IWW on panhandlers: 10 reasons why not to support discrimination

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 3 Sep 1998 16:38:51 -0700 (PDT)


San Francisco IWW (The Wobblies!)
POB 4O485, S.F. CA, 94140 USA
(415) 863-WOBS* Email: <info@iww.org>


1) Discrimination is saying "They demand money from me. They urinate
in my doorway." By presuming a behavioral trait of a whole class of
people, you've pre-judged them. Prejudice breeds discrimination like
dawn starts day.

2) The whole premise of the community experiment that is the Castro is
that of Tolerance for Diversity. Further, it's what we demand of
society - we shall not have it while denying it to others.

3) Blaming the homeless for their condition is like blaming queers for
being queer. Who cares how it happened? That's the way it is.
Difference is, poverty is something we could choose as a society to
put an end to (and we just might want to consider it!), unlike

4) Because if today it's the poor and the weak, then tomorrow it's the
queers. And then the unions, and then the liberals, and then your dear
baby sister. Someone's always next when society starts making
scapegoats of the victims of social ills.

5) Many of us landed here as refugees and various sorts of rift-raft.
Being dirty, scrounging from place to place and eating leftovers on
restaurant tables have all been rites of passage for many many people
in our city. San Francisco proudly proclaims itself to the world as a
refuge from hatred and persecution, how can one of its most
progressive populations turn its back on that achievement?

6) How many of us are one or two paychecks away from that very
situation? Add to that disease or accident (especially without medical
insurance!), substance abuse problems, mental illness and that starts
cutting a pretty wide, and therefore random, swath through the
population. It could happen to someone you love, it could happen to

7) President Bill Clinton's "Welfare Deform" is finally trickling down
- right into the streets. As people are kicked off welfare and blocked
from access to social services including food and housing, people are
getting desperate, and there's many more of them asking for help. Add
to that the "permanent unemployed" from over a decade of downsizings,
well, there's always someone to take their place in the welfare line.
This is why homeless people are on the streets, don't blame it on the

8) The USA is signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, which promises to every human being the right to:
"...food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social
services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment,
sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood
In circumstances beyond his [sic] control." [Article 25, U.N. UDHR,
according to the U.N. Dept. of Public lnformation.] So who's out of
control here, the poor asking for aid, or the government breaking the
covenants it holds with the people?

9) Because you can't "just make it go away" when "it" is a social
phenomenon. Persecution of panhandlers only pushes people around,
resulting in unnecessary and additional brutality to an already
brutish situation. Thus it only exacerbates social ills caused by
poverty in the midst of plenty, without really helping anyone out of

10) Even if it's already been said, it must be said again: You could
be next. Next time you feel the urge to blame it on the poor, see
yourself there and wonder how you'd want others to respond to your
need, and how your situation might affect your ability to present
yourself the way you and others want, and how your situation might
affect your ability to present yourself the way you and others want.
Your reply now just might be staring you in the face down the road.

San Francisco IWW (The Wobblies!)
POB 4O485, S.F. CA, 94140 USA
(415) 863-WOBS* Email: <info@iww.org>

[Reverse side of flyer contains the two songs below.]


(from an old IWW poem, only sllghtly modifled.)*

The bum on the street is shunted now
        As an enemy to our kind-
The other is driven around to his clubs,
        Is feted, wined and dined.

And they who curse the bum on the street
        As the essence of all that's bad,
Will greet the other with a winning smile
        And extend the hand so glad.

The bum on the street is a social flea
        Who gets an occasional bite;
The bum on the plush is a social leech
        Bloodsucking day and night.

The bum on the street is a load so light
        That their weight we scarcely feel,
But it takes the labor of dozens of folk
        To furnish the other a meal.

As long as we sanction the bum on the plush,
        The other will always be there.
But rid ourselves of the bum on the plush
        And the other will disappear.

So make an intelligent, organized kick,
        Get rid of the weights that crush.
Don't worry about the bum on the street,
        Get rid of the bum on the plush!

*Namely, "bum on the rods" is changed to "bum on the street,"
as train jargon is not presumed known to our audience. "Bum on
the plush" is left as is, though perhaps "bum on the lux"
would be more fitting. A couple other little jiggles, nothing
really. Funny how true it is after all these years...


(This is to the tune of "Revive Us Again", the christian

Why don't you work like other folks do,
How can I get a job when you're holdin' down two?

Hallelujah, I'm a bum! Hallelujah, bum again!
Hallelujah, give us a handout to revive us again!

Oh, why don't you save all the money you earn?
If I didn't eat, I'd have money to burn!

Well I went to the door and I asked for some bread.
The owner said "Scram bum! Just go and drop dead."

Whenever I get all the money I earn,
The boss will be broke, and to work he must turn!

Oh I like my boss, he's a good friend of mine-
That's why I am starving out on the soupline!

Well why do you work for 8 hours or more?
Two of us could have jobs if you only worked four!

Why speed up like that til you're ready to fall?
If you slowed down a bit, there'd be work for us all.

If you can't find a job, and they won't give you bread -
Find a kind-hearted cop and he'll beat on your head!

But thinking is hard, so 'why notice at all?
Just finish up work and head straight for the bar!

-The lWW,
Written by "Haywire Mac" McClintock in 1908 "AD"
and modified in grand folk tradition ever since.
Originally released to the public by the Spokane WA IWW.


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