Opinion on whether Americans are cheap or charitable depends on who is expressing their views. Former President Carter, U2 singer Bono and Angelina Jolie say we are cheap.
However, America is made up of 300 million individuals and their contributions far exceed what the government gives. Our private philanthropies make us one of the most generous people in the world, says Carol Adelman at the Hudson Institute.
Arthur Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University and author of Who Really Cares began research to claim that liberals are the most generous — but found the opposite to be true. "People who attend a house of worship give four times more money per year than people who don't," noted Brooks. "The fact is that Americans give more than the citizens of any other country. They also volunteer more." According to Brooks, individually, Americans per capita give about 3½ times more money per year than the French, seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians. Americans gave $260 billion away in charity last year — that's about $900 per person.
"Brooks' research is a breath of fresh air for conservatives tired of being lambasted by liberals as selfish," remarks Kristi Hamrick, a spokeswoman for American Values. "Despite all the bad press that the liberals and elitists like to give people of faith," she said, "the truth is, that those Christian values of tithing, of helping the poor, of seeing the needy — these things motivate the community of faith to give and to give generously and to give above and beyond the call."
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