Point

Point/CounterpointpatriotismEconomy Oct 27, 1999

America's Homeless Want A Hand Up, Not A Handout

By William Wolcott

Though it may seem cruel, the reality is, a handout to that homeless panhandler you see on the street will do him more harm than good in the long run.

The old saying is true: If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. But teach that man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime. We are, unfortunately, giving out too many fish to homeless people in the form of handouts that will leave them just as hungry tomorrow. These handouts may sustain them for the moment, temporarily putting food in their bellies, but the vicious cycle of dependency is just going to start all over again the next day.

More than a handout, America's homeless need a hand up. They need assistance developing the real-world skills that can transform them into successful, productive members of society. They need to feel the wonderful satisfaction that comes from knowing that they earned the food they eat, that they are empowered, and that their lives are meaningful. With a little bit of help, people who had all but given up can gain a new lease on life, a new chance at dignity and self-determination.

Give a homeless person a chance to make a difference. Offer them a few dollars to mow your lawn or wash some windows. It's not full-time work, but it may plant a seed in their minds that in work lies pride... and hope.

God helps those who help themselves.

Counterpoint

I Want Handouts!

By Ed Schenk

Hey, speak for yourself, buddy. I want handouts! I want other people's money, I want it in my pocket, and I don't want to work for it!

My friends might be willing to work for food, but I say fuck that! If I wanted to work, I wouldn't be homeless, and who's going to hire a filthy guy like me anyway? You? Are you gonna invite me into your house to smear pus on your davenport and cough my unimaginable halitosis on your daughters?

No, I think not, and that's where the handouts come in. I want to spend your money on the booze my body craves. So please, don't give your money to those homeless charities and shit. Ever try getting a pint of Thunderbird out of Habitat For Humanity? Good luck, Charlie! While they're busy printing up pamphlets, I'm standing on the street corner trying to steady my D.T.'s enough to keep from dropping my change cup. Thanks a lot, you living saints! More like Middleman For Humanity.

What do you think, I shouldn't be given a cheap, painkilling shot of fortified wine because I didn't punch a time clock today? I'm a human being! I need some kind of release and I need it regularly, like twice a day, minimum. If I can't kick back and relax with some alcohol and forget about my back pain and the huge, running sore on my leg for an hour or so, I start going nuts. Last time that happened, I punched a guy and got arrested. And you know what? I was back on the street in two days. All because some yuppie prick wouldn't give me the handout that would have prevented it all.

Gimme gimme gimme!

So can you fork over some cash, man? Whatever you can spare will go a long way. Like, do you have maybe a dollar? Any amount at all will be appreciated. As long as it's a totally free, unearned handout and not some enlightened, New Age, "second chance at life" bullshit.

Hand! Outs! Now!

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