06
Oct
08

fascinating stuff

So I watched the vice-presidential debate the other night. Both candidates were rather impressive. Governor Palin is a very interesting woman who is a successful leader and seemed confident and comfortable in the venue. Senator Biden is an exceptionally polished debater who is quite articulate and well informed. I found their interaction fascinating…for about the first seven minutes after which each candidate began to repeat themselves and in many cases ignoring the actual questions posed by the moderator.

As the debate continued, to be honest, my mind drifted to other pertinent issues like – how deeper would the ocean be if there were no sponges? Would cannibals not eat clowns because they taste funny? Is it proper for vegetarians to eat animal crackers?

Right about the moment I started to wonder things about chipmunks, I heard the term “taxes” mentioned and reengaged with the debate. Granted, perhaps other terms like, deregulation, war and nuclear proliferation, should’ve grabbed my attention first. But it was the topic of taxes that brought me back from my happy place.

Of course in election years, politicians always talk about lowering or at least not raising taxes on the average American…but how often do we ever see that happen? Usually if a tax gets lowered, some other fee gets bumped up. It’s all kind of a wash really.

But as the talk on taxes continued and each candidate offered their own set of promises, I started thinking about how politicians are incredibly generous with American’s money. They spend it freely and at times even promise to give some back. How munificent of them. But I wondered – how generous are the same politicians with their own money? So I did some research.

Of the four politicians dominating our national headlines, here is what I found out regarding their personal generosity – or at least what their charitable contributions reveal about some of it [not all generosity can be measured by dollars and cents].

According to tax records recently released to the public…in 2007
Senator Obama gave 5.8% of his earnings to charity.
Senator McCain donated 27.3% of his income to needy causes.
Governor Sarah Palin gave 3.8%
Senator Joe Biden 0.3%

Now, what do those numbers mean exactly? I don’t really know.   I’m not at all suggesting they indicate leadership potential.  What I am saying is that given the current status of our economy and how the Gross National Debt is indeed pretty gross, I do wish politicians would be as careful with our money as they are with their own.

Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?
-Proverbs 17:6

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3 Responses to “fascinating stuff”


  1. 1 Larry Eisner
    October 8, 2008 at 3:40 am

    This is the thing, however… I can say that I give at least 10% to charity, and usually a little, but probably statistically insignificant amount more…

    But, if I had enough money to pay my bills, to own my house, to buy food consistently, or whatever… it would stand to reason that I had more money to give.

    While I have a preference thus far in the election process (and it’s definitely malleable… I’m watching the debates with a passion to ensure my choices are not clouded by “what I think” rather than “what’s been said”, or “where they stand”)… it’s a pretty well known fact that John McCain is very very well off. Between his money and his wife’s money, they own x amount of houses, so much general property, as well as various accounts.

    I doubt that’s something that Sarah Palin, his running mate could claim.

    I know, I know.. we’re talking percentages. So 5% is 5% no matter how big the pie you cut it from started out as… but I still think that when you have less expense, and have less “need” you can afford to give more, even as a percentage.

    I think it’s WONDERFUL that the McCain family gives nearly 30% to charity. It’s spectacular. But I can definitely say that if I had no need, I could give close to 90% of my money, ya know?

    So generosity isn’t simply a numbers game.

    The widow’s mite was all she had. You could effectively say it was 100% of her current money, and probably a large amount of her “annual income”. But say it was only 10%… would we look down on it? if it was 5%? I think, rather, that what is more important is the giver’s heart, and the true “sacrifice percentage” of the giving.

    Giving 50% of what I don’t need is very different from giving 10% of what I absolutely must give through trust in God, because frankly, I need that 10%, and without Him, I don’t know how we will live… That’s the difference…

    Sorry to write a novel in your comments… but I feel that a lot is said about how much political peeps or celebrities give to charity. While I feel like we all are held to the biblical mandate of tithing, the truth is that the real “faith” part comes when you give sacrificially, and if that means 10%, then it does. If it means 30% then it does. If it means 80%, then it does. But we don’t know where each person lies in that spectrum, I suppose…

    Although again, I find it sad that they don’t tithe at least… (exception of McCain)

  2. 2 rkollbocker
    October 8, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    You’re absolutely correct…generosity isn’t merely a numbers game. As far as giving to God is concerned – it’s the pinch not necessarily the percentage. However, I personally believe the 10% mark is the place to begin. I think it would interesting if everyone’s giving was public knowledge. How many of us would be embarassed by our lack of charitable giving. Studies indicate the Palin is around the American average.

  3. 3 DAN
    October 9, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    To bad they didn’t both agree to tithe their campaign contributions. I think it will be close to a billion dollars. Thats about a 700th of what is being spent to bailout the entire financial markets.


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re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
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