Friday, March 1, 2013

John Cheese is On Point with 4 Things Politicians Don't Grasp About the Poor (also Video of Marian Wright Edelman)

On Facebook, a friend of mine shared this article at headlined "4 Things Politicians Will Never Understand About Poor People."

In plain language (with occasional cussing) John Cheese debunks the common myths politicians perpetuate about people living in poverty, such as they don't work and that they only want handouts.

His post also reveals some of the offensive rhetoric some politicians leverage when they discuss government assistance programs. For instance, in 2010 former Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina Andre Bauer said while in office:
"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 original article at CBS implies that Bauer, a Republican, made this comment in reference to Greenville's free school lunch program in which nearly half of that city's children participate. I suspect that there's a racial element to the ease with which Bauer compared poor people to animals, but I won't muddy the waters with further speculation about how he may have been manipulating the Southern Strategy here.

On the surface, it seems surprising that Bauer would bash the poor this way. News sources report that he himself benefited from a reduced cost lunch program when he was a child after his mother and father divorced. Attempting to clean up his comment later, Bauer said he was not opposed to people receiving government aid but how that aid is administered.

A reckless tongue may be part of Bauer's reckless character. Based on his driving history, he appears to be generally impulsive, and it's possible that he's got identity issues tossing him to and fro, making him forget his past and sometimes deny his present with hypocrisy.

Cheese also recalls another Republican's public statement in which the politician used an analogy likening welfare recipients to raccoons eating beetles out of dead rats. In 2011, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning told Fox News that he regretted making the comparison. I bet he does. He was campaigning to be the Republican nominee for the Senate then. Wikipedia provides additional information about that run:
Bruning was endorsed by the Tea Party Express and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Bruning has stated he believes life begins at conception, and has been endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life in each of his campaigns. Bruning lost the Republican primary election from Deb Fischer, who went on to win the general election.
Frankly, I have strong reservations about candidates promoted by the Tea Party Express and endorsed by Huckabee. Maybe the people in Wisconsin do as well.

In addition, according to Wikipedia, Bruning is married. He and his wife have two children. It's too bad that having children himself doesn't help him have more compassion for parents who have children and may not be able to feed them.

Perhaps Cheese is right that there are things about being poor that politicians will never understand. I would modify that claim to say "some politicians" because I know there are a few out there who are concerned about the poor and do not demonize people in poverty. The ones who do not understand, however, really don't understand because they don't want to understand, and unfortunately for those of us who want a fairer economy, the thinking of these backwards politicians is viral.

This seems like a good time to shine a light on the work of Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund speaking on children in poverty in America.

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