Spending an hour begging for change does not make you an expert on homelessness
John Stossel is the poster child for right wing libertarians everywhere. He despises the government (although he’s never gone all Grover Norquist on it), he thinks he knows a bit about economics and he absolutely hates the poor. And for the past few years, Mr. Stossel has appeared on Fox to justify his hatred of the most vulnerable in our society. This year was no different.
In 2011, John Stossel donned a fake beard, threw on some “grubby” clothes and spent a whole hour pretending to be homeless on the streets of New York City. He made $11. Using right wing math and bullshit, John Stossel claimed that at that rate-$11 an hour-a homeless person could make $23,000 a year, tax free. Keep in mind, this only works if the homeless person makes $11 an hour every hour, for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, every single week of the year.
As John Stossel sat on the set of Fox and Fiends…sorry, Friends last week, he spent a few minutes shocking Elizabeth Hasselbeck (who just bought a brand new $4 million house) with his tax-free homeless person alleged salary. Oh, and he called homeless people “scammers.” They’re all addicts or junkies. Do NOT help those people, do not give them money, step over them, look away.
He’s wrong. A study conducted in San Francisco proves he’s wrong. But I don’t even want to get into what a selfish, lacking in empathy, horrible monstrous asshat John Stossel is. I want to point out two groups of homeless Americans and ask you if they’re all scammers, addicts and junkies to be avoided at all cost.
LGBT teens make up a large percentage of homeless youth. In New York, where John Stossel pretended to be homeless for an hour, the Ali Forney Center estimates that out of the city’s 3,800 homeless youth, 1,600 are LGBT. You know the story: Teen comes out to parents, parents – the people who are supposed to keep you safe and love you unconditionally – throw LGBT teen out of the house. Teen cannot go to Grandma’s because where do you think Mom and Dad learned to hate, so teen is homeless. LGBT teens are more likely to be physically harmed than straight teens on the streets. LGBT homeless teens also have an increased rate of mental illness, trauma, HIV infection and substance abuse.
Substance abuse. In John Stossel’s world, this equals what, weakness? Proves that LGBT homeless teens are all “scammers?” Fake? Hey, Johnny, you spent a whopping hour on the streets, after which you took off your costume and went back to your nice, warm office. Try being 16 and out on the street, alone, afraid, hungry and cold. Predators around every corner. You just might turn to a substance if it made being raped, beaten or hungry a little easier to deal with.
And then there are homeless veterans. According to John Stossel, those vets are scammers, addicts, junkies and fake, too. In January of 2013, there were 57,849 homeless veterans in America. That number is down from 2012 by about 5,000. Did Stossel come right out and call almost 58,000 homeless veterans of our armed forces scammers? Of course not; what he did do was say if you give homeless people money, you’re “enabling” them. “You’re enabling their alcohol and their drug habit.” He then added “Far better, if you really think they’re for real, and most are not, to try to help them get to one of the social services agencies.”
You’re an enabler. Most are not for real. See what he did there? By negating the true needs of the homeless, John Stossel has planted a rather giant seed of doubt in the minds of his viewers. Well, geez, I know that lady and her kids are out on the street, but if I help them, I’m paying for her booze or drugs, plus what if she’s not even really homeless? What if this is a huge scam, her sitting out in the bitter cold day in and day out with those kids? Holy shit, what if those aren’t even her kids?
Hey John? I was thrown out of my house when I was a teenager. If it hadn’t been for a friend’s mom, I would have been on the street. I’ve talked to homeless vets, given them food and yes CASH. Worked a couple of holidays at shelters, donated coats and shoes and all sorts of clothes to people who care a lot more about the needy than you do. So, why don’t you spend a couple of days on the streets of New York City this year instead of an hour? See what it’s really like to be cold and hungry and terrified.
Let’s end this on a helpful note. Here are some ways to help homeless people this winter. You can donate time, money, share these links with friends and social media, even volunteer. Let us endeavor to be the polar opposite of the John Stossels of the world.
And if you’d like to “adopt” an LGBT teen this holiday season, Your Holiday Mom is currently accepting submissions.