A former hedge-fund manager might have come up with the solution to the homeless problem in America — stop feeding them. In an op-ed that ran in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Andy Kessler seemed to make the argument that shelter workers and volunteers — including his own teenage son — are enabling the homeless by giving them food.
“My 16-year-old son volunteers with an organization that feeds the homeless and fills kits with personal hygiene supplies for them," Kessler wrote. "It's a worthwhile project, and I tell him so — but he doesn't like it when our conversation on the way to his minimum-wage job turns to why these homeless folks aren't also working. Perhaps, I suggest, because someone is feeding, clothing and, in effect, bathing them?
He added: "But there is a deeper question, rarely asked: Where does the money come from that funds all this Gen-G volunteering and charitable giving? Somewhere, somehow, someone worked productively and created wealth that could be given away (and tax deducted) to help the unfortunate.”
According to Kessler, if the 1.6 million people in America who do not have places to sleep were not being given handouts, they would be forced to get jobs.
“The point he’s making, that volunteers are ‘enabling’ homeless people to remain homeless ... is really nonsensical psychobabble,” said Maria Foscarinis, the executive director and founder of National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. “I think that’s just not true and totally misinformed and really unfortunate.”
Jerry Jones, the executive director of the National Coalition for Homelessness, had a similar take on Kessler's ideas.
“I think it’s outrageous that the same conservatives who say it’s not government’s responsibility to deal with poverty are now condemning charitable acts by individuals, too," Jones said. "Who the hell is Andy Kessler to tell people where and how they should spend their volunteer time?”
Kessler had some other thoughts as well, The Huffington Post reported.
“Obsessing over carbon footprints and LEED certifications and free-range strawberries and charging for plastic bags will not help the world nearly as much as good old-fashioned economic growth,” Kessler wrote.