Theory: Sponsoring lunches for the children of low-income parents encourages these parents to reproduce more frequently.
Credentials Required to Support this Theory: Advanced degrees in sociology and behavioral psychology, plus extensive field work to substantiate his claims
Actual Credentials: An unspecified bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina, and possible studies at Houdegbe North American University in Benin

 

Metaphor can be an excellent way of helping your audience to understand what you’re saying. For example, it is thanks to the use of parables by Jesus Christ (such as those of ‘the rich fool’ and ‘the workers in the vineyard’) that modern-day Christians abhor the accumulation of wealth and are uniformly supportive of minimum wage laws. The tricky thing about a metaphor, however, is that it has to actually illustrate the point you’re trying to make. For example, if you’ve been working out and are perspiring freely you might describe yourself as sweating like ‘a whore in church’, but not like ‘a Canadian at the Million Man March’. Sure, the combination of moderate physical exertion, an atmosphere of excitement, and the balmier DC climate might drive a Canuck to schvitz, but that isn’t what it sounds like you’re saying. So you shouldn’t say it.

You probably shouldn’t compare state-sponsored lunches for low-income children to ‘feeding stray animals’ either.

Speaking of things that might make one sweat, Andre Bauer – South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor – is probably giving his Right Guard a run for its money at the moment. He told a town hall crowd in Greenville, SC that:

“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.”

Let’s ignore for the moment (if only for the moment) that Mr. Bauer appears to be advocating that we use starvation as a method of controlling the population of low-income South Carolinians. Forget insensitivity – is there any reason to think that Bauer’s basic assumption is correct? He’s arguing that, by subsidizing the cost of raising a child, the state is encouraging the beneficiaries of such a program to produce more children. But is this accurate?

Bauer’s outspoken opposition to abortion makes it clear that he doesn’t object per se to the poor bearing children that they lack the financial means to support. He must, therefore, see the matter of free lunches for kids as important as a systemic game-changer in the broader economy of reproduction. However, the subjects of Bauer’s statement (in his own words) are incapable of long-range planning, and assessing the net future value of subsidized school lunches in deciding whether or not to invest in another child seems like a pretty involved financial calculation to me. Is he partly right? Dead wrong? I don’t know. More importantly, neither does he.

Bauer’s probably a pretty bright guy. I’m especially intrigued by his studies at the Houdegbe North American University in Benin which he cites on his LinkedIn page – it’s possible that he’s doing challenging work in this very area, and just couldn’t find a degree program to his liking in this hemisphere. The fact remains, however, that the socioeconomic and psychological issues that govern humans’ decisions whether or not to bear children are complex and involved. It seems prohibitively unlikely that a man who advertises the fact that he was a cheerleader in college but won’t say what his degree was in has truly built the base of knowledge and understanding that he would need to support this theory.

Long story short: Andre Bauer, Lt. Governor of South Carolina, doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s a toxicon.

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