Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Generosity and Education

A soon to be released books compares charitable behavior between various ideologies.

The book, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism " by Arthur Brooks, has some interesting conclusions.

From Arthur Brooks' web page:

People who are religious give more across the board to all causes than their non-religious counterparts

There is a huge “charity gap” that follows religion: On average, religious people are far more generous than secularists with their time and money. This is not just because of giving to churches—religious people are more generous than secularists towards explicitly non-religious charities as well. They are also more generous in informal ways, such as giving money to family members, and behaving honestly.

Giving supports economic growth and actually creates prosperity

Many studies show that giving and volunteering improve physical health and happiness, and lead to better citizenship. In other words, we need to give for our own good. Cultural and political influences—and the many government policies—that discourage private charitable behavior have negative effects that are far more widespread than people usually realize.

The working poor in America give more to charity than the middle class

The American working poor are, relative to their income, some of the most generous people in America today. The nonworking poor, however—those on public assistance instead of earning low wages—give at lower levels than any other group. In other words, poverty does not discourage charity in America, but welfare does.

Upper level income people often give less than the working poor

Among Americans with above-average incomes who do not give charitably, a majority say that they ‘don’t have enough money.’ Meanwhile, the working poor in America give a larger percentage of their incomes to charity than any other income group, including the middle class and rich.


People who give money charitably are 43 percent more likely to say they are “very happy” than nongivers and 25 percent more likely than nongivers to say their health is excellent or very good.

A religious person is 57% more likely than a secularist to help a homeless person.
Conservative households in America donate 30% more money to charity each year than liberal households.

If liberals gave blood like conservatives do, the blood supply in the U.S. would jump by about 45%.

I've always thought that much of the support for "tax payer financed programs for the poor" were an attempt to avoid guilt for lack of personal generosity. True generosity is what you do with your money, not someone else's.

There is a theory in psychology that people feel uncomfortable in inequitable relationships. There are two ways to relieve the discomfort. Change what you do or change how you think about it. It is much easier to change how you think about it, so that is the option most people choose. Voting for more funding for the poor at the taxpayers expense alleviates feelings of guilt without requiring the individual actually do anything for the poor. This study bares that out.

I do think there is another category of people who support governmental income redistribution. Such individuals can be very generous, but arrogantly assume they know what is best for others. Thomas Sowell describes this phenomenon in his book, "Vision of the Anointed." Such people believe that by making life easier for non-producers at the expense of the producers, more people will prosper. The reverse is actually true.

I'm reminded of an example I read in a book. If you crack the shell of an egg to make it easier for the chick to hatch, the chick will usually die. The struggle to break the shell is what develops the circulatory system and makes the chick strong enough to survive. This is why much of welfare "help" actually harms the individual. The aided individual looses the capacity to do for oneself.

Like the Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

This relates to education. Our entire public education system is based on, "Give a man a fish, and tell him that only professionals with certificates are qualified to fish."

I can not tell how many times someone has said to me, "That's great that you homeschool, but I could never do that."

My response is, "Yes, you could."

Almost all functioning adults could care for and educate their children, if they choose to put in the effort to do so. It is a tragedy that capable adults now believe that it is impossible to care for children without the aid of the state. Increasingly, schools take on the role the parents once served. The more that parents are relieve of their responsibilities, the weaker they become. Eventually, potentially able parents find that even if they wanted to take an active role, they are afraid to try.

Regardless of how good schools become, children will go home to increasingly incompetent parents as the "education system" lulls parents into inefficacy, much as the current welfare system sabotages the poor.

Hat Tip: Spunky Homeschool.

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Grizzly Mama said...

This is a wonderful entry, Janine.

I talk to parents all the time who say the old, 'I couldn't do that', line. I tell them what you tell them - yes they can.

I don't know about you, but that was a hurdle I had to clear with myself before embarking upon home educating my kids. I thought, 'I can't do that! I'm not an expert!' Now I've been doing it awhile and I believe that the minions of the government education system like to promote the idea that it's the parents who are the problem. It's never the education system.

I believed them at first! Not anymore, though.

Janine Cate said...

That is one of the reasons I strongly suggest starting to homeschool in kindergarten. As a parent, you could let your child play in the back yard all day and not be behind. In fact it might be more developmentally appropriate.

Another risk is that once you start socializing a child to value the peer group more than adults and the family, it is very hard to get them back. It is dangerous to have right and wrong defined on the playground.

Kindergarten, first, and second grand were my learning to homeschool/working out the relationship time.

It could be very intimidating to jump into homeschooling with a child whose been in school for a few years and now has an attitude problem. Also, as a parent, you've become accustomed to having more free time and less contact with your child. With limited parent/child time, most likely the parenting skills will need some work becuase of lack of exercise.

So many parents say things like, "My child will listen to the teacher and not to me."

That problem only gets worse with time, not better. If you need to go toe-to-toe with your child, you want to do it when they are young. Working out that relationship only gets harder with time.

Often parents decide to homeschool after things have gone too far to easily correct. So, it's much better to start before you have a problem and while the academic work load is light.

ErikT said...

I came across your blog and I must say I am impressed with your postings.

I have a 17 year old that is currently in 11th grade. At the mid point of 5th grade, we had reached our limits with the teachers and administrators at his school. My wife was convinced that she could home school him and that is what we chose to do.

We received no support from the school itself, had to pay for the text books, and felt totally alone. I wish we knew of the resources that were out there at the time, but nobody seemed to be interested in "pointing us in the right direction."

We ended up moving after that year and my son re-entered the public system in a different state.

I believe that 5th grade is too late to start and try to home school. Many of the "ideals" and "learning methods" have already been ingrained into the child by then and it is much too late to change.

My wife is currently pregnant with our second child (yes, after 17 years - Surprise!) and I can say that we will most likely home school her from day 1!

I am working on "An Experiment in Generosity" and have started a blog. Please take a look and provide feedback and/or participate.