Patriotism, taxes and charity
By Michael M. Bates
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden was interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America recently. With hair plugs set perfectly and dental caps gleaming – or was it the other way around? – Joe was asked by Kate Snow if those odious folks known as the rich should pay more in taxes. His reply:
"You got it. It's time to be patriotic, Kate. Time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help America out of the rut, and the way to do that is they're still gonna pay less taxes than they did under Reagan."
Oh, so now the argument is sending more bucks to Washington is a form of patriotism. Readers familiar with Biden's well-established record of "borrowing" that goes back at least to his law school days won't be traumatized to learn it's not an original notion.
Early in his administration, Clinton and his minions used the same contention to shore up support for tax hikes. His chief spokesman asserted it was the "patriotic duty" of the middle class, the wealthy, and businesses to pay more.
So is Biden right in suggesting shelling out more to government is patriotic? I don't think so. Neither did the renowned U.S. District Judge Learned Hand, who ruled in a case:
"Anyone may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes."
Catching a little flak from John McCain and Sarah Palin for wrapping the flag around a larger tax burden, Biden elaborated on the topic later in the day. He told a union group, "Catholic social doctrine as I was taught it is, you take care of people who need the help the most."
Based on his passionate support for abortion, that Joe follows Church teachings is in itself a revelation. Apparently he does, albeit only the ones that fit in with his political advancement. Still, the cafeteria Catholic claims a belief in helping the needy. So how does he do, as an individual, in taking care of people who need the help the most?
From 1998 to 2006, Joe and his wife had adjusted gross incomes ranging from $210,432 to $321,379. The most they gave to charity in any one year was $380. He played Daddy Warbucks in 2007, however, donating a whopping $995. That was also the year he announced he was running for president.
Coincidentally, a similar pattern emerges in Barack and Michelle Obama's generosity. From 2000 through 2004, less than one percent of their income went for charitable giving. By 2005, about the time Barack figured out the Nation was intensely yearning for change and hope and "present" votes, charities received more than four percent of the Obamas' income. Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church was given $5,000 in 2005 by the Obamas, who increased it to $22,500 the next year. Someone in the Family Obama must have liked what they were hearing from Wright's pulpit.
To my knowledge, Obama hasn't yet joined Biden in proclaiming that higher taxes are patriotic. No, he calls paying more taxes "neighborliness." I don't live in a $1.65 million Georgian revival mansion like Barry, but I don't envisage my neighbors entering my home, taking what they wish, and threatening me with fines and/or imprisonment if I don't give them all they demand. "Neighborliness" must have a different meaning in Mr. Obama's neighborhood.
A growing body of evidence suggests that there's a generosity gap when it comes to liberals and charitable giving. You may recall the analysis of a few years ago showing that, in terms of giving to charity, 27 of the 30 most generous states voted for George Bush over John Kerry. In contrast, the seven least generous states went to Kerry.
More recently, a Syracuse University professor wrote a book in which he asserted people stoutly opposed to government's redistribution of wealth give ten times more to charity than folks strongly favoring government intervention. The least charitable demographic is comprised of young liberals. You know, the same group that fanatically supports the candidate of change and hope and "present" votes.
Perhaps because of their own stinginess, liberals like Obama, Biden and their followers look to government to help the needy. That's understandable; they're not going to do it themselves, at least not until their political ambitions make it prudent. Obama and Biden want to tax the rich, the same people who invest their money in enterprises that create jobs, wealth and security for other Americans with a much greater degree of efficiency and immediacy than most government programs.
Obama says it's time to be neighborly. Biden says it's time to be patriotic. The one thing they agree on is taxes need to be raised.
Don't you love it when a plan comes together?
This Mike Bates column appeared in the September 24, 2008 Reporter Newspapers.