Rick Perry: The Bible Proves That Poverty is Inevitable

Outgoing Texas governor isn't sweating his state's sorry statistics on inequality.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr.com

Texas may havethe country’s highest rate of people who lack health insurance and rank in the top 10 states with the highest poverty levels, but Gov. Rick Perry can’t be bothered. In aninterview with the Washington Post published today, Perry suggested that the Bible proves that poverty is “always going to be with us.”

As he prepares to hand over the reins to Gov.-elect Greg Abbott next month, Perry is turning his attention toward mounting a second White House bid, despite facing a criminal indictment and vivid memories of how he spectacularly imploded during his disastrous 2012 presidential campaign. It remains to be seen whether Perry will succeed in his effort to have the abuse of power charges against him tossed out, but for now, the Republican is beefing up on public policy, seeking to avoid the kinds of embarrassing stumbles that doomed his last campaign. Among the issues on which he’s consulted experts, the Post reports, is income inequality.

But Perry doesn’t see inequality as a particularly big problem, and he’s certainly not going to champion an all-out war on poverty.

“Biblically, the poor are always going to be with us in some form or fashion,” Perry told the Post.

While the governor conceded that Texas’ economic gains have mostly accrued to the state’s wealthiest residents, he denied that inequality was even an issue.

“We don’t grapple with that here,” Perry said.

According to economist Mark Frank, the top one percent of earners in Texas took home 21 percent of the state’s total income in 2011, while the top 10 percent accounted for half of all the state’s income. Frank found that Texas has the fifth-highest level of income inequality among the 50 states.

 

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Luke Brinker is Salon's deputy politics editor. Follow him on Twitter at @LukeBrinker.