pro-restributionist policies; poor people have highly inelastic demands for the goods they buy and thus have a much smaller percentage of income left over for things like charitable donations. Conversely, rich people tend to have a much higher percentage of income available for charity.

the operational word being " my guess is that" typical leftist retardedness. on the one hand a social scientist has hard data. You want to refute it - come up with some data of your own- instead when data doest agree with your pompous and assinine assumtions it is dismissed by " my guess is " what a fatuous insufferable idiot
11.20.2006 2:52am
HLSbertarian (mail):

If you felt attacked in a previous thread, may I suggest that you are unduly sensitive. Deal with it. (Of course, I obviously do not wish to contribute to someone feeling attacked, however, I don't think I should be held responsible for excessive sensitivity either.)


I did not feel attacked. In fact, I paid you very little mind. I'm just noting that another poster has tried to teach you the concept of ad hominem arguments and you didn't seem willing to understand. Don't you go fretting about my sensitivities.


I have not attacked Lindgren. I will note that his decision to use the term "generous" to describe the donations measured in this study is certainy very subjective. That word and that characterization do not merely follow objectively and inevitably from the data.


You questioned "to what degree can social scientists wielding statistics, of any ideology, be trusted?" In the context of this thread, this implies Prof. Lindgren. The suggestion is that since Prof. Lindgren has certain beliefs, his statistics shouldn't be trusted when they support these beliefs. What I suggested is that you take issue with the statistical points (and you did an almost passable job in a previous post) instead of calling the statistics and conclusions into question simply on account of the personal politics of the speaker.
11.20.2006 3:12am
Fearmonger (mail):
vic,

I'm not sure Andrew's post reflects "typical leftist retardedness," as you so elegantly put it. If Andrew is correct, then he is noting an error in JL's interpretation of the data. I don't think he needs to go out and collect his own data to make such a point.

Perhaps Professor Lindgreen could shed some light on how the studies control for income and why he believes it to be effective.
11.20.2006 3:15am
Ragerz (mail):
vic writes:

"[O]n the one hand a social scientist has hard data. You want to refute it - come up with some data of your own."

There is are at least two things at play here. (1) data and (2) interpretations/implications of that data.

If one wants to argue with the data itself, you either argue against the methodology by which the data was collected (i.e. "These survey questions are systematically biased") or as you suggest, collect your own data to see if you can replicate the results.

If one wants to argue about the implications of the data, one does so by having a normal discussion about what the plausible implications of the data are. (i.e. If X, as shown by the data is true, this does or does not imply Y).

Overall, obviously only one response among many to a study is to gather one's own data. There is nothing particularly leftist or rightists about other types of responses as a general matter.
11.20.2006 3:16am
Nathan Hall (mail):
I wonder what results such a study would find in Europe or Canada? The environment is different politically, socially and religiously, so I think it would be interesting to find out what aspects of this data are maintained under those conditions.
11.20.2006 4:01am
AYankeeAbroad (mail):
Any question about the altruism of charitable giving is going to be skewed by elements of self-interest. Tax deductions surely play a large role in the scale of individual giving, and political donations shouldn't belong here at all, as such contributions are highly likely to be correlated with self-interest.
11.20.2006 6:01am
professays (mail):
Naturally, those who favor income redistribution are less happy and less generous as they are mostly poor and experience financial troubles.
11.20.2006 6:34am
Federal Dog:
"Naturally, those who favor income redistribution are less happy and less generous as they are mostly poor and experience financial troubles."


Bull. Got evidence?
11.20.2006 7:43am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Naturally, those who favor income redistribution are less happy and less generous as they are mostly poor and experience financial troubles."

Huh?
11.20.2006 8:10am
subpatre (mail):
The allegation that desire for social dominance significantly motivates anti-redistributionism is an unsupported claim. The link to potential supremacy though donations —in an open market donation pool— is tenuous at best. Further research directed toward desire for control, racism, and donations may give some evidence; but for the present it's an unfounded assertion.

In contrast, redistributionism is always accompanied by domination of the public; control of the social body is a precondition to redistribution. Further, redistribution is self-perpetuating through economic dependence of the (increasing number of) recipients, but also by (increasing numbers of) those employed in redistribution.

Social dominance is a characteristic of redistribution, not freely given donation.
11.20.2006 8:35am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I wish it was 640 acres- that furthers my point that you don't have to be in for big stakes to get hit by this. . . .And it's in the middle of NOWHERE.

Well then I call bullshit. It is a small holding and in the middle of nowhere, you won't have to start paying a penny of estate taxes on it until the value exceeds $2.82 million and then only on the value in excess of that amount. (I was looking at the wrong rate for post-2010), and we are supposed to believe you are going to lose the farm?

You either don't understand how the estate tax works or you are deliberately lying.
11.20.2006 8:43am
K Parker (mail):
r78,

I can't answer your question, but I can say that the question itself makes you out to be someone who knows absolutely nothing about government procurement and federal contracting. Those who do have commented on it several times over at Winds of Change; it might be educational for you to go look them up.
11.20.2006 9:00am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
So I'm curious, how does one gauge racism.

Is a rich, senior management, anti-redistributionist not racist who claims he has "lots of black friends" and "believes everybody is equal" yet lives in a mostly white neighborhood and votes against every applicant of color or Jew who comes up for membership at his country club (of course race has "nothing to do with it")? But the redistributionist who has seen his good paying union carpenter job disappear and now works at WalMart is a racist because he hates the undocumented Mexicans who came in and allowed the contractors to bust the union with cheap labor?
11.20.2006 9:41am
Andrew MacDonald (mail):
the operational word being " my guess is that" typical leftist retardedness. on the one hand a social scientist has hard data. You want to refute it - come up with some data of your own- instead when data doest agree with your pompous and assinine assumtions it is dismissed by " my guess is " what a fatuous insufferable idiot

Thanks for being polite. Like others have pointed out, I was calling into question Lindgren's possibly inappropriate use of statistical measures to try and determine the shape of the world.

If he used the wrong technique (as it looks like to me, although it can be tested fairly easily by Lindgren), then what he's really proved is that poor people, as a percentage, give less than rich people, which I think is hardly shocking to anyone given that poor people have less of a percentage to give in the first place.

What he hasn't proved is that poor people (or redistributionists) are less generous - then you'd have to factor in disposable income rather than just straight income. To correct for that without having to go gather a bunch more data, one technique that is often used is called matching. But I guess questioning logical inferences made with statistical results are "typical lefty whining" (btw, how do you feel about Global Warming?)
11.20.2006 10:22am
A.C.:
Hasn't the Bush administration proven that not all redistributionists are on the left? There's a redistributionist right as well -- plenty of people in the Republican coalition want to use government power to reshape society in both the economic and the moral spheres.

I propose something other than a left-right argument. How about discussing a sense of personal ability to influence society? People who don't think they have any personal power to help the poor, uphold a specific moral code, or whatever, might be more likely to support government programs that promise to do those things. Whereas people who do feel a sense of personal power to influence things will probably just roll up their sleeves and do whatever is needed. This may include group action and even local politics, which is a whole different game than the one in Washington.

I'm not sure if the power/no power divide is driven by income as such, given that a lot of people with moderate incomes are very active in charitable organizations. But I do wonder about life phase and experience of dependency. In my experience, students and retired people are more redistributionist than people who are living on their earnings. People who were students for a long time (professional school graduates) also tend to be redistributionists. Even if they end up wealthy, maybe that experience of dependency made them favor government programs rather than thinking things can be resolved through their own efforts in voluntary associations.

The question I would ask to get at this is what percentage of a person's life he or she has lived on his or her own earned income. I predict that a higher percentage is related to a greater sense of personal ability to get things done, and therefore both to greater happiness and to more charitable giving or volunteering. And I'll bet this is true regardless of the level of that earned income, provided it is enough to survive on. The people who prevailed in difficult circumstances might even turn out to be the happiest and most generous of all. That psychology comes up often enough.
11.20.2006 11:27am
Fearmonger (mail):
Is a rich, senior management, anti-redistributionist not racist who claims he has "lots of black friends" and "believes everybody is equal" yet lives in a mostly white neighborhood and votes against every applicant of color or Jew who comes up for membership at his country club (of course race has "nothing to do with it")?

Possibly

But the redistributionist who has seen his good paying union carpenter job disappear and now works at WalMart is a racist because he hates the undocumented Mexicans who came in and allowed the contractors to bust the union with cheap labor?

Definitely
11.20.2006 12:25pm
Jay Myers:
Ragerz:

I think that the ill will is unfortunate too. However, I do think that the title to this post could have been better worded. Are redistributionists really less generous? As logicnozi said above a better title would have been to say that they "Don't Donate As Much to Charity." Leave it to readers to determine whether the donations are equivalent to generousity, reflect a different philosophy for the mechanism by which redistribution should occur, or whether they want to consider particular donations to be considered "generous" or not depending on the cause.

It's easy to be "generous" with other people's money. Want to be generous while still believing that government solves problems better than private charity? Then give the government more of your own money. That tax bill is just a minimum. If you really want to, I'm sure the government will allow you give them more. The fact is, that the tax code is the same for redistributivists and anti-redistributivists. If anti-redistributivists then go beyond paying their taxes and give more money to private charity than redistributivists, then I think that they can safely be characterized as being "more generous" regardless of what the two groups may believe is the most efficacious mechanism for helping the less fortunate.

As far as the idea that opposition to income distribution is linked to a desire for social dominance, I don't think that any of your work really goes to that question. Without doing any statistics, I can confidently predict that some opposition to income distribution due to a desire for social dominance, and some of that opposition is due to other motives. Given the diversity of human motives, we can predict that the motives for supporting that particular policy are varied.

As I understand it, the point of the research is to determine what motives, as indicated by personal traits, are most likely to be associated with redistributivist or anti-redistributivist beliefs. So you've correctly guessed that there are more than one possible movtives, can you also guess which one is most closely correlated with anti-redistributivist attitudes?

Perhaps a particular breakdown of the relative percentages of those who are motivated by social dominance versus other motives might be vaguely interesting. But it isn't really useful in resolving the underlying issue.

The purpose of this research is to verify or falsify previous studies and to either support or cast doubt on an existing theory about how our world functions. Since that existing theory regards the most common motivation for anti-redistributivist attitudes, a "breakdown of the relative percentages of those who are motivated by social dominance versus other motives" perfectly resolves the underlying issue.

Overall, you are not really getting to the question of to what degree is opposition to redistribution motivated by social dominance. You are only getting at questions that may or may not be related. If redistributions are more likely to be racist, that doesn't really show that those who are non-redistributionists don't take that position for non-racist reasons.

Might it demonstrate the possibility that some of those who favor redistribution do so because it is a good way to keep a segment of the population dependant and thus "on the plantation"? How often at election time have we heard, "Don't go voting for those evil Republicans because they'll take away your welfare and social security!"
11.20.2006 2:26pm
MnZ (mail):
But would it be surprising if rightists placed greater trust in private initiatives to do what leftists expect of government?


Exactly. Consider price controls for example. Rightists tend to abhor them. Leftists tend to support them. Of course, there are exceptions. However, the tendency is there.
11.20.2006 5:33pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Naturally, those who favor income redistribution are less happy and less generous as they are mostly poor and experience financial troubles.
Poor people certainly make up a large bloc of supporters of income redistribution - you don't see people from, say, south Dallas, electing libertarian types into office. (Their Congressional rep is Eddie Bernice Johnson, one of the most liberal Dems in the Texas Congressional delegation.) But it's well-to-do folks who conjure and enact redistributionist legislation, and who donate the lion's share of campaign funds to such policy makers.

I suspect that mistrust of the potential of private charity is the driving force behind statist redistributionism. The fiscal left wants a guarantee that X number of dollars is going into Program Y every year, and you can't guarantee anything if the funds are all voluntary. You can guarantee that private charity sucks up far less overhead and is defrauded far less often than government programs, however.
11.20.2006 5:52pm
John Noble (mail):
After controlling for income, I wonder how much of the difference in charitable giving, as well as attitudes such as happiness and contentment, might be correlated with discretionary expenditures, e.g. by controlling for family size. It would be interesting to discover that redistributionists have larger families than anti-redistributionists at the same income levels, and less left over for charitable contributions.

It would be even more interesting, and a more delicious irony, to discover that pro-redistribution correlates with profligacy. You mention that the redistributionists report "lower satisfaction with their financial situations." Maybe it's because they are less likely to live within their means.
11.20.2006 9:27pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
John Noble.

There has been some reporting that red states have larger families, that liberals have less than two kids per family and conservatives just over two, on average, and conservative Christians about three per family.
That's one reason the next census is going to take seats from traditionally blue states and give them to traditionally red states.

There is a slight correlation between liberals and redistribs, and conservatives and anti-redistribs. So, to the extent that family size follows politics, the bigger givers are, apparently, slightly more fecund.

I am not quoting a study to that effect, but connecting two separate issues and suggesting that antis both give more and have more kids and that would seem to be counterintuitive. That is, unless you allowed that they strongly believed in a duty to give, no matter what. To try to connect giving to family resources--divided by the number of kids--implies a view that giving is a matter of discretionary chump change.
11.21.2006 9:17am