Oseola McCarty, a poorly educated African-American laundry woman in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, gave more to charity in one gift than our Vice-President has given in his lifetime. Last week's release of the Bidens' tax returns reveals a troubling character weakness. Stinginess. Unrelenting shameless stinginess.
During the campaign, both Biden and Obama released their tax returns dating back to 2000. As far as I know, my radio show was the only media outlet to discuss all the candidates' returns for what they reveal about character and spirit. Generous people are happier than stingy people, more compassionate than stingy people, and more selfless than stingy people. Generosity matters. It reveals who you are.
As April 15 arrived this year, Obama and Biden released their tax returns for 2008. Two observations: Biden is stingy, and Obama only began giving when he knew the public would be watching.
First, consider Oseola McCarty, who lived a simple life in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, doing other people's laundry to eke out a living. She lived in a small home with no cable television, only getting air conditioning in the final three years of her life. Her Bible was taped together to keep all the books intact. She saved and gave $150,000 at age 87 to help poor kids go to the local college, the University of Southern Mississippi, since she had only been able to finish the 6th grade herself. She said she figured the kids trying to get an education needed the money more than she did. Generous giving gave her life purpose and joy.
On the other hand, consider Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, who have given about 0.2% of their income to charity in each of the years between 2000 and 2008. Less than ½ of one percentage point given to persons in need, to ministries of their Catholic Church, to agencies that serve the poor and the hurting. In fact, this year they gave a total of $1885 to charity, marking the first time they had even given a sum larger than $1000 for the entire year. In every year of this decade, the Bidens' income has exceeded $200,000, and for the first time they gave away more than $1000 of their own money. Astonishing stinginess. Record-setting, in fact.