Then we saw his charitable giving.
The precise number escapes us at the moment, but it was quite low. Lower than our own tithe, by a good bit. More remarkably, it was lower than the tithes offered by several of the elderly people in our congregation. And make no mistake; we were then serving in the south Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the United States. Those investment bankers were far, far away. Our poor old widow ladies were poor.
We were genuinely shocked to learn that our governor, who was not an especially bad man as politicians go, was so miserly. But we should not have been. A recent UC Berkeley study, reported in the Economist, demonstrates that the poor are often willing to give more generously to charity than the rich.
Briefly, it's a series of experiments, not all the same, but all giving compatible results. Poor people (including those who believe that they are poor, or have been temporarily induced to "feel" poor) believe that larger portion of their income should be given for the support of those in need. In some cases, the disparity is remarkable: Upper-class participants said 2.1% of incomes should be donated. Lower-class individuals felt that 5.6% was the appropriate slice. That's a whopping difference.
The tests didn't just measure belief, either; they included practice. When a person (that is, a "plant") showed up late and needed help with the research procedures, poor people were measurably more ready to help than rich ones. And here's the kicker, at least for preachers:
In this case priming [i.e., temporarily inducing a different sense of one's status] made no difference to the lower classes. They always showed compassion to the latecomer. The upper classes, though, could be influenced. Those shown a compassion-inducing video behaved in a more sympathetic way than those shown emotionally neutral footage. That suggests the rich are capable of compassion, if somebody reminds them, but do not show it spontaneously.