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February 2005

Horowitz: Discover the Network

Database of liberal funders by David Horowitz, whose book suggesting that politics is war to the finish is popular with Karl Rove, Tom Delay, and others. If are drawing up a database of those who are, by innuendo,  Terrorists in Disguise, I have any number of names, as yet unlisted in Horowitz's database, I would be willing to denounce for a small sum. These are the crypto-lberals , who are too scared of reprisal to take a public stand against the new McCarthyism, or who donate only in secret. Surely, if we are to have a lynching, we should lynch them as well. In fact, David, let's start with the meek, as Jesus suggested, since they are the least likely to resist.

Here, to put his latest strategem in context, is Horowitz on The Art of Political War:

Politics is a war of position. In war there are two sides: friends and enemies. Your task is to define yourself as the friend of as large a constituency as possible compatible with your principles, while defining your opponent as the enemy whenever you can. The act of defining combatants is analogous to the military concept of choosing the terrain of battle. Choose the terrain that makes the fight as easy for you as possible.

What is at issue, obviously, is not one party or another, but democracy. The word treason gets thrown around. About time we started talking more seriously about generosity, love of neighbor, forgiveness, and projects that unite us across the wounds being driven so callously into the body politic for low and despicable ends. Those men and women of timid goodwill, of all political pursuasions, the Sleepwalkers, who think it will all turn out fine if they keep a low profile, shame on you. Time to double up on the funding and the effort, whatever your political stripe, so long as we agree on one another's right to be wrong.

No Such Thing as Society said she Elected to Lead it

Margaret Thatcher

"I think we've been through a period where too many       people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm  homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are   individual men and women, and there are families. And      no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

To what are the wealthy entitled? What is the extent and measure of their obligation to those outside their immediate family? Their immediate, often gated, community? Do we have a political, civic, or moral obligation to our fellow citizens? Answer from The Right, No. From Jesus, Yes. How then is a Christian Right possible? What cause in nature makes these hearts so hard? And will they when broken, shamed and discarded, bear their own misery in diffident silence? Some, Evangelicals, certainly set a higher and more Christian standard. May their voices be heeded.  The market is no substitute for civic virtue.

My friends in the Right Wing Think Tanks! To say there is no society as you, and those you lackey, live on the fat of the land, at the tip of every pyramid, is a sin against the Holy Ghost. Were there no Society you would torn apart by ravening mobs. (See Hobbes.) 

Government Programs versus Compassonate Conservatives - Two losing Strategies?

If government programs are of often blind, and do not solve the problems of the underclass, will conservatives be wiser in their own giving, and compassionate enough to cross racial and class lines to give with their own hands to the poor? Some will, and those are to be honored. But what of the rich SOB who gives nothing? How do we exact honorable behavior from the rich? If not taxes, the pillory? A good discussion of these issues on Lenore Ealy's blog, Beneficence, which is more properly called Stinginess, since it is a textbook defense of the principled or unprincipled selfishness of her funders. Beneficence is the conservative head fake; the real movement is to defund social programs and pocket the cash. Compassion means, "Let Jack do it, if he wishes." For those who are taken aback by my vehemence, Lenore and I are friends. We take each other seriously enough to be outspoken. She gives as good as she gets. Maybe we can clarify some of the issues precisely by not dancing around them. 

Motivating Donors with Movies

From Planned Legacy a list of movies that may be helpful in development work. And check this out, a book, (The Ultimate Gift) schmaltzy as can be, soon to be made into a movie, funded in part by insurance agents, to motivate prospects to enter the legacy planning process. Should work well. My hope, though, is that we can harness art as well as sentimentality to the giving effort, though the market may be smaller.

Are Compassionate Churchy Conservatives Generous - To Whom?

Heritage Foundation Event

Are Americans Selfish?
The Bond Between Faith, Philanthropy and Healthy Democracies

Date: February 16, 2005
Time: 12:00 noon
Speaker(s): Arthur C. Brooks
Associate Professor of Public Administration and Director of the Nonprofit Studies Program,
Maxwell School of Public Affairs,
Syracuse University
Host(s): Joseph Loconte
William E. Simon Fellow in
Religion and a Free Society,
The Heritage Foundation

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

The recent tsunami disaster in South Asia exposed much misinformation about the strength of American generosity. In truth, 70 percent of Americans give to charity each year, and do so at far higher levels than people in other developed nations: three times as much as the British, four times as much as the French, and seven times as much as the Germans. Still, a substantial minority of Americans – more than 80 million – do not support any charitable causes. Why not?

Arthur C. Brooks, Associate Professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs, argues that charitable behavior is closely linked to religious practice and attitudes about the government's role in society. Americans who regularly attend houses of worship are much more likely to donate time or money – including to secular organizations – than their secularist counterparts. In addition, those who believe that government should redistribute income are far less likely to give voluntarily to help others. This helps explain why, compared to the United States, European states (mostly social democratic and secularist) see low levels of private giving. Dr. Brooks offers a stiff warning to politicians and policymakers who fail to view voluntary charity as a vital component of a healthy democracy.

Dr. Brooks, Director of the Nonprofit Studies Program at the Maxwell School, has published over 75 articles on charitable giving and nonprofit organizations, including contributions to The Public Interest, Policy Review, and the Wall Street Journal. His forthcoming book is entitled Selfishness in America.

Heritage is making a tacit case, clearly, that tax and spend liberals are not so generous as the good Christians who support Bush. The recomendation would be faith-based government initiatives, tax roll backs, and the conversion of Godless liberals to compassionate conservativism and the religion of their choice.

Working as I often do with Evangelical donors, I am struck by the consonance of their faith and works, and the depth and sincerity of their efforts to make a difference, often in their local community, to be good people, and to raise their children to be good, virtuous, hard working and generous. Family values with conviction, backed by action.

Yet, the apple tends to fall, in all giving, pretty close to the tree. Yalies give to Yale, preps to their prep school. Educated money to the arts and cultural institutions that provide services that donors use and appreciate. The believer gives to his or her church or house of worship. The church may be in a good part of town, surrounded by big houses. The pet lover endows a home for poodles. The athlete a stadium. And on and on.

The problem is that the communities of the poor have few in their communities who can make large gifts. And the money does not often come voluntarily from the big houses, or Churches, in the wealthy neighborhoods. Instead comes the rhetoric of self reliance and the ownership society, which falls hard upon the ears of the dispossessed.

Involuntary philanthropy or taxation is a forced exaction to make up for the limitations of our own sympathy and range of personal experience and face to face compassion. As citizens in our little communities of interest, we do not know, often, who needs what most. Government programs fill in what glamorous giving, and elite giving, and "be like me" giving so often forgets, that those most in need may be out of sight, beyond the pale of our sympathy and yet have a call upon us as fellow citizens. Nor can business do much for those without marketable skills, good health, or the ability to buy things.

So when the conservative case is made for generous, please ask: To whom? When the dollars stop moving, from scrapped government programs back to the rich, and the rich to those like themselves, who will be homeless, broken and without hope, and without help? When generosity fails, will we as a nation tread the afflicted, and the weak, under foot? Beyond generosity, I am told, is justice.

Eyes on the Prize

Eyes on the Prize, the seminal documentary of the civil rights struggle is at risk of disappearing because of copyright restrictions. Online activists are disseminating bootleg copies. Who owns culture in the Ownership Society; who owns the rights to Brand Freedom? When, O Lord, will a high wind rise, to blow down the fences upon the commons? Let us drive owners through streets strewn with roses in a celebration of love. What make us human, can it owned and restricted? By what right, other than laws answering to something like justice? Not just money. On the other hand....