Monday, January 25, 2010

South Carolina: Should we feed stray animals or poor people?

Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer of South Carolina, who is running to be the next governor of South Carolina this year, offered a conservative perspective on social programs. Last week, at a South Carolina town hall meeting, Bauer said

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she 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." (The State, "Needy 'owe something back' for aid," January 23, 2010)


Some might say it's fair to compare poor people with dumb animals, who eat and breed without heed to the consequences. I'm not a conservative, myself, so I'm not able to defend that take on things. However, this is emblematic on modern American conservatives' justification for killing social programs in this country. The thinking is that the only reason we have to spend money on poor people is because they're selfish enough to want to not die.

The logic is consistent. If you starve a stray animal, what happens? Either it dies or finds food for itself. Same with human beings: either they die or find food for themselves. Lt. Governor Bauer seems to think that all anyone needs to survive (not necessarily to succeed) is a push out the door, rather than a hand up. Because how can you expect the middle class to pay an extra $5.00 per year each in taxes in order to keep the poor from completely falling through the cracks? Of course, Lt. Governor Bauer might want to explain to us whom he expects to pay for the security guards surrounding the shantytowns of the future, as well as the disposal of the bodies of dead poor people. I look forward to hearing his enlightened leadership on this subject.

Seriously, in case anyone out there is wondering why Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina hasn't been impeached, it should be obvious. Impeachment of Sanford would have made Bauer governor. As bad as Sanford is, Bauer is far, far worse. Unless you really think that "culling the herd" is a good way to address poverty in this country.

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