Charity Must Begin With Our Leaders

I want to be clear, I love Vice President Joe Biden. I think he is funny, unpretentious and says things that need to be said. He is generous of mind and spirit but during this last year he and Dr. Jill Biden have not been generous with their pocketbook. He gave $4,820 to charity out of total income of $333,182.00. The Obama's gave six percent of their income away which is not a huge amount either, however the president gave away the entire $1.4 million dollars awarded to him by the Nobel committe which considerably ups the example set by their charity.

I can't judge a person's finances and for all I know the vice president owes a ton of money or has family expenses and can't afford to give much to charity. However, as a vice president, once you leave office you can rack up the money by giving speeches, sitting on corporate boards and even get stock in companies in exchange for opening doors. Just ask former Vice President Al Gore. He is reportedly worth more than former President Clinton.

So, with all this earning potential why on earth would the Bidens not give more to charity? If they are in financial debt or have family expenses then why not borrow some money so that they could give more away?

Yes, it sounds ludicrous to borrow money to give away but as vice president of the United States it is important to set an example for others in our country.

Churches have long encouraged their members to tithe by giving away ten percent of income. For years, Independent Sector had a "Give Five Campaign." -- They encourage people to give away five percent of their income and the equivalent amount of time. It certainly is a good standard and a good place to start. My father held to a higher standard. He believed fifty percent of income should be given to charity. He is still my example. He died when I was a young girl and I do not know if his standard was pre-tax or post-tax income.

However, any way you slice it the Bidens less than two percent doesn't cut it. -- They should have been leaders in this and shown America how to be charitable.

There needs to be some social embarrassment in our society for not giving more generously. When I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, it had the highest per capita charitable giving rate of any city in America. There were severe social and status penalities for not giving at least ten percent of your income to charity.Club memberships were denied and friends would cease to invite you to events.

It is sad to me that our political leadership has not understood that America's leadership must include charity. We are a rich country and those who have position and wealth have to set the example for all American citizens. I wish the Bidens had done more. Maybe next year.

Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.

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