Re: homeless bums ought to work - your reply?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 14:07:28 -0700 (PDT)


Virginia, thanks your reply on whether to tell panhandlers to get jobs.
Your answer seems from the heart and deeply informed.

I sometimes give money to panhandlers I know, when I have a little extra.
Ocasionally, I ask street friends for change myself.  These same
panhandlers give me change when I'm broke.  I don't feel guilty about
asking, partly because I helped set up an eight year old Sunday meal
program that feeds a bunch of them, me included.  Sharing's a part of "bum
ways".

If people don't want to work paid jobs, I pass no judgment on them.  They
may be helping their neighbors or themselves in ways I do not witness.  And
some paid jobs hurt the environment or harm people.  So I know I can't be
certain of what's moral or useful for all individuals in all circumstances.

Streetpeople I see as the one subgroup of homeless folks that fewest want
to help.  Personally, I love many "bums", as Steinbeck loved the "bums" in
his novels.  Yet among them are theives I wouldn't let in my squat, and
assailants whom I avoid.  I still judge, I guess, but I judge person by
person.--Tom

Virginia wrote:
>We dont live in a big city or Mayberry here either.  I do agree with one
>thing the person wrote = and that is I do not want to support drug or
>alcohol habits either -- and mostly in Cheyenne when people ask for money
>for food (which, by the way is available 3 times a day or more everyday of
>the week, so you know that chances are they do not want it for food) then
>whoever is approached usually offers to take them to a restaurant and feed
>them -- which is fine if they really want food -- if they do not want food
>then they turn it down and go on to the next person.  Here most of the will
>work for food signs are phoney -- just wanting a handout and they do not
>want it, in most cases, for food.  Offer them a job and see what kind of
>excuses they come up with as to why they cannot take it -- We have limited
>facilities as does everyone, but we do have food available -- for travelers,
>for those staying around, and shelter if they want it -- In Cheyenne if
>people want a job they can get one -- it might not be much, but it can get
>you off the street if you use your money for food and shelter -- but there
>are plenty of homeless people who are unable to work because of
>disabilities, mental illness, whatever.  Telling them to get a job doesnt
>work either.  I hate to say the following, but in Cheyenne, which is on 2
>interstates and 2 main Railroad lines, we see a lot of transients who will
>be transients and without a regular place to stay forever, even with the end
>of homelessness -- now lots of people will want to argue with that, but it
>is true nonetheless, and a lot of these people do not want to do anything
>but freeload -- they don't go by the old time hobo code or any other code
>than the world owes them a living.  BUT they are in the minority -- the
>freeloaders that is, and unfortunately they spoil everything for everyone
>else by giving a bad name to the entire problem. If there had never been
>food stamp abuse there would not need to be a cut back in food stams for
>example.  Those guys who used to travel from state to state doing nothing
>but collecting stamps for the most part can't do it anymore -- if a few
>people were not abusing the system things would be available for all.  If a
>few people were not just bing bums then the name bum would not be attached
>to homelessness.  I do somewhat agree with the person below because I know
>that if someone wants or nees something in this town they can come by it
>without creating problems panhandling, using phony reasons to get things --
>the only persons I have actually given money to however, are the ones who
>are honest and ask for money for booze -- the others I won't --  so I guess
>I contradicted myself.


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