Spending an hour begging for change does not make you an expert on homelessness

john stossel, homelessJohn 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.”

john stosselYou’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.


  1. Interesting … you mean the John Stossel who’s taken the government hand-out of FEMA insurance …. THRICE … to rebuild his beach house?
    Sure, he paid the premiums, but he said: there’s this thing called federal flood insurance and the premiums are cheap.” Without sounding a bit remorseful, he said, while vehemently attacking FEMA for giving benefits to people who live in “high risk” areas) “I’m ashamed, I’m guilty… The basement was gone (in a previous storm). You paid for a new basement, I never invited you there but you paid for it anyway. It went out again, you paid again. The whole house went, you covered the house. This is a program that encourages relatively affluent people to build in danger… Stop rewarding people for taking foolish risks.”

  2. I did the same thing once, stood on the on-ramp to a free way for 3 hours with a sign so I could get alcohol money for my and my boys. I made like 80 dollars. Someone gave me a package of crackers, and a sandwhich. This one crazy homeless guy showed up later pissed, trying to run me off his spot. Luckily I was a bit bigger than him and he was an older dude so he just went away.

  3. Obvious by the responses you guys have never watched the actually episode. He isn’t shaming the homeless. He is showing that not all of what you see is exactly what it is. He talks about how there are better way to help the homeless then by giving to them when they are begging on the street. This gov’t owes you absolutely nothing. Watch the episode with an open mind before you make a judgement based off of an article. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX_aC_KxYLs

    • And you didn’t read the entire article, did you? I QUOTE him numerous times, including his comment about sending homeless people to social services IF THEY”RE REAL WHICH MANY OF THEM AREN’T. Stossel is a really nasty piece of work because he belongs to the “I got mine, screw you” crowd, a crowd it sounds like you might belong to as well. I’m guessing you didn’t click any of those links or submit a letter to “adopt” an LGBT teenager this holiday season. Because you got yours, screw everyone else.

  4. Here is Stossel talking about scammers, when in fact HE is the scammer, posing as a homeless man and taking in the money. I guess that’s okay when you’re doing it for a rightist article on how the homeless are scammers.

  5. John Stossel is little more than an insensitive, arrogant schmuck. While he was somewhat creditable at one time, he is now just a has-been hack that is capitalizing on other peoples misfortune. The worst kind of opportunist and may the fleas of a thousand camels infest his sorry a$$.

  6. I used to feel very different about John Stossel. I feel the homeless and poor deserve our help To deny help to a man that put his life on the line in defense of our country is unchristian and un-Godly

  7. Excellent article! While it IS true that (here in Denver) many homeless are vets who are drug addicts and/or alcoholics, this makes them no less deserving of our help. Some money, food, clothing, whatever. A few choose that due to mental health issues, but I doubt a single one could be called a “scammer”. These are people who truly do need help. It may just not be the help that a single dollar bill can give them. Still, people like Stossel would deny them even that small comfort. Shameful.

  8. Thank you for an inspiring and realistic article. The John Stossel crowd is minimizing the plight and pain of the homeless and misleading people to think they are mostly scammers. We certainly need more empathy for the poor in America, not less!

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