While I appreciate this fellow's intentions, good as they are, I have had some questions about this. And as I think of how to state my questions, I'm reminded of a joke I read (again) recently. (Don't think it was here…) I'll try to abbreviate the telling.

When a policeman's haircut was finished, the barber said, it's on the house, thank you for your service and all you do for us. Next morning, the barber arrived to find a box of doughnuts of appreciation.

Later, a firefighter got the same treatment, no charge, thank you for your service. Next morning, barber arrives to find a box of firehouse muffins left for him in appreciation.

A politician got his hair cut, and again the barber said, no charge, thank you for your service in governance. Next morning, the barber arrived to find a line of politicians expecting free haircuts.


The problems with charity range from developing dependency (giving a man a fish vs. teaching him to fish) down to outright fraud (street beggers who at the end of the day get in their chauffered limos and go to their luxury homes — a documented case in Chicago).

When we lived in the Big Potato, I used to always carry some dollars around to hand out to bums, as much in self-defense as any sense of charity. One Christmastime, I started handing out McDonald's gift certificates, and was surprised (a little) at the angry responses I would get from some "needy" people. Also, there was a woman who "worked" our neighborhood. Her act was to sound half-witted. In halting, dim-witted sounding speech, she'd tell a sob story about her poverty and needy children. I gave her a handout first time she approached me. I had to tell her outright the second time she accosted me, at a different location, that she wasn't keeping her stories straight.

I'm no saint, but I don't think I'm cruel or heartless. Near downtown, Milady and I saw a drunken bum passed out in the blazing summer sun one day, people stepping right over him. We managed to rouse him enough to get over into the shade before he fried and died. That was about all we could do for him, but we did.

Discerning the truly needy, and discouraging the fraudsters, is a great art, which good charities do with wisdom (and government cannot do at all, which is the downfall of all government welfare programs). Free and open hand-outs draw more than the needy, but also the outright greedy.

One reason to work through organized charities is to make sure your efforts and money are well-spent and don't encourage the wrong people and don't foster or encourage "skid row" areas. Certainly, there must be a better way to deal with this than jailing the Samaritan, but he needs to think, too, about why the law is there (I'm surmising, obviously). The individual handout is one thing, go ahead, don't try to judge (although as noted I ended up doing so sometimes in Bum City). But as an organized or repeated act, your good intentions may be creating fire-proof paving stones.

Well, that ran long. Hope it wasn't too muddy.