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Please Don’t Feed The Homeless

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Ben Margot/AP Photo

Understanding and adhering to conservative principles almost always takes a willingness and mental capacity to think beyond any initial, knee-jerk reaction to an issue and look for sustainable solutions that work. As such, conservative ideas often initially tend to be counter-intuitive, which might help explain why so many gravitate towards leftism in their younger years before eventually gaining a bit of wisdom to see beyond their instinctual desire to be compassionate. The truth is, real solutions that actually work often can seem a bit ‘cruel’ at first until you dig down and find that the real cruelty lies in leftist ‘solutions’ that end up harming far more people than they purportedly help.


A perfect example of this lies in how society treats the poorest among us, particularly the homeless. Few doubt that it’s a problem. The disagreement lies in what to do about it. Sadly, the left has had its way on this issue for the past several decades, to ruinous effect. Not only is the problem not getting better, it’s getting significantly worse as America’s major cities quickly decline into shadows of their former selves, with literal zombies roaming the streets along with hardened criminals, crackheads, and looters.

My solution to this problem is simple, but as hardcore as it gets, at least on the surface - outlaw homelessness, then close all long-term homeless shelters and soup kitchens. No, you don’t get to sleep on a park bench or pitch your tent under the overpass. That’s public land, and as a citizen who ‘owns’ just as much of it as you do, I contend that you don’t have my permission to live there any more than I have anyone else’s permission to set up permanent camp inside Yellowstone National Park. And no, you shouldn’t get to live like a vagabond doing nothing for yourself or society while knowing your next hot meal is waiting for you at the soup kitchen down the street. It’s utter insanity.

So what’s the alternative, you ask? Where are these folks supposed to go? It’s a great question tha I’m always happy to answer. Were I in charge, I’d give the homeless three choices: 1.) enter some sort of workhouse system (to be established), 2.) be committed to a mental institution, or 3.) go directly to jail. That’s it. Other than, you know, getting a JOB and a place to live (there are plenty of worthy programs - even governmental ones - that help the working poor, and there are PLENTY of jobs), those are their options, or what their options should be if we lived in a sane world with the cajones to do what must be done.


To anyone who disagrees with my approach, I would ask how handouts, whether from governments, religious institutions, or charity organizations, have helped alleviate the situation. The obvious answer is that they have not alleviated it at all. Indeed, things have gotten far worse since Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” sought to eradicate poverty through freebies. Turns out, people who are homeless due to something besides mental instability or addiction are generally in their position because they don’t know how to handle money. So, the fact that they also can’t handle the free money given to them should be no surprise.

If you are a Christian and recoil at my suggestions, remember that Jesus Christ himself said the poor would always be with us. Additionally, it was the Apostle Paul, echoing a strong ongoing Biblical theme, who wrote, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Sorry! You can rant and whine, but you can’t change the fact that Biblical Christianity generally agrees with me on this issue.

It’s a consistent argument that crosses into much larger issues. I also question some charitable and mission activity that comes from Christians both on the right and the left. You might be surprised to learn that there has been much written of late about this issue, particicularly as churches increasingly send their parishoners on short-term mission trips to third world countries. Tina Rosenberg’s excellent piece in The Guardian lays out some of the pitfalls of this type of giving, many of which are counter-intuitive but make perfect sense once you begin to think it through carefully.


And things don’t get any better when countries do it. Check out this write-up describing Nobel-winning economist Angus Deaton’s argument against giving foreign aid to poor countries. Even if well-intentioned, foreign aid actually corrupts governments, stifles capitalism, and hinders growth in third world countries, rendering them worse off than they were before. Who could have possibly known that handouts don’t work on a macro-scale any more than they do for individuals?

Finally, even on an animal level, handouts don’t work. Why do you think we aren’t supposed to feed bears, raccoons, and other wild animals? Might it have anything to do with fostering dependency, idleness, and unnatural behaviors? Truly, how is this any different from human ‘animals’? Outside the three options I laid out above, no, we shouldn’t be feeding or otherwise coddling the homeless on the streets of America’s major cities or anywhere else. 

Indeed, as it has for millenia, the fear of hunger motivates us all. It keeps us working, producing, building, making life better for ourselves, everyone around us, and the generations to come. Why unnaturally remove it just because someone doesn’t want to work? Paul had it right two thousand years ago. If someone hasn’t worked, why should they eat?

Bottom line: capitalism - the ‘selfish’ system that has brought a higher standard of living to the highest percentage of people in human history - actually works. And any attempt to go around it to cater to the worst aspects of human nature - in this case laziness - is bound to end in miserable failure, even if a few stomachs are filled in the short term. For the greater good, let’s stop filling those stomachs.


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