American politics is a hoot! Where else can raw ignorance rise to such high places — and then flaunt itself publicly and shamelessly for all to see?
For example, who needs Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien for comic relief, when we've got Andre Bauer? He's the lieutenant governor of South Carolina (a state, by the way, that really is a comer on the political comedy circuit).
Bauer, presently a Republican contender for governor, had 'em rolling in the aisles recently when he did a wild, slapstick routine on food stamps at a town hall meeting. Andre proclaimed that much of his thinking was shaped by his grandmother, and that he had learned this valuable lesson from her:
"She told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why?" he asked, pausing for comedic effect. "Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce."
I tell you, Andre Bauer is an absolute scream!
But I think he could improve his act, so I'm offering a few facts to help him.
The past 10 years were a lost decade for America's middle class. Since December 1999, our economy has lost more jobs than it created — zero job growth. Not surprisingly then, middle-income families today are making less, in real dollars, than they did in 1999. Add in skyrocketing health care costs, plus the plummeting value of people's homes, and you find that millions of Americans have been shoved out of the middle class into poverty.
Here's the punch line: The need for food stamps has been soaring as more and more middle-classers are falling.
In fact, check this out Andre, and laugh if you feel like it: About 6 million Americans are now living solely on food stamps. They've lost their jobs and have no other income. That's one in every 50 of us, and their numbers are growing rapidly.
Now, isn't that a hoot?
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.