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A Lot More Generous With Other People's Money Than With His Own:

Between 1998 and 2006, Joe Biden contributed between $120 and $380 a year to charity, according to his tax returns, on AGIs of $210,000 to $321,100. Imagine if he hadn't been thinking of running for president.

[Comments are now closed]

huskerfan:
Wow, you really nailed the vice-president here. He is a total hypocrite. You really proved it. I'm so amazed. Great point.
4.15.2009 9:00pm
Dave N (mail):
As regular readers of this site know, I am no Obama fan. But I will credit him and his wife here. Unlike the Bidens, the Obamas gave 6.5% of their adjusted gross income to charity last year--which is 2-3 times the national average.
4.15.2009 9:01pm
wm13:
Yeah, but what about Sarah Palin? She faked her pregnancy! She was wearing a pregnancy suit! It's really Trig's baby!

--Andrew Sullivan
4.15.2009 9:04pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Someone did an analysis of contributions to the Salvation Army collector in front Macy's Department Store near Union Square in San Francisco during the Christmas holiday period. Normalizing for pedestrian flow, the contributions here were significantly less than in other parts of the country. San Francisco is a fairly wealthy, and of course very liberal city. Even a casual glance at the people entering and leaving the store reveals they are well heeled.
4.15.2009 9:07pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
As regular readers of this site know, I am no Obama fan. But I will credit him and his wife here. Unlike the Bidens, the Obamas gave 6.5% of their adjusted gross income to charity last year--which is 2-3 times the national average.
Don't be so generous to them, because they weren't so generous to others. They gave a lot of money when Obama decided to run for president, but not before.
4.15.2009 9:07pm
BRM:
I reliaze some religions require or encourage charitable giving, but outside the context of such religions, does choosing not to donate to charity reflect negatively on a person?
4.15.2009 9:09pm
Bama 1L:
How do you know he reported all his donations?
4.15.2009 9:16pm
Splunge:
He is a total hypocrite.

You've missed the point (perhaps deliberately).

Had Biden merely urged all of us to be privately generous, and failed to do so himself, then his ethical lapse would be the very modest sin of hypocrisy.

But Biden's private exhortations are not at issue here. What is at issue is his philosophy of government. If (as he says) he believes the wealthy should charitably donate some of the fruits of their labor to the poor, and they should do this by force through the tax code if necessary, then you would expect he would donate even more through private acts of charity than the amount required by law because, duh, unless you're a total fascist ("everything not forbidden is required") you allow a gap between what is compelled and what a good social conscience would do.

But, interestingly, it doesn't turn out that way. Indeed, his private acts of charity are surprisingly low for a man of his wealth, well below the average, and essentially equal to what is compelled (through the tax code, assuming arguendo he pays all his taxes). What does that suggest?

It suggests that his public statements about his governing philosophy are lies or gross distortions -- not merely hypocritical statements, not merely illustrations of garden-variety "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" oopsies. That is, it suggests his actual governing philosophy is to loot certain people (not himself, ideally) and distribute the loot to others.

So what's the motivation for this governing philosophy? That's not clear. It could be a lust for power (he wants his people to be in charge of passing out the loot), or a hatred for certain classes of people. We don't know. But what is strongly suggested by his private skinflintedness is that the motivation, whatever it is, isn't a sense of charity and compassion for the poor, and that what limitations there might be on his exercise of political power, the concept that a man has some inalienable right to the fruits of his own labor isn't one of them.

In short, he has the ethics and governing philosophy of a drug gang leader.
4.15.2009 9:18pm
Cornellian (mail):
Do you regard funding the federal government as something driven by generosity?
4.15.2009 9:20pm
Splunge:
Zark, I hope you're not forgetting that San Francisco has a fairly virulent tendency towards anti-Christian prejudice, and the Salvation Army is a Christian organization. Your experiment needs a control group.
4.15.2009 9:20pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Splunge and David B: what percentage did you give to charity?

And, how do you know Biden deducted every penny, or did not, as he claims, donate significantly with his time?

Seems to me to be a trivial issue.
4.15.2009 9:23pm
byomtov (mail):
Wow, lawguy. You've sold me.
4.15.2009 9:23pm
rosetta's stones:

In short, he has the ethics and governing philosophy of a drug gang leader.


I was thinking more along the lines of Somali pirate, but gang leader will do in a pinch!
4.15.2009 9:24pm
Splunge:
Do you regard funding the federal government as something driven by generosity?

Unless you slept through the 2008 election, you know that the present President and governing Congressional party believe that the spending the federal government does is (or rather should be) largely driven by generosity.

Perhaps you feel there is no need for the motivation for paying your taxes to match the motivation for (someone else to) spend those taxes. Something like this: to each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities. Does that sum up the situation nicely for you?
4.15.2009 9:24pm
Not Impressed:
You really got him there!

Really? You figured that insight was worth the few seconds it took to post it? Come on- I've sort of noticed the partisan nature of your posts in particular, but this is kinda sad.

In fact, given the size of the donations he made, I can't imagine he made those donations on account of running for President. If he were really convinced that somehow private donations were a measure of the candidate, he'd have probably devoted a slightly larger percentage of his salary.
4.15.2009 9:25pm
Cornellian (mail):
But, interestingly, it doesn't turn out that way. Indeed, his private acts of charity are surprisingly low for a man of his wealth, well below the average, and essentially equal to what is compelled (through the tax code, assuming arguendo he pays all his taxes). What does that suggest?

Biden isn't wealthy. This blog is filled with expressions of outrage at the idea of raising taxes on mere middle class peons making as much as he did as a Senator.
4.15.2009 9:26pm
Splunge:
what percentage did you give to charity?

Chris, you might learn something by googling ad hominem attack. At least, you might look less silly in public debate.

It doesn't matter how much I gave to charity, because I am not a public lawmaker proposing to force other people to give their money for purposes I designate.

There's this ancient ethical standard called The Golden Rule, you know? Do not do unto others what you would not have done to you. Apparently, Biden doesn't want to give his money away. Seems very likely he wouldn't want it taken by force, then. Yet he proposes doing just that to the rest of us.

Now in my case, since I haven't proposed forcing you to do anything in particular with your money, the Golden Rule running in reverse says it's not your business what I do with mine.

They used to teach this basic moral stuff in Sunday school to 6-year-olds, who grasped it easily. I wonder what went wrong with our education system?
4.15.2009 9:34pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

They gave a lot of money when Obama decided to run for president


They gave 4.7% in 2005. Obama announced his candidacy in 2/07. You seem to know "when Obama decided to run for president." When did he decide, and how do you know?
4.15.2009 9:35pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't think it's especially remarkable that someone, liberal or conservative, gives little to charity. I do find it remarkable that someone with national political ambitions whose return might very well become public gives so little, especially when he is a "champion of the poor." It suggests to me not hypocrisy, but arrogance--that Biden feels that his political career is itself in some sense "charitable" because he is in "public service," so other forms of charity are meaningless. Why give $500 to the local food bank when you can earmark them 500K?
4.15.2009 9:35pm
Lior:
David Nieporent: Did you notice the large jump in Obama's income? Until 2004 he makes about $240K-$270K a year, and gives about $1K-$3K. Starting 2005 his income jumps to over $1M/year, his giving to $60K-$80K.
4.15.2009 9:36pm
Valueless:
Wow, what an incredibly snarky blog post completely devoid of thought or value. I may not support all this spending by the current administration, but I have come to expect a little more from this blog.

I mean, really, what was the point of this? Were you just baiting a shark-tank of partisan commentators? I hope talking points lacking any academic value are not the trend for this blog.
4.15.2009 9:40pm
RowerinVa (mail):
Actually, I think you are all missing the point. Biden hasn't been saying that wealthy people like him should be giving more to charity. He's been saying they should be forced to transfer more to the federal government -- a lot more. He thinks the government can spend it better (from a social welfare standpoint) than the wealthy people like him can. So I'm sure if you look closer you'll find that his lack of charity is explained by the fact that he has been massively overpaying his taxes, including by failing to take tax deductions that he believes should be phased out for people of his wealthy income level.

If he hasn't, THEN you get to call him a hypocrite.
4.15.2009 9:42pm
Thoughtful (mail):
The fact that Biden gives little while Obama gave much is likely accounted for by the fact that Biden has been in Washington a long time, Obama much less time. The longer you are in Washington, the more you see your every action as helping the downtrodden, from which position actual personal charity seems much like overkill.
4.15.2009 9:44pm
wm13:
Cornellian, I can assure you that the average evangelical Christian makes a lot less than $300,000, and gives a lot more than $380 to charity. I think that secular liberals should admit that it is, indeed, embarrassing that studies uniformly show that secular liberals are, indeed, very stingy with both their money and their time. As someone said at Crooked Timber a few years ago: "It would be wonderful if the soup kitchens and inner-city after-school programs of America were filled with volunteer ACLU members and university professors. But they aren't."
4.15.2009 9:47pm
Ralph Stanley:
Splunge said:

"In short, he has the ethics and governing philosophy of a drug gang leader."


But, not the brains.
4.15.2009 9:52pm
David Welker (www):
I personally think it is petty and idiotic to stand in judgment of other people's charitable giving.

And no, it is not hypocritical to support government programs and give less to charity. Joe Biden has not exempted himself from the taxes that others with his income have to pay. Duh. That is a no brainer.

It seems to me that there are a whole lot of people out there, on both left and right, who basically want to manufacture hypocrisy.
4.15.2009 9:53pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Cornellian,

Biden isn't wealthy.

Oh, of course not. I mean, we're talking merely about

AGIs of $210,000 to $321,100

which is no doubt chickenfeed in your neck of the woods. I mean, some of those years he didn't make enough even to make it into Obama's taxable $250K+ brigade. I suppose if your income over a ten-year period sometimes dips below $250K, you still count as middle-class. Right?
4.15.2009 9:55pm
cubanbob (mail):
How many deductions did that worthless phony bastard take? If he is such supporter of paying taxes why not pay more of them voluntarily? Uncle Sugar gladly takes donations.
4.15.2009 10:00pm
Randy R. (mail):
"Why give $500 to the local food bank when you can earmark them 500K?:

Because, I think, from the standpoint of trying to feed people, 500K will get you there a whole lot faster than $500.

wm: "I can assure you that the average evangelical Christian makes a lot less than $300,000, and gives a lot more than $380 to charity. I think that secular liberals should admit that it is, indeed, embarrassing that studies uniformly show that secular liberals are, indeed, very stingy with both their money and their time."

Actually, people who earn the least are often the highest contributors to charity, regardless of religious faith or lack thereof. For instance, The Catholic Charities of Buffalo routinely rank among the highest nationwide for total donations, which is remarkable for the fact that it has such a high poverty level.

Unless you consider catholics part of the Christian evangelical movement, you should modify your statement to include a whole lot more than just those people.
4.15.2009 10:00pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
David Welker: Why are you so sure that "Joe Biden has not exempted himself from the taxes that others with his income have to pay"? Plenty of others in Obama's administration have, and we only know that because they had to be confirmed by the Senate, which involves investigation of their finances. Biden was elected and needs no confirmation or investigation, so we don't really know whether he has paid all his taxes, do we?
4.15.2009 10:02pm
Randy R. (mail):
cubanbob: "How many deductions did that worthless phony bastard take? "

Me thinks you imbibed in too much tea this afternoon.
4.15.2009 10:02pm
IB (mail):
Thoughtful may have accidentally snagged on the truth the rest of the posters have missed. Charitable contributions may take the form of money, other property, or time. Just because an individual does not contribute much money, does not mean that the individual does not contribute (if it did, Mother Theresa would be quite a grinch). So even if Biden reports his contributions on his tax forms (thank you Bama 1L) rather than doing the more selfless thing and not taking deductions for them, the poster proves nothing . . . unless one assumes that Biden's other contributions (e.g. government work) are also worthless. The question is whether (and how much) Biden contributes other than in cash (e.g. through public service).
4.15.2009 10:04pm
corneille1640 (mail):

Chris, you might learn something by googling ad hominem attack. At least, you might look less silly in public debate.

It doesn't matter how much I gave to charity, because I am not a public lawmaker proposing to force other people to give their money for purposes I designate.

I'd accuse you of making an ad hominem attack against the person making the ad hominem attack which is in fact criticizing your and Mr. Bernstein's ad hominem attack. But then, I'd be committing an ad hominem. Tu quoque?....Ego quoque!
4.15.2009 10:06pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Someone did an analysis of contributions to the Salvation Army collector in front Macy's Department Store near Union Square in San Francisco during the Christmas holiday period. Normalizing for pedestrian flow, the contributions here were significantly less than in other parts of the country. San Francisco is a fairly wealthy, and of course very liberal city. Even a casual glance at the people entering and leaving the store reveals they are well heeled.


That's pretty un-definitive. A link would be handy.


It suggests to me not hypocrisy, but arrogance--that Biden feels that his political career is itself in some sense "charitable" because he is in "public service," so other forms of charity are meaningless. Why give $500 to the local food bank when you can earmark them 500K?


And now amateur psychological profiling to go with a baseless partisan talking point. I guess that's the bonus I get for reading the comments.
4.15.2009 10:08pm
Desiderius:
Cornellian,

"Do you regard funding the federal government as something driven by generosity?"

I don't consider my own contributions threto to be so driven, but my guess is that many to the Left of me very much do, including Biden, given his comments about paying taxes being patriotic. No value judgment implied, just different strokes for different folks.

Which would also explain why the Left and those persuaded by its arguments give less to private charity - they consider public (which means, in their minds, government) agencies more effective. I disagree on their delineation of private and public, but this doesn't make them hypocrites.
4.15.2009 10:08pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
David Welker,

I personally think it is petty and idiotic to stand in judgment of other people's charitable giving.

And I basically agree with you. Dissecting individual people's tax returns to find out who's stingy and who isn't is itself uncharitable. (Useless, too, because many people don't deduct their charitable contributions. I guess that makes them extra-patriotic in the Biden sense, since they're deliberately overpaying their taxes.)

And no, it is not hypocritical to support government programs and give less to charity.

No, of course it isn't "hypocritical"; it's just, well, uncharitable. It stinks of the mindset that won't give anyone any help unless everyone else has to give the same help. It conditions your own giving on everyone else giving the same, and refuses a gift if the others don't give too. It's not, in fact, about helping the poor or the desperate, but about being damn sure that the fellow down the street isn't getting away with putting in less money than you are. Apart from all that it is, of course, entirely morally admirable.
4.15.2009 10:08pm
Desiderius:
DB,

Might want to check the Instapundit's comment on this link and make sure that yours aren't identical. Appearance of impropriety and all that.
4.15.2009 10:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Splunge:


Unless you slept through the 2008 election, you know that the present President and governing Congressional party believe that the spending the federal government does is (or rather should be) largely driven by generosity.


According to this logic, the Democrats also believe in underreporting charity donations as well since that means paying more into the government pool.....

FWIW, I never take all the charitable deductions I qualify for in part because sometimes it isn't worth the hassle. And also because a lot of groups I support don't have proper IRS paperwork to allow me to do this.
4.15.2009 10:14pm
Cornellian (mail):

Unless you slept through the 2008 election, you know that the present President and governing Congressional party believe that the spending the federal government does is (or rather should be) largely driven by generosity.

I thought getting out of Iraq and fixing a banking crisis had something to do with the election result.
4.15.2009 10:19pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

It stinks of the mindset that won't give anyone any help unless everyone else has to give the same help. It conditions your own giving on everyone else giving the same, and refuses a gift if the others don't give too. It's not, in fact, about helping the poor or the desperate, but about being damn sure that the fellow down the street isn't getting away with putting in less money than you are. Apart from all that it is, of course, entirely morally admirable.


More amateur psychology. I won't attempt to take away credit from conservatives who donate to charity (which is admirable) but it's silly to say that liberals donate less because they want to make sure they're not giving more than the guy down the street, when liberals don't really mind paying more taxes than the guy down the street if they make more. I happen to be one of those liberals that doesn't go out of my way to donate to charity (though I do donate) but doesn't run around hosting "tea parties" because I don't like the amount being held out of my checks in taxes. Naturally to a liberal such as myself, I would prefer more people like me and less people like conservatives, whose money may or may not go to worthwhile causes in amounts that might or might not be sufficient even for those causes.
4.15.2009 10:20pm
Anon23:
I don't have any charitable deductions in my 2009 taxes .. because I don't itemize on the Federal forms (I rent....) I could, nonetheless, fill out the requisite Federal schedule so I can get a charitable state (Wisconsin) deduction for the contributions my wife and I made.

I didn't - not worth the time and effort, and the gub'mint could use a few extra bucks. Feel free to impugn my character for not giving, though.

We now return to your regularly scheduled substantive conversation.
4.15.2009 10:22pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Desirudus, Instapundit links to this post.
4.15.2009 10:24pm
Cornellian (mail):

I can assure you that the average evangelical Christian makes a lot less than $300,000, and gives a lot more than $380 to charity. I think that secular liberals should admit that it is, indeed, embarrassing that studies uniformly show that secular liberals are, indeed, very stingy with both their money and their time.

I'd say it's about as embarrassing as the fact that those self-reliant evangelicals live in free-loading red states that haven't pulled their fiscal weight for decades and instead live on the charity of the blue states.

Neither proposition is anything that particularly concerns me. I wouldn't care if Biden or any other politician ever donated a dime to charity, anymore than I care if my barber, auto mechanic or dentist donates to charity.
4.15.2009 10:25pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Randy R.,

Actually, people who earn the least are often the highest contributors to charity, regardless of religious faith or lack thereof. For instance, The Catholic Charities of Buffalo routinely rank among the highest nationwide for total donations, which is remarkable for the fact that it has such a high poverty level.

I agree with you, apart from the bit about "religious faith or lack thereof." I don't think you will find a record like that at a secular agency. You certainly will find it among evangelicals and among Catholics. And the poorer the people, in general, the more they do give, relative to what they have. It's the richer and more secular states in which the charities are most starved.
4.15.2009 10:25pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Supporting government programs does not mean that you must support private charity. That is my stance and I don't consider myself hypocritical.

For one thing, I don't support systems that suffer from significant free-rider problems, which is the case with private charity. I believe that there are certain things that are good for society, but that the market will not take care of, such as caring for the poor and certain types of scientific research. These can either be funded through charity or taxes. If they are funded through charity, everyone will have an incentive to not contribute themselves, hoping that others will pick up the slack. As a result, these things will be underfunded. Funding these programs through taxes forces everyone to kick in their fair share. Moreover, the more that the public has the perception that these problems can be funded by private donations, the less likely they are to support funding them through taxes, even when they cannot be. Therefore, I see donating to charity as contributing to the problem.

Additionally, I feel that donating to charity is inefficient, both because raising money through donations is far less efficient than raising money through taxes, and because it increases the total work people have to spend figuring out what causes and charities deserve donations.

The first problem is self explanatory. Many charities spend huge portions of their budgets having pledge drives, soliciting donations and otherwise raising funds, the IRS, on the other hand, accounts for a tiny fraction of the governments budget, and much of the spending would be necessary anyway because, even without welfare programs, the government would need to raise taxes for defense and road building. I would much rather have man hours spent doing something productive rather than raising money. (By the way, this is why I hate walkathons).

The other problem is that people don't know what charities to donate to. This is both a problem of figuring out what charities can use their money efficiently, rather than wasting it on overhead, and figuring out what charities have enough money already. A great example of this is how celebrity charities tend to collect way more money than they need while obscure charities languish. AIDS and Breast Cancer collect huge sums of money, pancreatic cancer and malaria, not so much. By funding these programs through the government, you can have one central organization organizing the information of how this money is best spent, instead of each individual trying to do so.
4.15.2009 10:35pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
How can you estimate someone's charitable contributions based solely on tax returns?

Not all charitable contributions are tax deductible, right?
4.15.2009 10:36pm
btgiv (mail):
We all know very well that the libs on here dismissing this as much ado about nothing and petty partisanship would have had a field day with this issue if it had been Bush's donations we were talking about. See, he's just a stingy bastard with no heart! But, oops, Bush is actually a pretty generous guy, so it's circle-the-wagons time around Biden.

Personally, I make far less than half of Biden's salary and yet manage to give away more evey month than he does annually. So yeah, he's a stingy bastard.

IB -- Mother Teresa was stingy with her monetary giving? That has to be one of the more daft comments I have ever read. The woman made next-to-nothing, but she gave what she did make to her cause. And you know what? She probably still gave away more money than Biden did.
4.15.2009 10:37pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Xanthippas,

More amateur psychology. I won't attempt to take away credit from conservatives who donate to charity (which is admirable) but it's silly to say that liberals donate less because they want to make sure they're not giving more than the guy down the street, when liberals don't really mind paying more taxes than the guy down the street if they make more.

But, see, that's just it. Your "liberals" want their share of caring for the destitute apportioned according to their income. They don't mind a progressive tax code, but they really don't want to be supporting the poor unless everyone around them is also supporting the poor on the same agreed-upon terms. The idea that you might be clothing the naked and ministering to the sick while Jones down the street isn't paying his fair share is intolerable.

If this isn't the case, why is charitable giving low in what they call Blue states, and higher in what they call Red states? Why do the poorer parts of the country prefer individual charity, and the richer parts prefer highr taxation?
4.15.2009 10:38pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Boy, Biden is almost as hypocritical as so-called libertarian professors working for a taxpayer-funded university. Okay, that was a semi-cheap shot.

I do not think Biden's less-than-generous charitable giving is hypocritical unless he has condemned others for not giving to charity.

And, Splunge, you may want to look up a definition of ad hominen attack. I was not attacking anyone, just asking a question.

If you had accused me of raising a red herring issue, I might agree. But no, I didn't engage in an ad hominen attack. If your sole point is that you see some inconsistency in Biden's professed liberalism and his lack of charitable contributions (which I gathered from your lengthy, if turgid, posting is one of your points), I would agree that this inconsistency can exist regardless of whether you, personally, are a skinflint. But, if your and David's point is also that Biden should be condemned because he gives nothing to charity, and that is in your view morally blameworthy conduct, then your and his charitable giving are relevant facts, at least in determining your own moral consistency to this notion.
4.15.2009 10:39pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Crackmonkeyjr,

So, do you deliberately overpay your taxes, by way of an efficient charitable donation where it will do the most good?

No?
4.15.2009 10:42pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

It doesn't matter how much I gave to charity,

That bad, huh?
4.15.2009 10:44pm
btgiv (mail):
Cornellian,

That cheap talking point about red states free-loading off of blue states has been discredited many, many times, yet guys like you keep throwing it up there hoping it will stick. It's not red America's fault that corporate headquarters tend to be located in blue state mega-cities (thus, higher tax receipts from those states), or that blue states have done everything they can to drive out the military (thus, more federal dollars flowing into red states). And that's just for starters.

If you're going to engage in petty mud-slinging, at least employ something a little less pathetic and shopworn.
4.15.2009 10:45pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I find Biden's amount remarkably small. I wonder if there is another story hidden there. I make much less, support higher taxes, and manage to give more than that. That's about what I was giving when I was a grad student and didn't even itemize.

As far as Obama, BTW, his giving took off not only from increased salary, but he paid off his student loans first too. I think even his opponents should concede he believes in private charity and funds it.
4.15.2009 10:46pm
SloniHovni (mail):
Massachusetts has a "voluntary surtax" program that makes it easy for wealthy fans of big government to be "patriotic" (in Biden's view) and pay higher taxes.

So do the Kennedy and Kerry families pay this tax? Hell no!

Hypocrites all.
4.15.2009 10:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michelle:

I suppose if your income over a ten-year period sometimes dips below $250K, you still count as middle-class. Right?


I guess it depends who you ask. Surely you remember when McCain put the threshold at $5 million. And bernstein recently talked about his friends in the $250k bracket who are struggling to get by, and can hardly manage to pay the nanny.

================
splunge:

Unless you slept through the 2008 election, you know that the present President and governing Congressional party believe that the spending the federal government does is (or rather should be) largely driven by generosity.


Spending money to build our nation (rather than someone else's, like Iraq) isn't "generosity." It's rational.
4.15.2009 10:52pm
JC (mail) (www):
So Biden is a Scrooge. What that has to do with government, I have no idea and I think the "other people's money" jab is beneath what I usually find to be well-reasoned positions on this site.
4.15.2009 10:53pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Michelle Dulak Thomson: See my first reason - I don't support systems based on voluntary, selfless contributions.
4.15.2009 10:56pm
Brian K (mail):
That cheap talking point about red states free-loading off of blue states has been discredited many, many times, yet guys like you keep throwing it up there hoping it will stick.

so has the cheap talking point that conservatives/religious give more than liberals, but, not surprisingly, i don't see you pointing that out.

but lets not let reality get into the way of the ideological BS being spewed on this board.
4.15.2009 11:00pm
Mike McDougal:
Biden would have been better off reporting no contributions. Then he could have claimed his charitable giving is a matter he keeps private (to his financial detriment).
4.15.2009 11:13pm
Cornellian (mail):
It's not red America's fault that corporate headquarters tend to be located in blue state mega-cities (thus, higher tax receipts from those states)

This is just hysterical. Do you think it's just random chance that corporations like to locate their headquarters in blue states? Does it not occur to you that, to quote Garrison Keillor, there's a reason why the iPod was designed in California, not Alabama?
4.15.2009 11:26pm
LoneStarJeffe:
"Funding these programs through taxes forces everyone to kick in their fair share." -Crackmonkeyjr

mmm...okay. So what charities should the government be supporting? Under this definition, doesn't that require the government to fund every non profit, even those that conflict with each other??? How much do you think should the government should give the "NRA Foundation" and how much to "Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence"?

"By funding these programs through the government, you can have one central organization organizing the information of how this money is best spent, instead of each individual trying to do so." - Crackmonkeyjr

Right. Everyone knows government is the model of efficiency. See state of California for example.
4.15.2009 11:31pm
Frog Jumper (mail):
Bravo!

Nothing like an ad hominem attack when one can't come up with a coherent argument.

Who says that the modern conservative movement is devoid of ideas?
4.15.2009 11:32pm
MCM (mail):
Chris, you might learn something by googling ad hominem attack. At least, you might look less silly in public debate.

It doesn't matter how much I gave to charity, because I am not a public lawmaker proposing to force other people to give their money for purposes I designate.

There's this ancient ethical standard called The Golden Rule, you know? Do not do unto others what you would not have done to you. Apparently, Biden doesn't want to give his money away. Seems very likely he wouldn't want it taken by force, then. Yet he proposes doing just that to the rest of us.


I suggest googling ad hominem attack yourself. A charge of hypocrisy is, by definition, an ad hominem attack. This post and the resulting comments are all about an ad hominem attack.
4.15.2009 11:34pm
RPT (mail):
This is indeed one of the silliest posts ever. At least Mr. Lindgren has conceded the weakness of his Glenn Reynolds knockoffs by barring comments. And, at least none of the tea baggers traveled on publicly funded roads or transportation systems to gatherings in public parks patrolled by public law enforcement today. That would be too much cognitive dissonance.
4.15.2009 11:35pm
Suzy (mail):
I assume Professor Bernstein is now going to tell us what his own charitable contributions for the last decade have been? Because otherwise, how can we tell whether he or Biden is the better man?

Is the reason the VC is such a popular legal blog because it offers such insightful legal analysis, or because it's basically just a right-wing blog now? Hard to say.
4.15.2009 11:42pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
RPT, I am glad that David allows comments. It shows courage, to me, that he is still willing to allow comments on his posts and engage those who disagree with him. Please, David, keep it up.

Eugene, whose posts tend to be less controversial, also allows comments. Oren, I think, just likes the controversy/argument.

In fact, I find it bizarre that law professors, of all people, would try to stifle debate on their own posts by barring comments. Are they not tasked with teaching others to debate?
4.15.2009 11:42pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
The problem, as I see it, is that Biden comes across as wanting to spend everyone else's money to help better the world, than his own, money effectively appropriated from people at the barrel of a gun. I don't think he would look as bad, if he hadn't made the statement about it being patriotic to pay taxes. And, then we find that a significant number of those appointed to work in the Obama/Biden Administration either actively cheated on their taxes, or just didn't pay all the taxes due. That gives the impression that the idea of spending someone else's money means only spending the money from those too stupid to cheat on their taxes.

Let me note that I was struck by the same sort of thing in the 2004 elections, when the Heinz-Kerry's contributed a far lower percentage of their wealth to charity than did the Bushes.
4.15.2009 11:46pm