South Carolina Governor Andre Bauer commented on the growing problem of poverty in his state:
“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.”
Governor Bauer’s statement relating people living in poverty to stray animals reflects the ignorance and distance of his leadership to the struggles of his electorate. The 2008 Census calculated that 15.7% of South Carolinians live in poverty.
He is up for re-election in his state this coming November, and this recent statement is not a misrepresentation of his platform. He wants government assistant cut from citizens, who in his eyes are not making an effort to contribute to society. Those who miss PTA meetings or fail drug tests are under his scrutiny.
Voters need to recognize that placing all the responsibility on the impoverished class only lets the structures perpetuating poverty and what Governor Bauer identifies as “failure to contribute” continue. Lack of affordable transportation, affordable childcare, health care, and education are the key to ending poverty.
Hopefully, the negative attention national attention for his remarks will refocus the voters of South Carolina to institutional barriers compounding poverty.