Monday, November 5, 2012

Practicing Generousity

Class warfare. The 1% vs the 99%. And on and on. Rhetoric is great for in front of the camera. But happens in real life.

Several months ago I saw a bumper sticker that said, if I am not mistaken, Practice Generousity. Another bumper sticker on the car was of the Obama/Biden variety. I was inspired to do some research. Here is what I found.

Charitable Contributions: Obama and Clinton both gave less, as a percentage of adjusted gross income, than Bush.
Obama (2009): $329,100 (5.98%)
Bush (2001): $82,700 (10.2%)
Clinton (1993): $17,000 (5.8%)

As you can imagine, percentages don’t always tell the story. Obama gave significantly more, even adjusted for inflation, than the other two Presidents.

As an aside, a lot has been made of President Obama’s charitable contributions in 2010, which amounted to 14.1% of his income. As you may remember, Obama promised to donate all theproceeds of his children’s book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides free or low cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers. We now learn that the proceeds resulted in a $131,075 contribution. Excluding those proceeds, the Obamas donated 6.6% of their income, which is closer to historical averages.

Read more:

In his 2006 book, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism,” Syracuse University Professor Arthur Brooks analyzed charitable giving in the United States and found that conservatives were 30 percent more likely to give, even though liberal families averaged 6 percent higher household incomes. Brooks found that conservatives donate more time and give more blood, and concluded that religious participation was the single strongest predictor of generous behavior.

According to Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, religious people are 25 percent more likely to donate than non-religious people. Religious people are also 38 percent more likely to be conservative.

In 2007, the giving broke down on party lines like this:

Cheney: 5.5 %

Bush: 17.6%

McCain: 27 %

Obama: 5.6 %

Clinton 14.7 %

Biden: 0.3 %

Read more:

Bleeding Heart Tightwads
Published: December 20, 2008

This holiday season is a time to examine who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but I’m unhappy with my findings. The problem is this: We liberals are personally stingy.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

On the Ground

Nicholas Kristof addresses reader feedback and posts short takes from his travels. Go to Columnist Page »

Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.

Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.

Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.

The upshot is that Democrats, who speak passionately about the hungry and homeless, personally fork over less money to charity than Republicans — the ones who try to cut health insurance for children.

Read more:

Mitt Romney taxes show 'very high' charitable giving tied to Mormon church

Mitt Romney's tax returns reveal that he gives significant amounts of money to charity, partially because of his ties to the Mormon church, whose members are expected to tithe 10 percent.

By Ron Scherer, Staff writer / January 24, 2012

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop in front of a foreclosed home in Lehigh Acres, Fla., Tuesday.

Brian Snyder/REUTERS

New York

Mitt Romney makes a lot of money. But he and his wife, Ann, also give away a significant amount of their wealth to charity and especially their church.

The Christian Science Monitor
Weekly Digital Edition

On Tuesday, when he released his income tax returns, Mr. Romney, a multimillionaire and presidential candidate, revealed that while he reported he made $42.5 million over the past two years, he also gave away $7 million.

While Romney is not thought of as a great philanthropist, his rate of giving is considered high. For example, in 2010 he gave $2.9 million or 14 percent of his income to charity. A typical person gives 2 to 3 percent of their income. And people who made $10 million or more typically gave 6.5 percent to charity, according to Roberton Williams of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington.

Read more:

Whatever shapes your values, your spoken values should have real world consequences. NO HUMAN OR PARTY IS PERFECT. But it is possible to weigh percentages and follow patterns of behavior. Just food for thought as we come down to the election wire.

For more food read


  1. Re: the 99% vs the 1% - a friend of ours recently told me, "I've never been hired by anyone making less money than me." Keep up the good work Aaron.

    1. Ya can't get much truer than that! And when the "1%" gets over taxed on the goods the make and the services they provide do we supposed they will just eat that loss? When a business is confronted with a lower profit margin it raises prices. That is not cutthroat that is sanity. You have to provide for your employees, the growth of your business and your family etc. I am not a money guy/numbers guy but I am trying to increase my little portion for those things too. AND I do give from the little bit that I get. And I will give more when I have more. Decent people that make a lot do exist and they do give back a lot.


Please keep it civil. Disagreement does not have to be disagreeable. Thank you so much! I look forward to your input!