Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sometimes You Just Need a Little Push

Last week, South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer compared welfare recipients to stray animals. Here's the exact quote:
"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."

Wow, all I can say is wow. This is a public official. And his position is so poisonous. I understand that conservatives want government to stay out of people's private affairs. And I know, believe me I know - having witnessed the first and third of the month behind a teller line - how easy it is to get jaded about government assistance. But this. His position is terrifying. To suggest that the government not "feed" hungry citizens, that is akin to advocating the extermination of low-income individuals.

To this man, though I fear he may not be literate enough to do so, I suggest reading Push, the novel by Sapphire that the film Precious is based upon. The book presents a microcosm of American society. Of the forgotten people, those who must rely on government assistance to better themselves. It humanizes an issue that people who have never been in a position to receive aid may otherwise never comprehend.

Having just finished reading Push for a book club meeting, I will attest that this book moved me to examine my positions on government assistance. Sure, some people abuse the system. But that doesn't mean that everyone does. Like the book's name implies, some people just need a push, a little boost so they can rise above. You would be surprised how difficult it is for people to get by without a network to rely on.

If, like Precious, you've been abused and assaulted by both of your parents, bypassed by the school system, and have no connections at all, then you're screwed. Unless you receive some aid. And maybe the only place you can get it is from the government.
Some people just need a launching pad before they can soar.

1 comment:

kimberly said...

i'm definitely going to have to read 'push'

i have yet to see Precious, but i listened to a culture gabfest podcast about it.

it makes me so heartbroken to listen to people who believe that welfare recipients are inherently lazy or breed like animals or other negative connotations associated with governmental assistance.

we need to focus on issues of social justice more closely.

great post!