“I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their political duties, they lead their country, by a short route, to chaos.” So said Robert Bolt’s Sir Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons.
The opposite side of that moral coin is explored by Peter Schweizer in his book, Makers and Takers — namely, the personal consequences of a moral compass that points unswervingly to the political left. Schweizer’s answer is given in his extended subtitle — a list of declarations that clearly suggest the royal road to happiness isn’t paved with fervent commitment to government health care.
In this short, generously spaced work Schweizer debunks the popular notion that liberals are better people than supposedly tight-fisted, hard-hearted, mentally unstable conservatives. After providing a gut-wrenching sample of popular elite opinion — from tendentious “studies” that classify Stalin as a conservative to the vacuous blatherings of Bill Maher — Schweizer proceeds to demolish those opinions with peer-reviewed sociological data that show liberals are generally more selfish, more focused on money, less hardworking, less emotionally satisfied, less honest, and even less knowledgeable about politics than their conservative counterparts.
In addition to anecdotal evidence (like Bill Clinton’s 957-page monument to self-obsession) Schweizer cites his favorite source, the “highly regarded General Social Survey,” to show that self-described strong conservatives are much more likely than their liberal counterparts (55-20%) to say they get happiness by putting another person’s happiness ahead of their own. Similar results were obtained in response to queries about caring for a seriously ill spouse or parent. Another study found that students who called themselves “very liberal” or “radical” tended to have a “narcissistic pathology” that exhibited itself in “grandiosity, envy…and a sense of entitlement.” Not surprisingly, these students were not only the most power-oriented but also the most pot-oriented.
This professed gap between liberals and conservatives when it comes to self-centeredness also carries over into practice. While liberals tout their generosity and berate conservative greed, the hard facts (and IRS data) tell another story. That Al Gore gave just $353 to charity in 1998, out of an adjusted gross income of $197,729, appears to be a common occurrence among the former V-P’s ideological associates. The 1040s of leftists like Robert Reich, Andrew Cuomo, Ted Kennedy, and even Franklin Roosevelt tell a similar tale. Indeed, as Schweizer notes, Al Gore looks “downright benevolent” when compared to John Kerry, who gave none of his 126,179 taxable dollars to charity in 1995.
SCHWEIZER’S GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEY shows that this anecdotal evidence corresponds with the tendency of conservatives to donate more money than liberals and to volunteer more time to charitable causes. Even after eliminating church activities, conservatives still volunteered for charitable work more frequently than liberals (27-19%). Prof. Arthur C. Brooks, author of Who Really Cares? (and the incoming president of the American Enterprise Institute) , calculates the annual giving gap between religious conservatives and liberals at $2,210 to $642. This disparity suggests the accuracy of Merryle Rukeyser’s witty definition of a liberal as someone who’s liberal with other people’s money.
Since liberals squeeze their greenbacks so tightly, it follows that they also value money more highly than conservatives when it comes to job satisfaction, a conclusion born out by Schweizer’s statistics (36-24%). Consistent with their entitlement mentality, liberals also put twice as much value on leisure time than conservatives and considerably more value on a low-stress work environment (56-36%). It clearly takes a government-run Wunder-Village to produce these labor conditions — high pay, leisure time, no pressure. Add to these job priorities the fact that conservatives value hard work more than liberals, and it’s easy to see why Schweizer tells employers to “think long and hard” before hiring someone wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt.
Unrealistic workplace expectations doubtless foster another unpleasant characteristic that pervades the left — envy. This trait is perfectly illustrated by an anecdote Schweizer provides about a student who traded his $15-an-hour pizza job for one paying only $6.25-an-hour. The reason for this counterproductive economic decision was envy over the fact that the enterprising student who started the business was making $50-an-hour. Such reasoning coincides with the thought-patterns of that Russian who, given only one wish by a genie, wished that his neighbor’s barn should burn down.
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