South Carolina Lt.-Gov. Andre Bauer

South Carolina Lt.-Gov. Andre Bauer, a candidate for governor, made a comment which basically compared the poor to stray animals during a town hall meeting on Friday. During a discussion of subsidized school lunches, Bauer said the following:

“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.”

What Bauer was trying to do, he said on CNN while trying to backpedal on the statement, was the following:

“There’s no way that I was trying to tie animals to people. What I was trying to talk about is the dependency culture, and just like when you feed an animal, you create a dependency.”

Back to comparing the poor with animals, eh? Here’s an interesting open letter to Bauer in the Spartanburg Spark, in which Christopher George makes some excellent points:

Your knowledge on issues of poverty is about as thorough as my knowledge of quantum physics, and while that might be fine for Andre Bauer, private citizen, it most certainly is not fine for Andre Bauer, gubernatorial candidate. I know that in conservative circles ideas like yours—though normally more carefully articulated—are pretty common, even celebrated. The idea that government assistance creates poverty is a pretty old one, and it’d be wrong to imply that you were expressing something that your fellow conservatives don’t agree with. Most of them agree with it just fine. Whether they’d have your courage in saying so openly is another matter.

Whether they’d come forward with your degree of honesty or not though, the fact remains that they’re plainly wrong about poverty issues in pretty much every respect. Chew on this one for a moment: If it really is true that government assistance causes poverty, then why is it that the countries with the largest, most expansive social safety nets also have the lowest poverty rates? If food stamps, unemployment insurance, and free school lunches increased poverty, as you and your conservative friends claim, then how do you explain the fact that countries like Germany, France, Canada and The Netherlands—all of which have welfare systems far more advanced than ours—have lower poverty rates? […]

I know from how forceful you were in your defense of the “I Believe” license plate that you are a Christian. That’s important because you see, there are those of us out here who believe that when it came to issues involving the poor, Jesus was a pretty radical guy. I myself have several favorite verses where he seems to come down pretty hard on the whole “laissez-faire” thing.

I especially like this passage from the book of Matthew: “For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

If that one doesn’t do it for you, how about this one from the book of Luke: “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in the flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.”

Very good points. And for those against universal health care, who are on the right, how do you reconcile these points from the New Testament with your views?

Originally on SNAFU-ed