Find a back issue

Buddy, Can You Spare 50 Cents? How About $10, Then?

Dallas officials will have their hands full cracking down on panhandlers and other miscreants downtown. Visiting the 1400 block of Main yesterday, I had to park on the street twice–the first time the meter ate a bunch of change without giving up any time at all–before being buttonholed for dough twice inside 50 yards. One guy pounded on the driver’s-side window, adopted a pitiful expression like from that “Scream” painting and begged, “Please help me. I’m hungry!” It ain’t nearly as bad here as San Francisco in the ’80s; a group of bums there liked to break into my daughter’s parked car and sleep in it overnight. But it doesn’t exactly make you eager to “find your D Spot” again anytime soon.

Read This Next

84 comments on “Buddy, Can You Spare 50 Cents? How About $10, Then?

  1. @ Brideget Nowhere
    “I am sure it is something your pal Bush can take care of before he is thrown in prison for war crimes.”

    I think Godwin’s Law needs to be updated to include any completely irrelevant and obviously forced reference to George Bush and war crimes when participating in an online debate. It’s the new liberal fail safe. “I have nothing intelligent to say, so I’ll introduce you to my best friend, Non Sequitor!”

  2. Trey’s post is emblematic of exactly what is wrong with the modern day republican party. The GOP’s de facto spokesmen, the talking heads, have heartily embraced the concept of social darwinism, basically that the poor are poor not because of societal conditions, but becasue they are stupid, lazy, or morally bankrupt. It allows those whose policies force people into poverty to still blaim the poor for their own plight, and, presumably, sleep at night.

  3. Towski’s right. Personal accountability plays no role in these peoples’ station in life.

    You, my friend, are an enabler and you do more damage to these people than any “Republican” you want to point a finger at.

  4. @ SB

    So it’s ALL down to personal accountability then? Ok, that was easy.

    I agree with Steve. It’s clear that Jesus would teach that compassion for these people, even the ones who might be in the situation because of their own actions, is weak, brah. Get a job!

  5. I still think The Bridge is a good idea. It’s just mismanaged. They badly underestimated demand, both in terms of the amount of people they’d be handling and the amount of services they’d have to provide to those people. They weren’t ready to open the doors but did so anyway. Now, people who didn’t like the idea to begin with will take even longer to convince, and those who were on the fence have been firmly shoved to one side. It can work, but it’s going to take a long time and better choices. I hope to see more of the latter soon or else the project very well may be doomed.

    They have the right plan: once they get the services in place at The Bridge and equip themselves to deal with the flood, the people who can be helped will be helped, move on to transitional housing, and then back into society. I don’t think that’s pie-in-the-sky talk either. The infrastructure is only now starting to fall into place. It will take time and it will be frustrating.

    That said, I don’t necessarily think Puddin’ Tane or Realist are wrong. There is merit there.

    And Trey: come on. “If you’re only one paycheck away from being homeless, whose fault is that?” You’re better than that.

  6. It would be awesome if Jesus were still here to feed the five thousand with six loaves of bread and two baskets of fish.

    It would be more awesome if Jesus could put the Dow back at 14,000, bail out all the banks and automakers, and lower unemployment back below 5.0%.

    But Jesus ain’t here. We need to fix our problems ourselves.

    And if it works, we can thank Jesus. If it doesn’t work, we can blame George Bush.

  7. It’s just too difficult for you to grasp that some people are just worthless. Instead, you have to concoct some half-wit yarn about the forces of the universe conspiring against each and every person living in the streets. Another way of blaming the ills of society on the big, bad corporations. Or the big, bad lack of universal healthcare. There are a million programs designed to help get these people back on their feet, and there are a million places they could find work if they truly wanted it. But you can’t smoke crack if you have a steady job, so I guess sleeping under the I-45 bridge and asking for handouts is a better alternative.

  8. “Homelessness has always been here and always will.”

    Only because we allow it.

  9. @SB – somewhere between your hyperbole and mine lies the actual truth – that, yes, personal accountability is a big player in all of this, but, sadly, so is a system that doesn’t support it’s citizens.

  10. When I worked downtown, I developed a strategy that worked pretty well: When I saw it coming (…you can always see it coming…) I beat them to the punch, asking them for some change before they asked me. You, know – to help a brother out.

  11. You Bushheads do realize that you are in an extreme minority for your love of the the war criminal. I bet you think Sarah Palin was mistreated by the media.
    The fact that people in America are homeless while we spend billions and billions elsewhere is in and of itself a crime.

    If you don’t want to help the homeless, then don’t, but your macho chest beating and making fun of them seems harsh. I thought Wick was a better judge of character. It is good that you have the ultimate job security.

  12. Were Jesus and his disciples:

    A. homeless
    B. street people
    C. miscreants
    D. beggars
    E. jobless (after, you know, they quit their jobs)
    F. all of the above

  13. Brideget Nowhere:

    I would agree with you that it’s deplorable that we’re spending so much on the war in Iraq (which would have been far less expensive if Bush had listened to Colin Powell and we had gone in there and done it right the first time).

    We’re not being macho pointing out the intractable problem of human nature. The street people problem can only be solved by recognizing what positive incentives (carrots) people really respond to — and what negative incentives (sticks) people will really make behavioral changes to avoid.

    The problem with most liberal solutions is that they are no solutions at all. They are merely vast sink holes of platitudinal carrots without the bracing effects that sticks will produce.

    Go back and really read Puddin’Tane’s solution. There are equal measures of compassionate carrots in there with the necessary sticks.

    And, as a better investment in our future, we should be spending money on education and family planning and counseling (both of which will reduce the street people problem for years to come).

  14. “You Bushheads do realize that you are in an extreme minority for your love of the the war criminal. I bet you think Sarah Palin was mistreated by the media.
    The fact that people in America are homeless while we spend billions and billions elsewhere is in and of itself a crime.”

    Isn’t Brideget Nowhere proof of social darwinism?

  15. We seem to have two kinds of people involved in this argument:

    1) The bleeding hearts that think that the homeless are just homeless because they are down on their luck or poor (or in one case, it’s all GW Bush’s fault).

    2) The heartless who think that the homeless are that way because they are just too lazy to get their act together.

    The temporary homeless, that is the people who find themselves homeless because of economic or social reasons like domestic violence, are homeless for less than two weeks on average. We aren’t really discussing them here. There is a very good safety net in place that cares for them and gets them off the street.

    We are talking about the chronic homeless, the street people, and they are overwhelmingly mentally ill. They are also overwhelmingly addicts. Whether their addictions are a result of, or a cause of, their mental illness probably differs from person to person, but in the end they are unemployable. In my opinion they are also a danger to themselves, and in some cases others. If sleeping in the gutter and eating out of dumpsters isn’t a danger to oneself, then what is?

    When group 1 listed above gives them money, it doesn’t go to food or shelter. It doesn’t help them in any way except to allow them avoid seeking help for another day. When you give them money you are enabling them to continue to live in the gutter and do drugs. Believe me, they rarely spend that money on food. You are also contributing to the greatest blight on our city.

    We have over 3,000 mentally ill people wandering our streets aimlessly, almost all of whom are drugged out of their mind, and Dallas’ solution was to build a building full of councilors and 100 beds. Since it opened, the homeless downtown are at the largest numbers I’ve ever seen.

    I support enforcing bans on panhandling, but it’s only a bandaid. It’s not going to solve the problem. It might make the quality of life downtown more tolerable, but it doesn’t get the homeless off the street. That’s going to have to involve taking them off the street and putting them in psychiatric facilities so they can get clean, sober, and treatment for their illness.

  16. Dallasite:

    Welcome to this thread. Please go back and read Puddin’Tane’s first comment.

    Hey, did you hear that there was this subprime crisis? That the stock market melted down? Really! Things are bad! Hey, did you know that it’s January of 2009? Really! It is!

  17. @Realist

    Thanks for the cordial welcome. I read the thread before posting.

    No thanks for the snide comment that wasn’t relevant or necessary. I guess when you have nothing intelligent to say, you have to go out of your way to prove it.

  18. This morning a homeless guy in downtown asked me for $1.00 — said he hadn’t had a bite in weeks.

    So I bit him.

  19. I’m not a bleeding heart nor heartless.
    I rarely give anyone a dime – except that guy who walked backwards singing “Aint’t Too Proud to Beg”. Busking?

    I also cut them off if they pull the hard luck story. I sometimes tell people I am broke too. Of course I used to do that at Classic BMW repair center much to the horror of most of the waiting room — hey you don’t get snowed with extras that way. I am from East Dallas, I don’t care if anyone thinks I have money or not.

    I have taken folks to the Salvation Army when I know any money will go directly to a drug dealer. No, not people I would size-up as dangerous – you can tell if they really want to go. The rehab facility is on Harry Hines by Inwood, Trey (urban yokels know this stuff). You have to wait for them to be admitted (but make sure they have proper ID or they can’t get in). Sit in that waiting room. Don’t look down and open your eyes and ears. You might learn something.

  20. Problem is, you can’t lump all homeless people in one group as one and the same no more than you can all of us. There is a different story or cause for each of them. Yes, many are addicts but not all and unfortunately too many are disabled and/or mentally ill and unemployable. Getting a job is not always the answer, finding affordable housing and assistance is. The people who give you the hard luck story, out of gas etc. are often not even homeless but scam artists. Stop giving to panhandlers and educate yourself on the resources available for those you think really need help. Help someone who needs help get those services. It takes compassion AND enforcement to help the homeless and get rid of the scam artists. That can’t be done if we consider them all one and the same. We can thank the ACLU for so many mentally ill people being on the street. An extreme reaction to the protection of our rights that is shameful.