Cambrian: Opinion

John Brannon: Somebody light a candle

There have been way too many stupid statements presented since Obama began his quest for leadership of our remarkable, wonderful country. To calm my anger and frustration resulting from these outrageous comments, I dwell on a fact presented in 2008 by the Pew Research Foundation. They found that slightly more than 20 percent of Americans think that the sun revolves around the Earth. When asked “How often?” most replied, “… why, once a day, of course.” Realizing that there are a lot of stupid people in this country helps me move beyond a recent comment by Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer of South Carolina.

I quote from a column written by Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald:

“If he’d said it of Jews, he would still be apologizing. If he had said it of blacks, he’d be on BET, begging absolution. If he’d said it of women, the National Organization for Women would have his carcass turning slowly on a spit over an open flame. But he said it of the poor, so he got away with it.”

“He” is South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, running for governor on the GOP ticket.

Speaking of those who receive public assistance, he recently told an audience, “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.”

You read that right. The would-be governor of one of the poorest states there is likens the poor to stray animals.

I suggest that Lt. Gov. Bauer read broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw’s highly regarded 1998 book “The Greatest Generation.” In telling the story of Americans surviving the deprivation of the Great Depression, he emphasized how important soup kitchens and bread lines were to the millions of jobless and unemployed workers and their families.

At the peak of the Depression, 17,000 families were put out on the street each month. Municipal resources were quickly overwhelmed, and city agencies resorted to thinning relief payments to below the cost of living and watering down the soup to help more people over a longer time.

From this ordeal emerged the men, women and children who became “The Greatest Generation.” When World War II began, industrial production for the war effort surpassed anything comparable in the history of our nation. This transition was described as “from soup lines to front lines.”

President Roosevelt prepared for the post-war era by signing the Servicemen’s Adjustment Act (G. I. Bill) in 1944; he was providing government funds for education, vocational training, mortgage loan guarantees and other expenses for the returning veterans.

In 1907, barely 2 percent of the population graduated from college. This number increased to only 4 percent in the 1930s. But nearly 16 million veterans benefited from the bill from 1945 to 1956. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on the program, around $12 was returned in tax benefits. It was an investment, not a handout.

Bauer mentions that his grandmother was not a highly educated woman. But living on the belt buckle of the Bible belt, she should at least be familiar with what is quoted in that valued book:

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31).

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