The secret benefactor 105

Openly giving to charity is a display of moral vanity, whether intended to be or not.

It can be argued that charity is always and only self-indulgence, done to make the giver feel good rather than to do good. Moral auto-eroticism. After all, it’s hard ever to be certain that a gift is well-bestowed.

Better to indulge in it privately, secretly – one might even say furtively, since it cannot altogether escape being something of a vice.

It has been discovered that Mitt Romney does it secretly.

This is from the Telegraph, by Tim Stanley:

For months now the Democrats have been hounding Romney, demanding that he release his most recent tax returns. Mitt refused, fuelling suspicions that he had something to hide. Turns out he did. The Romney camp finally released his tax returns on Friday afternoon and they reveal that rather than paying less that he had to, he’s actually been paying more. The cat’s out of the bag: Mitt Romney is a good citizen.

Here are the stats. In 2011, the Romneys paid roughly $1.9 million in tax out of a $13.7 million income; their effective tax rate was 14.1 per cent. On top of that, they donated over $4 million to charity – as astonishing30 per cent of their income. Here’s the kicker: the Romneys limited the charity tax deductions that they were entitled to, which pushed up their effective rate. They voluntarily paid more in tax than they had to. A cynic might say that anyone sitting on $13.7 million can afford to be generous, but the point is that all the innuendoes about tax avoidance were likely groundless. The Romneys will be waiting for an apology from Harry Reid.

Skeptics that we are, we doubt he’ll get it.

I’ll say one thing for these bloodsucking, poor-hating, conservative Republicans – they’re very generous with their money. Mitt Romney gave more than twice as much of his adjusted gross income to charity than President Obama did, although – to be fair – plunging book sales mean that the Obamas have less to give away. Joe Biden donated only 1.5 per cent of his salary in 2011.

If the tax returns prove that the Romneys are nice people, why did they take so long to release them? … One is simply that Romney’s campaign screwed up. … Perhaps on this matter, as on so much else, Mitt simply got bad advice. One of the great ironies of 2012 is that the candidate running on his organisational experience has proven dreadful at running an organisation.

But another explanation goes to the nature of Mitt Romney the man. Romney doesn’t like talking about himself or his charitable works, so it’s possible that his sense of modesty and privacy got the better of him.

The point is illustrated by a fascinating story about Romney that dates back to 1994.

That year, in the middle of his failed Massachusetts senate race, Romney went on a tour of a veterans’ hospital. The director, Ken Smith, told Mitt that the hospital was having trouble providing milk for all its patients. Romney said, “Well Ken, maybe you can teach the vets to milk cows.” It was another “47 per cent” moment and the press went wild. Romney sheepishly called Smith to apologise, and Smith put the phone down convinced that he was dealing with another phoney.

The next day, the milkman turned up with all the milk that the hospital could possibly need at half the usual price. He said he wasn’t allowed to give the name of the donor. The milkman made the same delivery at the same price the next day, the day after that, and so on. It was only two years later, on the day of his retirement, that the milkman finally told Smith that it was Mitt Romney who had donated the milk.

He should not be blamed too harshly. He did his best to hush it up.

And for whatever reason charity is given, it is hugely to be preferred over government redistribution.

Posted under Commentary, Ethics, News, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tagged with ,

This post has 105 comments.