$1,885.00 out of $269.256.00 equals less that 1% of giving to charity – and that is what Vice President Biden and his wife decided was a good amount in 2008. This is a pathetic attempt at charity. It isn’t really an attempt, it is a faint that is just enough to make them feel as though they had done something. They recall that they wrote a few checks some months back and it made them feel that they had fulfilled that commitment.
But what the Bidens gave is not enough to really constitute charity. Charity is not transactional or about checking something off the list – it is about love. Charity is a form of self sacrifice that establishes a connection between the giver and the receiver and holds their welfare in common. Giving less than 1% means that you are giving completely without love or any genuine concern for those who are suffering in this world.
Ethics Professor Peter Singer has recently wrote a book called The Life You Can Save He brings the question of giving into the immediate with this opening metaphor:
If we could easily save the life of a child, we would. For example, if we saw a child in danger of drowning in a shallow pond, and all we had to do to save the child was wade into the pond, and pull him out, we would do so. The fact that we would get wet, or ruin a good pair of shoes, doesn’t really count when it comes to saving a child’s life.
UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, estimates that about 27,000 children die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Yet at the same time almost a billion people live very comfortable lives, with money to spare for many things that are not at all necessary. (You are not sure if you are in that category? When did you last spend money on something to drink, when drinkable water was available for nothing? If the answer is “within the past week” then you are spending money on luxuries while children die from malnutrition or diseases that we know how to prevent or cure.)
Prof. Singer then offers guidelines (and even a calculator) for charitable giving depending on the amount of money we make.
|Less then 105 000 USD||At least 1% of your income, getting closer to 5% as your income approaches 105 000 USD|
|105 001 USD – 148 000 USD||5%|
|148 001 USD – 383 000 USD||5% of the first 148 000 USD and 10% of the remainder|
|383 001 USD – 600 000 USD||5% of the first 148 000 USD, 10% of the next 235 000 USD and 15% of the remainder|
|600 001 USD – 1 900 000 USD||5% of the first 148 000 USD, 10% of the next 235 000 USD, 15% of the next 217 000 USD and 20% of the remainder|
|1 900 001 USD – 10 700 000 USD||5% of the first 148 000 USD, 10% of the next 235 000 USD, 15% of the next 217 000 USD, 20% of the next 1 300 000 USD and 25% of the remainder|
|Over 10 700 000 USD||5% of the first 148 000 USD, 10% of the next 235 000 USD, 15% of the next 217 000 USD, 20% of the next 1 300 000 USD, 25% of the next 8 800 000 USD and 33.33% of the remainder|
It is really quite generous. It is of course gradated depending on how much income you make and, but for the most part well below the 10% that is suggested in the Bible – that other source of ethics that Christians occasionally turn to. According to this calculator, the Bidens should be giving $19, 526. Let’s see if they can make up the 18,000 next year.
It is easy to point figures but it begs the question of how much did you give? How do you calculate that ammount? Do you feel like it is a spiritual practice? Can we all do more, given that real lives are at stake?