ABC’s John Stossel is well known for his libertarian views and for challenging liberal conventional wisdom. On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, Stossel was at it again as he debunked the widely held perception that liberals are more generous in their charitable contributions than conservatives. As part of a 20/20 special airing Wednesday night, Stossel interviewed Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks, who conducted a study which found that conservatives, while making slightly less money than liberals, actually contribute more:
John Stossel: "But it turns out that this idea that liberals give more is a myth. These are the twenty-five states where people give an above average percent of their income, twenty-four were red states in the last presidential election."
Arthur Brooks, Who Really Cares, author: "When you look at the data, it turns out the conservatives give about thirty percent more per conservative-headed family than per liberal-headed family. And incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less money."
Stossel then highlighted Brooks’ theory as to how differences in political philosophy concerning the role of government in people’s lives has contributed to this difference in giving:
Stossel: "Conservatives are even eighteen percent more likely to donate blood. Brooks says it's because of the different role that conservatives and liberals see for government."
Brooks: "You find that people who believe it's the government's job to make incomes more equal are far less likely to give their money away."
As for which economic class is more giving, Stossel reported Brooks’ findings that while the rich contribute more in total dollars, the working poor actually donates a higher percentage of their income, while the middle class gives the least:
Stossel: "The second myth is that the people with the most money are the most generous. You think they'd be. After all, the rich should have the most to spare. While the rich give more in overall dollars, people at the lower end of the income scale give almost thirty percent more of their income than the rich...A graph of giving in America resembles a ski jump. The people on each end give a higher percentage."
Brooks: "The two most generous groups in America are the rich and the working poor. The middle class give the least."
Wrapping up the segment, GMA anchor Diane Sawyer asked Stossel if he would be going after billionaires to get them to give more, despite the fact Brooks mentioned the rich as one of the most generous groups in the country, and sounded pleased with his response:
Sawyer: "And you're going to confront some billionaires, and see if you can milk them for more."
Stossel: "Yeah, they've got billions, why don't they give more? Are they cheap?"
Sawyer: "Good for you!"