Spending Other People’s Money

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Nov 20, 2008 1 Comment ›› John Eidsmoe

Spending Other People’s Money

A liberal, it has been said, is a person who believes he owes a debt to humanity and wants to pay it with your money.

President-elect Obama and Vice-President-elect Biden certainly know how to talk the talk about compassion for the poor. Obama’s words to Joe the Plumber about sharing the wealth, and Biden’s statement that paying taxes is patriotic, are now famous.

They talk the talk; but do they walk the walk? Let’s look at their records:

Between 2000 and 2004, Barack and Michelle Obama reported adjusted gross income totaling $1.2 million. Their total charitable contributions were $10,772, less than 1%. Their contributions wee 0.9% in 2000, 0.5% in 2001, 0.4% in 2002, 1.4% in 2003, and 1.2% in 2004. As the Obamas began gearing up for a presidential race, their contributions soared to 4.7% in 2005 and 6.1% in 2006.

During the past decade, the annual charitable gifts reported by Senator Joe Biden averaged $369 per year. In 2006 his adjusted gross income was $248,859 and his charitable gifts were $380 (0.2%), and in 2007 his AGI was $319,854 and his charitable gifts were $995 (0.3%).

Meanwhile, Senator McCain has given over a quarter of his income to charity. In 2006 his AGI was $338,809, and his charitable gifts were $96,758 (28.6%). In 2007 his AGI was $386,527 and he contributed $105,467 (27.3%). (Cindi McCain filed separate returns.)

Sarah and Todd Palin reported adjusted gross income of $166,080 in 2006, and charitable contributions of $3,325 (2.0%), and an AGI of $127,869 in 2007 with charitable contributions of $4,880 (3.8%). During these past two years the Bidens received nearly twice as much incomes as the Palins, yet the Palins’ charitable contributions were six times higher than those of the Bidens.

I am tempted to suggest that Obama and Biden are hypocritical, much like Judas who asked why the spikenard which Mary used to anoint the feet of Jesus should have been sold and the proceedings given to the poor. “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief….” (John 12:5).

But upon further reflection, I have concluded that Obama and Biden are being true to their liberal philosophy of government. Hardcore liberalism teaches that income redistribution and the relief of the poor are the responsibilities of government. Private charity is not only superfluous; it gets in the way of government. The hardcore Left therefore resents private charity, and turf wars often develop between government agencies and private charitable institutions.

Scripture exhorts us to be charitable (James 1:27, 2:15-16; Matthew 25:31-46), but these exhortations are addressed to individuals, not governmental agencies. When individuals, families, and churches exercise charity, the money is well-spent and the givers and the recipients both receive edification. When government administers charity through confiscatory taxation, it becomes corrupt and wasteful, the taxpayers resent it, and the beneficiaries come to regard it as an entitlement and resent that it is not more.

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  1. Angela (http://thedelightofmotherhood NULL.blogspot NULL.com/) says:

    Well said.

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