PHILIPSBURG–Stuart Johnson appears to have plagiarised parts of a speech on poverty made by US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, in a message on the same subject that he posted on his public figure Facebook page and signed as potential United People’s (UP) party board [President – Ed.].
Johnson, who currently holds the post of general secretary and PR officer on the UP party board, declined to comment on the matter when asked several days ago, indicating that he had a comment prepared, but would release it only after he had seen the article this newspaper has written.
Sanders delivered his prepared remarks in McDowell County, West Virginia, USA, on May 5. The entire speech was posted on Sanders’ website
Johnson posted a message about poverty four days later, on May 9. The first part of Johnson’s message appeared to have been taken directly from Sanders’ speech. Johnson replaced words such as America with St. Maarten and added words such as Front Street to localise the message. He did not say he agreed with Sanders’s ideas or otherwise acknowledge the US presidential candidate in his posting.
Johnson even used some of Sanders’ recommendations for McDowell County in his message as recommendations he suggested for St. Maarten. For example, Sanders said, “We need to treat drug addiction like a mental health issue, not a criminal issue. We should not be locking people up who have a drug addiction … ,” while Johnson said in his message, “We need to treat severe drug addiction like a mental health issue, not a criminal issue.”
Sanders also said, “At a time when over half of all older workers have no retirement savings, we’re not going to cut Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security so that every worker can retire with dignity and respect,” while Johnson said, “At a time when half or more of our older workers have no retirement savings, we’re not going to cut or limit pension, we’re going to expand it so people can retire with dignity and respect.”
An excerpt from Sander’s prepared remarks reads: “In the United States today … 47 million Americans are living in poverty. … Let’s be clear. Living in poverty doesn’t just mean you don’t have enough money to buy a big screen TV, a fancy laptop computer, or the latest version of the iPhone. It goes much, much deeper than that.
“In America today, being poor not only means you are less likely to have a grocery store in your community selling healthy food, far too often it means you don’t know where your next meal is going to come from. In fact, 15 million children in America today are living in families that struggle to put enough food on the table.
“Living in poverty means you are less likely to have access to a doctor, a dentist, or a mental health care provider. And if you are lucky enough to see a doctor it means you are less likely to afford the prescription drugs a doctor prescribes to you.
“In fact, one out of five Americans between the ages of 18-64 cannot afford to fill their prescription medication at a drug store. Living in poverty means you are less likely to have access to public transportation – which makes it harder to find a job. It means you are less likely to have access to child care. And you are more likely to do drugs and engage in self-destructive activities.”
The beginning of Johnson’s message reads: “In St. Maarten today we have people who surely are living in poverty. Let me be more clear about this. Living in poverty doesn’t just mean you don’t have enough money to buy a big flat screen TV from Front Street, a fancy laptop by one of our electronic stores, or the latest iPhone or vehicle. It goes much deeper than that.
“Living in poverty means you are less likely to have enough money to go to the supermarket to purchase healthier food. Far too often it means you don’t know where your next meal is going to come from. Living in poverty means you are less likely to have access to a proper doctor, dentist or otherwise. It means you have less access to your own transportation, which makes it harder to find a job or get to your job on time.
“Poverty is an issue we must address on St. Maarten. This is not an issue we can just sweep under the rug and hope it will go away somehow with time. Because believe me it won’t.”
Johnson is also the Manager of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School.
Source: Daily Herald
Stuart Johnson plagiarises parts of Sanders speech in poverty message