Sunday, September 05, 2010

Compassion Is All About The Stories We’re Told!

The Tea Party (TP) finally made more sense to me after reading some excellent investigation by journalist Jane Mayer unwrapping who is covertly bankrolling what is prematurely termed a movement. I just didn’t realize we are contributing to it indirectly if we use Brawny paper towels and Quilted Northern bathroom tissue ;-)quilted-northern

I can see how billionaire libertarians (and being libertarian is obviously a lot easier if you’re rich) can propagandize what at first seemed a disparate group into being so hopping mad.

Compassion all comes down to the stories we’re told. Follow me for a moment.

I can understand the argument that any racists in the TP are just fringe elements, it just has “a lot of fringe” (as I read quoted once but can no longer find.)

But more compelling is an excellent article written by the guy who wrote the primer on libertarianism explaining why it seems so many libertarians may sound racist.

The libertarian part, if you read those links, also explains why TPers are grinding their teeth so hard over health insurance reform or the trillion, give or take, we’re spending to fend off an even greater recession, yet they seem mysteriously untroubled by the trillion spent to date on a war in Iraq.

This just isn’t about the theory that wars, if anything, have always been good for the rich and rich white guys in particular. Libertarians and it seems TPers see the former as an infringement and the latter as a legitimate role of government.

Polls show TPers are more about the size of government than anything else including the deficit or taxes, another thing in common with libertarians.

This plus or minus 3% April poll reveals that TPers, like libertarians are more white, male, married, very conservative (some say “holier than thou” Republicans, over 45 and financially secure.

But even more telling was the finding that TPers believe “too mach has been made about the problems of black people” and that “a disproportionate amount is being done to help the poor rather than the middle class or the rich.”

That brings me to my conclusion this is really more about the stories people are told and the “compassion deficit,” a term coined in a paper presented in January by researchers P.K. Piff, M.W. Kraus and D. Keltner.

It documents an analysis of charitable giving revealing that poor people give a higher proportion of income than rich people and by rich they mean people more like those given the huge tax cuts earlier this decade, not the super-rich like Gates and Buffet.

But to me, the most revealing part of the research is about the power of the “stories” people are told. In other words, “people who are poor become less altruistic when led to think of themselves as upper class and high-income people become more charitable when led to imagine themselves as lower class.”

Everyone it seems and TPers in particular, need to be very careful about the “stories” we’re told as well as the stories we tell ourselves.

But for the grace of God….

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