Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Progressives and charity

I suspect there will be a lot made out of Obama's lack of charitable giving (his average from 2000 to 2004 was around 1% out of his 250k+ income). I'm (obviously) about to make something out of it, but I want first to state some things I don't care about. I don't think it makes any assertions about his character. A decade ago Bill Gates came under great scrutiny because he didn't give enough money away. I'm not going to stand in judgement about what somebody else chooses to do with the fruits of their labor. I also don't think it makes him a bad Christian. A fairly convincing case can be made that the Levitical tithe does not apply to Christians (though one does wonder where his heart is, given that his money certainly isn't going to the church).

What I do find interesting is that if you listen to his campaign promises he seems awfully generous with other peoples' money. The National Taxpayers Union estimates his promised new program cost at $307 billion. His statements even include promises of personal generosity such as "Obama will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs (to a paid leave program)." What this really means is that Obama will take 1.5 billion from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (both of whom give huge percentages to charity) so that he can be so generous with it.

I hammer this not to pick on Barack, but because I'm constantly tired of conservatives being portrayed as stingy people who care nothing for the poor and want them to starve. Virtually every study I've ever seen shows that conservatives give more. Arthur Brooks ("Who Really Cares?") stated that conservative families give on average 30% more than liberal families. Studies of per-state giving frequently come up with statistics like 24 of the top 25 voted Republican in the last election. But I still have to deal with the absurd claim that conservatives don't care.

I'm not even saying that progressives don't care. The difference is that they think it's the government's job. If a conservative is touched by a situation that needs action they step in and do it (or start their own NGO to step in and do it); if a progressive sees a situation that needs action they send a letter to their congressman (or start their own 527 to lobby congressmen).

1 comment:

gwyneth said...

One of his staffers came out and defended him by saying that he was a generous as he could afford to be when he was giving 1% on their $180k- income.

I guess my question will be since they understand how cash strapped people making only $180k are, that the tax hikes to pay for all the entitlement programs he is proposing will only fall on those making more than that?