With the incredible out pour of time and effort given by our volunteers during flood season, it’s safe to say that this part of the country is ground-zero for community involvement. Volunteers come in every color, creed, and political persuasion… their good deeds shouldn’t be dismissed because of what they choose to believe in. We can all agree on that, right? Well . . .not all of us.
The story comes from Mississippi. There, a FEMA worker videotaping the efforts of volunteers in the tornado-ravaged town of Ebenezer approached two sisters, asking them to change their shirts before conducting an on-camera interview. The reason? The girls’ shirts displayed a Salvation Army logo, and the FEMA crew didn’t want to “feature faith groups.” When asked “why not?” the response was revealing, on several accounts: “we’ve done that hundreds of times” the government worker said. Remarkable.
Now according to the mainstream media and conventional wisdom, volunteering is exclusively a “liberal” activity. Us religious-conservative types are too busy thumping on our bibles and clinging to our guns — raising trouble in Tea Parties and townhall meetings – to help a neighbor in need. But the data confirms just the opposite. In his book “Who Really Cares?” – a study of volunteerism in America – economist Arthur Brooks found that people living in conservative states volunteer much more than those in liberal states. In 2003, the residents of the top five “Bush states” were 51% more likely to volunteer than those on the bottom five, averaging 12 percent more volunteer hours each year. And therein lies the fundamental difference between the two ideological approaches to giving: liberal charity consists of the government redistributing wealth through compulsory taxation; conservative charity consists of rolling up your sleeves to get the job done. When a disaster strikes, who do you rely on more?
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