Practicing What We Preach

Most would agree that one true measure of a person is if they actually live and do what they say they believe.

Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist who recently declared he was running again for President, is running on a platform of helping the less fortunate by taking money from the wealthy and redistributing it to those at the bottom end of the economic ladder who often, he says, have the system rigged against them. How does his record stack up?

Bernie Sanders is in the top 8% of income in the country, with income over $200,000/year. He owns three homes, the most recent purchase being shortly after the 2016 election when he bought another vacation home on Lake Champlain. As a related aside, this has come as he has worked as an elected official in some office or another for the last 38 years.

For the last year that Thinking Man could find data (2014), Bernie Sanders and his wife gave roughly 4% of his income, $8350, to charitable causes. When we look at comparison data, we find that residents of Mississippi-the poorest state in the nation, gives on average 7.3% of their incomes to charity, over 75% more than Sanders.

As we look further, we find that more than half the states gave, on average, a higher percentage of their income to charity than Sanders. Even when you look at the actual dollar amount (Sanders has a very high income so his percentage is a high dollar amount), there are 6 states that average-combined for people of every income level-a higher actual dollar amount in charitable and philanthropic giving than Sanders.

It seems that the objective data would suggest that Sanders doesn’t really practice personally what he says he believes. He’s rich, by any measure, and gives less to people and causes less fortunate than a large number of Americans (including those at the lower end of the income spectrum). So it becomes hard not to believe that Sanders’ beliefs about taking from the rich to give to the underprivileged is targeted primarily at others.

As Margaret Thatcher, the first woman Prime Minister of Britain said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” A keen observation.

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