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Posted March 9, 2007

Book: Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide Who Gives, Who Doesn’t, and Why It Matters
Author: Arthur C. Brooks
Basic Books. New York. 2007. Pp. 250

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

“Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three,” said the Apostle Paul. “But the greatest of these is charity.” We all know we should give to charity, but who really does? In this provocative study of America’s giving habits, Arthur C. Brooks shatters stereotypes about charity in America — including the myth that the political Left is more compassionate than the Right.

Brooks, a preeminent public policy expert, spent years researching giving trends in America, and even he was surprised by what he found. In Who Really Cares, he identifies the forces behind American charity: strong families, church attendance, earning one’s own income (as opposed to receiving welfare), and the belief that individuals — not government — offer the best solution to social ills.

But beyond just showing us who the givers and non-givers in America really are today, Brooks shows why charity matters — not just to givers and to recipients but to the nation as a whole. He shows that giving is crucial to our economic prosperity, as well as to our happiness, health, and our ability to govern ourselves as a free people.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Charity can also aid a giver by providing meaning to that person. In his classic book Man’s Search for Meaning, the psychiatrist Victor E. Frankl defines meaning as the objective of human striving, and he explicitly links it to charity. Frankl believes that giving can be a source of meaning, a way to personal enlightenment:

“Being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself – be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself . . . . self-actualization is only possible as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”

Table of Contents:

1. Is compassionate conservatism an oxymoron?

2. Faith and charity

3. Other people’s money

4. Income, welfare, and charity

5. Charity begins at home

6. Continental drift

7. Charity makes you healthy, happy and rich

8. The way forward