This is the claim being made on many blogs because of this headline: Palin gives more to charity than Biden Joe Biden, the champion of the poor, the man who illustrates every point with an anecdote about a conversation with his poor friends, gives less to charity than Governor Palin- who makes half as much money. "In 2006, the Palins paid $11,944 in taxes on $127,869 in income. In 2007, they paid $24,738 on $166,080.But in 2006, they donated $4,880 to charity, and in 2007, they donated $3,325. By contrast, Biden (D-Del.), Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's running mate, has donated a total of $3,690 since 1998 despite his higher Senate salary, according to an analysis posted by National Review."
This is a common phenomenon, written about many times- the supposedly hard-hearted Republicans giving more than the compassionate Democrats. From The Chronicle Of Philanthropy, Republicans give a bigger share of their incomes to charity, says a prominent economist ; from ABC News, Who Gives and Who Doesn't? ; a state-by-state list from the Catalogue for Philanthropy . Does this indicate Liberal hypocrisy? Many are cynical enough to think so- I remember a Doonesbury strip, with Honey asking Duke, "Doesn't he care for the poor?", and Duke answering, "Of course he does- that's how he avoids being one of them."
No, Senator Biden is not a hypocrite; he really does care for the poor. His Senate service illustrates this- he has the talent to be a multimillionaire in private industry, as a lobbyist if nothing else. Every day he spends in the Senate is costing him a fortune. The difference in personal giving does not reflect where his heart is, it reflects where his trust and philosophies lie.
A political liberal believes in government solutions. He believes that his own gifts- even large ones- are like trying to fill the Grand Canyon by throwing bricks in it; a meaningless gesture for the most part. The real cure, he believes, is by creating programs that will help everyone everywhere. He trusts the government to handle such programs more fairly and effectively than any private charity could. He believes that it takes a village.
A political conservative believes government programs exist primarily to provide plum jobs for political appointees. He believes that even the best intentioned government programs will be bungled. And so he fights against government programs and gives privately instead.
There is the additional effect that the political conservative is most often also a religious conservative. A religious conservative tends to believe in a personal duty to help the poor and unfortunate; "Rendering unto Caesar" does not discharge that duty, only his personal efforts do. That is why the dirt-poor often give a higher percentage of their incomes than the better off.
This is the only nation in which this philosophical difference makes a practical difference. For example, the US is often criticized for how little foreign aid we give- but that criticism arises from the fact that only government programs are counted. To illustrate with a personal example, the amount we send to our sponsored child in Guatemala- small as it is- is tens of times higher than the portion of our taxes going to foreign aid... multiply that by millions of like-minded Americans, and the total amount of aid sent, government and private combined, is much higher per capita than any other nation.
But the rigid political partisan of either side doesn't look at the big picture. The liberal believes the conservative heartless because he doesn't support the liberal's pet project. The conservative believes the liberal a hypocrite and a demagogue because he isn't doing those things personally. The professional activist feeds those beliefs to create hatred and anger because he knows that those emotions are easier to manipulate. One activist sits on our right shoulder, whispering that liberals want government programs to increase their personal power and empire, that liberals just want to rule, using the poor as pawns. One activist sits on our left shoulder, whispering that conservatives are heartless, greedy pigs who don't give a damn about anyone else, too stupid to know their own good. And so we have these nasty election campaigns. Think about that manipulation before you post your next jeremiad.