Monday, May 01, 2006

Compassionate Conservatism

Marvin Olasky--editor-in-chief of World magazine and the man who coined the phrase "compassionate conservatism"--explains in a new article what it means and doesn't mean. A couple of helpful quotes:

Republicans and others needed to understand that the welfare state was not extravagant but stingy. The welfare state gave the needy bread and told them to be content with that alone. The welfare state gave the rest of us the opportunity to be stingy also. We could salve our consciences even as we scrimped on what many of the destitute needed most—challenging, personal, and often spiritual help.

One compassionate conservative goal was to encourage average citizens to help the poor directly, instead of handing off all the responsibility to government officials. Another goal was to end government discrimination against faith-based groups that were often the most effective poverty-fighters. Those goals were both expenditure-neutral: They suggested neither bigger nor smaller budgets, but a different way of spending.