Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Charitable Poverty of Our Compassionate , Selfish Liberals

Some talk the talk, others may walk the walk, and a few do both well. Thus, we should judge people by what they do as well as what they say.

Let me start with a few caveats.

First, my initial inclination was not to use words like selfish. However, Senator Obama recently referred to Senator McCain and Governor Palin as “making a virtue out of selfishness.” One who understands capitalism and the human spirit will understand that selfishness is just another word for ambition and drive, this time in the economic arena rather than the blind ambition present in politics.

Second, a different dynamic was at work with Barack and Michelle Obama in their early years. We should no more question their public service over a decade than Senator McCain’s patriotism.

The two Harvard educated lawyers have four Ivy League degrees between them. They could have easily earned a fortune practicing law for the big firms in Chicago. Yet, they clearly dedicated their lives to public service and the community. No cattle futures for them!

However, once their annual income reached $200,000 they remained frugal with charitable contributions. 2004 is a typical year. Only $2,500 was declared as charitable contributions on a reported income of $207,647. In 2002 they donated only $1,050 on income of $259,394.

This frugality with charitable giving is common with our compassionate liberals.

A look at the tax returns of our political candidates reveal a stunning reality about the Democrats. They may express compassion for the middle class and down trodden, but when it comes to actual charity, they are selfish. We know this by looking at their deductible charitable contributions.

Studies show that conservative households on average give 30% more to charities than liberal households, although the average household income of the conservatives is 6% less than that of the liberals.

The Obama’s income jumped to $1,655,106 in 2005; their contributions rose to $77,315, and continued in 2006 and 2007. Their charitable contributions hovered around 6%. Income was $4,139,965 in 2007 and $983,826 in 2006. Charitable deductions were $240,370 and $60,307 respectively. $27,500 went in both 2005 and 2006 to Reverend Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ.

By this time though, Senator Obama has decided to run for President and probably wished to avoid the embarrassment suffered by Vice President Gore during his run at the presidency.

And then we have the Joe Biden, the “common man,” who seems to have forgotten his roots except in elections. The Bidens earned between $210,797 and $321,379 in the ten years from 1998 through 2007. The most they claimed in charitable contributions was $995 (of which only $595 was cash) last year. Other than that it ranged from $120 to $380. Their contributions during this time totaled $3,690.

Both Obama and Biden have been more generous, believe it or not, than Al Gore. The Vice President, living in the Vice President’s Mansion, reported income of $197,729 in 1997, and only managed charitable contributions of $353, for an effective giving rate of .19%

Gore was positively munificent compared to Senator John Kerry, the same John Kerry who has twice married rich. Although he donated $44,000 on income of nearly $400,000 in 2003, the year before he ran for President, he sometimes did not claim even a penny in many years in the 1990’s.

Governor David Patterson of New York earned $269,815 in 2007, but donated only $150 in the form of old clothes to the Salvation Army.

By way of comparison, the Vice President and Lynn Cheney donate all the royalties from their books to charity, amounting to almost $8 million since he became Vice President.

The Palins had income of $166,080 in 1996 and $127,869 in 2007. Their charitable contributions last year were $4,880 and $3,325 in 2006. Either year exceeds the total cash contributions of the Biden’s this decade.

Senator John McCain, who reports separately from his wife, earned $386,527 in 2007 and donated $105,467. He gave away $96,333 in 2006 on income of $338,809. Since Cindy McCain only released the first two pages of her last two returns, we do not know what her contributions were. She did claim total deductions of $569,737 on income of $4,551,901 in 2007.

As with the Vice President, Senator McCain donates his book royalties to charitable organizations. That has amounted to over $1.8 million.

The logical explanation for the liberal parsimoniousness is that they believe that the government should make these decisions whereas the conservatives know they have a personal obligation to help. Conservatives believe in the individual, and with that belief comes personal responsibility – the duty to give back.

Liberals leave it to the government. They believe the government is the answer to all problems, and hence should decide who should be the recipients of largess. The government will decide by taxing the earners to redistribute the income to those the government deems more worthy.

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