"When I Said Poor People Were Like Stray Animals, What I Meant Was ..."
If one were to imagine a surefire way to ensure they would never hold a high political office, I don't suppose you could do much better than this:
"My grandmother ... told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."
Those remarks were uttered by South Carolina lieutenant governor Andre Bauer, a Republican seeking his party's nomination for governor during a town-hall meeting.
In the same speech, Bauer implied a relationship between offering children assistance and poor student performance. "You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch, and I'll show you the worst test scores, folks. It's there, period."
He also suggested that there should be consequences for receiving government assistance, including mandatory drug testing and attendance to PTA meetings.
Bauer (not to be confused with Andre Braugher, the actor who portrayed hard-nosed detective Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street) later denied he compared those receiving government assistance to stray animals.
Gee, I don't know where anyone would even get that idea?
Reaction is probably best summed up by this headline at the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "The Andrew Bauer solution: Starve the poor, they'll stop breeding."
While the headline may be flippant, the substance of the blog post by AJC writer Jay Bookman is quite serious, perhaps more serious than such comments even deserve.
Bookman runs through the logical fallacies of Bauer and others who believe that "handouts" only reinforce and encourage bad behavior and a "cycle of poverty." He points to two significant flaws.
1. History disproves the theory.
2. Poverty rates point to the opposite conclusion. Bookman notes that in nations with the highest rate of government assistance poverty is the lowest and in nations with low assistance have the highest rates. In the U.S., states with higher levels of government assistance have the lowest poverty rates.
While some may consider Bauer's words ignorant, and others see someone finally willing to speak out in an overly politically correct society, I just wonder what Andre Bauer would say if he was left alone for an hour in The Box with Andre Braugher. In the end, he may be singing a different tune.
Photos courtesy of Shadow & Act and aging.sc.gov