It feels good to help someone who is less fortunate than yourself. We encourage our children to be generous, and we try to set a good example. However, our efforts are not always as helpful as we would like to think. I used to know a Pastor who when someone on the street asked him for money would offer to buy them lunch–that way he knew the money didn’t go toward drugs or alcohol. I don’t know the actual percentage of homeless people with drug or alcohol problems, but I suspect it’s fairly high.
Recently, a video of a New York City policemen went vital on YouTube because he bought a barefoot homeless man on the street a pair of new shoes. It was a beautiful gesture, but the story is not what it appears to be. Scott Johnson at Power Line posted ‘the rest of the story’ yesterday.
It seems that the homeless man actually did have a home–and multiple pairs of shoes. He earns a few hundred dollars a day (tax free) by walking the streets of New York City barefoot, asking for money.
The article at Power Line cites a New York Post article which concluded:
Hillman reminds us how easy it is to exploit generosity. His scam seems to have been directed at passers-by who take pity on a man who goes about Midtown pretending to be barefoot, poor and homeless. His example reminds us why it is important for the city to ensure that its own assistance is not exploited by those who don’t need it.
For in addition to the needy, New York also has a whole class of politicians and activists quick to denounce City Hall as cruel and heartless (and to sue) whenever it takes reasonable measures to weed out the deserving from the undeserving.
Scott Johnson draws a different conclusion:
I don’t think the Post quite gets the lesson offered by the Hillman saga as a case study. Despite Hillman’s exploitation of the kindness of strangers, I think his case is inherent in the welfare state. One way or another, however, it provides a case study worthy of continuing discussion.
The generosity of the policeman is commendable. The actions of the barefoot beggar are those of a con man taking advantage of the kindness of New Yorkers.