I guess I’m just not sympathetic to those in need, but every time I see someone standing on a street corner with a sign that says “Will Work For Food” I want to stop and tell them about the fast food joint a block away with a help wanted sign in the window.

I had a friend once who was the manager of a large auto dealership in Tucson, and he was a soft touch for somebody with a sob story, always stopping to give street corner panhandlers a buck or two. One day I challenged him to stop and actually offer one of those guys a job, so Reggie did. He handed the young man his card and said he needed somebody to wash the cars that had just come off a truck, and he’d pay him in cash. The fellow replied that he appreciated it, but he was allergic to soap. (I caught a whiff of him, and I believed him!) Reggie said no problem, he’d pick up some rubber gloves for him to wear. The guy shook his head, and said he was allergic to latex and rubber too. (No, I’m not going there!).

Not to be swayed from his quest to improve this poor man’s lot in life, Reggie said “Okay, forget about washing cars. I’ll pay you to just use a broom and sweep off the lot.” Unfortunately, as it turns out, the man was allergic to dust too. Reggie started to make another suggestion when the guy called him a dirty name and said to take off and stop bothering him!

But actually, that guy was more honest than the people we have elected to represent us in Washington, when you think about it. At least he made it clear that, in spite of his sign, he was a freeloader. Those clowns in Congress and the Senate are drawing big salaries for not doing a damned thing!

I’ve had some very good employees in my time, and some real deadwood, too. I always tried to reward the good ones with a fair paycheck and incentives for going the extra mile. The slugs got a pink slip and were sent on down the road. Why can’t we do that with politicians? I mean, after all, they’re not doing the job we elected them to do, so why should we pay them?

Here’s a way to get the budget talks and the debate over the debt ceiling resolved in 24 hours. Instead of threatening to close National Parks, stop sending out Social Security checks, or not paying our military personnel, just tell those self-serving idiots inside the Beltway that none of them gets paid until they come to an agreement! Problem solved, I guarantee it!

We need term limits, and we need a complete housecleaning in Washington, from the very top on down. It will never happen, of course, but I think it would make a world of difference.

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22 Comments on Will Work For Pay

  1. Steve Shoults says:

    Hey, Nick. While we’re off in dreamworld, let’s go even further. Their checks will be the LAST ones to go out each month. And, their pay can’t add to the deficit. That would really change some minds.

  2. Scott says:

    Hi Nick,

    I have been reading your blog a while, since I first decided that it was time for me to look into full timing it.

    Most of what you wrote I agree with, some, I have a different opinion on. Perhaps I can lend a different perspective.

    In regards to the politicians, I am largely in agreement with you. I think part of the problem with the budget is that the politicians have a different agenda. While I hate to pick sides as I see both parties being equally ridiculous these days; in the case of the debt ceiling, I have little choice but to point the finger at the Republicans.

    It seems to me that the Democrats have been more than willing to wheel and deal. Not only did they come back with agreement to the original offer, but went one further and made even more concessions to be more aggressive on solving our financial troubles. When the republicans saw that the Democrats were willing to concede and play ball, which they were not expecting, they came back with a claim that the deal was unacceptable.

    I have no doubt the ceiling will be raised. Hell, Reagan and many others have raised the debt ceiling at least 2x more than the Obama administration has from a historical perspective. The only real difference is that historically that ceiling has been raised much sooner, not waiting until the last moment to do so. What is on the table now is will we simply cut spending, or will we also raise taxes.

    Boehner’s unwillingness to raise taxes even the smallest amount appears to me to be a willingness to cut off his parties nose to spite it’s face. The deal is not at all that bad. While I have never been a fan of unequal taxation there comes a time when you have no choice. We are in those times. Bush’s tax cuts were supposed to be temporary, and the small raise in taxes that has been suggested does not even go as far as to restore the tax cuts to pre-Bush era values. If I remember correctly, we have some of the lowest tax rates for the wealthy under the current administration than we ever have historically. Reagan was in the high 70% rate before he made cuts.

    The conspiracy theorist in me is pretty sure that the Republicans are so terribly stuck in old school phobic ideals that they simply don’t want Obama as a president any longer. They don’t want him for a second term, and are willing to destroy our country to meet their end game. It’s a pretty big gamble.

    One part of the proposal is for around 650 billion. What is terrible, is that a while back, the US government subsidized the telcos with a huge cash influx of 300 billion in order to keep us competitive with future broadband internet needs. Everyone, from all the Bells to AT&T was given a chunk of the 300 billion to roll out fiber, cable, and new tech in order to meet a 45Mbit/s internet connection speed nationwide. Now that the US is ranked in the top 10 worst broadband carriers of the world, it is obvious those upgrades never were done. 300 billion was literally stolen from the public. Around $2000.00 per US citizen that we will never see back. And yet, AT&T only gives me 2GB a month of internet on my phone, saying their network can’t handle “unlimited”. Get back that 300 billion with interest and penalty. We can find this money by simply looking for corruption.

    So yes, we should stop paying our politicians for not doing their jobs. I could not agree more. The problem is, they already have enough money in other investments and nepotistic deals that the 150 grand a year they are pulling in will not make or break them. I feel they are at a point where the money doesn’t matter to them anymore. They have a larger and more devious agenda. At all costs, get Obama out of office, initiate the police state, force traditional theistic ideals on every US citizen, have everyone so poor they thank the government for even getting them a minimum wage job, and keep us all in fear so we are willing to give up all liberties in the name of security. In order to do that, they need a Republican controlled system, one that won’t care about laws or the constitution. One that will continue to sign off on The Patriot Act. If this is their end game, it isn’t about the money, it is all about making sure Obama is not around another four years.

    That being said, with so many agreeing with you that they should not be paid as a result of poor job performance, we all need to get off our butts and do something about it. What happened to the hundreds of thousands of people who protested the Viet-Nam war? What happened to all the protests and peaceful dissent of the past? The new protester is nothing more than a slacktivist, and they do their part by clicking “like” in Facebook, or forwarding an email, or signing an online petition. Clicking a mouse button is not going to save our country, let alone make change.

    Ugh, this got too long… Sorry…

    I used to see the homeless people, much like the one you saw. I was always proud of my mom; when they would ask her for money, she would say “get a job”. She was the product of a divorce, left with nothing, no child support, no home, and two kids to raise on her own. With no formal eduction, she had to work hard at two minimum wage secretarial jobs to make ends meet. I always thought, if she could pull it off, someone else could. Seeing her cry every night and still get up in the morning to take us to school and make it to work on time always made me proud.

    Later on in my life, I went through, and still do, to this day, some troublesome times. While outwardly, I appear entirely normal, sane, happy, and functional, that often times is not the case. Until this happened to me, I was very much a “get a job” kind of person. Then I started to learn the value of the expression “walk a mile in my shoes, then tell me to fuck off”.

    There are countless ailments that a homeless person could be dealing with. Perhaps they went off to defend our country, came back with PTSD, and our government, in an effort to hold onto tradition, does not support that persons medical needs. Maybe they have a psychological problem; depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar, addiction etc.

    Then there is also the system of public welfare programs. I am in a bit of financial trouble myself. I may lose my home, I am sitting on more debt than makes me comfortable. I can honestly say it has nothing to do with frivolous spending, poor management of finances, lack of education etc. It is entirely the fault of our economy and the state it is in . But because I do own a home, regardless of the fact it is nearing foreclosure and I don’t have enough money for basics, I am not poor enough to qualify for even food stamps. With the cutbacks, I don’t have medical coverage. If something were to happen to me medically, I would be screwed. Worse, I would more than likely get medical treatment, at the expense of our government, and in turn, at the expense of all taxpayers. It would be much cheaper to give me preventative medical coverage than take the much larger hit of a costly emergency treatment. This cycle is going to be the death of our economy.

    And yes, while some may be able to go out and get a minimum wage job, that often does not make sound financial sense. Because the low and middle class pay such high taxes, getting a job can often mean taking a pay cut. Those who are getting medical/medicaid, unemployment, welfare, food stamps etc, while not getting much, would lose all those benefits if they have a job. If their new job does not offer medical and dental, you will be paying that out of your paycheck. Take out the absurdly high taxes, finding first, last, and security, then needing a car and all the other incidentals that come along with it, and you quickly learn that you make more money being a “freeloader”. I suspect there are many who want to work, but they do the math and find out it is not possible, they would take a financial hit. Making money is expensive.

    Then there are those who simply can’t. Sure, you can drive by and think to yourself, “get a job”, but that is dangerous. We know nothing about that person. Perhaps they are struggling with mental illness, or physical illness; struggling with something that prevents them from working full time. It is impossible to get this information across on a cardboard sign, so no one knows, and everyone thinks they are just freeloaders. I can’t ever know what someone is going through, so I must assume they are trying their best to make it work in a system that is not designed to help those in need. We work 20% more hours than our parents did, minimum wage has not increased in proportion with the cost of living. It is a terrible cycle and one that is not going to ever be solved if people continue to think they can relate to someone else’s situation.

    Yes, there are those who milk the system. Some even go as far as to have children, adopt children, or take in problem children because the state will pay you to do so. There are those who will work 6 months in order to become eligible for unemployment and then quit to only leech off government welfare programs. I have to think those are the exceptions, not the rule.

    Either way, something needs to change, or we are quickly on a road to imploding. All I can offer in closing is that I hope that those who actually managed to read my ridiculously too long comment, that no one ever be so presumptuous to judge someone until you truly have walked a a few miles in their shoes.

    Have a good weekend, and thanks for the blog post.

  3. Linda says:

    I was just thinking the same thing……quit paying the politicians,including the president, until the problem is settled. Actually the country probably wouldn’t need to borrow so much money if we’d get out of all these stupid overseas wars. Let the crazy Muslims and Africans and whoever kill each other for all they’re worth. Only use the military to keep them out of our country and guard our borders. Excess military can be put to good use here at home repairing roads & bridges & other infrastructure. God knows it’s needed.

  4. Dan T. says:

    Republicans, Demos they are all the same. All part of the One World Order that is taking over.

  5. Robert says:

    Scott; WOW! Long yes, but a great post. You’re spot on, and you present your thoughts well. Thank you for taking the time to share. If you’ve got a blog, I hope Nick doesn’t mind if you post a link. I like your style and I’d love to add your missives to my daily reading. Best of luck in your transition to full timing.

  6. Julee says:

    I really have to agree wholeheartedly with Scott. So many people have no idea that it is possible for all of us to at one point in our lives be out on the street needing the charity of others, not their condemnation. About ten years ago, I was walking in downtown Boston with an investor in my company who had just made $42 million off of his stock options that year alone – without lifting a finger. We went by a homeless woman that I had previously given money to many times, my business partner looked at her – this elderly woman, who was in very bad shape, and said, “Get a Job”. I have never been so disgusted in my entire life. He didn’t have a job, he just collected stock option money because he was in the right place at the right time, but he felt he should go out of his way to hurt this woman.
    It reminds me of the times in the past when my husband had to hitchhike to get to college for a year because it was either afford college or afford a car, and people would throw rocks out the window at him.
    If people don’t feel charitable enough to give money or help to people who need it, they should just keep their mouths shut and move on!
    By the way,the vast majority of the homeless people in this country are homeless vets with psychological problems, who have no place to stay because we closed all of the mental institutions in this country to save money.
    Still pissed off about a comment 10 years ago, I didn’t say anything then, but I swore I would the next time.

  7. Dave B. says:

    I’ve often thought about those people with the cardboard signs. How down & out must you be to do that? I really don’t think a person with any type of income would want to be on the street with a sign unless they are in need. True they may spend the money they get on booze or drugs,etc., but that alone is a big problem for them. I could never do the sign thing unless it was a last resort and I think for many people it is a last resort.

  8. John says:

    I saw a man standing on the corner holding a sign that said, “I’m trying to raise money for the widow of the unknown soldier”. I thought it was for a good cause so I gave him twenty dollars. It made me feel kinda good.

  9. JERRY says:


  10. Doug says:

    In Portland Oregon this panhandling is a business. There is actually an “employment agency” that hires these people, takes them out in vans to desirable corners for the day and takes a cut of their donations. I doubt that anyone is paying taxes on the earnings either. There are others with decent cars who have apartments and are not homeless who are out begging. They hide their cars in a shopping center parking lot and were old clothes to appear needy. Again, in Portland there are enough public services that these people can get fed, get housing vouchers, get counseling, etc. that they don’t need to panhandle. 80% to 90% of these people are using the money for cigarettes, alcohol and drugs rather than for food and housing. I personally have seen someone offer a hamburger to a panhandler and have the panhandler throw the food away after they left. I have also seen them refuse food and just ask for money. We are just enablers if we keep giving them money.

  11. Julee says:


    This person made the $42 million a year because he led a division of a larger company that did very well. He actually drove his division so far into the ground that he was fired. But, even though he no longer worked there, he still got all of his stock options.

    As for investment in my company, he stole my company through illegal manipulations and re-opened it under a different name, so it is kinda hard to convince me that investors are our saviors. Then, we had a protracted court case in which he hired 22 separate lawyers in many parts of the country to fight us, eventually hammering us away with money and lawyers, so please don’t tell me that I should be grateful for investors. I lost a company that I had worked 12 years to build because of an investor who seemed legit but was actually a gangster in a suit.
    And, my point about beggars is still the same, there are a lot of people who need our charity out there….not our disdain.

  12. Julee says:

    I sure hope nothing ever happens to you where you might need the help of a stranger.
    We can always find example of people who are not being honest, but there are still plenty of people who need our help.

  13. Way to go Scott. You took the words right out of my mouth (except for the personal stuff). This nation is becoming a nation of greed. Greed is NOT good.

  14. DAB says:

    We may not know what motivates the guy with a sign but at least they are not breaking into your house, or robbing a store. Many can not get rid of the demons that plague them, some are war veterans, self medicating and spiraling downward out of control. Giving to the guy on the corner is a choice; for some it feels good to help another human being. The politician takes it out of your wallet, no choice there.

  15. JERRY says:

    Julee-Sounds like you had a bad experience with one investor. PLease don’t condem all investors because of the actions of one. I don’t think yo

  16. nona prreble says:

    lets do what the jews in Isreal and force our goverment to listen to the voters. stop sending money to these countries that hate us ‘get out of these wars that are killing and injuring so many of our armedforces,take care of our borders,send back all illegals and take away giving citizenship to babies born to these illegals!!quit trying to force us voters to back goverment,by taking away our socialsecurity and take away the nuts,that is running this gov.of ours also quit bombing lybia.its time we the people revolt by marching on the states and let them know our gripes and i know i haven’t even began to cover every thing…nona

  17. Linda Sand says:

    Minnesota legislators shut down the state for several weeks rather than compromise on a budget. Now they want to be paid for the special session called to do the work they didn’t do during the regular session. How many of you were able to goof off during your working day then get overtime pay to make up for it?

  18. Susan Wilson says:

    Re: “We need term limits…”. Florida instituted term limits in their state legislature several years ago, and I think it has only gotten worse. What we have now is 25% newbies every two years. They don’t even know how the legislature works, and they certainly don’t have the expertise required in one or two specialized fields that makes a legislator valuable.

    Think about your own career…how comparatively valuable were you in your second year of employment? Your eighth? Your twelfth? Experience counts.

    And, as to not paying them until they do the right thing…if my employer stopped paying me, would I work even harder to get back in his good graces? I would leave that day and go home!

    As to the agendas of both Republicans and Democrats, it seems that both parties only care about making the other party look bad so they can either stay in office or regain office.

  19. Allan says:

    I agree with you that although people that are panhandling may have needs,the ones I have observed are wanting something for nothing. It is far better to give to a charity that will make sure they have a good meal or place to stay then to give them cash. We have purchased a few $5.00 gift cards from McDonalds to give as we feel led. I agree with you that some of the politicians in Washington are worthless. I disagree that all of them are doing nothing worthwhile. The new group of statesmen have made a great impact. They have been working hard to get our countrys finances on solid ground. Congress for years has been spending money without any concern for the consequences. The House lately has passed a “Cut’ CAp and Balance” bill that would would cut excesses in spending cap the amount that could be spent in the future and would put it to states to vote on a balanced budget amendment within the next few years. This is a common sense approach that most families would use if they were serious about fixing their finances for themselves. Unfortunately the Senate tabled the bill [the Democrats refused to cast a vote] More spending our tax money and increasing our deficit will only drive our country to financial ruin. Some people would like to increase taxes on others as long as it didn’t affect them. Increasing anyones taxes will have a negative affect on growing our economy. A bipartican plan was sent to the President yesterday but he turned it down because it wouldn’t carry it past the 2012 elections.

  20. Robert says:

    Allan. I agree with some of what you’ve presented here, but we part ways with your praise of the newly elected tea party supported Congresspersons. Their naive approach to governance is what’s pushed our grand nation from an already precarious situation, to the edge of an unprecedented complete economic collapse. And anyone who buys into this bogus ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ proposal, doesn’t understand the potential devastating effects it likely will have on us and our fragile economy. Maybe this will help:

  21. Find an Outlet says:

    The people around here in Arizona who stand in parking lots with signs are mostly older, and are very sad people. I talk to them sometimes, and give them a buck or two if I can afford it. I can’t pass one by who has a dog. They may be homeless, but at least they haven’t dumped their dogs the way many people do when they lose their homes.

    I used to be a ‘get a job’ kind of person in my younger day, but no more. Not everybody can deal with life’s misfortunes, I know this now. Many of them have problems we can’t imagine. Being homeless is something I have to consider myself as there are no jobs here. Working at MacDonald’s is not an option for me, and for many others. I couldn’t do it. And it wouldn’t pay your bills anyway.

    So unless the panhandler is young, wearing Nike sneakers, or sporting a fancy jacket, I try to have a heart for them. Also reading John Grisham’s ‘The Street Lawyer’ years ago made me realize how trapped many homeless people are and how few choices they have in life.

    I’m sorry there are scammers out there, it’s not fair to the old vets, etc., who really need and appreciate our help.

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