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I find it hard to recommend this book
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Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:26 pm    Post subject: Statistics on international comparison Reply with quote

The book does have an appendic on statistics but I, without having gone into depth, have identified several questionable assertions.

The Red state/ blue state comparison right at the beginning does not exclude religious dontations. Since the Red states are more religious, we should assume they have a higher religious donation level. I wonder whether taking only the non-religious donations would level out the alleged higher generosity in the Red states.

There is a chapter trying to make international comparisons that I find utterly unsatisfying. Brooks states that charity in Europe is so marginal it is hard to find data about it. This is simply not true. Germany for example has important and nationally well-known charitable organizations, like Caritas, Misereor, etc. It can't be difficult to get data about donation levels. One major problem that Brooks doesn't even mention is that a lot of causes that typically get charitable donations in the US are not considered charitable causes elsewhere - notably Universities, theaters, libraries and the like, because they are all tax-funded. Also, in some countries, like Germany, poitical campaigns are mainly funded by tax money, as are churches. You read that right: German churches are funded by a church member tax. Church members will still donate to church causes but far less, unless you count the church tax. So donation levels in Germany are likely lower but that is in part because government funding is far more developed in many areas, including education and health care.

There is a brief discussion about taxes and welfare spending in Europe, in which Brooks wrongly claims that Europeans are not paying more taxes. He cites UK as an example, which of course is untypical. This is one of the most obvious and striking mistakes Brooks makes. All statistics agree that the US has lower tax rates, lower government spending, higher poverty rates and hugely higher social inequality than continental Europe and Canada. Maybe conservatives feel proud about that but at least they should not distort the facts.
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Joined: 27 Dec 2007
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a wonderful suggestion, liberals can simply make all future donations payable the the US Treasury in the form of "Charity Taxes". This way an accurate record can be kept of their superior giving habits... Oh and if they want to donate time I'm sure the Transportation Department would love to have them come out and aid in the beautification of their local road ways, after ward they could recycle the debris and earn some carbon credits!!!


You can argue about cost of living, red state, blue state or why we should scrap America and ask nicely to be the newest member of the E.U. The truth is a belief in God (Jesus to be more precise) and a commitment to the things of true religion, (Taking care of widows and orphans and keeping one self unspotted from the World) has a profound effect on the way you live your life. If one reads the Bible, it clearly states why you should do certain things and the BENEFITS of doing them, and also why you shouldn't do other things and the CONSEQUENCES of doing them anyway. So, at least to me, this book is old news.

I haven't read anyone argue the findings about church-going-folk being more giving of their time, or having a more positive attitude (happiness) or having a better feeling of general health and well being then the secular people.

But the best finding of the book is that the poor give more then the rich!!! Anyone know the story of the widow and the two mites?? Like I said, this book is old news
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Joined: 04 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At no time have I seen the number of people interviewed for this survey, how he picked the interviewees, or what the questions asked were. The correct methodology is imperative in deciding whether this study was valid or not. Statistics can and often do lie, and I think he is making very broad conclusions based on very flimsy data.

On every study I have ever looked up on the web, it says something like: "Based on a study of x # of individuals.....", etc., etc. His is the only one I've seen that doesn't even give the number of people interviewed...did he interview 10 of his fellow professors? This does not encourage me to want to run out and buy the book.

Setting up an unbiased survey can be very complex, and the more variables you are testing, the more complex it is. Most surveys have flaws in them, intentionally or not, and this one has lots of them that I can think of:

1. What are his definitions of conservative or liberal?
2. What is his definition of religious?
3. What is his definition of charity?

Were these definitions that the interviewees determined themselves? If so, there will be inaccuries about liberal-conservative, differences in what is religious and what is not, what charity means to them, and the problem that many might not correctly state the amount of their charity giving.

Two people may have very close agreements about their political views but one may view himself as a liberal, the other a conservative. A deeply spiritual person who is not a member of a church might have trouble answering whether he is religious or not. A person who is religious may think he should give more and intentionally exaggerate his charitable giving. A person who donates five days a week of his time as a volunteer at a hospital may not give money and so not think he is giving to charity.

I doubt if those factors were conducive to an accurate survey.

If he used IRS records, what is charity to the IRS is not charity to anyone else. If a millionaire donated to charity in order to give less to the government, is that true charity?

I would not waste my money buying this book with as little of the protocol that he is willing to state on the web. It's a very suspicious survey because of this lack of openness of how it was set up.
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Joined: 29 Apr 2008
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject: Re: stats Reply with quote

agis1 wrote:
saying that libs/cons are split 50/50 in urban/rural areas...(sorry for all of the "/")...assuming those stats are true, which i don't, then it would be safe to say that income is evenly distributed across the political spectrum. so the samples gathered for the charitable giving would be considered a true sample of the population, meaning you can use the stats given.

you are trying to show that it is not a politically driven connection, by saying that there are equal numbers of libs/cons in every area, but polls show otherwise. (hence the term red/blue state).

also, there are obviously more people living on the coasts than the midwest. the people on the coasts(blue states) are earning more money than the red states as you have just mentioned. you make an interesting economical point, however, i briefly looked up average state income and the lowest ten states for income were those states that had the highest charitable giving. also, looking at the richest counties in the usa, CA, NY, and CO(three states that had below average donations) have at least 5 counties each.
i just don't understand how all of the big cities; la, nyc, san fran, pretty much all of california, denver, etc...could have all of this money and not give it to charity.

I can. I have lived in the SF Bay Area and Huntsville, AL and it's true that secularists are NOT as charitable. I think there is a mixup when comparing talking about charity and actually picking up the Cross and being more selfless.
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