As we have pointed out over and over in our posts here, Mitt Romney is a truly exceptional person. Perhaps I am just too optimistic, but I am truly surprised how many people can’t believe he is for real, and reports of his fabulous wealth are bringing lots of grist to the political gossip mill.
I commented earlier about how reports of his giving had already attracted the attention of the media, and the release of his tax returns today has prompted commentary across all segments of the political spectrum. The one that caught my attention was headlined on Fox News’ site: “WHO’S GREEDY? Obama Gave 1% to Charity, Romney Gave 15%” Well, they did cherry-pick one year, for it appears that the Obamas gave lots more in 2009, but so goes the media.
Given that I know Mitt to be a very modest person on a personal basis, these revelations of his tax returns is unfortunate. Why so? For starters, there is no passing of the plate in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of which Mitt is a faithful member. As a result, he follows the convention for making donations: He does it in private. The only people who know what someone gives are the individual, the individual’s bishop (pastor of the congregation), and the financial clerk who issues the receipt.
Based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, this philosophy should not be surprising. The Savior taught in his Sermon on the Mount:
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
(New Testament, Matthew 6: 1-4)
As a result, I have no doubt that Mitt is personally uncomfortable with people delving into his charitable donations as has now happened with the release of his tax returns. Indeed, I am convinced that this was a large portion of his reticence in releasing them. Furthermore, although I allowed my curiosity to take me to the tax returns posted on the Washington Post Web site, I have to say that I was quite uncomfortable looking through those pages. For good reason: This is none of my business or anyone else’s!
Ed Morrissey at Hotair.com wondered whether this is a case of “Full transparency, or class-warfare voyeurism?” In his piece entitled “Do we need to see tax returns from Romney or Gingrich?” he concluded that it is nothing more than voyeurism, and I agree completely. I was pleased to see in a poll at the end of post where over 70% of his readers agreed as well.
Based on Mitt’s first returns released today and an analysis by Bloomberg Business Week, we can see that he and Ann gave $7 million during 2010 and 2011, which amounts to 16.4% of his income to charity. One expert called this amount “shocking” and is followed up with this excerpt in the Business Week article
Russell James, director of a graduate program in charitable financial planning at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, said in a telephone interview today. “But it’s a different story when you compare it to total wealth. It’s not a shocking amount when you have a quarter- billion dollars in wealth.”
What is shocking to me is the fact that people insist on delving into someone’s private life to this extent. As Mitt says, one might expect to receive from Democrats the sort of treatment that he is getting, but from his fellow Republicans? Disappointing! No, shocking!
The bottom line in this chapter of the story is that the percentage that Mitt and Ann gave to charity in 2010 and 2011 came to 16.4%, which is two and a half times the 6.5% rate of people in their income bracket. Once again we see an illustration of the type of life that Mitt leads!
Note: After writing the above, I came across a post on Time magazine’s Swampland blog by Elizabeth Dias that does a nice job explaining what Mitt’s church does with the money that people donate:
Designed to follow the Biblical mandate to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, the Mormon tithing system supports a giant welfare infrastructure. In addition to financing temple construction and missionary programs, tithing supports more than 300 employment resource centers and 80 family services offices around the world. The church employs some 8,500 missionaries who teach English, give agricultural aid, provide medical practices and distribute clothing. It even stores a 3-6 month food supply so its members won’t go hungry in the event of a disaster, and most families forgo two consecutive meals a month to give money as a “fast offering” for the poor. Local bishops—a position Romney once held—work with members of their local church wards to overcome economic hardships, and are even empowered to pay a family’s mortgage in the hardest of times.