One might think that a $15,000 donation to charity for victims of Haiti’s earthquakes is a generous response to a terrible tragedy. In general, one might be correct.
In particular, this $15,000 donation came yesterday, more than a week after the 7.0 magnitude quake decimated the small nation. It came from our President and First Lady, out of their personal bank account. And it came for the following reason:
“[T]he Obamas were inspired to give upon seeing the response of millions of Americans who have given generously during tough economic times.” [Link]
Not the day of the earthquake; not the day after, nor the day after that. It was over a week later that the Obamas decided to donate. Not because they realized that the cause was worthy, but because the generosity of the American people was showing them up.
Americans have been giving at what could be a record pace. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, as of Saturday, $150 million has been donated by Americans.
That’s more than the U.S. government has committed so far…
Not that this lack of generosity is unusual for the Obamas. As the Huffington Post reports:
Up until recent years when their income increased sharply from book revenues and a Senate salary, Obama’s family donated a relatively minor amount of its earnings to charity. From 2000 through 2004, the senator and his wife never gave more than $3,500 a year in charitable donations — about 1 percent of their annual earnings. In 2005, however, that total jumped to $77,315 (4.7 percent of annual earnings), and to $60,307 in 2006 (6.1 percent).
Among those charitable donations, the Obamas listed “a $13,107 contribution to the Congressional Black Caucus as a charity gift”, HuffPo states.
Americans are arguably the most generous people in the world. Whenever there is a need, Americans donate tens and hundreds of millions of dollars almost instantly. Regardless of the economic situation or the state of our bank accounts, we donate whatever we can. Not only in emergencies like Haiti, but also on a regular basis, we donate to food pantries, soup kitchens, orphanages, church outreach efforts. We are Americans. We give.
It is unfortunate, then, that our nation’s leader only gives when it becomes politically expedient.