Monday, September 15, 2008

Biden amazingly uncharitable

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy, another sad example of lefties who don't give much to charities...

Sen. Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, have given an average of $369 per year to charities during the past decade, according to tax returns posted today to Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign Web site.

Biden, the Democratic nominee for vice president, claimed $995 in charitable gifts in 2007 on the joint return with his wife. That figure is 0.3 percent of the couple’s claimed income of nearly $320,000.

The 2007 contributions were significantly higher than the couple’s gifts in previous years, which ranged from $120 to $380.

By comparison, Sen. John McCain, the Republican Presidential nominee, in 2007 reported $405,409 in total income and contributed $105,467, or 26 percent of his total income, to charity.

McCain files a separate return from his wife, Cindy. The totals do not include Ms. McCain’s income or charitable contributions.

Obama, and his wife, Michelle, donated $240,000 in 2007, or about 5.7 percent of the couple’s $4.2-million in reported income.

The most famous example, heretofore, was Al & Tipper Gore's lack of charity. Given Gore's bigger name, he may still hold onto his fame in this arena. But since Biden's example is more contemporary-- and since it's more fun to point to Al's "carbon footprint"-- perhaps Biden's will supplant Gore's.

Biden's behavior is consistent with Arthur Brooks' research on liberals.

Perhaps I'm being uncharitable, but Biden's behavior is hypocritical given his propensity to take your money for various "charitable causes".

That said, Biden's behavior may be understandable-- beyond its self-serving nature-- if he is believes that too many people are like him...and so, the government will need to take care of those who will not supported by charity.


At September 15, 2008 at 6:43 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

We should note that Biden claims that his tax returns do not reflect the true extent of his giving. See the Byron York column of 15 September 2008 in the National Review Online.

At September 15, 2008 at 9:55 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Thanks for the reference, but the two key paragraphs from York's piece don't seem to help Biden much.

The literature indicates that time and money are correlated in terms of giving. (He might be an exception)

Why would he take account of smaller contribs and supposedly ignore large contribs. (And why would we expect a politician not to put his best [public] foot forward?)

He doesn't make enough money to contrib?! (Tell that to people who make far less and give far more!)

Here's York:

A spokesman for Biden, David Wade, says the figures on Biden’s tax return do not reflect the true extent of his giving. “The charitable contributions claimed by the Bidens on their tax returns are not the sum of their annual contributions to charity,” Wade said in a statement to NRO. “Like most regular churchgoers, they contribute to their church, and they also contribute to their favorite causes with their time as well as their checkbooks, whether it’s [Jill] Biden’s volunteer work with military families or the Biden breast-health initiative, or the way in which the family pitched in driving supplies to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, or the ways Sen. Biden has supported charities that help women, police, and veterans.”

Wade also suggests that Biden, who is famous for being the least wealthy member of the U.S. Senate, simply doesn’t have piles of money to give. “Like a lot of families that put three kids through college and have an aging parent move in with them, the Bidens aren’t divorced from the realities of everyday life,” Wade says. Still, Wade continues, “finding ways to give back is important to them.”

At September 16, 2008 at 10:12 AM , Blogger William Lang said...

How many public figures don't report charitable contributions on their publicly-disclosed tax forms, in mind of Matthew 6:1-4?

At September 16, 2008 at 10:28 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

We only know an upper bound on that question-- the number of politicians who report $0 (for whatever set of motives). I suspect that the upper bound is 0-- that all of them report some contribs. (If Biden claimed 0, he could try to use this angle.)

In any case, that's a (legalistic) misapplication of Mt 6:1-4, the point of which is the motive by which such things are done. Doing something publicly is not the issue; doing something in order to be seen (and praised) is the problem.

This becomes obvious when, a few verses later, Jesus tells them that they are a city on a hill and a light that should not be hidden.

The predominant issue (as is typical when we relate to God) is motive and heart, trust and faith-- not behavior per se.

At September 16, 2008 at 12:38 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

Yes, it wouldn't make sense for Biden to not report contributions to his church, if he did make any, since he did report some charitable contributions.

Speaking of legalism, how many people give 10% of their income to charity, namely their church, because their church expects them to tithe? I wonder how this affects the statistics of giving by conservatives versus liberals.

By the way, at an Episcopal church I used to attend, the pastor gave, not the Sermon on the Mount, but the "Sermon on the Amount."

At September 16, 2008 at 3:15 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

WL: Speaking of legalism, how many people give 10% of their income to charity, namely their church, because their church expects them to tithe?

me: Not sure, but an interesting question. I think many people think, mistakenly, that God "expects" 10%. The OT standard actually exceeded the 10% base tithe. The NT abandons or at least diminishes the tithe in favor of a stewardship approach-- that all I have belongs to God and should be given to him explicitly and implicitly (Rom 12:1).

Beyond that, and to your point: some people would add that their church expects it.

From what I understand, the Mormons require 10% and monitor it for membership. Smaller churches implicitly monitor, since anonymity is more difficult or impossible. At a larger church, assuming almost complete anonymity in the process (as we have at Southeast), then there is no significant enforcement or pressure.

WL: I wonder how this affects the statistics of giving by conservatives versus liberals.

me: Another interesting question, presuming more/less discussion of this by conservative vs. liberal theology. I don't know which type talks moreso about money-- and the extent to which they connect it to tithing.


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