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December 9, 2005

Are Progressives Cheap?

-- by Dave Johnson

In the spirit of blogs-as-open-source-think-tanks I'd like to start a discussion. Are Progressives cheap? Do you think Progressives give enough money to Progressive organizations and candidates?

How much is "enough?" Many Christians, even very poor ones, give ten percent of their before-tax income to their churches. For them tithing is a value. Do YOU give ten percent of your income to Progressive organizations, causes and candidates? (I'm not saying that Progressives are in some kind of opposition to Christians here, I'm asking if this can be a core Progressive value in the same way that it a Christian value.)

Have you ever worked for a Progressive-oriented non-profit? If you think the "private sector" pays poorly and takes its workers for granted, you really have no idea... And there is the whole issue of the foundations and other funders of Progressive causes. What's up with that?

Is there a Progressive "value" of giving? Or do Progressives really think that "the government" should take care of everything? Conservative certainly understand the importance of funding their organizations. The "conservative movement" network of PR think tanks receives more than $400 million dollars a year. (This total does not even include Fox, Limbaugh, The Party, etc.)

And, most important, what can we do to change this? What can we do to instill in Progressives a culture of supporting our own causes, organizations and candidates?

DISCUSS!

Posted by Dave Johnson at December 9, 2005 10:45 AM

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» The Nose Points Toward The Paycheck from Seeing the Forest
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» The Nose Points Toward The Paycheck from Seeing the Forest
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Comments

Interesting. I wonder if Progressives' donations are watered down by having MORE to donate TO? For example, I donate to a variety of environmental/endangedred species groups as well as to political campaigns. What do Conservatives donate to?

I also think that Conservatives donate in self-interest; they donate to the party with the unwritten understanding that they'll receive a some sort of favor in return. Wealthy Conservatives see it as a smart investment with a GREAT return even though it's COUNTED as a "donation". -JJ

Posted by: Jaundice James at December 9, 2005 3:11 PM

Good point by Jaundice about progressives having more causes and organizations to which to donate. I never even thought about that, but it's true. Just like him, I donate to various environmental/animal groups and political campaigns. What do individual conservatives donate to? Probably their politically active churches, local organizations, and campaigns, but I don't really know. The advantage the Conservatives have is all the donations they get from the super rich -- for reasons that should be obvious by now. The progressives are depending on individual donors, like me.

No, I don't think progressive donors are exactly cheap. I suspect that their money goes where their heart goes, which is why we support environmental groups, campaigns to help in various disasters, and other social causes, and support individual candidates. the problem for progressives is not that individual progressives don't have values involved when they donate, but that progressive causes are so scattered at this point, and have to depend almost entirely on what individual small donors like me can manage to give.

Posted by: MJ at December 9, 2005 5:18 PM

Dave has written fairly extensively about the need to tie our hodgepodge special interests together the way the right has, and that would almost demand a think tank like Commonweal, but the message is slow to sink in. It's like hydrophobic soil that repels the moisture it needs to absorb in order to thrive.

I can't speak for others, but I have to get by on nine grand a year so I give the little I can where I can. 10% is out of the ballpark for me, so is a monthly cup of coffee out where the people are.

Posted by: grannyinsanity at December 9, 2005 6:47 PM

There is oodles of research on this. As a percentage of income, poorer people give more than rich people (though obviously, a smaller aggregate amount.) That may help progressives, though probably not.

Something like 70% of all Americans donate money annually, over 50% of that to churches. That mostly doesn't help us, though there are some liberal churches.

Nonprofits tend to be constitutionally myopic because their very existence depends on selling themselves to donors as the unique solution to a problem. Conservatives seem more willing to simply exploit the possibilities created by the nonprofit status -- liberal outfits are more likely to be tightly wedded to whatever they claim is their public-benefit purpose.

Random thoughts -- huge topic.

Posted by: janinsanfran at December 9, 2005 10:07 PM

First and foremost, I would say that we “Progressives” came to rely on the Government (G) and the justice system to express our needs. What I mean is that, in the last century, starting with T. Roosevelt and through to Jimmy Carter, our elected officials used tax dollars to correct perceived wrongs; in our culture, our environment, our workplace, for our poor and vulnerable, etc. The American people, if they're capable and can afford it, were willing to use the government to fund progressive activities and policy. We grew up and lived in a Progressive paradigm. Conservative Americans are people who value differently and believe otherwise. And one thing they believe is that G (and the tax dollars that fund it) shouldn’t be used to correct anything. That’s fair enough but I would say that true Conservatives would be in the minority if it was not for the shenanigans and the successful political activities in the last twenty or thirty years by the group that is now in control of G. They successfully dissuaded the American people from using G. for Progressive purposes through taxpayer resentment, political distractions like the Cold War, the War in Viet Nam, political polarization (think Rush Limbaugh), phony national ego, you all know how it went down. My answer to David’s questions is: let’s get back in control of the G., stop using war and our military unless we are invaded which isn’t going to happen., take most of the money away from the Pentagon and give it to the health and education systems, eliminate corporations and make them illegal, go out on to the streets, find an obnoxious right wing thug and kick his or her ass till they bleed and crawl back into the hole they came from. Make greed in all its forms, a social ill so repugnant that nobody would value it and while we are at it, let’s make “stupid” something to be ashamed of also. That way we would eliminate the possibility of ever having a mentally defective Hollywood actor or a spoiled brat, rich boy, frat head, crack head, reformed drunk sitting in the White House telling us about what’s right and wrong. As Howard Dean said it best, let’s take back America and then we won't have to worry about whether Progressives are cheap.

Posted by: backwoods at December 10, 2005 6:34 AM

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