A recent Arizona Republic letter to the editor lamented the fact that our government funds war, but not universal health care. The writer asks what that says about our values. That letter got me thinking, what does government spending say about our values?
In the book Who Really Cares, economist Arthur C. Brooks points out that Americans who believe in limited government give more to others on average than those who believe in active government. Believers in small government give more time, money, and even blood. They give more to secular causes, too. This is not to say that there are not very generous individuals of every political stripe. The issue is one of emphasis and how much values are, in fact, reflected in a government budget.
The Wall Street Journal just published an article on the revival of the "religious left." The religious left, mostly left-leaning clergy, agitates for increased minimum wages and social program spending.
One must wonder, though, how virtuous a society is when traditionally charitable giving must be forced on people through taxation. Perhaps those who recommend such a policy are too unwilling to give of themselves. As Dr. Brooks' research suggests perhaps one's values are best reflected in one's personal spending rather than in the spending of other people's money.
Dr. Schlomach is the director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute.
Arizona Republic: Spending priorities reflect values
Arthur Brooks: Who Really Cares
Hoover Institute: Religious Faith and Charitable Giving