Mark’s right — conservatism is not the problem, it’s conservatives like Gerson.
When Katrina struck, I was horrified by the reports. Of course the voice in my head that said (a) why didn’t these people leave when they had the chance, and (b) these people elected the likes of Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco, what did they expect? But like millions of other Americans, I felt an obligation to help less fortunate people who were in need. So I sent money to the Red Cross because the Red Cross is a reputable outfit with a good reputation help to the people who need it.
Afterwards, I got so angry at the boondoggle government spending, which inevitably rewarded (and continues to reward) the worst tendencies, I ended up annoyed at myself for contributing — in the name of “compassion,” the government is going to spend goo-gobs of your money anyway, and waste aplenty.
Why does Gerson think that the measure of compassion is whether the government moves when people are hurting? Look at our experience: Katrina, 9/11, or name your overseas catastrophe. Americans pony up more dough than any people on the planet. Government activism causes the dysfunction we saw in Katrina and, at best, it stands in the next Katrina to depress the charitable impulse. That’s compassion?