we still remember mitch hedberg

A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

Jul 7th 2008

In America, Beggars Can Be Choosers!

Recently, in Cincinnati, I had an unreal experience with hunger in America. Around 11:30 am on a Friday, a man approached me in a skywalk between two downtown buildings. He was hungry, he said, and could I help him out.

I didn’t have any cash on me, but I had two granola bars with me. I had left my house at 5:30 am and had anticipated I might be hungry before lunch. Only I didn’t get a chance to eat them, and I was on my way to lunch right then. So here I was, face to face with a man who truly seemed to be in need, and I had exactly what would help him: About 500 delicious calories in the form of two high-quality granola bars from the Nature Valley brand that would get him to his next meal.

I told the man I didn’t have any cash, but that I did have some food I could spare. I pulled the granola bars out of my bag and held them out to him. He could have grabbed one or both, I didn’t care.

He didn’t grab either one. Instead, he said, and I quote: “Ah….I really wanted a sandwich.”

As a colleague and I walked through the next building to our destination, he remarked to me: “He must not be that hungry.”


Sometimes it frustrates me when government is blamed for hunger in America. Sure, many people are poor. Some people really suffer from poverty, by having limited choices in entertainment, clothing, living arrangements and furnishings, travel, and activities.

When adults suffer from poverty, often it is self-inflicted. Maybe they have a substance addiction or are otherwise wasting resources on nonessential pursuits, perhaps they remain uneducated or unemployed rather than being productive, or possibly they have adopted a belligerent attitude of entitlement that poisons their efforts.

But no American child can ever suffer from hunger unless the parents are unfit. Our nation’s vast social welfare programs and charities provide a complete, generous safety net to children in poverty. Parents need simply ask for the benefit and use it responsibly. If a parent causes his or her child to starve, that is not a poverty issue, it could be a call for state family and child services to intervene.

Update: I laughed out loud at this related post: Food crisis, global depression worsen

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6 Responses to “In America, Beggars Can Be Choosers!”

  1. doug

    “You are an idiot.”

    -Dr. Richard Kimball on Left Blog


    I find arguments about poverty in general, and remedies for its American variety in particular, quite tedious.

    In short, to blame the scourge of poverty on the conservative defense of free markets is so ignorant of world history that it should, I would think, disturb the conscience of those push that argument (see: Left Blog). Of course, that’s not the case. Hence, the left’s open embrace of Hugo Chavez and other assorted characters whose currency is not economic development but anti-Americanism and the mirage of socialism.

    I’m sure that in twenty years we’ll be listening to leftists rattle off 101 excuses as to how the American empire impeded Chavez’ march to a socialist utopia, just as today we listen to the left blame hunger in America on Ronald Reagan and other conservatives.

  2. Chapman

    I think the same can be said for kids and health care. I know a lot of adults go without insurance and without health care (another involved topic altogether), but it seems nearly impossible for kids to go without treatment in The U.S. (although, admittedly, it may not always be the best).

    My wife and I have insurance for ourselves and our daughter, and have received treatment without incedent. However, we have received numerous solicitations from Kentucky’s Medicaid Program reminding us that our daughter may qualify for state-payed health care (which, in fact, all three of us do by a large margin).

    It is difficult for me to understand some stories that I hear about parents being unable to find treatment for their children (after which I am aked for money). Seems like fabrications or, again, a reason for the state to intervene.

  3. Al

    Or a reason to have a license to have a kid… Some people just should not be able to procreate…

    I’m kidding of course, except for the last part, but that is “elitist” of me. I have some friends that have several kids and they do not make a lot of money. They have a little girl who has unfortunately had many health problems in her young age, which is sad enough, her being so young. But they do not have the funds to pay for all of the expenses, so they work with their doctors and the hospital and have worked out payment plans and even been comped services by both their doctor and the hospital. There are ways to work within the system to get the help you and your kids need. People who do not want to try and want everything handed to them want others to pay for their misfortunes and difficult life.

  4. Dr. Richard Kimball

    I was in DC the other day for a medical conference and I noticed a man begging for money.

    “I know what it’s like to live in poverty,” he declared. “Help the homeless. Spare change?”

    As I passed him his shoes caught my eye. They were in good condition and bore a familiar logo.

    He was wearing Jordans.

    Now I’m not judging that man or using him as a universal example for all homeless or impoverished. But, I would have to agree with Travis when he states, “When adults suffer from poverty, often it is self-inflicted. … perhaps they remain uneducated or unemployed rather than being productive…”

  5. […] other day, I expressed some frustration with people who blame poverty on our system of government. Someone commented that he had some of the same concerns about the […]

  6. KelviN

    I want to assist Baggars. Beggars email thru