In America, Even The Homeless Have Cell Phones (Michelle Obama Edition)

The excellent Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm trains his gimlet eye on a phoney-baloney photo op featuring the First Lady. Michelle Obama recently served up mushroom risotto and broccoli at a privately run D.C. kitchen for the homeless called Miriam's.

Notes Malcolm:

Such images of need might ... help build support for her husband's economic and healthcare reform agenda, although a Miriam's spokeswoman said their average "guest" has been homeless since about the time Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

Accompanying the story of Mrs. Obama's selflessness was a passel of pics that were widely distributed. Asks Malcolm of one shot in particular (on right):

It doesn't detract from the first lady's generous gesture or the real needs she seeks to highlight to ask two bothersome journalistic questions about these news photos:

If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cellphone?

And if he is homeless, where do they send the cellphone bills?

Whole thing here.

Which brings to mind the great and apocryphal story about Stalin and the film version of The Grapes of Wrath: Uncle Joe showed the film to his captive, immiserated subjects to highlight the depredations of life under capitalism. Instead, Boris Baglunch and Svetlana Sixpack watched the final scene of the Joads et al. lighting out for California and were amazed to see that in America even the poor had cars.

Hat tip: Bill Foote

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  • ||

    where do they send the cellphone bills?

    I don't know about the guy in the photo, but I don't *get* bills. I go to the store and buy cards which represent prepaid time.

  • ||

    Screw the cell phone... Mushroom Risotto? WTF?

    "This is some fancy gourmet shit."

  • kinnath||

    Well the Secret Service screened out all the real homeless people, so the press secretary had to recruit some artificial homeless people as stand-ins.

  • ||

    Considering how much of a pain in the ass risotto is to do properly, I'm guessing it's really "rice with mushrooms", NutraSweet.

  • ||

    Maybe not knowing the difference is why they are homeless.

  • ||

    Homeless people have ragged clothes, not clean sweatshirts. They're not homeless. They just want a free meal and to get close to the First Lady.

  • Astrid||

    I worked with homeless youth and they do need cell phones. How else are they going to get call backs for job interviews? geta call back from a healthcare perfessional? Or call their case manager?

    Cell phone's cost per month in the NYC -- $50.00

    Rent in the NYC per month in NY -- $3,000.00

    It's really a no-brainer. That is of course unless you write hit pieces for Reason. Then it's most baffling.

  • ||

    Did she serve white or red with the mushroom risotto?

  • ||

    Apparently Nick missed this on Michelle Malkin's site. She tried to hold the photo up for ridicule, and, in a rare instance of humanity among her readers, was loudly and repeatedly informed that many homeless shelters give prepaid cell phones to their residents so they can give a phone number when applying for a job.

    Sorry to ruin your morality play.

  • ||

    If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cellphone?

    Bad question, both in the original asking (Malcolm), and in the uncritical passing-along (Gilliespie). The answer is inherent in the question. Read carefully and think about it. The meal recipient is too presumably poor to buy his own food, that's why he's a frickin' meal RECIPIENT.

    Presumably someone else funds his cell phone just as someone else buys his meals. Duh.

    And if he is homeless, where do they send the cellphone bills?

    Not terribly clever, either, and loses big points for smugness towards the homeless. Many homeless have PO boxes, or receive mail c/o a shelter.

    This was just really, really shoddy all around. For shame Gillespie, for shame.

  • ||

    the Secret Service screened out all the real homeless people

    I didn't even think about that; I suspect you'd see, in a wider camera shot, a platoon of ninja-suited, heavily armed federal agents.

  • Lefiti||

    Nick Gillespie has that uniquely Stalinist reluctance to admit that the Fatherland has any flaws at all. When it comes to mindset, the difference between you right-wing libertarian fucks and the old-time commie fucks is very small. They were a lot smarter, though.

  • ||

    Dude, you can buy a pay as you go phone for cheap. If you want the poor to lift themselves up from poverty, they need a phone number where interviewers can reach them. Especially as pay phones are being dismantled.

    Also, lots of people in emerging countries have cell phones that are even poorer than America's poor. For example, Brazil has over a 75% cell phone penetration rate. Their per capita GDP is $10K (which means their median is probably lower). So, despite making less than $10K a year, a half to a quarter of people* below the median wage have a cell phone. Cell phones, as a form factor, are no longer luxuries.

    * Making allowances for wealthier individuals w/ >1 cell phone.

  • Astrid||

    @mo

    I miss Brazil

  • ||

    Apparently Nick missed this on Michelle Malkin's site.

    That's a credit to Nick for not going there.

  • 497. Tom Waits - 9th and Henne||

    Yeah, those homeless scoundrels are out there blowing rent and grocery money on cell phones. It's a well known fact that, if you're homeless and hungry, you have no business owning a cell phone. Nobody wants to talk to your loser ass anyway. Go jump off a bridge or something.

    Cell phones are for winners! (/Glengary Glen Ross)

  • ||

    Rent in the NYC per month in NY -- $3,000.00

    Uh... are you on crack? I pay 800 bucks a month in Williamsburg for a decent place with two roommates. And the rent in my area is relatively high. There are parts of the Bronx and Queens where you can find a room for half of that. The areas aren't kind of dangerous, but, then, so is sleeping in a bus station.

  • ||

    There's a worthwhile point to be made about what does and does not constitute a "luxury" in the Reign of the Presidential Suit.

    When I see a bum on the side of the road, holding a sign saying "Please Help, God Bless" and listening to an ipod, I am even more than usually disinclined to give a shit.

    Sorry.

  • ||

    The homeless are just like us, only better and more noble.

  • ||

    *are kind of dangerous. Damn it!

  • ||

    Homeless people have ragged clothes, not clean sweatshirts. They're not homeless. They just want a free meal and to get close to the First Lady.

    What I wrote to Gillespie, only with more bile and spleen for you.

    So, how do you actually know this? Please catalog your experience either as a homeless person, or in working with the homeless, with particular detail to clothing acquisition and laundry services.

    Since I suspect that no useful information will be forthcoming from you, let me explain it to you. Yes, the homeless often wear ratty smelly clothing. Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes deliberately to increase perceived need for handouts if they panhandle.

    Shelters do provide laundry services. Laundry detergent is always at the top of the wish-list for non-food items for our local shelter.

    Yes, the homeless do receive lots of clothing in brand-new or very good condition. Misprints, overruns, overstocks from corporate sources. Outgrown, wrong-color, etc from private individuals.

  • Lefiti||

    Somebody should shove a cell phone up Gillespie's ass.

  • Warty||

    You people are missing the point: homeless people are evil and must be destroyed.

  • Astrid||

    "Uh... are you on crack? I pay 800 bucks a month in Williamsburg for a decent place with two roommates."

    Isn't that $2,400?

    Okay, we'll go with that figure.

    $50 < $2,400

    I stand corrected.

  • Astrid||

    What Tonio said.

    The kids I worked with generally looked and dressed like any suburban kid you'd run into, but they only had the one outfit.

  • ||

    P Brooks,

    You can get a refurb Nokia with $25 of airtime for $30 from AT&T. So you get the phone for $5. This includes free in-network calls, which allows people to stay in touch with family members. The lack of a need for a single location and the ability to use as needed makes it an ideal device for someone in poverty to use as they will not need to pay installation/activation fees. To be an integrated person in modern society, one needs to be able to communicate with others in ways other than face-to-face.

    How do you expect someone to escape from poverty if they can't receive a call from a prospective employer?

    http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/packages/prepaid-packages.jsp?wtSlotClick=1-001TA4!CIGPMQ01-1-1&rel=nofollow

  • ||

    Isn't that $2,400?

    Okay, we'll go with that figure.

    $50 < $2,400

    I stand corrected.


    You seem to be really, really dumb. So I'm not sure if this is worth it, but...

    First of all, no. My roommates pay less for smaller rooms, which is utterly beside the point. None of us pay more than 800 dollars. All of us found the room on CL. And then, like I said, I live in a nicer area. I have friends who pay as low as 600 dollars a month (near Crown Heights, which is actually decent compared to some of the areas in this city), and none of my friends live off the government. There are all sorts of housing programs in NYC (and food programs --- I've volunteered at nearby shelters) that make living for less well within the realm of possibility.

  • Astrid||

    Gotta go, but just would ad that if Nick has even the slightest sense of journalistic integrity, he'll pull this hit piece and replace it with an apology.

  • Warty||

    I mean, homeless people aren't even useful as food because of all their AIDS and Hep C and shit. Maybe we could stack them five feet high and use them as sandbags in Korea, but other than that, I'm having a hard time seeing the point.

  • Astrid||

    Oh and just for the record, I think Michele Obama is a useless, racist whore.

  • ||

    I don't understand the comments here. Did we accidentally link to a Dixie Chicks fan site or something?

  • Lefiti||

    "...if Nick has even the slightest sense of journalistic integrity..."

    That's like wondering if dog shit tastes like chocolate fudge.

  • Xeones||

    Considering how much of a pain in the ass risotto is to do properly

    Pssht. With a little practice, it becomes second nature.

    There is much to be upset about in this crazy old world. As other commenters have pointed out, this picture ain't on the list.

  • ||

    Do the Dixie Chicks think Michelle Obama is a useless, racist whore, too? Gosh, they just don't like anyone in the White House, do they?

  • Xeones||

    That's like wondering if dog shit tastes like chocolate fudge.

    You would know.

  • ||

    Hey! Aren't camera phones expensive!? My family's cell phone bill is $300 a month! Why doesn't he just use his land line?

  • ||

    What is really unfair about the issue of homelessness in America is that the homeless are looked as an undifferentiated collective. Homeless families, homeless kids, and people with transient housing issues get lumped with the outright bums who aggressively panhandle and shit in unlocked cars. One group is the best argument for the social safety net, the notion of temporary help to get people back on their feet. The other group are human parasites that have chosen to live as they do.

    Spend any length of time working in an urban public library and you'll learn the difference very quickly.

  • Tim Lebsack||

    The cell phones are to facilitate job acquisition ??
    Q: Why not use the cell phone to start a business ?
    A: Because government regulations prohibit simple business start-ups.

    Why do most of us not consider the possibility of not being part of the government/industry partnership we call "a job" ?

  • Le Fido||

    "That's like wondering if dog shit tastes like chocolate fudge."


    Pas de différence.

    Maintenant, cat shit

  • Reinmoose||

    as for expense, 7-11 was selling virgin mobile phones for $7.11. That's the carrier my parents have for their prepaid cell that they take when they go on vacation and the minimum it requires out of you is $20 every 3 months to keep it active, or $100 one-time keeps you active for the year. At least those were the terms when they got them a couple of years ago. Maybe they've changed? But likely for the better.

  • ||

    I just think it's funny when people say things along the lines of "well obviously they have cell phones. Homeless people need cell phones."

    Yeah... okay. Well they also need clothing, shelter, food, a will to rise out of their situation, and, in a lot of their cases, not to be completely insane. Every subway ride home I run into a lot of people who need a lot of things. But cell phones?

    It's like saying the first thing you need to give a dude with chainsaw wound is a Band-Aid.

  • ||

    Considering that the picture has been around for nearly a month, I guess this is yet another "noise" in Reason's signal-to-noise ratio.
    Pretty distressing to have to filter out all the nonsense when I read this blog.
    Many people, of whom some were conservatives, debunked the idiots who were upset about "wow, how does a homeless man afford a cell phone"
    Nick - do you bother reading other peoples blogs? Or do you just take orders from Michelle Malkin to bring this nonsense back into the news ?

  • ||

    Tonio and all you other self-righteous dicks who think they know homeless people are being scammed. The homeless people I have, in fact, encountered have shitty clothes, at least with a worn look, they look gaunt with usually some facial hair for the men, not pudgy like they get too much food (orange hoodie with nary a smudge), and they shuffle along quietly avoiding eye contact, even when they ask for some change for a cup of coffee.

    I've also met the kind of homeless people you're talking about. They're not homeless as much as they live in ghetto housing but I see them getting into their SUVs with sweet rims. I lived in West Philly and saw both. Guess which ones I feel compelled to give to.

    There's low income who show up for free meals and their welfare checks and then there's pushing a cart picking cans out of the trash. Big difference.

  • Skitch||

    I figure he stole it.

  • Warty||

    Maybe he picked up one of the Stanfield Gang's used burners.

  • max hats||

    I worked with homeless youth and they do need cell phones. How else are they going to get call backs for job interviews? geta call back from a healthcare perfessional? Or call their case manager?

    Cell phone's cost per month in the NYC -- $50.00

    Rent in the NYC per month in NY -- $3,000.00

    It's really a no-brainer. That is of course unless you write hit pieces for Reason. Then it's most baffling.



    Nonsense. The picture is conclusive proof that poverty does not exist in America. LOL Libtards, also Hope and Change (etc).


    Seriously though - What amazed me most from this whole kerfuffle is the complete unawareness of all the private charitable programs designed to give the homeless free cellphones, so that they can get a life on track, or even just call the police. The idea that a (presumably) poor person owning a cellphone disproves poverty just. . . I don't know where to start. And regarding the original post, yes, being poor in America is still better than being poor in Somalia. If that counts as some sort of measure of success, god help us.

  • Mark||

    "There's low income who show up for free meals and their welfare checks and then there's pushing a cart picking cans out of the trash. Big difference."

    And then there's the 15-year-old girl who was decided it's better to take her chances on the street as opposed to accepting the daily certainty of getting raped by her mother's liv-in boyfriend.

    Or the kid kicked ot by his hyperreligious parents because he came out as gay.

    Or the 15-year-old kid from Nigeria I worked with who was passed around at sex by his uncle begining when he was about 3-years-old.

    Or the kid who was tied to his bed for days...

  • Warty||

    Pretty distressing to have to filter out all the nonsense when I read this blog.

    Sorry, but what? Please name a noise-free blog. Andrew Sullivan, perhaps?

  • ||

    What is really unfair about the issue of homelessness in America is that the homeless are looked as an undifferentiated collective.

    Absolutely.



    Using your cellphone to:

    -send OMFG! Michelle is Teh Hawt! pix messages to all your friends

    -be available for the construction foreman to let you know if he needs you tomorrow

    -arrange delivery of an eight-ball

    -send photos of your scrotum to randomly selected public servants

    are all different, and not equally valuable uses of a resource, and should be considered on their individual merits.

  • Mark||

    that should have read "passed around at sex parties"

    http://www.youthlinkmn.org/

  • ||

    This is classism taken to an ugly extreme. Not only are the homeless poor via their own lack of moral righteousness, since they're poor they don't deserve to have so much as a cell phone or a nice risotto. They're "those people" and those kind of people eat bread and water.

  • Reinmoose||

    Just because you're low income doesn't make you not homeless, though. Like in Hawaii there are entire beach areas occupied by tents, where people live with their kids, who go to public school. Now, these people are different from the mentally ill homeless types that roam the parks, but there's no particular argument I can see that a person can make that your prospects of getting a better job and situation do not improve by having a PHONE, especially one that's monthly service amount comes in at approximately 1.4% of the cost of renting a 1-br in a really bad neighborhood for your entire family.

  • ||

    Tom G - Way to filter out the noise...by, um, reading it and then commenting.

  • ||

    And regarding the original post, yes, being poor in America is still better than being poor in Somalia. If that counts as some sort of measure of success, god help us.

    That American homeless have access to quality food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, education and... cell phones?

    Yeah, when you put it like that... what a shitty country.

  • Lefiti||

    Geez, maybe Gillespie will lose a few donations over this and have to postpone buying a new leather coat. C'mon, true believers, pony up. This libertarian cult doesn't run on air and the gurus have to dress like the aging twats they are. Donate now!

  • Mark||

    "That American homeless have access to quality food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, education and... cell phones?"

    On second thought, debtors prison for the whole lot.

    Oh, and forced sterilization.

    The bastards.

  • ||

    I can be just as coldly conservative as the next guy, but I know if I ever became homeless one of the first things I would do is get a cellphone! I might not have an address to send bills to, but I can get a prepaid phone, and I can buy prepaid SIMs. If someone's handing out free meals, I'll go grab one too.

    The danger in playing political "gotcha" is that sometimes it backfires.

  • cls||

    Everyone is concentrating on how a homeless man has a cell phone. As Ayn would say: check your premises. The premise can be wrong. What many people don't know is that some shelters and food kitchens dole out food to anyone in line without asking questions. They argue it is demeaning to question whether the person in line is actually homeless and in need of food. They say that a person is line is clearly in need otherwise they wouldn't stand there.

    A friend worked for some years at the largest food kitchen in a major US city. He said that they had men in business suits who showed up every day from work to eat because it was free. He said no criteria for free food was established and anyone in line was feed.

    The kitchens are charities and the bigger the numbers of "people feed" the easier it is to raise funds or access tax money. To screen recipients knocks down the numbers and makes the "need" less "urgent."

    So, perhaps the guy is homeless and has a cell phone to "look for a job." Or perhaps he isn't even homeless just happy to have a free lunch.

    This is not to say some people are not genuinely homeless, (usually single men, usually with drinking or drug problems). But what percentage is in line for a free lunch and what percentage is homeless, I can't say. All I know is that this one food kitchen had a lot of people who simply came everyday for a free lunch and had jobs and apartments. I did visit the kitchen when my friend worked there (he was in their main office and knew what was happening, not just a cook or something).

  • ||

    No metrics, Nick. "Encountered..met..seen."

    I've spent three nights in a homeless shelter as a volunteer. Volunteer even one shift in a shelter and I might begin to take you seriously, but not until.

    I never give money to panhandlers unless they're upfront about wanting a drink (or whatever). Money given to shelter programs is much better spent.

    Yes, there is some abuse of the system. Always will be in any system.

  • ||

    I'm not sure I agree that most homeless are regular folk being excluded from the system. Most of the ones I've been exposed to seem to be homeless due to substance abuse issues or mental illness. And yes, I've had quite a bit of exposure to homeless people in my life. Not counting the ones who accost me from time to time.

    It's just so critical to the leftish mindset that people be displaced by Society® and not by the fact that they have issues of their own. How many of the working poor are homeless? I bet it's a tiny percentage of the whole. And if you're living in New York or any other insanely expensive city, how about moving somewhere else?

  • ||

    Not only are the homeless poor via their own lack of moral righteousness, since they're poor they don't deserve to have so much as a cell phone or a nice risotto.

    *touches tip of index finger to nose*

  • ||

    Pro Libertate,

    It's just so critical to the leftish mindset that people be displaced by Society® and not by the fact that they have issues of their own.

    Can't you see that it's society's failure to provide services for the mentally ill and substance abusers that we're referring to?

  • aix42||

    It seems the post kinda outs itself, praising "The excellent Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm" which includes the vacuous question of homeless with cell phones, while at the same time pointing out the fascination of Soviet proles amazed that the poor have cars, like homeless having prepaid cell phones, cause the f'in market has made $100 a sec trunk phones into buy your minutes at the smoke shop.

    Strange post.....

  • ||

    Can't you see that it's society's failure to provide services for the mentally ill and substance abusers that we're referring to?

    And you guys say TofuSushi's not believable.

  • max hats||

    The other group are human parasites that have chosen to live as they do.



    A lot of the "human parasites" as you call them are literally insane. Schizophrenia can happen to anyone (as best we can tell right now). Some of the ragged, aggressive, toothless homeless people harassing folks on main street once had normal lives. Their families may be looking for them. Maybe their parents lie awake at night wondering if they're alive or dead.

  • ||

    cause the f'in market has made $100 a sec trunk phones into buy your minutes at the smoke shop.

    Send that through the translator again, plz.

  • ap||

    the leftie trolls here are the best on the internets. you guys really take it to a new level!

  • robc||

    Reinmoose,

    If you have a tent on the beach, how are you homeless?

  • dmoynihan||

    In Mr. Gillespie's (and Malkin's) defence: yes, prepaid phones are a must-have for the impoverished, as they are for most of the country.

    However, the VirginMobile Marbl (one sold for $7.11 at 7/11) as well as the various basic ($10) TracFones, Nokia 2610 ATT Refurb, etc.:

    Do. Not. Have. Cameras. Built-in.

    They are basic phones, like you'd use for basic services, and/or to buy drugs, schedule dates with hookers, avoid paying extreme long-distance charges at hotels, what have you, the frills aren't there. The camera in the picture is a bit more expensive.

    /Uses VirginMobile for one of the reasons stated above.

  • Mark||

    @ P Brooks

    So is anyone respomsible for the well being and safety of the mentally ill or are they just SOL?

  • Reinmoose||

    Look - there are obviously several kinds of homeless people, and many more subgroups. There are also all kinds of different things to blame for why these problems exist. One poster above cites regulations on starting a business, and I would cite labor standards (although if the homeless you're talking about are the mentally ill type, that's really not that big of a factor if you're not employable really). Liberals are more likely to cite greed, lack of government programs for fairness, and GWB.

    Whatever cause you see, it is undeniable that there is a tremendous difference between the homeless that are unemployable, the homeless that are employed, and the homeless that are lazy.

    What I take away from this conversation is that a cell phone and service, in its most basic form, is not a significant expense these days, whereas housing is. Shit - it's less expensive than a land line. To pass judgement on a single individual in a promotional photograph of the first lady working at a soup kitchen, which likely created quite a buzz, is just the most ridiculous and least-thought-out think I've seen this week.

  • Conhugeco||

    Where do they charge it?

  • robc||

    Can't you see that it's society's failure to provide services for the mentally ill and substance abusers that we're referring to?

    Society provides plenty of services to the mentally ill and substance abusers. Everyone has access to them, they just may have to pay for it.

  • ||

    Tony,

    No, it isn't. Homelessness is almost always described the way lack of healthcare is--by implying that millions of people lack homes (or insurance) due to being displaced by society. Of course, that ignores the large majorities in each group that are displaced because of their own choices.

    I certainly pity anyone who is in a bad situation or who has lapsed into mental illness, but I'm not inclined to use that for political gain. No matter how wealthy we become or even how egalitarian we become, we will have some number of people who fall through the cracks.

  • Mark||

    "If you have a tent on the beach, how are you homeless?"

    We're past tense now; we're living in a bungalow.

    But I would consider the Hawaii tent-dwellers to be alternative life-style people, not homeless.

  • max hats||

    http://www.collectivegood.com/donate1.asp

    http://www.wirelessfundraiser.com/homeless.aspx

    http://www.americancellphonedrive.org/donate-cell-phones.cfm

    Cell phones, yes, even cell phones with cameras, are routinely donated to the homeless. How can people have not even heard of this concept? What the hell do y'all do with your old cell phones?

  • robc||

    So is anyone respomsible for the well being and safety of the mentally ill

    Yes. Themselves.

    And maybe the local churches. Okay, remove the maybe.

    Other than that? Friends, family to a certain point.

    Other than that? No.

  • NLE||

    It's just so critical to the leftish mindset that people be displaced by Society® and not by the fact that they have issues of their own.

    Just as critical to the rightwing mindset that they most have done something to deserve it. Because, you know, that mentality works so well for freedom lovers in the Justice system.

    Anyways, I'm not really worked up about this guy having a cellphone, but im not surprised at the desperation of those who charge that this means America's economic system is like totally the best ever. I don't know about others, but the overblown freeptard rhetoric is getting fucking tedious. Anyone with decent reading comprehension skills can see a pattern with how Reason writes and talks about the financial situation.

    Any people notice how eager they were to call it a crisis once Obama began working.

  • Reinmoose||

    dmoynihan - $40 gets you a camera phone from Virgin Mobile.

    Also, see my above post for passing judgement on this silly photo.

  • Mark||

    "Where do they charge it?"

    At the homeless shelter.

  • robc||

    But I would consider the Hawaii tent-dwellers to be alternative life-style people, not homeless.

    The HIans moose mentioned are who I was referring too.

    My point being, if you have shelter, you aint homeless. Sleeping in a park or a bench or a box in the alley (which isnt really shelter, but does provide some), okay - you are homeless. If you are living in a tent or at a shelter, for that matter, you are not homeless.

  • NLE||

    There is also a box of used cellphones that my job collects and distributes to..........................................................................................................HOMELESS.

  • robc||

    NLE,

    freeptard ... once Obama

    Where the fuck do you think you are?

  • ap||

    So is anyone respomsible for the well being and safety of the mentally ill or are they just SOL?

    you've strayed far afield in order to make your broken heart whole. no one in this country has it that bad if even the poorest have cell phones.

  • Mark||

    "Any people notice how eager they were to call it a crisis once Obama began working."

    Began working when? He's still just campainging.

  • robc||

    My ex-phones go a women's shelter. They arent homeless, they live at a shelter.

  • Suki||

    The excellent Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm trains his gimlet eye on a phoney-baloney photo op featuring the First Lady.



    Why is this reminding me of Demi Moore's character, Jules, in St. Elmo's Fire? Soup line scene to be specific.

  • ap||

    "Where do they charge it?"

    At the homeless shelter.


    so, couldn't they received phone calls and messages at the homeless shelter too?

  • ||

    Where do they charge it?

    At the public library. At the shelter. At work -- many have full-time jobs in fast food, parking lot attendants, etc.

  • Suki||

    I sooooo voted the wrong way :(

  • Suki||

    Where do they charge it?

    Don't forget Starbucks.

  • ||

    NLE,

    Perhaps, but I'm not a right-winger, either. Sucking the wealth from people probably has done more to make social problems worse than anything else. Certainly, the ills have not gone away no matter how many trillions the government has thrown at them.

    Criticizing Reason as being anti-Obama and pro-Republican just shows that you don't know anything about the magazine. If anything, the current editorial staff tends slightly left. Most of us around here believe that a freer society and a freer market will maximize the prosperity and happiness of the greatest number. Following the current plans of the government, only those who serve political interests will benefit. The rest of us will lose, and lose big.

  • Reinmoose||

    robc -
    even if it's in a public park?

    I don't buy the broad uses of "homeless" that include things like sleeping on a relative's couch, but come on.

  • robc||

    Reinmoose,

    If it fits the 6th grade Social Studies definition of shelter, whatever the hell that was, then you arent homeless. A tent probably wouldnt qualify anywhere that actually gets cold, but in Hawaii? I think that is enough. It keeps the rain and wind off of you.

  • ap||

    At work -- many have full-time jobs in fast food, parking lot attendants, etc.

    but if they have jobs...what do they need a cell-phone for? i thought it was so they could get job interviews...

  • Lefiti||

    "Anyone with decent reading comprehension skills can see a pattern with how Reason writes and talks about the financial situation."

    Yeah, it's fucking right-wing propaganda central.

  • ||

    max hats,

    I don't care who the fuck they used to be, right now they are nuisance. A guy in a nice suit goes into a public library and punches a librarian, he goes to jail. A fucking bum does it and everyone just shakes their heads and the asshole stumbles in tomorrow to start the same shit all over again.

    I have no problem with the social safety net providing for institutionalization for the mentally ill homeless, but I've never understood this twisted mindset that the mentally ill can't be held (not expected, but held) to the same standards of behavior as everyone else.

  • Mark||

    "so, couldn't they received phone calls and messages at the homeless shelter too?"

    The one I worked at was only open from 3:00 - 8:00 pm.

    But if the phone is donated and the minutes are donated -- as so often is the case -- I really don't see your point.
    I often give twenty dollar bills to homeless youth I encounter on the street. Sometimes to the same kids day after day, week after week. I'm rich, so I can do that. You got a problem with that? What if instead of money I gave them Blackberries and free minutes. You got a problem with that?

    BTW Affluence in America fucking ROCKS!

    And the more I get to keep, the more I have to give away.

  • ap||

    Yeah, it's fucking right-wing propaganda central.


    EVEIL CORPORASHUNNNZZZ!! GRRRRRRR POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!!

  • ||

    I do have one observation about the whole dude-with-a-cellphone issue: How likely is it that he's really homeless? My experience is that everyone who comes to a kitchen like that gets served, and I bet a whole lot of non-homeless showed up to see the First Lady.

    By the way, if I haven't said it yet, I think just about anyone can get their hands on a cellphone. The fact that cellphones can be had so cheaply is an interesting point. Was that due to a government mandate? Must be.

  • ||

    Mark,

    If you think private charity is going to be condemned on libertarian board, you know less than nothing.

  • Jerry||

    Can you imagine going back 25 years in time, and saying to some business executive that mobile phones will someday be affordable enough that even homeless people have them?

  • Reinmoose||

    well then, robc, it looks like we have a lot of definitions that we don't share :)

    But I'm not going to do that thing that certain other poster around here did a lot and argue with you based on semantics.

    As someone else mentioned above, I think this post was a missed opportunity to highlight the ability of the market to provide once-luxury goods as useful tools to the poor at a price that even a person who cannot afford rent (homeless person) can afford.

  • ||

    So is anyone respomsible for the well being and safety of the mentally ill or are they just SOL?

    I have a problem with your choice of the word "respomnsible" in that sentence. Generally speaking, those who formulate that sort of rhetorical question promptly answer it with "the government". Considering the abysmal performance of government programs in general, and especially their inflexibility in the face of unique individual circumstances, I don't believe the government (as proxy for "society") should be expected to get involved.

    That does not mean I don't want private individuals and entities to assist people.

    When somebody attempts to caricature me as an insensitive lout, I am only too happy to take on the role.

  • Suki||

    If it fits the 6th grade Social Studies definition of shelter, whatever the hell that was, then you arent homeless.

    Can we call it addressless to make you a happy puppy?

  • aix42||

    "P Brooks | March 24, 2009, 4:00pm | #

    cause the f'in market has made $100 a sec trunk phones into buy your minutes at the smoke shop.

    Send that through the translator again, plz."

    OK. The first Cell phones available to the public were very large and very expensive. Because of scarcity, rates were very high. I misspoke as the charges would have been hundreds per minute, rounded up of course. Now we can purchase minutes from a corner store or smoke shop. Generally items available at a corner store are relatively cheap, aside from overtaxed tobacco, thus minutes are relatively cheap.

  • robc||

    SugarFree,

    If you think private charity is going to be condemned on libertarian board, you know less than nothing.

    Exactly. Objectivist board, maybe, but not here.

  • max hats||


    I have no problem with the social safety net providing for institutionalization for the mentally ill homeless, but I've never understood this twisted mindset that the mentally ill can't be held (not expected, but held) to the same standards of behavior as everyone else.



    Because they have no idea what reality is. We as a society have a choice with what to do with the insane - we can put them in institutions, or we can let them roam the streets. For whatever reason, we've chosen the latter. Librarians getting punched out and human feces in alleyways are just some of the consequences, along with the early deaths and brutal lives of those left to wander.

  • robc||

    Can we call it addressless to make you a happy puppy?

    Sure, unless they receive mail at their tent. :)

    Just make sure you remove them from the homeless statistics.

  • NLE||

    Pro,

    I've seen it mentioned a few times, but i really don't see the tint of left that is suppose to be present in Reason, but i also didn't see it in David Weigal and i've seen many refer to him as schill for the left etc etc.

    I don't care too much for a news organizations bias as long as they remain inteligent and stimulating, which Reason was for as long as i have read. Too many pieces similar to this one has gotten to be a bit much, and yes, my eyeballs would probably benefit from going somewhere else too, but I like Reason. Just not the Reason of the last few months.

    To sum it up, they pulled the kitchen sink out of the wall to make the point that we will survive this possible benign crisis, but it's not the worse so stop saying that it is. Oh Noes, the Obama-san, Obama-bots, and teh Unions are all gonna make it worse, and now back to, Oh Yeahs, you aint poor.

    Maybe it's just me, but thats what its all been for the last few months. I can take disagreement, i was or still am a Paultard, but Reason's coverage doesn't bother me, but shoddy rhetoric does.

    AMEN...LOL

  • DannyK||

    First, this story is from March 6 and it ain't news.

    Second, that guy with the cellphone is actually JOHN GALT. He's going incognito to avoid taxation.

  • ap||

    The one I worked at was only open from 3:00 - 8:00 pm.

    no one said it had to be convenient to the people who are living on the charity of others.

    But if the phone is donated and the minutes are donated -- as so often is the case -- I really don't see your point.
    I often give twenty dollar bills to homeless youth I encounter on the street. Sometimes to the same kids day after day, week after week. I'm rich, so I can do that. You got a problem with that? What if instead of money I gave them Blackberries and free minutes. You got a problem with that?

    i am sure i would have a problem with you bc you are self-righteous pain in the ass. you have gone pretty far afield here to prove how awesome you are and down with the homeless you are. nothing you said, is anyway relevant to anything...other than your self-image, of course.

  • ||

    [Modern liberalism], like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

    - Frederic Bastiat



    Can we put this up in the banner or something.

  • ||

    Do. Not. Have. Cameras. Built-in.

    no one in this country has it that bad if even the poorest have cell phones.

    Cell phones, even ones with cameras, are cheap. This is not the 1980s.

    All I get here is a certain moral disgust that, as others have noted, was not even well received by Michelle Malkin's commenters.

  • max hats||

    First, this story is from March 6 and it ain't news.

    Second, that guy with the cellphone is actually JOHN GALT. He's going incognito to avoid taxation.



    Thread over.

  • Mark||

    "
    If you think private charity is going to be condemned on libertarian board, you know less than nothing."

    I know that. Just reinforcinhg that point for the posters who disagree with that philosophy.

    About twenty plus years ago a guy named Johnston wrote a book entitled "The limits of Government" that basically said roads, military for protection of the country and a brief safety net were the only things that the government should be doing. I completely agree.

  • Lefiti||

    Considering the abysmal performance of government programs in general...

    Social Security?
    The GI Bill?
    The state university system?
    Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act?
    National Highway System?
    Rural Electrification?
    The National Forest System and Parks?

    Which one don't you like, you fucking right-wing asswipe?

  • Reinmoose||

    Shouldn't someone be along right about now to tell us all to stop pretending to care about the poor?

  • ||

    I like Reason. Just not the Reason of the last few months.

    Thirsty.

    Sooooooo...

    thiiiiirsteeeeeeee...

  • Luke Skywalker||

    I care....

  • Mark||

    "we can put them in institutions, or we can let them roam the streets. For whatever reason, we've chosen the latter."

    Thank the ACLU for that one.

  • robc||

    NLE,

    In the last few months [in case you didnt notice], the party of the president has changed. Hence the guy wearing the bullseye has changed. Thus, to someone who doesnt quite get the whole libertarian mindset, this site seems to have shifted from slightly lefty to slightly righty. It hasnt moved at all.

    This is what pissed joe off enough to leave. He thought Obama was going to get a honeymoon here or something. We started bashing on Jan 21 at the latest.

    Heck, look how much we still piss off the police apologists in the Balko threads. Nothing has changed.

  • Warty||

    Which one don't you like, you fucking right-wing asswipe?

    You don't really want an answer to that.

  • Reinmoose||

    Thirsty.

    Sooooooo...

    thiiiiirsteeeeeeee...


    Let me give it a nudge, P Brooks.

    Ahem

    And NLE... does this mean you're going to cancel your subscription?

    *nods yes encouragingly*

  • robc||

    roads, military for protection of the country and a brief safety net

    Fucking statist. :)

  • Mark||

    "
    i am sure i would have a problem with you bc you are self-righteous pain in the ass. you have gone pretty far afield here to prove how awesome you are and down with the homeless you are. nothing you said, is anyway relevant to anything...other than your self-image, of course."

    It's judgement that defeats us.

    - Col. Kurtz

  • ||

    It's just so critical to the leftish mindset that people be displaced by Society® and not by the fact that they have issues of their own.

    Of course it's Society. How many homeless people do you find amongst the hunter-gatherers of Papua New Guinea or the Amazon rainforest? None. But most of us don't want to return to that lifestyle. But while most of us live well in our complex semi-free market society, not everyone is well adapted to living and competing in the Information Age. So what is the libertarian approach to dealing with society's losers, the people who will never ever be able to make successes of themselves?

  • ||

    So libertarians would rather live and die by the moral assumption that people are islands totally responsible for their own well-being (even the mentally ill) than personally benefit from a society which organizes itself to provide small services to them. If you're kneecapped by a schizo on the street, won't you be glad you told him to pull himself up from his bootstraps rather than paying a pittance in taxes so that he is in a proper institution?

  • Mark||

    "Can we put this up in the banner or something."

    That's the point I was trying to make.

  • Reinmoose||

    Tony - you're confused again. Priiiiiiivate Charrrrrrrrrrrrity

  • robc||

    Tony doesnt understand the Bastiat banner quote.

  • robc||

    How many homeless people do you find amongst the hunter-gatherers of Papua New Guinea or the Amazon rainforest? None.

    According to Reinmoose, 100%. :)

  • ||

    Bush sucked. He got lots of hate here. Obama sucks. He'll get lots of hate here.

    In some ways, Obama may be worse, with his apparent unwillingness to stop the lunatic asylum that is Congress. I couldn't stand Bush on just about anything, including his economic policy, but I wasn't quite as worried under him about whether our economy would recover. He started the latest round of stupidity with the initial bailout package, but that's going to be trumped mightily by the spending mania of Congress and the administration.

    About the libertarian solution to things like homelessness, let me just suggest that our generosity is due to us, not due to our government. In other words, the massive contributions made by Americans to any number of causes would be much, much greater in a libertarian system. How much wealth is sucked out of us and criminally wasted by the various levels of government? How much wealth isn't produced due to overreaching and often politically motivated regulation? How much do people ignore problems because "the government will solve them"?

  • ||

    SugarFree:

    The insanity defense is about 150 years old and is well-established in common law. More here.

    Contrast this with the more libertarian take of Thomas Szasz

  • ||

    Private charity--I love this argument. Even assuming private charity could replace government services, it's not charity if you benefit from it!

    You benefit from social services provided for other people, I and other liberals would argue. You want someone else to provide the service and for you to benefit without having to pay for it. That doesn't sound very libertarian to me.

  • aix42||

    Tony, you're thinking anarchists. You need justice and law, just bare minimums. I think most Libertarians would assume some charitable folks would help the mentally ill. Not everyone is charitable, but some are. Not everyone presupposes we would all be as terrible as possible if we were only allowed to.

  • ||

    Rent isn't the primary issue.

    You all are still missing the point. There are priorities in life. Most go somewhat in this order:

    Breathing
    Drinking
    Eating
    Clothing
    ...

    ...then cell phones.

    If someone doesn't have enough to eat, he or she should have thought of that before purchasing even a cheap cell phone.

    That $30 cell phone could have purchased quite a bit of gruel, grits, rice, oatmeal, etc.

  • Warty||

    Private charity--I love this argument. Even assuming private charity could replace government services, it's not charity if you benefit from it!

    My 90 year old grandma was in the paper recently, about how she's volunteered for 40 years for an organization that delivers meals to homebound cripples. Just sayin'.

  • ||

    That $30 cell phone could have purchased quite a bit of gruel, grits, rice, oatmeal, etc.

    And the job provided by access to a cell phone can provide a lot more "gruel." Maybe even risotto.

  • Reinmoose||

    You want someone else to provide the service and for you to benefit without having to pay for it. That doesn't sound very libertarian to me.

    Umm... you'd have to be a fucking lunatic not to want this.

  • robc||

    it's not charity if you benefit from it!

    And people say the characters in Atlas Shrugged are non-realistic archetypes.

  • Nate||

    Add one to the list of those who think that this post was vile, disingenuous and downright offensive. As someone who often sends links to H&R posts to non-libertarian friends, it's frankly embarrassing.

    robc @ 4:10pm- your ex's go to women's shelters? All of them, or just most?

    Lefiti- Did you just suggest that Social Security is a good program? Damn, and I was thinking you were just *pretending* to be a total fucking retard.

  • ||

    aix42,

    I have no idea whether enough people would be charitable to equal what government can provide. I seriously doubt it, but that's not my point.

    But providing necessary services to the homeless creates an emergent benefit for everyone, including the non-homeless.

    You guys want the benefit without having to pay for it.

  • robc||

    your ex's go to women's shelters? All of them, or just most?

    ex-phones.

    As far as you know. :)

  • ||

    robc,

    Do you have anything of value to add to the discussion or are you just going to continue pretending to be hysterical over what are pretty mainstream liberal arguments?

  • ||

    The excellent Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm trains his gimlet eye on a phoney-baloney photo op featuring the First Lady.

    Photo ops are, by definition, phony baloney. The phoniness of this one doesn't have to do with the homeless people in the picture. It has to do with phony-baloney impression of Michelle Obama as someone who does anything for homeless people.

    She wasn't there to do anything for the homeless. She was there to get her picture taken. They were just props.

  • Reinmoose||

    You guys want the benefit without having to pay for it.

    I paid thousands of dollars in taxes last year for shit that is run horribly.

    I would rather have given that money to a charity with low overhead and proven results.

    How is this so difficult to understand?

  • ||

    I am not homeless. But I have a prepaid cellphone, which costs me, roughly fifteen bucks (or less) per month. On occasion, people want to get hold of me in order to have me make things for them.

    I think people who pay fifty, sixty, or even a hundred bucks per month for cellphone service are crazy. And yet, I refrain from advocating that they be locked up for their own protection.

  • robc||

    Tony,

    But providing necessary services to the homeless creates an emergent benefit for everyone, including the non-homeless.

    No it doesnt. Two can play this game.

    And even if it does, so what? I benefit from others work all the time. I benefited very directly from the work of Newton and Gauss and, to cite at least one perons whose life overlapped with me, Feynmann. And yet, I dont feel the need to pay them for their work. That is what societies do. That is why (regardless of your view on IP) fair use exists. That is why patents expire.

    I give to a charity that will probably never benefit me. However, if one of the people whose lives are made better later invents a drug that cures a disease, I dont think it should be withheld from you because you picked the wrong charity.

  • Nate||

    "Of course it's Society. How many homeless people do you find amongst the hunter-gatherers of Papua New Guinea or the Amazon rainforest? None."

    Dude, what?

    How many people die of starvation or expposure in a typical first-world country?

    How many children die young for lack of physical strength, running speed, etc.?

    Can I have some of whatever you're smoking?

  • robc||

    Tony,

    Im not hysterical over anthing. But, you are on a libertarian site, expect mainstream liberal arguments to not be accepted as mainstream. They arent here. You have to defend your premises that differ from ours.

  • ||

    You want someone else to provide the service and for you to benefit without having to pay for it. That doesn't sound very libertarian to me.

    Can't somebody else do it!

  • ||

    Most libertarians are not anti-altruism. I've given to charities, and I'd give a lot more to them if the government didn't take such a large mordida.

    Where does the money come from? To the extent that the government takes it from us and gives it out, who makes the decision that people in need should get money? Just what do you think the government is, some distillation of human goodness, separate and distinct from its citizenry? This is the illness of the collective mindset, that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It isn't.

    Incidentally, just to return to the topic at hand, I don't own a cellphone (my wife does). And I'm not homeless.

  • Mark||

    "You benefit from social services provided for other people, I and other liberals would argue. You want someone else to provide the service and for you to benefit without having to pay for it. That doesn't sound very libertarian to me."

    If I write a check to the United Way Or YouthLink,. I AM PAYING FOR IT.

    What I don't want is the federal government getting involved. And the County is worse. They attach all kinds of strings to the money they confiscate from me to "Give" it to YouthLink.

    As if some dipshit county bureaucrat sitting in the government center knows better than the people actually out on the street working directly with homeless youth. The County really makes it tough for the case managers.

    Me, on the other hand, I give to YouthLink string-free. I trust their judgement on how best to use the money.

    From simply an economic standpoint, my way is better.

  • robc||

    it's not charity if you benefit from it

    BTW, I can prove that, at least in my case, that statement is bogus.

    I, as a christian, am required by God to give to the less fortunate. Thus, by giving to charity I benefit in some way, by pleasing God or strengthening my soul or something.

    The only way I could not benefit was to give to a charity that specifically went against my moral/ethical etc standards. But, I wouldnt call that charity anyway, that would be self-destruction.

  • Kid Blast||

    Give a man a quater, he'll make a call from a pay phone. Give a man a cell phone and he can start up a company.

    Give the Treasury $1T and they won't even tell you who they gave it to.

  • ||

    Dearest Tony,


    I have no idea whether enough people would be charitable to equal what government can provide. I seriously doubt it, but that's not my point.


    Well, it's kind of the point. Or, it has to do with your point. Why do you think that? It's a silly to thing to think --- even sillier when you don't provide any sort of defense. I'm interested, though. What makes you say that?


    But providing necessary services to the homeless creates an emergent benefit for everyone, including the non-homeless.


    So would eating them.

  • Warty||

    No, Solana, the homeless have AIDS. It makes them taste bitter.

  • ||

    You know, I heard the funniest rumor about Soylent Gree--nah, it can't be true. Forget I said anything.

    Anyway, during the 19th century, we had a pretty robust network of charities--all without government support or control. No reason at all that we couldn't do that today.

  • ||

    Well, it's kind of the point. Or, it has to do with your point. Why do you think that? It's a silly to thing to think --- even sillier when you don't provide any sort of defense. I'm interested, though. What makes you say that?

    For one thing, we have homeless people on the street right now and minimal homeless services. Now perhaps all you would-be charity givers are simply overburdened with taxes and that's why you're not providing for the homeless. But I suspect that collective action would actually do the job of providing for maximum benefit since it would be able to measure its effects and could adjust accordingly. Charities relying on voluntary donations can only give as much as they get--and right now they apparently aren't getting enough.

    But the point I was trying to make is that I believe providing food and shelter (and cell phones even!) to the homeless, no matter who's doing the providing, produces a collective benefit. You benefit from such services even though you may have no involvement in providing them. Charities aren't just providing services to the homeless, they're providing a service to you by keeping them off the streets.

    Yet somehow it's libertarian to argue that it's better to receive the service for free by someone else picking up the slack than it is to contribute and help pay for it yourself.

    So would eating them.

    Pre-eaten homeless are people too!

  • Warty||

    I once saw a graph showing that charitable giving is inversely correlated with the tax burden - Euro-fags give much less to charity than we do. I can't find it anywhere, though. Maybe somebody here has better google powers than me.

  • Mark||

    "But I suspect that collective action would actually do the job of providing for maximum benefit since it would be able to measure its effects and could adjust accordingly."

    You a County man, Tony? You know, a strings fella? Because that's the problem the YouthLink case managers have. The county requires useless, pointless metrics or they don't get the money.

  • ||

    Photo op or not, if Michelle Obama served just one meal to the homeless, she did more than me.

    Sigh.

  • ||

    Charities aren't just providing services to the homeless, they're providing a service to you by keeping them off the streets.

    You don't have to convince me that homelessness is bad. You have to convince me that the government does a better job of correcting the homeless problem than private charity.

    Since 1982, city spending on the shelter system for homeless families has grown from $18 million to $290 million

    NYC has one of the most extensive, bloated programs dealing with homelessness in the world... and the streets are filled with crazy (and a few not crazy), homeless people. WHY?



  • ||

    I've served food to the homeless. While wearing my libertarian tophat and chortling at their pain.

    Okay, I made up the second sentence.

    Solana is right--the big issue isn't the underlying problem, it's the proposed solution.

  • Reinmoose||

    Tony - collective action on the part of the government removes people from the act of charity and social responsibility. Just as if you grow your own food and cook it you are better informed of the difference between shitty tomatoes in the grocery store and garden-grown ones, if you give to charity yourself and have to research different charities, you're more in tune with the act of aiding another human being, their plight, and all the different ways people are trying to help them.

    If people all just assume that the government is doing it, why bother? We have these programs for a reason... it just so happens that one of the major side effects is that those being helped are marginalized and forgotten.

  • ||

    reinmoose, I would suggest that the government is taking up the slack from a slowdown in charitable giving as the nation moved away from christianity. The results as you see them, are accurate. We feel that we support a government that supports the less fortunate. That should be enough.

  • ||

    The county requires useless, pointless metrics or they don't get the money.

    So fix the system. I don't see why government inefficiency is a foregone conclusion. It only seems thus when it's burdened by a constant movement to discredit it and keep taxes as low as possible.

  • ||

    if you give to charity yourself and have to research different charities, you're more in tune with the act of aiding another human being, their plight, and all the different ways people are trying to help them.

    Which brings us to this.

  • Kid Blast||

    "So fix the system."

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

  • ||

    Re: charitable donations.

    One problem I have with centralized coercive involvement is that you as a taxpayer are deprived of control over the type of organization your money is going to and their methods of relieving poverty.

    Take the whole "faith-based initiatives" thing, for instance. As an atheist, I've got a problem with my money going to support religious groups who are apt to proselytize the people they are attempting to help.

    Moreover, some of these groups turn around and use the money to lobby the government for more money.

    Or they may be involved in supporting political causes and candidates I don't agree with. I.e. money could be going to fund a humanitarian group helping illegal aliens, which also campaigns for immigration reform. I happen to support such groups, but it's unjust for someone else's tax money to be expropriated from them to support a cause they oppose. Even if it is technically indirect assistance.


    Another reason is that the charity might be going to support (say) a woman who has octuplets after already having six babies. I should have the right to say "Fuck you" to that woman and withdraw my assistance. The welfare state engenders all sorts of irresponsible behavior like that.

    But I am deprived of the right to refuse assistance to people I personally think are abusing the system, or to programs that are open to such abuse. Indeed, those programs resist any attempts at reform, because the people abusing the system have powerful political lobbies.

  • ||

    Tony -

    So fix the system

    Typically one doesn't give more money or power to those who have continued to fail in their "war on poverty".

  • Reinmoose||

    Hazel, you make a good point, except that people like Tony have already pointed out to us that no matter what the government decides to spend your money on you benefit from it, so shut up and accept their helping you decide how to allocate your resources. They know what's best.

  • ||

    Tony,

    Here's the problem. Government decisions are made primarily for political reasons, not out of a desire to achieve the best results. This is almost universally true and is why government frequently appears (or is) corrupt and inefficient.

    The flip side is that an efficient government is one without all of those kludgy checks and balances. So, if we attempt to make government more efficient, we'll also be eliminating the limits on its power. Can we trust people with unlimited power? I don't think so. Which is why many libertarians prefer a more distributed power structure.

    Our system of government and the capitalist economic system has done much more good than bad. We're far wealthier and provide far greater opportunities for social mobility than any previous society. And we did a better job of that before we started mucking everything up with a lot of government regulations and useless spending.

  • Kid Blast||

    "It only seems thus when it's burdened by a constant movement to discredit it and keep taxes as low as possible."

    I think this says it all:

    Obamas Donated Less Than 1% of Their 2000-2004 Income

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=apR1J1py2Ouc&refer=home

  • Nate||

    That's rich. Really? The implication is that if it weren't for those pesky libertarians, always discrediting the government, then the latter would be a model of efficiency? Wow.

  • ||

    So fix the system. I don't see why government inefficiency is a foregone conclusion.

    It's a mathematical problem. The more centralized the system is the more dispersed the costs are relative to the benefit to a small group. That dilutes opposition to any one program, while keeping in place a specific interest group that supports it. Your voting power is diluted, and it's increasingly unlikely you'll find a candidate who will vote your way on the increasing number of specific programs you are asked to support, so you're forced to choose a cnadidate who supports any number of issues you're against, just to choose the lesser of evils. Inevitably, you end up with a large number of narrowly focused programs that benefit specific narrow interests, even though the dispersed costs to the whole of society add up to more.

    This is why local control is so important. Less vote dilution, easier to muster opposition to a specific policy, less open to abuse.

  • ||

    Nate,

    That's right, we're freakin' gadflies. Buzz, buzz.

    Im in ur government, messin' it up.

    Hazel,

    Yes, but local government can be oppressive, too. It's not just about distributing or localizing power, though local government can be more amenable to control.

  • ||

    Yes, but local government can be oppressive, too. It's not just about distributing or localizing power, though local government can be more amenable to control.

    I agree. The most distributed power structure of all is one where individuals make their own personal decisions.

    But local is still better than federal.

  • robc||

    Pro Lib,

    As I always say, I know where my mayor lives. I can shoot him if necessary. Not true at higher levels of government.

    Heck, when the tree was down across my road during the January ice storm, he personally drove up the street to check out the situation with a lackey in tow. I had a clear shot if I had wanted it.

  • Reinmoose||

    thanks robc,
    I'll add that to my list of reasons not to move to Owensboro, right behind "doesn't have pizza."

  • Reinmoose||

    ZING

  • robc||

    Um, Owensboro? WTF?

  • Reinmoose||

    I'm sorry, where are you from again? I thought it was a place in KY that started with an "o," so immediately I thought of Owensboro.

    Sorry

  • ||

    Hazel,

    Indeed.

  • ||

    Dude in the picture isn't homeless, he's just scarfing up free food. He probably throws most of it in the trash.

  • robc||

    Louisville, which neither begins with an O or is remotely like Owensboro.

    I did use Owensboro as an example in that pizza thread, in that they have a specific style of bbq they are "known" for.

  • ||

    Looavull. Has two Os.

  • ||

    Pro Lib, interesting. Saying it that way requires only one tooth. hmmm

  • ||

    brotherben,

    They all say it that way there, even the Super Geniuses.

  • ||

    FUCK
    FUCK
    FUCK

    I spent too much time typing something that wis insightful and even witty, and it got lost. This seems to happen if you spend too much time typing. Type everything. Copy that text to the clipbaord. Refresh the page. Then past your text in and hit submit - and it works every time. I didn't fucking do it and now my wisdom is lost forever!

    Just trust me on this. About 1/3 of homeless people are worthless pieces of fucking shit that will steal from you right after you just helped them out out of the goodness of your heart. That's why they are homeless - their own families have been screwed over one too many times.

    The other third have mental issues or are just slow.

    The remaining third are simple drunks/addicts.

    That was my wisdom, but trust me, it was better the first time I wrote it. I even went into some detail on how I met me sample crowd. I did not mention that I don't hang with that crowd any more mostly on account of my having boinked this dude's girly a few times too many and everyone knowing about it. That was not part of the story, but the rest was really great.

    Remember: Copy, refresh, paste, post.

  • Reinmoose||

    Looavull

    Maybe the super geniuses say it this way with the fancy third syllable, but I usually hear it pronounced with only 2.

  • ||

    All typos intenshunal...

  • ||

    Thi is an old, recycled, phony issue. I imagine any place where the First Lady turns up is going to attract fans with cameras. I doubt this guy is homeless, or even in line for food.

    That said, homeless folks with cell phones aren't unusual; cell phones stopped being rare and pricey a long time ago. A prepaid phone costs a negligible amount of money and is likely a necessity for someone who has no place for a land line. I'd imagine a homeless person with a cell phone might even be seeking work.

  • ||

    Reinmoose,

    You're right, I got all high and mighty in my typing.

  • robc||

    They all say it that way there, even the Super Geniuses.

    Yes, yes we do. (We refers to SGs, not all)

    Moose: 3 syllables. The loovul people are usually outsiders trying and failing to say it right. The middle syllable is just a schwa but it is there.

    My parents say Loo-ee-ville, but they are from out in the state, have only lived here since '61. Freakin' immigrants. :)

  • ||

    Michelle Malkin, Rush, and those people already did this one to death like 3 weeks ago. I only know because I sell cell phones and noticed that michelle Malkin's page ranked really high in Google for "cell phones"- damn that bitch.

    I don't get ANY bills in the mail. And I have probably 3 dozen credit cards, cell phone, internet, insurances,etc. What is this, last century? All normal bills are online and you pay them online. And I would ( and I am being serious) expect homeless people to have net access. Or most likely they have prepaid phones.

    If I were homeless, I would definitely have high speed internet ( I suppose a laptop with wireless service from my cell phone company) and a cell phone. Phones are cheap as hell, really. Especially if you "pay as you go." And, assuming a homeless person wants to make money, you need a phone to apply for jobs. Or call your relatives or friends and let them know you are still alive,etc. Plus the internet is 100% required for me to make a living. So If I were homeless, I would still need to be connected so I could make money and be able to eat or whatever while I live in my car/tent/park/.

  • ||

    I just did a little googling. A couple tables showed this: there are 224,000,000 self professed christians in the U.S. The per capita income in the U.S. is $37,500 per year. If every christian gave the biblically required 10%, that works out to 840 Billion dollars a year given. If the christians were faithful in their giving and didn't require those crystal palaces for worship, the govt. would have much much less burden for the poor.

    The personal responsibility and contentment with one's station in life contained in the faith would mean a whole lot less of us lazy fat bastages standing around with our hands out.

    If christians were truly Christlike, this country would be better all around.


    disclaimer: i am a fat lazy disabled bastage on the dole.

  • Craig||

    I think most of the comments here, even the supportive ones, are missing an important point: with the recent housing collapse and the increase in unemployment to near double digits, there are a lot of newly homeless people.

    It's not as if they are going to sell their cell phones and their unused minutes for cash, when the phone can help them improve their situation, and costs little to maintain. You don't need to spend $50+ per month if you buy a pay-per-minute plan.

  • ||

    John -

    You're joking right? Internet access required to get a job? Certainly job searched are made easier but with free access at the unemployment office and the local library, I don't see why this would remotely be called a necessity?

    Having said that, I agree that a phone or place or contact is a requirement and if it's a cell phone I don't really care.

    For those without a sense of humor arguing about the worthlessness of lots of normal individuals who post here - you are only showing your ignorance as to the caliber of people who normally post here.

    Yourselves not withstanding.

  • EJM||

    They all say it that way there, even the Super Geniuses.

    As usual, Wikipedia is our friend. ;)

  • BDB||

    Congratulations, Nick, with this ridiculous post H&R has jumped the shark and landed in the toilet where it promptly went down the shitter.

  • BDB||

    P.S., even if you don't pay for cell phone service guess what?

    THE CAMERA STILL WORKS!

    And you can use it as an emergency phone! Because they don't charge for 911 calls!

    Jesus this place has gotten clueless fast.

  • robc||

    brotherben,

    My minister broke it down one day. If the top 10% earners in the church gave 10% for a year, the church could immediately pay off all its debt and be flush with cash.

    Of course, I would argue you have your cause/effect from earlier in this thread backwards. Maybe christians are giving less BECAUSE the government took over so many roles, not vice versa.

    Its a lot easier to give 10% when 50% isnt going for taxes. :)

    In Samuel, when the people begged for a King, he warned them a King would require more than God does.

  • robc||

    EJM

    LOO-ə-vəl

    Huh, that looks familiar, like someone said something similar already, oh yeah it was me:

    The middle syllable is just a schwa but it is there

  • Suki||

    I think most Libertarians would assume some charitable folks would help the mentally ill. Not everyone is charitable, but some are. Not everyone presupposes we would all be as terrible as possible if we were only allowed to.

    This sounds like some of that puppy sex discussion from the weekend.

  • Suki||

    brotherben,

    I just did a little googling. A couple tables showed this: there are 224,000,000 self professed christians in the U.S. The per capita income in the U.S. is $37,500 per year. If every christian gave the biblically required 10%, that works out to 840 Billion dollars a year given. If the christians were faithful in their giving and didn't require those crystal palaces for worship, the govt. would have much much less burden for the poor.

    Just a crazy wild hunch, but I suspect that everybody (Christians included) who gets a paycheck (earned or not) is already "giving" more than 10% of their earnings to the government.

  • ||

    Suki, just a crazy wild hunch, you rode the short bus to school.

    I said, "If the christians were faithful in their giving and didn't require those crystal palaces for worship, the govt. would have much much less burden for the poor."

    there is nothing confusing or overwhelmingly difficult about that statement.

    But I will try to simplify:

    if christians give more to the poor, the government can take less from workers.

  • alan||

    Hazel Meade,

    God (metaphoric sense) Bless you, you try your damnedest.

    You consistently put up a first rate defense, you often provide valuable links, and tons of evidence to back up well made casual-realist deductive arguments in support of your position for a greater, libertarian social order.

    You take the extra effort to create fresh ways of understanding well worn ideas in the hope that maybe this time it will sink in. Given all of that, in all the tens of dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours you have put into arguing with Tony over the past several months has he shown even for one moment that you were getting through to him?

    Personally, I don't think so, so why bother?

    I often feel that impulse to not let ridiculous, or intentionally distorted claims against libertarians and the free market to just stand unchallenged, but most people coming here are surely adults who see through it. The liberal just winds up making a prima facie argument why an adult would not want to be labeled a liberal or think like one.

  • alan||

    my apologies, Hazel

    back up well made casual-realist deductive

    at no time was I trying to insinuate that you advocated something as despicable as casual fridays. That would be causal-deductive of course.

  • ||

    I've served food to the homeless. While wearing my libertarian tophat and chortling at their pain.

    Nicely done, Pro Lib.

  • ||

    alan,

    Aww shucks, thanks.
    Actually Tony's only been around a month. He was apparantly tricked into coming here by that dumb-ass MSNBC show that implied that Libertarians and Limbaugh "dittoheads" were interchangable. I surmise this based on his apparant beleif upon arriving that all libertarians walked in lockstep. (I know, I laughed too.)

    Since then, I have been slowly whittling down his defenses, since he seems to actually be amenable to reason at some level.

    One of these days, he's going to get into an argumnet with a really stupid progressive that resembles one of our frequent spoofers, and then we'll have him.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    "Exactly. Objectivist board, maybe, but not here."

    People who say Ayn Rand was opposed to private charity and personal generosity have most likely never read much of her work very closely.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    "So fix the system"

    Sorry, but it's all I can do to keep the system from fixing me.

    Interestingly enough, the type of places that the chronically homeless used to live in were torn down in the 1980s and replaced with various "civic improvement" projects. This was mostly accomplished with subsidies given to politically connected developers and justified by the local governments assurance that the projects would "improve the tax base".

    In many cases they failed at this and the once shiny new projects have become a further drain on the communities resources. But at least we don't have those run down hotels where "transients" could once get a cheap and relatively safe and clean room.

    The civic leaders who ran this scheme originally are the same ones that liberals now want to "solve" the "homeless problem".

  • robc||

    People who think objectivists always follow Rand need to check their premises.

  • TofuSushi||

    if christians give more to the poor, the government can take less from workers.

    The government should be taking care of the poor with more jobs. The fundies just use their soup kitchens to recruit for FOX news viewers and Republican election thieves.

    This is a seperation of church and state issue.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    robc

    As often happens, we tend to agree.

    Among those who have not read Rand very closely I frequently find people who claim to be her followers.

  • ||

    My point being, if you have shelter, you aint homeless. Sleeping in a park or a bench or a box in the alley (which isnt really shelter, but does provide some), okay - you are homeless. If you are living in a tent or at a shelter, for that matter, you are not homeless.


    A chair is still a chair, even when there's no one sittin' there
    But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home
    When there's no one there to hold you tight
    And no one there you can kiss goodnight

    Whoa...oh...oh...oh...oh...oh...oh...
    Girl

    A room is a still a room, even when there's nothin' there but gloom
    But a room is not a house and a house is not a home
    When the two of us are far apart
    And one of us has a broken heart

  • ||

    In Soviet Union, phone puts YOU in cell!

  • ||

    I've never heard of a pre-paid cell phone that takes digital photos.

  • Motorola Prepaid TracFone Cell||

    What? Like it's magic or something?

  • ||

    you dumb ignorant fuck. i am a social worker in los angeles and probation here gives ex-cons cell phones so they can keep track of where they are. this kind of unresearched, blinding, ignorance really bothers me. for chrissakes, some of this shit can simply be GOOGLED. fuck.

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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