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Why you should give money directly and unconditionally to homeless people

Give your cash directly and unconditionally to homeless people.

Don’t just buy them a sandwich from Pret. They’re not four. They have the right to spend their money as they choose – and it is their money, once given. Don’t just give to people performing, singing, or accompanied by a cute dog. Buskers deserve a wage too, of course. But homeless people are not your dancing monkey and they shouldn’t have to perform to earn your pity.


Don’t second-guess whether people are “really” homeless. Those who think begging is a shortcut to easy money should try humiliating themselves daily in front of thousands of total strangers who won’t even look at them or acknowledge their existence. It is grueling, soul-destroying work. If people are desperate enough to beg, they need it.


Don’t just give to people who ask you directly, but to the guy with his head in his hands and a Styrofoam cup on the ground in front of him. Give to the woman who’s blind drunk. Give to the guy with meth-rotted teeth. Give to the spice addict who can’t look you in the eye.

Many street beggars are addicts, yes. Do addicts not deserve food? Wouldn’t you want to drink if you were in their position? Don’t you get drunk every weekend to cope with work stress anyway? Who are you to tell them what to do with their bodies?


As the founder of User Voice, a charity led and staffed by former homeless addicts, says: “If your money funds the final hit, accept that the person would rather be dead. If your act of kindness makes him wake up the next morning and decide to change his life, that’s nice but not your business either.”

Of course, it is true that your drinking habit and theirs are fundamentally different. Addiction is rooted in material circumstance – alcohol is the obvious example, but think how many skiing accidents end in courses of opiates far stronger than anything you’d find on the street without any long-term compulsion developing. It can only be tackled by raising people out of poverty, and a brute-force severing of cash flow is not going to starve people into seeking help from authorities they know will not, or cannot, help them.

Yet this abject morality, which says we must push people to rock bottom before we are able to help them, is seized on by austerity governments always greedy to do less. In fact, studies show begging emerges in the “middle-late stages” of homelessness, once people have already exhausted other options. The rock bottom has already been reached.


Eighty percent of homeless people in the UK experienced no support or advice the last time they were moved on by police or council workers. When the government claims that most people begging on the street are refusing better help, what they mean is the help on offer is not adequate.

Homeless people need free, state-provided housing and fully-funded psychological care. What they get is £538m annual cuts to mental health services and austerity measures driving them into arrears with private landlords and on to the street.

The average life expectancy of a homeless man in London is 47. For women, it is 43. This is lower than the general life expectancy of any nation on the planet. These lives will be improved by systemic, not loose, change.

In the absence of an adequate government response, charitable giving and hostels remain lifesavers to many thousands of people. But big homelessness charities are already receiving millions yearly, while those deemed impossible to help die outside. When I speak to rough sleepers, it is local communities, squatters and grassroots organizations like the London-wide Streets Kitchen which they credit with keeping them alive.

“There is no need to beg on the streets in 2017,” leading London homelessness charity Thames Reach claims. “Hostel rent is covered through Housing Benefit [and] it is an urban myth that if you have no address, you cannot claim benefits.”

The charity, which is primarily funded by the government, makes no mention of the many gatekeeping barriers vulnerable people must cross to secure benefits and a stable hostel place.

Most damningly, they do not mention the fact that the foreign nationals who make up over half of London’s rough-sleeping population cannot claim benefits to access the hostel network at all. Rather, Thames Reach and other top charities shop homeless foreigners to the Home Office to be deported.

It is those same government-funded charities that push the narrative that “kindness kills” as they tout for your donations. Do not believe them. Apathy and austerity kill. Your kindness saves lives.

Matt Broomfield is a journalist and activist. He tweets @hashtagbroom


The Line Between Pets And People – Can Pets Be Allergic To People?

You’re watching a movie. A dog and his human companions run through a battlefield, dodging gunfire and explosions. Be honest: you’re more concerned that the dog will perish, not the people, right?

For plenty of people, selfless and unconditionally loyal dogs are a little easier to love than humans. A new study demonstrates that we do indeed have more empathy for them than other adults, and the authors attempt to explain why.

Writing in the journal Society & Animals, the team – from Northeastern University Boston and the University of Colorado Boulder – found that only children elicit more of an empathetic response under certain conditions than dogs, whether they’re puppies or fully grown.

The study gathered 256 undergraduate students together and then presented them with fake news reports of attacks on either a 1-year-old baby, a 30-year-old adult, a young puppy, or a 6-year-old dog. No matter who the victim was, they were subjected to the business end of a baseball bat, and left with various high-profile wounds.

The idea was that the more vulnerable a victim was, the more empathy the subjects would show. As it turned out, the levels of empathy reported for the baby, the puppy, and the dog were on par with one another; the adult victim was empathized with, but to a lesser degree.

:p Jenn_C/Shutterstock

“In addition, female participants were significantly more empathic toward all victims than were their male counterparts,” the authors noted in their study.

The general idea as to why we feel this way towards dogs, according to the research, is that we see them as having the same degree of vulnerability as kids; in other words, they are unable to protect themselves. Other studies, those that conclude we see dogs as “fur babies”, indirectly support this.



20 Things Texans Have to Explain to Out-of-State Visitors

I thought this was pretty cool, so I wanted to Share it:)

Being Texan is great. It’s almost like being in an exclusive club where everyone goes around constantly talking about how awesome the club is. Maybe some of the things we do around here are a little weird to outsiders, and that’s okay. Just remember, when your friends and relatives from out of state come for a visit, there are a few traditions you might have to explain to them about how we do things around here.

20. For one game each football season, high school girls suddenly look like they all won a horse race.

Flickr/Henry Huey
Flickr/Henry Huey

These are called “homecoming mums” and, like everything else in the Lone Star State, the bigger, the better. They started out as real chrysanthemum corsages adorned with ribbons that high school boys would pin on their dates to celebrate Homecoming. They have since evolved into monstrosities so enormous that at times all you’ll see is the top of a girl’s head as she struggles down the hall behind a massive wall of fake flowers.


19. Everything is intentionally bigger in Texas.

Wikimedia Commons/Tijuana Brass

Texans like big things. Our state is big. Our hats are big. Our egos are big. Our capitol building is big. In fact, it’s taller than the United States capitol building in Washington, D.C. The U.S. capital is not the only national monument Texas improved upon. In Houston stands the San Jacinto monument, an obelisk that closely and intentionally resembles the Washington monument, except it’s 13 feet taller.

18. It’s spring, so I’m going to go squat in those wildflowers over there with my kids.

Image contributed by Elizabeth Abrahamsen
Image contributed by Elizabeth Abrahamsen

Every spring the highways and fields of Texas become filled with the blue lupin known as bluebonnets, the official flower of the state of Texas. During this time of year, the highway department stops mowing the grass, and many people don’t mow their lawns. Instead you’ll find groups of Texans stopped along the road sitting in the flowers to take pictures.

SEE ALSO: 6 Texas Wildflowers That Are Roadside Showstoppers

17. Don’t mess with Texas chili.


Chili is the official dish of the state of Texas, so we take it very seriously. Authentic Texas chili doesn’t have beans, and if you add beans to yours, you’re going to get an earful. We take chili so seriously that we even have weekend-long festivals devoted to its creation. Chilifest in Snook, and the annual chili cook off in Terlingua attract folks from all over the state as well as out of state.

SEE ALSO: 10 Tips for Making Perfect Chili

16. We wear strange things during the winter.

Flickr/Larry Jacobsen
Flickr/Larry Jacobsen

Winter isn’t always an annual event in Texas, sometimes we’ll just skip it and have a second summer instead, so sometimes we don’t have the right attire when a cold snap hits. It’s not too uncommon to see a person in a parka and basketball shorts, or a hoodie and leggings, and flip-flops with both of those outfits.

SEE ALSO: 8 Legitimate Reasons Southerners Don’t Like the Cold

15. Texans measure distance in hours.

Flickr/Patrick Feller
Flickr/Patrick Feller

Everyone knows it’s about 12 hours across the state, whether you’re traveling north to south or east to west. It’s about an hour from Austin to San Antonio. Five hours from Houston to Dallas. Don’t ask us the miles, what do we look like? Google maps? This is how long it will take you to get there.

14. We put the Texas flag on everything.

Image via Elizabeth Abrahamsen
Image via Elizabeth Abrahamsen

We are very proud of our flag. The Texas flag is where the term “lone star” came from. It’s the remnant of those ten years when we were our own nation, and it reminds us of our fierce independent streak. So we use it in logos, we stamp it on letterheads, we put it on our license plates, and we even sent our delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in it.

13. We put the Texas shape on everything else.

Flickr/Alper Cugun
Flickr/Alper Cugun

Anything that doesn’t have our lone star flag on it probably has our state’s shape on it. It’s a pretty recognizable shape, and we love it. We turn it into erasers, stepping stones, and waffle irons. We make Texas-shaped cookies and cakes, and obviously we all know how to draw it by the time we can hold a pencil.

12. Texas road trips require airfare in other states.


Because Texans drive everywhere within our own cities, we pretty much don’t board an airplane unless we’re leaving the state. Texans have pretty much perfected the art of road tripping, and we don’t even need to leave the state to do it.

11. It doesn’t take much snow to generate a Snowpocalypse in Texas.


We don’t even need actual snow to close our schools, the mere threat of it will be sufficient. There’s a good reason for this though, it snows so infrequently in Texas that it’s actually more costly to keep the infrastructure in place to deal with real wintery conditions than it is to simply shut down when it snows. A snowplow in Texas would probably die of loneliness. In fact, I think that’s a great new saying to add to the Texan repertoire. “As useful as a snowplow in Texas”.

10. Texans have figured out how to serve Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Flickr/H. Michael Karshis
Flickr/H. Michael Karshis

You will never have Mexican food anywhere else like we have in Texas. We love Mexican food so much that we co-opted it as our own and renamed it “Tex-mex.” So welcome to Texas where we have breakfast tacos in the morning, quesadillas for lunch and fajitas for dinner, and don’t forget the dessert, sopaipillas.

9. We have many different faiths, but football is our religion.


If you want to know what football is like in Texas you need only consult the documentary films Friday Night Lights and Varsity Blues. Okay, so those aren’t technically documentaries, but they are so accurate that they might as well be. Our high school football stadiums are as expensive as and on par with some professional stadiums. For reference of how quarterbacks are treated like gods here, google “Johnny Football.”

8. We call all carbonated beverages “Coke”.


Generally speaking, carbonated beverages are called “pop” in the Northern United States, while down south they’re called “soda.” That’s not true in the Lone Star State. In Texas, if someone offers you a pop, you’d better duck, because they’re about to backhand you. On the other hand, if they offer you a soda, it’s not coming with any flavor. Soda in Texas is soda water, otherwise known as Schweppe’s.

7. No Ma’am, I am not trying to make you feel old.

Image via Pinterest
Image via The Old Try

Texans are taught to be polite above all else. We may not like you, but we’re damn sure going to be polite to you, regardless of who you are, because that’s how we were raised. Texans even say “Yes, Ma’am,” and “Yes, Sir,” to children. It’s a way to teach them how they should respond to everyone else. It may be a term of respect reserved for elders in other parts of the country, but we extend it to everyone, so they all feel respected.

6. You probably don’t know how to pronounce that.

Flickr/Matthew Rutledge
Flickr/Matthew Rutledge

Texans are notorious for creating our own pronunciations for words. Many city names in Texas are of foreign origin, and we are just not super adept at proper foreign pronunciation, so we all agree on how to pronounce a word and stick to that. Here are a few more Texan pronunciations:

Pedernales in Texan is “Perd-nales”

Manchaca (in Austin) is “Man-shack”

Palacios in Texan is “Puh-LASH-iss”

5. We are unyielding about what constitutes barbecue.

Flickr/U.S. Army
Flickr/U.S. Army

If you are heating up a little round Webber to cook some hotdogs and hamburgers, what you’re doing is grilling. Barbecue constitutes an all-day effort that starts before dawn and doesn’t get eaten until probably 6 pm, and consists of brisket, ribs, sausage and the like. And don’t you dare get near it with any ketchup.

SEE ALSO: 17 Texas BBQ Joints You Need to Try Before You Die 

4. Texas food should be its own category.


Chicken fried steak doesn’t contain chicken. We incorporate tortillas into most breakfast dishes, and if you can eat it, we will fry it, and it will be damn good.

3. Texans will bend over backwards to make you feel welcome.


As stubborn as we may be about things, we still love guests. We want you to come over, and we want you to come on back now, ya hear? It’s not uncommon to be wrangled into staying for dinner if you drop by someone’s house in the afternoon. Texans take Matthew 5:41 pretty seriously and will go the extra mile to make you feel at home. Hospitality is something we pride ourselves on.

2. Our gas stations are like grocery stores, and our grocery stores are like gymnasiums filled with food.

Flickr/Stacey Huggins
Flickr/Stacey Huggins

Because of the miles Texas highways that are constantly being traveled, we need substantial places to make a pit stop. If you’re ever traveling through Texas and you see a sign with a cartoon beaver on it, that’s Buc ee’s, and it’s a great place to stop for anything from a Coke to a quart of oil or an inner tube, in case you’re headed to the river for a float. Our proper grocery stores cover acres of ground and many operate 24 hours.

1. Texans perpetuate the cycle of fervent regional pride by forcing it upon our children until they submit and become ONE OF US.

Image via Society6
Image via Society6

In Texas public schools, Texas history starts in Kindergarten and continues all the way through high school. Texas public schoolchildren can tell you the state bird is a Mockingbird, the state motto is Friendship, and the first President of the Republic of Texas was Sam Houston. So if you move here from out of state with your family, just know that we’ll be indoctrinating your kids with our Texan pride.

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