We were sitting at a traffic light the other day, and there was a fellow standing on the curb with one of those “Homeless, Please Help” signs. Not an uncommon sight, you can see somebody asking for a handout on every other street corner in America, it seems like. And, not at all that uncommon, this fellow was smoking a cigarette.

Now, I have no problem with people who smoke, as long as they don’t do it under my windows. It’s their lungs and their money, and none of my business. But no matter how benevolent I may be feeling, I’ll be damned if I’ll give somebody who is begging for money a penny, if they are smoking. Obviously, feeding that nicotine habit takes priority over food and shelter. Maybe that’s why some of these people are “homeless” in the first place, because I would suspect that work isn’t very high on their priority list either.

Do-gooders in Kentucky are upset because the state is considering making welfare recipients submit to random drug testing. They say it is humiliating and a violation of peoples’ rights to privacy. Michigan tried to enact a similar law in 1999, but an appeals  court ruled it unconstitutional.  

Why? The last time I checked, drug dealers don’t give their poison away, they make their customers pay for it. If somebody needs public assistance, what are they paying for their drugs with? And why should taxpayers subsidize their addiction?

Now a lawmaker in Florida has suggested that recipients of unemployment benefits must work at non-profit organizations or perform some type of community service work at least four hours a week to qualify for benefits, if they are physically capable of it. Of course, there are those who think this too is unfair. Why am I not surprised?

Those opposed to this measure say that since people paid into unemployment when they were working, it’s really their money they are receiving. I have known many people who work for a few weeks and get fired, then collect unemployment for months. I know, because I fired a lot of them over the years. They didn’t want to work then, and they don’t want to work now. Ask any small business owner, and I bet he will tell you the same thing.

I understand that a lot of Americans are out of work and need help these days. I sympathize with their situation. But really, four hours a week? They can’t get off their rear ends and give something back to society? I’d be so darned bored that I would want to do it just to keep busy.

The welfare state has become a welfare nation, and the sense of entitlement that so many of these people exhibit is a big part of the attitude that is ruining our nation. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for somebody who wants a free ride? I don’t want to do it, any more than I want to give some panhandler any money to support his bad habits.

All of these slugs need to stand up on their hind legs and start doing for themselves, instead of wanting somebody else to take care of them. But then again, why should they, when somebody else (the taxpayer) is picking up the tab?

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30 Comments on Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette

  1. Robert says:

    Hey Nick, you wont’t get any argument from me on the smoking panhandlers or the welfare recipients’ required drug testing, but I don’t believe it’s right to punish or demean the vast majority of people honestly in need and deserving of unemployment benifits who as you’ve properly noted have paid their ‘insurance’ previums for many years with nary a claim, because of a relative few freeloaders and abusers… There are always going to be some unscrupulous dirtbags who take advantage of programs designed to give aid to the truly less fortunate among us, but does that justify denying those genuinely in need? I say no…

  2. If you follow the dirt bags when they leave they will probly have a nice car parked not far away this is a ripoff by most of them and when they say vet don’t believe it it is a way to get more people to give. The cities should outlaw begging’

  3. In total agreement! We do give to some of the beggers out there, we can read a person that is truly in need and others we just wave, smile and tell them to have a good day.

    We have always believed that any form of government support there should be stipulations so not to continue on being a nation of entitlements. Those above mentioned ideas sound fair, even for unemployment. After all, most folks who are truly unemployed and not looking for a handout, would love to do something to keep themselves busy and quite honestly, something may come out of those 4 hours of giving back. You should never be compensated for doing illegal acts. And, the last time I looked, drugs were still illegal so insisting on a drug test while being paid should not be a big deal, unless you are guilty.

  4. Brad Barnes says:

    Amen Nick I feel the same way as you. I have at times when I see these people begging and smoking I would tell them if they weren’t smoking I would give you some money.

  5. wilton says:

    I think everyone receiving welfare should be required to take a drug test. As a retired truck driver, we were always being given random drug test. It is still being done and it is a great safety tool. However if I am given a drug test to earn this money, then I feel like someone receiving it should also be required to submit to a random drug test.

  6. Rick says:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, Nick. Good observations.

  7. Steve says:

    I don’t believe they have a nice car parked not far away. There are many reasons for them to be out there, and it is civilized societies’ responsibility to address the underlying problems. Social welfare is NOT the answer. Help those unable to help themselves, sure, but what do we do with the abusers? It is a moral dilemma. You can’t shoot them. Maybe we could just shoot the ones who smoke? All I know is they make me uncomfortable and I don’t like being uncomfortable.

  8. concerned in texas says:

    Nick,

    Another good blog. Work for welfare makes a lot of sense. This country and most states are going broke. Why not get something back in return? Like you, I, too fired a number of people after a short amount of time and within a week I’d get the unemployment compensation forms. The worst was a part-time student in New Orleans who showed up late two days in a row and so I had to fire her. About 10 days later back in Illinois, I got the forms. A letter of explanation to the Louisiana officials was all that was needed. Claim denied.

    On a different but related topic, have you noticed how the demonstrators in Cairo are actually cleaning up the square and putting paving stones back in place by hand? We don’t see that level of industriousness here in the United States.

  9. Dale says:

    In these days of tight budgets, if I were receiving unemployment, I would be going anywhere I could to help others and to say thank you for the leg up while times are difficult. IMO, anyone who cares about others would do so and there are many stories of unemployed folks who are volunteering their time with charities and other organizations.

    I also agree that we should not be paying for drug habits. It is important to remember that in ancient China drugs were given to workers so they would not want to protest for their rights or against bad work and living conditions!

    A good volunteer idea would be for folks to help with after school problems in poorer areas so that students would have good role models to follow and to learn from.

  10. Wanderer says:

    It is not volunteering if they are required to do it for their check. Don’t misunderstand I agree that the unemployed receiving unemployment benefits should work for the check. It would help a lot of our bankrupt cities make their budgets.

  11. You’re right, of course, but what’s the solution? You’d say you’d go get community service jobs to relieve the boredom, and that’s close to what I did many years ago during a period of unemployment. After having been a human resources executive for many years, I suddenly found myself on the street. I ended up working a while in the cash booth of a self-service gas station at very low pay, but by God I was doing something and actually earning a buck. That kept my personal pride intact, even if it was a low end job. It was a job, and I was able to do it. In the middle of my shift, Suzy would drive in and bring me a sandwich.

  12. Roy Brody says:

    You seem to forget that being on Unemployment is, if you really want to work, which most people want to, is a full time Job.
    You spend your days sending out resumes, going through adds in the news paper, looking on the internet. You go to Job fares and interviews. You network with other people.
    That can be a full time job in itself.

  13. Linda says:

    Couldn’t agree more with everything you said. What really bothers me is the young people—20s & 30s–who are living on disability or doing everything they can to get on. They walk into the library, they use the computers, so they can see, hear and use their arms just fine—they raise the beer cans & ciggies to their lips with ease. They aren’t mentally handicapped. They talk just fine and are quite full of themselves. Proud actually that they got on disability. They have no business being on the dole when there are folks who could really use the help and can’t get any. I think work for welfare is a wonderful idea. Make ’em maintain all those state parks & recreation areas that are closing because the states are broke from paying all the benefits. Seems fair to me.

  14. Denise Gray says:

    I’m not sure about unemployment in other states, but in Maryland employees do not pay into Unemployment. The employer does. As an employer, I had to pay unemployment for myself, even through, as the owner of the business, I could never collect a cent if I became unemployed. After attending a number of unemployment hearing, all prior to this latest recession, which has of course changed things dramtically, I found most of the people did not want to work. At one hearing, the person we fired tried to make the Judge believe we were cruel to fire her. She had him in her pocket until the doctor’s excuse that she gave him, which she swore was for a gynacological issue, was actually stolen from a Dentist office. Things are different right now, with so many people unemployed through no fault of there own. But standing on the side of the street begging, while smoking a cigarette is not the way to obtain my sympathy or financial assistance.

  15. Elaine & Mike says:

    Good blog as usual. We agree with you 100%. Panhandling of any sort is illegal in most states they just do not enforce it. I have had to deal with the lazy welfare persons who when California tried the work for check,these people who did show up, did not want to do any thing but sit on their butts. This lasted about a shift before they left never to return. It is people like this who hurt the ones that really need the help.

  16. As Denise aptly pointed out for Maryland, California employees also do not contribute any of their money to unemployment insurance.
    The employer contributes a percentage of their payroll. The percentage is based on the amount of claims filed by their employees.

  17. Dave B. says:

    Years ago when welfare started in my state, they were expected to pay it back. The funds were recorded and a caseworker followed up for repayment. Then it went to just a free handout. People from other states came for the great benefit. Now it’s a nightmare out of control. They also tried making them work for it, but there was always a reason why they couldn’t. They had no boots or gloves in the winter to shovel snow, couldn’t get the Cadillac started, what a fiasco.

  18. Mitchell S. says:

    Roy Brody said
    “You seem to forget that being on Unemployment is, if you really want to work, which most people want to, is a full time Job.
    You spend your days sending out resumes, going through adds in the news paper, looking on the internet. You go to Job fares and interviews. You network with other people.
    That can be a full time job in itself.”

    If that were only true, Roy. In my shop at least twice a week I have somebody coming in who wants me to sign his unemployment job sheet to show that he was out looking for work. They never ask if we are hiring or ask for an application, they just want their sheet signed becasue they need to call on two employers a week looking for a job to keep getting their benefits.
    Many times I have asked them if they want a job, because I have one open, and only once has one of them said yes and filled out the application. We hired him and he is stil with us over 5 years later. Most just say no thanks and ask for that signature. I refuse to sign it, and they walk out mad.

  19. Chris says:

    Most beggars on the street are there because they want to be. Remember the homeless guy with the great radio voice? Dr. Phil put him in rehab for his addictions,his family forgave him, he had multiple job offers and checked himself out of rehab in less than 2 wks.! Yep, they are holding that sign because they make money and don’t pay any taxes on it. grrrrrr……Right on, Nick!

  20. Could not agree with BAD NICK anymore!!! Our feelings exactly. We think people should make it known they smoke or drink prior to receiving any $$$$$. The smoking should be easy to detect since they would smell like cigarette smoke.
    Keep up the good work.

  21. Diana says:

    Great observations, living in the keys we have many homeless who are in that position for many reasons. The most prevalent is mental illness, our society threw this population out into the street years ago as a cost saving measure. I do not want to be the one who decides on who should get support and who should not though. I try to live my life not judging others until I walk in their shoes. I will never turn away a hungry person. I do what I can and if I am honest I can do more. I owned my business also and paid into the unemployment system myself for over 20 years and did not get one benefit out of it. But that was the cost of doing business. My two cents for what it is worth. I could add more but then I would have to write a book that no one would read anyway. Just sayin :)

  22. Harry says:

    Anyone ever think it was possible someone gave the beggar the cigarette? Other than that, I agree with the other points.

  23. Walk N. Myshoes says:

    Have any of you considered that just maybe somebody gives them a cigarette? Shame all you smug, finger pointing people who would judge a person without knowing them or their circumstance. And shame on you again for thinking being poor, homeless or needing a handout deserve to be treated any less than you.

  24. Mitchell S. says:

    Has anyone noticed that people like Walk N Myshoes are always quick to complain about how terrible we are when we voice an honest opinion, but never have the guts to use their real names? Why is that?

  25. Ginger Purdy says:

    As a former employer, I don’t remember ever deducting anything from an employee’s wages that was for unemployment insurance. I do remember paying a percentage into a fund to pay any employee that was laid off. I also remember having the rate that we paid to increase if we had a former employee collect. I’m not sure that this is true in all states, but in Idaho no employee has a deduction for “unemployment” insurance, but the employer sure does. I wish the recipients would get it straight as to who paid into the fund and who is paying when “their” benefits run out. We all are.

  26. Robert says:

    Walk N. Myshoes, you’re right… Thanks for the reality check. “There but for the grace of God go I” were words my well-to-do successful business owner brother-in-law once said to me as he stopped to give a poor down trodden older homeless man a few bucks many years ago. I’ve never forgotten those words and his compassion for those less fortunate than he. May we all try to remember the words and example of humanitarianism by one who lived among us 2000 years ago… Diana, yours too. Funding cuts for mental illness research and facilities started becoming popular 30 years ago under the Reagan Administration, and have much to do with the sad situation of so many cast out into the streets we find ourselves in today. Shame on us indeed…

  27. T & R Martin says:

    Love the subject & comments. It is such a privilege to have a job & to live & work in this country. Linda you are “right on” in saying we should “work for welfare.” The ones who are sincere will take the job & those who refuse should be on the radar. The dilemma is what to do with the ones healthy enough to work, but refuse? As Mitchell S. mentioned, some folks are just there to get their “job apps” signed so they can keep receiving benefits. I too have seen that.
    Just for the record, I feel most of the people who commented on this subject are just regular folks who themselves have come upon hard times & weathered the storm. Many of them may have already walked in those proverbial shoes.

  28. bucky says:

    I agree with you Nick, and I don’t see anything wrong with asking those, who are physically able, to do a few hours of work.
    I have been retired for 8 years, after 43 years on a job, and am unable to do heavy physical work, but that has not stopped me from doing a few hours of volunteer work, in the office of a local community recyling department. We have raised a generation of people, who think they are owed everything. I have no problem with helping people who are in real need, but we have many who even in good times felt they did not have to help pull the load…

  29. Keith H. says:

    Interesting, everyone that is receiving some kind of government assistance, or income should work for that money. Maybe everyone on social security should do volunteer work since their SS contributions are far less than they are collecting. The judgements can go on for everyone else just not me. I worked for 30 years and never collected any assistance until I was downsized in 2002, three months after 9/11 no jobs no options just unemployment. Felt terrrible just going in to apply and a lady came in and talked down to us like trash, when you need help you just have to take it. Finally found a job and off the unemployment however it was added to my income at the end of the year to pay taxes for that income. No there is no free lunch. Still interesting to read all the comments.

  30. David Spain says:

    Employers pay unemployment tax’s not employees! Our new Governor in Florida is making lots of changes that will force the unemployed and those on assistance to prove that they deserve the assistance. I am sure that some do good legal group will challenge most of the changes but we do need to turn our society around to the type that built this great country. As it is now we have an entitlement culture that demands services and income for little or no work.

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