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Progressives’ Idea of “Charity”: 1% Of Their Income, Raising Your Taxes, and Their Public Service?

In 2016, Bernie Sanders’ adjusted gross income (AGI) was over a million dollars for the first time. That same year, he donated only 1% of his income to charity. In the two years since, he has managed to bring that percentage all the way up to a whopping 3.38% of his 2018 AGI. Another Democratic presidential candidate who pushes socialist policies, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, only donated .3% of his income in 2017. Please make note of the placement of the decimal in that figure: he did not even donate half of one percent of his income. Continuing down the list of Democratic presidential candidates who seem smitten with socialist policies of wealth redistribution through forcible means, Kamala Harris only donated 1.4% of her household income in 2018, and Elizabeth Warren gave the most, at 5.5% in 2018. 

Let’s take just a moment to reflect on what all of this means. Bernie Sanders is an unabashed socialist who wastes no opportunity to advocate for an abundance of government-run programs to control every aspect of our lives. In fact, in a recent tweet, he promoted FDR’s second Bill of Rights, saying that everyone has a right to a “decent job,” “health care, housing education retirement security, etc.” As Virginia Delegate Nick Freitas likes to say, Bernie just seems more comfortable with violence than I, or most conservatives are. Using the force of government to compel people into charity is exactly that, because the government will become violent with you if you do not agree with how they want to spend your hard-earned money and decide not to pay your taxes.

These other progressive leftists have a similar affinity for forced charity through government taxation as Bernie does. The problem is, while they seem anxious for people, especially rich people, to spend their money solving society’s problems under the force of government, they won’t spend much of their own money to help. I could use a few adages here, so I will. What happened to Gandhi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world?” Or Tolstoy’s “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself?” Or the Biblical admonition found in Matthew 7:3 (ESV): “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” In other words, if they are so keen to have the government force “charity” in order to help others, it might be a wise idea if they would start by donating their own first. 

When Martha MacCallum recently asked Bernie if he’d be willing to pay 52% on the money he made, matching his idea for what a wealth tax should amount to, and reminded him that he could voluntarily send that money in to the government now, his flip answer was that MacCallum makes more money than he does, and she could do the same. Her response was that she wasn’t the one who was suggesting the tax, he was. He dodged answering the question. When “Beto” was asked at a town hall about his pathetically small donation, his equally pathetic response was, in a nutshell, that his public service was his way of helping. Let’s ignore the fact that public office, especially on the federal level, is certainly not a charity job, with salaries and benefits putting officeholders squarely into the upper class. This isn’t the days of our founders when public service actually was a sacrifice, with a pittance if any salary, and time spent away from one’s actual career in order to perform a true civic duty leaving one well behind once that service was over and a return to work inevitable. “Beto’s” public service is his career, so to consider that his “contribution” in lieu of actual donations is patently ridiculous. He, as with nearly all politicians these days, is seeking power, money, and control over the lives of Americans in running for office. There is nothing charitable about that.

There have been many studies done that show conservatives are much freer with their money than liberals, despite liberals casting themselves as the compassionate ones and conservatives as the uncaring, coldhearted ones. Even the working poor have been shown to give a higher percentage of their meager checks than the middle class. Many Christians and even secular Americans believe that giving 10% is a reasonable bar for anyone who isn’t in the upper echelons, like the Democratic politicians perviously mentioned. For many of those who meet that bar, it is a real sacrifice, while it would barely be felt by the politicians mentioned here who mostly refuse to give even half that.

While the Democrats love to excoriate the rich for hoarding money while others suffer (and obviously ignore their own money-hoarding ways as outlined above), the recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral has brought out donations from rich individuals as well as companies in droves, raising more than $700 million toward rebuilding in less than 24 hours, and more continuing to come in. In my opinion, the calls from these politicians to raise taxes to unseemly levels on the rich are nothing more than attempts to pander to their base, and assuage their own guilt for being amongst the group that they denigrate so freely. But as Martha MacCallum told Bernie, they are free to give it away, either to charities near and dear to their hearts, or to the government in the form of voluntary taxes. The question that remains is, why won’t they?

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