Thursday, April 16, 2009

Change You Can Believe In, As Long As You're Using Someone Else's Money, And Not Your Own

Joe Biden's income and taxes 1999-2008, via TaxProf:


Also from TaxProf:

IRS statistics reveal that the average taxpayer with AGI over $200,000 makes over $20,000 of charitable contributions:

$15,000-$30,000 AGI: $1,916 average charitable deduction
$30,000-$50,000 AGI: $2,158 average charitable deduction
$50,000-$100,000 AGI: $2,703 average charitable deduction
$100,000-200,000 AGI: $4,057 average charitable deduction
$200,000+ AGI: $20,434 average charitable deduction

Bottom Line: VP Joe Biden makes $269,000 and contributes only $1,885 to charity, or less than 10% of the average amount for taxpayers in his income group ($20,434), and contributes even less to charity ($1,885) than the average taxpayer making only $15,000-$30,000 ($1,916). In fact, Biden's charitable contributions are less than all income groups.

Update: A comment by David Rotor criticized the chart above for including Biden in an "unbanded range" of $200,000 in AGI and above, which includes Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, Oprah, etc. But the analysis above also compared Biden to the lowest income group, showing that he was even less charitable than the lowest income group ($15,000 to $30,000). The graph below includes the charitable contributions for the income group below Joe Biden ($100-$200k), showing that those who made less than Biden gave more than twice as much to charity. No matter how you do the analysis the result is the same: penury.


40 Comments:

At 4/16/2009 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why pick on Biden? If you're going to offer an analysis, serve it up for as many of our elected representatives as possible.

 
At 4/16/2009 10:16 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Typical of law makers, pass laws on everyone else to make society as they think it should be, while they live as they want.

 
At 4/16/2009 10:22 AM, Anonymous J said...

No, no. To Biden, taxes are a form of charity. So he really contributed over $49,000.

 
At 4/16/2009 10:22 AM, Blogger Bill said...

"Why pick on Biden?"

Umm. He is the Vice President who has gone around telling everyone how it is our patriotic duty to pay more taxes. Meanwhile, he has himself given virtually nothing to charity. You dont spot any hypocrisy here?

 
At 4/16/2009 10:29 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

VP Biden probably knows he will have to prove his deduction with documentation, so the amount is probably accurate. I think as the probability of audit goes down the overstating of deductions probably goes up—except in my case.

 
At 4/16/2009 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, you're not quite right. According to UPI, "Charitable donations claimed by the Bidens on their tax returns is not the sum of their annual contributions to charity, the statement said. They donate to their church, among other contributions."

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/15/Biden-releases-2008-tax-returns/UPI-52841239834410/

 
At 4/16/2009 10:31 AM, Blogger David Rotor said...

Mark,

I normally enjoy your pieces of analysis. This one seems not only mean spirited, but badly done. You state that the average charitable contribution for taxpayers within certain bands, then chose to compare Biden in an unbanded range. In other words you compare Biden's charitable contributions with those of, say, Bill Gates. You've led me to expect better from you.

 
At 4/16/2009 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a little surpirsed at the use of "his group" being 200k+ doenst that include people earning multi millions? A better range would be him vs 200-300K earners. Not to say I think his rate is high, just that the $1,885 number should be compaired on base of percents not raw vaule.

Going by the chart in the original post,
15-30k give 8.5%
30-50k give 5.4%
50-100k give 3.6%
100-200k give 2.7%

Joe Biden gave 0.7%

I just think the average for over 200k is skewed by the very rich while compairing someone who borderline above 200k to the likes of bill gates and buffet is not a fair comparison.

 
At 4/16/2009 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our leaders are carrying some pretty high mortgages, too ! That's VERY surprising to me. One would hope for leaders who are financially secure enough to not be in debt up to their ears like everyman.

That explains a lot about their leadership approach to our economy. Want something now? Borrow from the future.

 
At 4/16/2009 10:38 AM, Blogger Size said...

Okay, let's compare Biden to Cheney (VP to VP).

Cheney gave away something like 5.5% of his income.

Personally, I think charitable contributions are a personal issue. If you have extended family members in third world countries or even here that you support or something similar, then that won't show up as charitable contributions and you may give less to charities.

The problem with Biden is that this is not the case for him and he'd like to wrest the money from your hands to "spread the wealth" in the name of patriotic duty. He'd like to force you to do what he won't do voluntarily despite stating that this is his deeply held belief.

Of course, he did say that you can do everything right and there's still a 30% chance that you're wrong, so this guy doesn't seem to have a firm grip on logic. He's by far not the only idiot in government, but his profile is higher.

 
At 4/16/2009 10:46 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

I just think the average for over 200k is skewed by the very rich while compairing someone who borderline above 200k to the likes of bill gates and buffet is not a fair comparison.
Still yet, isn't he below every other bracket range too?

 
At 4/16/2009 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you mean other peoples money?

His tax rate went up pfrm 15.3% to 17.6%. Propbably he could have paid less tax if he had made more gifts, but since the government is giving it away anyway, what's the difference? joe's charity manager of choice seems to be the government, is all.

His charitable gifts or lack thereof are his business, it seems to me. I don't see any hipocrisy in his actions. He is paying more taxes, and he makes gifts as he sees fit. His gifts have increased over the years, both in taxes and in charity.

I don't really see the point in this kind of post, other than meanness. It's his money, his property: he should be allowed the freedom to dispose of it as he sees fit.

I don't thinke we want to make everyones spending subject to some kind of political or social correctness test.

If you think some charity should have more money you can send them more money or lobby to have the government send them money. You don't get to lobby to have Joe Biden (or me) send them more money, or denigrate us if we don't.

Interesting chart, all the same.

Hydra

 
At 4/16/2009 11:17 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Hydra, I believe the problem here is that if the Obama administration believes in the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, then why don't they show it personally in their own actions?

 
At 4/16/2009 12:06 PM, Anonymous jrich said...

It's [Biden's] money, his property: he should be allowed the freedom to dispose of it as he sees fit. -Hydra

Then I should be given the choice not to send my money to the government, not to pay my taxes, and send it instead directly to charities, cutting out the middle man and bureaucracy of the government.

Biden "chooses" to pay taxes because he has to (although, in Obama's nomination process so far, we've seen that doing so is apparently optional for prominent Democrats). It is a great leap to assume he would give to charities anyway if the government weren't taking money from him.

 
At 4/16/2009 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The glass if half empty in your world... sad. The point to take from this is that he gave money to charity, not how much.

 
At 4/16/2009 12:38 PM, Blogger Stealthmouse said...

Well, taxes are charity. Charity to the Federal Government, who then redistributes it extremely inefficiently after taking a 50% vig. BTW, what is the point of the post? Who cares what Joe Biden contributed to charity? I'm more outraged by taxes, which are "voluntary" except you go to jail if you don't pay them, than I am by whether Joe Biden gives to charity.

 
At 4/16/2009 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although not a Biden fan, I think comparision for current charity giving is irrelevant.

Warren Buffet gave nothing to charity for the majority of his life. Closing in on the end of life he is giving 95% of his net worth away.

No one knows what Biden's estate plan looks like or his plans for charitable giving in the future.

For that matter, no one knows the plans of anyone so current giving does not matter, regardless of how you stack the bands.

 
At 4/16/2009 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, let's compare Biden to Cheney (VP to VP).Okay, let's do that. The Cheneys have donated more to charity than probably any public officials in American history.

Here is an excerpt from a story at MSNBCThe Cheneys donated just under $6.87 million to charity from the stock options and royalties from Mrs. Cheney’s books.

It really would help if you liberals had a grasp of the facts, instead of the smears fed to you by the Daily Kos and the NYT.

 
At 4/16/2009 1:55 PM, Blogger David Rotor said...

Thanks for the updated chart.

Now the question of whether one should care that Biden donated a couple of thousand less than the average taxpayer in his salary range isn't subsumed by an erroneous comparison.

For me, it raises what I think is a interesting question for Carpe Diem to tackle.

What is the administrative efficiency of charitable organizations in delivering social goods versus public sector delivery?

Leaving aside the broader question of should we really allow virtually any organization, with any raison d'etre to qualify for tax supported donations?

 
At 4/16/2009 4:55 PM, Blogger kyle said...

Hydra, it's simple. The point is, "greed" is one of the favorite accusations made at the right by the left. President Obama has even gone so far as to say it's our patriotic duty to pay taxes to help our neighbors (I suppose that makes you unpatriotic if you don't want to have your money confiscated for redistribution by the federal govt).

It's called putting your money where your mouth is. Repubs pay the same taxes dems do, and evidence is overwhelming that they also give far more personally to charity (see Google.com for further research). So who's the party of greed? If repubs had any balls left they would point out these facts publically...instead they run for the hills.

Of course, the fact that Warren Buffett is giving away 95% really nullifies all the above (as if he's the rule and not the exception). But, then again, it's well known that Buffett doesn't believe in inherited wealth...but the Kennedy's sure do. Guess we'll have to wait and see on the Heinz(Kerry) and Soros empires.

 
At 4/16/2009 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"then why don't they show it personally in their own actions?"


Aren't Biden's taxes going up? Obamas?

Look I agree that if you need more money then you have to get it from where it is. I agree that the rich have more to protect than the poor and they have a legitimate interest in payind somewhat more. I agree that simply taking people's property to give it to other people is wrong.

I don't think any of this is that simple. I think both parties are out to get more monny and power for themselves, regardless of what happens to their supporters. Both sides will promote any kind of distortion that they think will promote their interests over someone else's.

In the limit, promoting your interests over and above all other interests is what we call stealing.

----------------------

"Then I should be given the choice not to send my money to the government, not to pay my taxes, and send it instead directly to charities, cutting out the middle man and bureaucracy of the government."

You are free to lobby for that choice, but you won't sell the idea to me with this kind of "analysis". Anyway, we have plenty of examples of badly run and even fraudulent charities. You will need some government regulation to ride herd on them.

---------------------------


"It is a great leap to assume he would give to charities anyway if the government weren't taking money from him."

So taxes are good thing because they incentivze / subsidize charitable giving?

------------------------

"The point is, "greed" is one of the favorite accusations made at the right by the left."

No one ever claimed that the right has cornered the market on bad or meaningless accusations. The left fails to recognize that greed and property rights are essential to raising the money they need for all their favorite projects.

Let's get the facts on the table and not the feelings.

----------------------------

"and evidence is overwhelming that they also give far more personally to charity "

I care no more for tht statement than I do for its opposite. So what? It's their money, they can distribute it anyway they want, within the rules at hand. For all I know they contribute more because they hate taxes so much.

They can lobby for changing the rules, but if they lobby for such axtreme rules that it starts to look like stealing, they are going to have a hard time selling me on the idea.

If the left continues to develop utter disregard for property rights, they are not going to be my friend either.

Don't bother to try to convince me that one side is universally better than the other.

If a trillion in excess spending is good, why not three trillion, or ten?

If lowering taxes really grows the economy and government revenue, then why not set taxes to zero? Of course that would lead to maximum government revenue and then even the Republicans would have to resort to some government spending.

Yeah, the environment is important. does that mean we all have to live in cities and commute by train, so we can save what we can't enjoy?

Yes, our grandchildren are going to pick up the tab for some of what we are doing now. We won't be here to pay it, and we won't be enjoying that high speed rail we built, either. Now, if they are still paying for the toothpaste we used, that's different.

If the middle class is disappearing, how much of that is because they got rich? If wealth disparity is not an issue and trickle down works, why not have system like Paraguay where a handful of people own the country outright? How about one person?

We've lost all sense of trade-offs in what we propose. I'm willing to believe there is a Laffer curve. I just don't know what shape it is. At one point Reagan was getting taxed at 90%+ of income: no wonder he had a certain point of view. But if you think that any tax rate over 8 or 10% leads to declining revenue and growth, then you have a different vision of the shape of the curve than I do.

I suspect taht we could find out what the shape of the curve is if we set out to do it. then we could stop argung over the correct set point for taxes.

Get the facts on the table and leave the feelings off. Don't try to sell me some kind of policy based on public benefit if there isn't enough benefit for the winners to compensate the losers in that policy. Don't try to convince me you are the "good" guy by smearing the "bad" guy.

Hydra

 
At 4/16/2009 7:04 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"It's called putting your money where your mouth is. Repubs pay the same taxes dems do"...

Shouldn't that be, 'Repubs pay the same taxes that the dems should be paying'?

I mean when one considers Rangel, Geitner, Daschle, Franken, Sebelius, Hilda Solis, Ron Kirk and on and on...

Is this the change we were promised?

 
At 4/16/2009 7:42 PM, OpenID xf22b said...

Eventually people are going to have to stop trying to argue that this has something to do with the legitimacy of charity (which anyone with any sanity knows is a good thing, but only when voluntarily done).

This is not a partisan attack on Joe Biden. It's an issue that Biden brought to the forefront because he supports INVOLUNTARY transfers of wealth from "rich" to "poor." He calls them "patriotic" and "fairness."

People who criticize him for this who are for free markets 100% support his right to be a miser. More power to his penurious self. What we don't support is his supposed high level of care for the poor, at others' expense, combined with a lack of personal willingness to back this up with action. It was a fantastic point Dr. Perry.

Talk is cheap. So is Joe Biden.

 
At 4/16/2009 7:51 PM, Blogger QT said...

Hydra,

I can see your point that we are each free to give what we like however, Joe Biden is one of the highest elected official in the U.S. and a formal presidential candidate. He must have known that his tax records would be made public and would have had a strong incentive to contribute. Nonetheless, he chose not to chip in.

For someone with a salary over 200k, $120.00 in donations is appalling. My donations were that amount when I earned 15k.

 
At 4/16/2009 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's his money, his property: he should be allowed the freedom to dispose of it as he sees fit.

You don't get to lobby to have Joe Biden (or me) send them more money, or denigrate us if we don't."

Hydra, you've struck at the very heart of the matter. It's MY money that Biden is forcibly taking and spending as he sees fit.

 
At 4/17/2009 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biden has every right to be as stingy as he has been. But Biden tells us that we must give more, but he never did so himself.

The typical redistributionist - willing to be very generous with other peoples' money.

He is not only a severe hypocrite, he is a dopey clown.

Pray that Obama remains healthy.

 
At 4/17/2009 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Biden is one of the highest elected official in the U.S. and a formal presidential candidate.

That is how he got the right to lobby successfully to take MY (our)money and spend as he sees fit.

We should study what he did right and learn from our mistakes, maybe next time we get the right to take other people's money and spend as WE see fit.

That's what we all want, right? The right to steal?

--------------------------

What are we talking about here, taxes, or charitable giving? The rules are that if you give more charitable gifts, you don't pay as much tax. It is your choice.

They are both legal and neither is more right or more wrong. If it is your opinion that Biden (or me) should give more, you are welcome to that opinion. I don't think it is any of my business, regardless of the office they hold. I'm not going to think more of Cheney or less of Biden (for that reason) one way or another.

Charitable gifts are just that. Being Vice president doesn't mean you have to give more. No doubt, if he had given to the max charitable limit, the same people would be here accusing him of tax evasion. Some people are never happy, obsessing over other people's behavior in a free country: I feel sorry for them.
QT:

If someone looked at my own charitable gifts, they would find them small. But that one line doesn’t tell the whole story. I own and operate a small farm, which like most small farms operates at a loss. It covers almost all of its operating expenses, meaning everyone in the community gets paid but me. Every year I sell a little more but my expenses are a little higher. The community gets more and more and I still get nothing. I think of it as a charity, and, in fact, my local government goes out of its way to point out that farms pay far more in taxes than they get in servces AND they contribute a lot to the economy.

I figure I have done as much as I can afford, and in fact, I feel much like Anon 11:05. They have set up the rules in such a way that they can steal from me legally. Since the residential crowd so far outnumbers the agricultural crowd, they can get away with this in spite of the idea that the government has an obligation to protect minorities.

I don’t think Biden’s or Cheney’s position obligates them to give more, and I don’t think it gives them any special rights under the law either. Other than the ones we elected them to have.


That's charitable gifts. If we are talking taxes, then there have been times I did not file on time. I didn't worry about it much because the government already had my money.

There might have been times when I (probably) should have paid taxes and didn't: considering the tax code, how would I know? Every year Money magazine gives out a hypothetical tax problem, and every year most tax professionals answer it wrong. The system is broken, I think we can agree on that.

It is incorrect to say that Daschle and others didn't pay their taxes. They paid them late, with penalties. It would have been better if they hadn't, but it does not necessarily indicate fraud making them unfit for office.

I don't suppose that it is a coincidence that everyone on 1's list is a Democrat. But I suspect that if you had a list of everyone who didn't pay their taxes or pay them on time, and selected at random from the list, then you would find Pubs and Dems on the list.

We might learn something along the lines of what 1 is intimating if we did a full and fair statistical analysis. Maybe it is true that Republicans give more to charity, or Democrats cheat more on their taxes. I don't know, and on the first point I don't care.

On the second point, it would be interesting to find out. With real facts and not anecdotes.

-----------------------

On taxes, the argument is how much is too much, and what is the distribution that should be paid by whom.

The Laffer curve argument describes the how much is too much issue. The conservative position is that more taxes destroy jobs, reduce the economy and result in less government revenue. The first two might be true, but the third one depends on the shape of the curve.

I suspect that shape depends partly on the state of the economy, in which case there is good reason to adjust the tax rate accordingly. In any case there is no reason to increase the tax rate such that it bring in more money than the government needs.

Let me know if that ever happens. Pubs and Dems are both guilty of spending more than they have and refusing to set the hard priorities to control spending. They are both guilty of targeting spending to benefit their constituencies at the expense of someone else.

Some people will argue that the government can't do anything right and should get out of almost everything. I would suggest that because of its size, and the fact that it can take a longer view than quarterly reports, the overnment has some advantages that Private Enterprise cannot overcome, and which it CAN use to everyone's advantage. National defense for one.

My suspicion is that the conservative position is technically correct once you pass the peak of the Laffer curve. My suspicion is also that the peak is pretty well to the right of any tax rate we have seen for fifty years or more. The conservative positionalthough technically correct is practically meaningless. Other countries seem to continue to muddle through with much higher tax rates than we have.

--------------------

So, if raising taxes doesn't actually reduce government revenues in the near term, we are left with the other two arguments: higher taxes reduce jobs and restrict the economy. We don’t think there is any reason for the government to raise more taxes than it needs, but we don’t (generally) apply the same argument to how much we promote the economy. Some people (conservationists) will argue that we have profligate over consumption and we need to throttle back, but mostly we just think that idea is weird, un-American, and probably socialist. For the most part I don’t see the same people who argue that the government should throttle back thinking THEY should throttle back for the same reasons.

Just the opposite; they argue, as Anon 11:05 does that government should throttle back so THEY will have more to spend and won’t have to throttle back. They seem to think that every dime the government spends on whatever they don’t like came directly out of their personal pockets. A better picture is that part of one overpriced toilet seat came out of their pockets, (which they are justifiably angry about) but then everything else the government does, they got for free.


No one seemed to take issue with the idea that the rich have more at stake and more to protect so they should pay more to support the government that protects them. The rich also need people who are less fortunate to have enough money to spend to keep their businesses running. In some respects increasing taxes on the wealthy and decreasing taxes on the poor, just brings more money back to (wealthier) business owners and their shareholders sooner. The shape of the Laffer curve has changed, if you will, and the best appropriate tax rate has changed with it.

As it stands now, you can earn more money than 95% of the population, and yet 95% of the money is controlled by the 5% above you. Why should we be surprised that a large block of people lobbied for, and got, a government dedicated to change? We brought it on ourselves.

I agree that it is wrong to take people’s property and give it to someone else. On the other hand it is in our own best interests to help the helpless. That doesn’t mean we have to support the clueless as well. After someone has taken the money out of his house in equity loans, why should I cry that he loses the house? He already got his money out.

Because, much as I don’t like it, given that we have a financial / housing crisis that DOES affect me, I should be willing to make some investment - to the extent that it improves my situation. At this point, I have to separate the facts about what is good for me (now) from my feelings about what others did to put me here. It might be that the best thing is to let everything go under, wholesale, and I pick up as many bargains as I can afford.

That is pretty hard medicine to ram down my neighbors throat, tough love and all that. But if the strategy doesn’t work, then I could soon be on the street next to them with no right to expect any better treatment. That is a bet I would have to hedge, and the worse the economy gets the higher the margin calls I expect to pay: the laffer curve has changed shape.

Hydra

 
At 4/17/2009 1:14 AM, Anonymous Dan said...

I believe the numbers were similar for John Kerry in 2004. Most of his charitable donations were a few thousand or less in the 10 years leading up to his presidential run.

Note also that Biden was only giving a few hundred until he started his presidential bid.

 
At 4/17/2009 1:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line, waht are we complaining about? That he didn't give enough? That's his business, VP or not.

That he raised taxes? That's what he got elected for, and anyway he has to pay higher taxes, too.

Let me put it this way, grueling election process aside, you couldn't GIVE me that job for what they get paid and the abuse they take.

Given the system we have, what are our choce here. Under the Republicans we can have more and more government and more and more spending, with the increase at a slower (and more ineffective) rate, or we can let the Dems do it and get it over with: socialism all at once, revolution to follow.

Hydra

 
At 4/17/2009 6:52 AM, Blogger 1 said...

"He is not only a severe hypocrite, he is a dopey clown.

Pray that Obama remains healthy
"...

Why? What makes you think Obama is any less dopey than Biden?

I mean at least Biden for all his myriad faults can at least speak English whereas Obama has problems...

 
At 4/17/2009 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...you couldn't GIVE me that job for what they get paid and the abuse they take."

Oh, my dear. It's kinda sweet how naive you are. I wish we could all be so blissfully ignorant...the world would be a much easier place to navigate our way through.

 
At 4/17/2009 9:53 AM, Blogger QT said...

Hydra,

In answer to your question regarding differences in charitable giving between Reps & Dems, Economist Arthur C. Brooks has done extensive studies on charitable and his research has found that religious conservatives are far more charitable than secular liberals, and that those who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others.

I agree with most of what you say. The U.S. tax code is way too complicated. Filing your taxes late or making an error shouldn't be interpreted as criminal behavior. We are kinda rough on our politicians in this regard. Would also agree that government has many essential functions ie. property rights, rule of law, defense, fiat currency. Would agree that U.S. taxation is on the left side of the Laffer curve.

In the area of charitable giving, I can certainly understand why you do not give a lot to charity and I can agree that not all charities are well managed.

There is one point which you make that I disagree with. You suggest that one can either choose to pay taxes or make donations and pay lower taxes as though it is a dollar for dollar relationship.

In Canada, charitable giving may result in less tax being paid however donations reduce tax by 60-70 cents on the dollar depending on the type of donation. So charitable donations still cost you in aftertax dollars. Additionally, only donations to registered charities qualify for a charitable tax credit. Many churches and small community organizations do not register due to the extensive paperwork involved.

If a person leaves their estate to a charity, Revenue Canada taxes the estate first and gives the charity was remains rather than allowing the amount to qualify as a donation.

While this is likely more information than you require, just wanted to clarify that a charitable donation dollar does not equal one less dollar in taxes to be paid.

Part of the reason for the issue around Biden's donations is that community service has been a central tenent of Team Obama.

 
At 4/17/2009 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assuming, of course, that he reported every penny of his charitable contributions to the IRS on his 1040.

Perhaps, he does not bother to keep up with each and every receipt and simply gives to others for the sake of giving and not for the sake of the deduction.

 
At 4/17/2009 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

QT

That's interesting.

But whether they are Republican or Dem VP, Religious conservatives or Gay Potsmoking Liberals, what difference does it make? It is their money to give away or not, and I don't think it is any of my business. It doesn't affect how I think of my neighbor, Joe Blow, or whether I will vote for him if he runs for office.

If anything, I might worry that if he gives away a lot of his money, he might give away a lot of mine, too.

I don't know anything about either the topic or Dr. Brooks. I would want to know if he has a dog in the fight and if there are other studies with opposing or different results.

Unfortunately, we get a lot of "studies" that are really agenda driven drivel.

Also I never suggested it was a dollar for dollar exchange between charity and taxes, just that there is some tax incentive for giving. Neither do I see the relationship between community service and charitable giving. I'm glad we have a olunteer rescue squad, but I wouln't hold it agains Biden if he wasn't part.

Now, if you had some data that proves unambiguously that liberal Democrats are far more likely to get caught cheating on their taxes, then that is a different matter, because it goes to their ethical qualifications for the job.

But if you just pull out a handpicked anecdotal list (however recent and topical) and try to use that to convince me that Republicans are always morally and ethically superior, then that isn't an argument I would listen to. I would not listen to the same ad hominem argument going the other direction, either.

We have too many cases (on both sides) of the "Church" beating up on Galileo. What we learn from this is that the "church" is more interested in power and influence (leading to money) than it is in the truth.

Biden and Obama are in favor of rich people paying more taxes. they are paying more taxes along with all the other rich. When they get out of office and start making real money they will pay even more, unless the Republicans repeal it by then. I don't see anything hypocritical in this.

I still don't have to like paying higher taxes. But I won't argue that we should have lower taxes because Biden didn't make enough charitable contributions. I won't argue that Biden is unfit for the job because he didn't make "enough" contributions.

That sounds like a stupid argument, and I don't think smart conservatives should make it.

I might make it known that I prefer to vote for people who make larger contributions. I might make it known that I prefer to vote for religious conservatives.

Presumably I would have some REASON behind those preferences which leads me to think it will lead to better governance.

For me it is pretty easy.

1)One of government's primary jobs is protecting property, of all kinds.

2)The government has an obligation to protect minorities, otherwise a majority vote can opt to steal people's property.

3)The government has no business in promoting policies that don't make everyone better off. If there is no net social benefit there is no reason to do it.

4)If there is a net social benefit, then there is no reason the winners in the policy cannot compensate the losers in the policy and still be better off. If the winners are opposed to compensating the losers, then be suspicious: it probably means the social benefit claimed is a fraud.

This keeps the government honest. If whatever you are promoting doesn't meet that criteria then you are effectively suggesting that we use government to steal from someone else.

5)There can always be too much of a good thing. So if someone, liberal or conservative says X is a good thing, then I want to know right away how much of X they think is too much.

If you can't answer that question then I figure they are promoting one value above all others which eventually leads to tyranny of thought and eventually to stealing.

------------

As much as I might favor green policies or socially conservative policies, or some other policy, I'm not willing to steal to get them.

We have a progressive tax code that taxes wealthy people more money. I'll agree that too high taxes decrease incentive and decrease investment. But if the government really needs money it is going to have to take it from where it is and not where it isn't. I can't agree that ALWYS lowering taxes is ALWAYS a good thing because it violates rule 5.

The arguments over incentive and investment as related to taxes are an attempt to answer the how much is too much question (number five) without first answering queston 4: will this make us better off.

Right now we could argue, and some do, that we are better off to let the auto industry, banks, forclosed persons and the unemployed all fail at their on risk.

I'm not sure I see how that makes us all better off. Generally speaking, and on an individual basis, yes. But then we have to ask how much of a good thing is too much.

RH

 
At 4/17/2009 10:56 PM, Blogger QT said...

Hydra,

Have to agree that Joe Biden's charitable giving has little to do with his competency or the policies that he & Mr. Obama advocate and whether these are good for America.

I admit that Joe Biden is not my favorite person on the planet. He seems like a belligerent windbag and some of his remarks on foreign policy are truly appauling. Consider what Mr. Biden said in the VP debates:

"When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, "Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it."

The above statement is so garbled it is difficult to actually understand that he was referring to the withdrawal of Syrian forces (not Hezbollah) from Lebanon. Syrian forces were withdrawn in response to the Cedar Revolution not U.S. diplomatic pressure. The U.S. did not kick Syria out of Lebanon. The idea of this bumble is to put Nato troops into Lebanon. The last time U.S. troops were deployed to Lebanon under Reagan, the U.S. base suffered a major terrorist attack. More body bags...great idea, Joe.

Sorry, not impressed.

 
At 4/19/2009 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Biden isn't my favorite person on the planet either.

I just get confused trying to understand how conservatives think that hateful thoughts and wedge issuew will advance their cause.

I'm willing to buy in to a lower taxes, smaller government, more property rights agenda.

Now give me something other than rhetoric, sloppy thinking, and hatred for the other side to support the position.

For those on the other side, I'm willing to buy into a greener economy and a better social network. Now tell me how you will pay for it without the "excess profits" and "ultrawealthy" that you so love to tax into oblivion.

RH

 
At 4/20/2009 3:34 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> You dont spot any hypocrisy here?

You're kidding, right?

That's the libtard anonymous, not the sensible one.

Strangely enough, you can always spot the difference.

 
At 4/20/2009 3:38 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> The glass if half empty in your world... sad. The point to take from this is that he gave money to charity, not how much.

If he gave half his income to charity, trust us, we'd be commenting on that, too.

But one thing we wouldn't be calling him is a cheap, hypocritical rat bastard.

 
At 4/20/2009 3:39 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> I just get confused trying to understand how conservatives think that hateful thoughts and wedge issuew will advance their cause.

BWAAAAAAAAAAhahhahhahhahahhahhaaaaaaaa....

I'll treat your PotUS with 9x the respect your bunch gave Bush.

It only feeeeeeeeels like Hell.

 
At 4/26/2009 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on the few posts I have read here, every poster on this list should be required to take a test before they are allowed to vote. (Oops, no more republicans!)

 

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