Monday, August 28, 2006

Meditations on Entitlement

Amarillo is just about in the middle of the United States. If you're going from one side to the other on I-40, you're going to hit the 'Rillo at the halfway point.

Since Old Man Murphy likes to smack folks with Bad Events somewhere around the midpoint of any trip, Amarillo has a large number of folks stranded with no means to go any further.

So, I'm pulling into a truck-stop on the east side of Amarillo and as I drive under the overpass, I see a man and a couple of sub-teenage kids sitting on the concrete slope of the overpass, holding a sign that said:

Hungry.
Broke.
Please help.
God Bless.

After I fill up, I get three sub specials from the deli, and as I scoot under the overpass, I stop and hand the meals to the man and his kids.

I am an adult, so I don't expect thanks for this sort of thing, but I was in no way prepared for the man to look at me, draw himself up to his full height and icily exclaim, "What's this?"

I look significantly at his sign, look back at him and say, "It's food."

He glares at me and snaps, "We don't want food, we want money."

Friends and neighbors, this is a sore spot with me. I'm a big fan of the old axiom, "Beggars can't be choosers."

I figure if you're hungry enough to set aside your pride and beg, then you're hungry enough not to be picky about how -- or what -- gets you fed.

I have rules about this sort of thing: If you come to me and say that you're hungry, but don't offer to work or trade for the food, I'll feed you a meal if I have it to spare, but that's it.

If you come to me, say that you're hungry and ask what you can do in exchange for a meal, I'll feed you and give you a $20 for the road, if I have it.

If you come to me, say that you're hungry and demand that I feed you, well, buddy it just ain't your day. You're either going to take your ingrate arse the hell away from me or one of us is going to get badly hurt, because I will be damned if I'm going to give you any food or money.

Just for a second, that beggar came awfully close to wearing those meals, but I looked past him to his kids, set the bags on the concrete, and said, "There is food, feed your bairns" and started backing to my pick-up.

That two-bit waste of DNA had the nerve to bow up at me, and snarl, "What, you too good to give us money?! We don't need your charity!"

Folks, if I give a stranger any-damned-thing at all, it's charity. Food, money, fuel, a ride, it doesn't matter -- it's all charity.

Totally flabbergasted, all I could do was climb into my pick-up and drive away.

Sweet Mother Mary, what has the world come to?

I'd like to thank the Great Society and the New Deal of the New American Liberals for convincing people that not only is getting money for free not an act of charity, but is actually something to be expected; that there is no shame to be had in sticking out your paw and expecting strangers to happily -- if not gratefully -- drop money into it.

We have an entire generation, hell, an entire culture, that expects -- demands -- that those who have must give to those who don't have, and that this is the Right and Correct Way Of Things. That this is not, in any way, to be thought of as charity, lest the ego of the beggar suffer damage.

Ye Gods.

And it's getting worse.

*sigh*

When my legions of flying monkeys complete my Quest for World Domination, there's going to be whole hell of a lot of changes around here.

LawDog

38 comments:

DiamondMair said...

You hit it, 'Dog ............... down here in the Bayou City, had this little hiccup today:
Houston's 'illustrious' former mayor pro tem/city council member, Carol Alvarado, was on the news tonight, re: the anticipated protests by illegals/their supporters this coming weekend - Ms. Alvarado was on camera saying that "we have to register Latinos, to get out the Latino vote" ........................ NOT ONE BLOODY WORD that one must be a CITIZEN to vote here .................... below is my note to the news station .................

I would like to ask that you query City Council member/former mayor pro tem Carol Alvarado about her comments to the effect that there’s a need to get “Latinos to register to vote”. In your report of 28 Aug 2006, 4 p.m., on the planned illegal immigrant protests scheduled for this coming Labor Day weekend, Ms. Alvarado never mentioned the FACT that, to vote in this country, one must be a citizen. Or, is Ms. Alvarado following the lead of other Latino leaders, that once one is in America, one has “rights” as a citizen, no matter how one came to be here? Of course, Ms. Alvarado has already, during her tenure as mayor pro tem, proven her willingness to, at the very least, wink at illegal activity.
Semper Fidelis
Mary Leverett
~~~~~
Ms. Alvarado was mayor pro tem when over $100,000.00 found it's way as "bonuses" for the 4 employees of the mayor pro tem's office ....................
Sorry for the rant - as my Dad used to say, I'm so mad, I could smoke a pickle!

Kimberly said...

I guess I'm part of a dying generation (and I'm not that old)--I was raised much like you Lawdog--if you ask for assistance, be grateful for what you receive.

I'm looking forward to the day your legions of flying monkeys complete your quest. Lord knows this new deal liberalism needs to be scrapped.

Anonymous said...

In my rulebook, if you get someone begging money from you for food, and then they balk at you buying food for them, then you shouldn't be handing them anything, because it's most likely not food they'll be buying with your money.

Chairty, benevolence, and *holes who want to scam you for booze/drug money is something I'm still having a problem with morally. If you want to be a saint, you're supposed to help people, but then there's those who'd want to scam off saints for their next score. I wish I had a better answer than "don't give cash", but I don't.

Cheryl Howard said...

I think you did the right thing, kids considered. I hate to see kids suffering.

However, I don't ever look twice at the "Hungry, Sober, War Vet, Will Work for Food" signs. If he's healthy enough to stand roadside for 8 hours with a sign he's perfectly suited to do the same with a local construction firm doing the same for $20 an hour.

A year ago we had a local guy who worked the downtown streets. He had this sweet pup always lying at his feet. He had a sign "Hungry, Sober"-- I felt for the dog. (I'm not sure what that says about me...but I volunteer a bazillion hours a year for the human race so I'm going to hope that my Karma is safe). One day I stop at a local doggie biscuit boutique (I live in a town with more than a few) and bought the pooch the nicest treat they offered. I went back to his location and offered to him the treat to give to his dog. He replied in a similar matter. He wanted cash, not a treat for his dog. He then suggested I leave them the hell alone. I walked away a few steps and then whistled the same manner I do with my dogs, quick and sharp to get their attention immediately. The dog jumped up and I Frisbee’d the treat right to him. He gulped it down before his human companion could share another expletive.

I made it a habit every time I went downtown to buy the same treat and find the guy and this great dog. I swear the dog was ready to come home with me by "walk by" number 3. Then one day they were gone.

Our dogs are shelter dogs. We foster big dogs for our local shelter. I like to think that one day this dog ran away and someone like me rescued him. And fed him really good doggie treats.

Hammer said...

Most of these guys are professionals. In El Paso they rent babies out for the begging women to hold for extra sympahty.

One time I saw a work for food guy at an intersection looking pitiful and giving disapointed glares at those who ignored him.

On the way back I saw him get into a brand new Jeep parked near the overpass and drive off.

pdb said...

This is why I don't do charity. At all. Even IF they had accepted the food, that's still one meal's worth of money papa has free to spend on booze, crack or negotiable affection.

Screw 'em.

Just the other night, a car pulled into the parking spot next to mine as I was about head home. A woman shouted out the rolled down window that she needed $5 for gas to get to the hospital, on account of her baby being there. I replied that I had a hose in the trunk and could siphon her a gallon or two, but by the time I had popped the trunk she'd driven off.

I was shocked, shocked, I tell you.

Well, not really.

Phoenix Ravenflame said...

I think this is why I'll drive right past somebody on a corner with a sign, but I'll go out of my way to help a dog. I've seen dogs act like they aren't sure whether or not to trust the food at first, but they end up chomping merrily with their tail wagging in the end. I have never had a dog say, "Why'd you give me food and water? What's wrong with you?" I have had them give me that look when they get a bath, but the food and water is always appreciated.

Anonymous said...

The haves must give to the have-nots....seems to me somebody came up with a name for that line of thinking.

Oh yeah, his name was Karl Marx.

garys said...

Anonymous said...

"In my rulebook, if you get someone begging money from you for food, and then they balk at you buying food for them, then you shouldn't be handing them anything, because it's most likely not food they'll be buying with your money."

I agree. I've run into this more than once. I don't know about Texas, but in the People's Republic of MA, no one goes hungry unless they want to. People begging money for "food" are usually just trying to scam an unsuspecting public so they can support whatever vice the choose to indulge in. Using kids as props just makes them that much more despicable.

pignock said...

I watched this very same thing happen in Memphis about 20 years ago. The doggy box was from an expensive restaraunt two blocks away. The bum cursed the offering lady out and threw the box into the street. Hell, the hambugers from that place were $13.00 then so I'll bet there was at least $20.00 worth of food thrown away. I'd always given away pocket change before then but not once since then. I hope that changed the charitable lady a little too.

Keith

Anonymous said...

You know what's strange?
I'm a lilly livered liberal, and love reading LawdogFiles. However, this one bothered me. Nowhere do I remember in The New Deal giving people money without doing work for it.

The New Deal gave us such Liberal crap like the FDIC, The Securities Act of 1933, Social Secuirity, and the Fair Labor Standards Act, which set our Liberal 40 hour/week work week!

Cut us Liberals a break. Nobody's perfect.


Having said that, I'll agree with the fact that nobody is entitled to free money, and nobody is entitled to a job where they can make tons of money without working hard or not having any skills.

I'll save the argument about wether The New Deal, and other Liberal programs, or globalization and repeals of other tarrifs contribute to the problem. It'll be a spirited debate, I assure you, because I'm sure we'd both be right to some degree...

Rustyvth said...

Anonymous said:
The New Deal gave us such Liberal crap like the FDIC, The Securities Act of 1933, Social Secuirity, and the Fair Labor Standards Act, which set our Liberal 40 hour/week work week!

You say "Social Security" like it's not the badly run ponzi scheme that it is...

kateykakes said...

I live very close to Philadelphia and have on many occasions wandered into Burger King or Mickey D's and come out with food for some of the homeless on the street. I won't give my money, because I know they'd use it to buy alcohol or drugs, but there are plenty that have appreciated the meal given, even when they didn't ask.

You have the patience of a saint, LD. Generally I dislike people that won't help themselves and want nothing more than a handout, and I wouldn't have had a problem telling that sorry SOB exactly what was on my mind.

Cybrludite said...

Had a variation of this scenario this evening on the way to work. Two guys looking for gas money to get back to Pensicola or whereever. On my way into the Stop & Rob one asks nicely if I needed any yardwork. Sorry, but I'm in an apartment, as are most of the folks I know. Wouldn't have thought anything of it, since I get asked that at least once a week, if not for his more agressive buddy.

On my way out, his partner wants to know if I'm interested in buying any of their tools as they're broke & want to go home. Hmmn. Two to one. They're hard up for cash. Middle of the night. And they want my to walk to the back of their van with my wallet out. In the post-Katrina NOLA Metro area. Yeeeeah.

Sparky made the mistake of following me as I headed to my car, then backed off when I spotted him & turned. Even more suspicious, he started up their van, with the back doors still open mind you, & started to pull out of his spot two spaces down, then seemed to think better of it. Glad he did, as if he'd pulled around to block me in, he'd have found out about the CZ-52 under my seat...

Anonymous said...

I have a friend that solved her problem of not knowing when to give someone standing at a street corner some money for food or not. She stocked some plastic shopping bags with soap, toothpaste, water, snacks, etc. More than once when she passed that particular corner at a later date she would see the bag with all the contents lying on the ground. It doesn't discourage her from trying to help others since we never know when we might be in the presence of angels.

Dad29 said...

Similar event in Milwaukee--a 'homeless' type was begging outside of a sandwich shop.

So I told him to come in with me, and requested that the clerk give him a meal on me.

The beggar was VISIBLY PO'd---and the clerks, who knew the guy, were laughing up their sleeves.

But he ate the meal...

Chris (in Southeast TX) said...

I got one better. A friend of my wife's was driving back home in the winter a few years back with her kids (around 5-9 years old) in the car and saw a guy staning in the cold under an overpass with the same sign. The kids wanted to help and made sandwiches for him when they got home. They drove back, and she handed him some ice tea and the sandwiches and told him the kids made them. He TOSSED the sandwiches back at her and the kids and said he didn't want no f*cking sandwiches!!!! I'm glad I wasn't there 'cause I'd probably shoot him. I guess the kids got an early (and painful) lesson in helping people.....

BTW, before I get accused of being racist, everyone involved was white (except maybe the vehicle). Oops, did that just make me a racist?

BTW, Dawg, I've seen several expose's on the "Homeless Beggars" that I don't usually believe how they are stranded and hungry. Apparently, you can make $30-50 K a year tax free doing it.... They showed some going back to brand new SUVs after "a day at work"

Now, I saw one in Houston with a sign "Why lie, I need BEER MONEY!" I gave him a dollar. for honesty....

Chris (in Southeast TX) said...

I forgot to add. These stories are why don't ever want to kick off anyone from Welfare. Yes, I know there are many who don't deserve to be on it etc etc. BUT, knowing that anyone who wants to can be on welfare, I can drive by the bums with a Clear Conscience without wondering if that person is really in dire straits... To me its worth it the extra money I may be paying in taxes.....

Anonymous said...

I have a similar story.

I was biking down to a good steakhouse from work. As I pass a gas station, I hear a guy call out to me. He says he needs 75 cents for the cashier inside. I think nothing of it & give him a $1. He then says "I'll give it to her later" & walks away.

I won't be giving nothing else anymore. Ticks me off because I'm not even middle class. If ANYONE should be begging on the street corner, it should be ME.

I'm white & the guy was black as long as we are mentioning race.

BryanP said...

I have occasionally left a restaurant carrying a box of food and had an obviously indigent person ask me if they could have the leftovers. In that case, yes. Otherwise, no. If I'm downtown I just tell them where the Union Mission is. They know, but it's fun anyway.

shooter said...

Going to an open house the other night, I spied a guy on the feeder road holding a sign, "Yell at me for $1 or your best offer." That unique sign probably netted him some scratch.

A client of mine was working in Mexico and was walking to dinner one night with a local friend. They passed this church in town where the beggers and panhandlers were. He had some spare change and was about to pass it to the first begger, man in his mid-20s and day old growth on the face. Friend tells him to pass. He does the same for the tweaked out lady, hungry looking hooker, and one guy who looks like charlie manson's young cousin. My client's friend tells him to give his money to the last person in line. She was a 60ish something gradmamasita with two kids at her side. She was in a wheelchair with no legs and blind. She was also caring for those kids.

That story taught me a lesson about who I give to. Everyone who looks in fair health gets a pass. It is those who I can plainly tell have no other means to support themselves or their families who can get my money. Other than that, I give what I can to charities who best can support and feed these people.

Hobie said...

You spoke for me today. Been there and done that. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Lemme see, his sign said he was hungry but he doesn't want a sandwich. False advertising?

MadRocketScientist said...

I stopped feeling bad for street corner beggars while I was stationed in Sand Dog. I'd see guys begging on the boulevard median who had clean clothes, were shaved and showered, etc.

If you are in that bad of a time, there are organizations out there that want to help you, some government, some spiritual, and some private. I'm a vet, and I never feel sorry for the homeless vet on the corner, because I know if I ever fell on hard times, I could visit my local VA office (Fed or State) and they would do whatever they could (job placement, low interest loans, etc) to help me get back on my feet. THe fact that they are not doing the same thing speaks volumes to me (either they don't want help, or, well, they just don't really want help, that is all there really is to it).

Social programs are supposed to catch you when you fall, not carry you through life. They are a good idea that has been abused so much by worthless humans and dishrag administrators that they are now merely a drain. What once existed to help get a person back into a productive, contributing state now just enables the useless and people are too spineless to just cut them off. I was actually proud of Tommy Thompson when I lived in Wisconsin because he started W2. He did not cut off welfare, but he put a time limit and conditions on it, like you have to get your ass in school or some other job training program. Everyone screamed about the children, but in the end, there was no glut of homeless mothers with children.

Wow, did I go off topic there a bit.

Calico Jack said...

Good for you, Dawg. Maybe this POS rejected your offer, but don't let that slow you down.

Calico Jack said...

Good for you, Dawg. Maybe this POS rejected your offer, but don't let that slow you down.

blackwing1 said...

Law Dog:

There's an old quote:

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a man and a dog."
- Mark Twain

My home town, Minneapolis, where I've lived on and off for more than 40-some years, just two years ago had the ACLU go to court to find our anti-panhandling ordinance found unconstitutional. The result has been what you might predict. The street corners at the freeway exits and entrances have been filled with "homeless" begging for money. Some of them have been standing these posts for almost the entire two years, taking their breaks at the local coffee shops (and buying $3.00 coffees!!!).

Anonymous said...

Yep. I learned the hard way that a sandwich is seldom what that guy by the stop light with the "hungry, need help" sign actually wants.

When I lived in Minneapolis, there was a woman who made her living crying by bus stops. She was allways just $.50 short of what she needed to get to work- And she knew the bus schedule so well, she was allways waiting for the bus just after yours. Moved around the bus system like clock work, back at the same line/stop no more than once every couple of months. And I NEVER saw her not get her couple of quarters within a few minutes. I bet she lives better than I do...

Anonymous said...

I keep a couple MREs behind the driver's seat for those occassions, never had one turned down.

Flintlock Tom

Pedro the Ignorant said...

Looks like you struck a chord there, Lawdog.

Mattexian said...

The doozy I've got is where the kids are stading at a major intersection, with signs reading "Church youth fundraiser for mission trip" or some such thing. The youts I saw (yes, I spelled it that way, there were 3 of them) took their winnings of the day straight into the Toys 'R Us right behind them! I've given loose change to folks sometimes, even saw the "I just want a beer" fella, but these folks are out there nearly every day, same intersection, and I've seen one walking to "work" the other day with his dog (I think he lives in one of the neighborhood halfway houses, and he walked several blocks).

I like the idea of keeping a bag o' treats for their dog,since the bum isn't really needy. Maybe we should start charging these folks with FRAUD, since their sign doesn't really match what they want. (And they get mad at you for trying to feed them, when their sign reads "hungry pleez hepl".)

DiamondMair said...

Shooter, we lived in Mexico for 2.5 years - on our way into the city, when we were initially moving there, we stopped at a light - the kids panhandling there saw the Texas plates and swarmed our Dodge 1500 4x4 - the door handle on our truck had a space where I kept change - I was ready to throw it out in front of oncoming traffic, but the light changed.
We would see various women on street corners begging, with children - which was OK, but pass that area later & a different woman would be there with the same kids - they "rented" out each others' kids .................... the best were the women with 3-4 kids in tow, who'd ring my doorbell & demand I give them "ropa usados" {used clothes} - then when I said no, would cross the street, drop the youngest kid's britches, have the kid take a dump, & wipe the kid's butt with a bare hand ................

Anonymous said...

I quit helping people regularly after getting burned too many times. I will buy bums - and they are bums I refuse to call them homeless or anything else they are bums – a sandwich or something if I'm going into a food place or something but no money.

I also on occasion help folks out who are down on their luck but not with just a handout. They work for it. Recently a woman who was really needing some money did a bunch of housework for me (hey I'm a bachelor that is always something that's needed) like sweeping, dusting, washing windows and the like. Also helped with some painting and pitched in with some work around my farm. All told a weeks work or so and I paid her couple of hundred bucks for it.

I've been on the skids. I've lived in my car when I was in high school and college. I never begged. I worked for food. I worked for a roof. I worked to stay in a garage. I worked to stay in a barn. I never asked for anything for free. If you're so shiftless that you won't work for your keep then to hell with you. Now if you can't for some reason then fine. But there's no such thing as able bodied and long term unemployed and not doing for yourself. There's always something to do even if it's picking up cans or growing a garden and scavenging to feed yourself.

Chris (in Southeast TX) said...

Reading those comments something just dawned on me:

We are offended, appalled, annoyed etc. by the attitudes of people begging instead of working. Has anyone noticed how Youth Group or Sports Team car washes, cookie sales, etc, have been replaced by the adults in charge telling the kids to stand on the streat corner with signs "raising money for trip to Washington" or whatever? Where are the parents protesting THAT? Instead of car washes, the school team dumps a catalog into the parents lap that now THE PARENT usually takes to work and hustles co-workers to buy so the school can make 30-50% of the sale. The kid does little, if anything.

SO, my point is that it will get a lot worse in the future, since many of the organizations and clubs that are SUPPOSED TO BUILD CHARACTER, are instead of teaching the kids to just ask for hand outs....

Hell, I think I'll get my family this weekend to an overpass with signs "Please help us go on a cruise to Mexico to expand our horizons and learn about another culture". Is my family less deserving than "Yutes for Christ" or the local cheerleading team?

As a matter of fact, please feel free to donate any amount to:

XXXXXX
XXXXX

SCREW WORKING AND SAVING! Long live free handouts!!!!!

Seriously, I am appalled and cannot believe how the tradition of Girl Scouts BAKING and selling cookies has evolved into parents selling cookies that some corporation is making a killing on. And that in turn evolved into "hell, lets just let our kids beg for money" ....and no one sees a problem.....

On a different note, I've noticed a lot of people down here were pissed off how people abused the FEMA or Red Cross handouts after Rita. ONLY because THEY were declined. A guy I know was outraged how his neighbors got the $1500 and he didn't. Didn't stop him from charging FEMA for a generator HE DIDN'T NEED. He also made a tidy profit from the insurance co....

karla (threadbndr said...

I've been broke. Broke enough to be living in my car, taking work as a day laborer. I've scrounged aluminum cans on frat row. I've walked dogs and baby sat, pumped gas, mowed lawns and so forth. If you are able bodied, there is no reason to beg. Period.

There are jobs out there, you just have to have the attitude that "I may be a ditch digger, but I'm the best damn ditch digger you ever saw dig a ditch." We are entitled to the "PRUSUIT of happiness", but not a free ride.

nerdasaaurus said...

FWIW: the best use of your hard-earned cash is still the local chapter of your Salvation Army. If one is not in your neighborhood, put some money in the red pot outside the store next Christmas. Then, feel free to pass by the next beggar, except perhaps to tell him/her/it where to find the nearest shelter or mission.

In Dallas, I have seen street corner beggars ACROSS THE STREET from the SA shelter. This means that they have been removed from the shelter. Those shelters have only 5 rules: 1) No alcohol, drugs or other controlled substance. 2) If you have mood stabilizing prescription drugs, you MUST take them. 3) No fighting or violent confrontations. 4) You must work--even if it means pushing a broom and 5)No bed sharing or other intimacy with any adult with whom you are not in a committed relationship.

Any person who truly needs a "hand up instead of a hand out" can live with these rules. People who cannot live with these rules are not worth your money.

Anonymous said...

Funny one. Late in 1994 my son (then 8-yrs old) was working in the Radio City Christmas show. (Nope, not the time to talk about riding in the elevator with 14 Rockettes). Driving the back streets to the Lincoln tunnel, we'd often pass by someone with a sign out, asking for food or money. One night we had some left-overs (peanut butter sandwich, banana, and an apple) when we passed a rather beat-up looking guy we saw regularly. He said thanks and smiled as he reached out for the lunch bag - revealing the fact that he was missing most of his teeth. We kept the apple - and I handed him a dollar or two. It was worth it. OldeForce

Anonymous said...

I recently came upon a homeless, jobless "hobo" who was camped along some railroad tracks near where I was taking pictures of trains. We chatted for a while, he mentioned how he had been divorced, how he was looking for work as a heavy equipment operator, where he was able to bathe to stay clean. He didn't look like a boozer or a druggie.

He never once begged for anything from me. I decided to give him $20, plus a space blanket (he did have a tent and a sleeping bag), plus I then brought him some fast food. A couple of days later I took him an old sleeping bag pad I didn't need any more, plus some chocolate chip cookies.

I've also taken him printouts of possible jobs in our location. I haven't been back there for about 10 days, so I'm wondering if he's moved on.

-- chicopanther