DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS!
By Max R. Weller
Yesterday evening, I’d thought that today’s post would be about people who mistakenly believe that their donations to those in need will bring about some remarkable transformation in their lives; it almost never works that way, not even on the grand scale of a multimillion-dollar project like Housing First at 1175 Lee Hill.
Copied below is the online “debate” between an anonymous poster using the screen name BldrWatch and myself, which continued on different threads of the Disqus website (Daily Camera, Times-Call, Denver Post, etc. all use this commenting format). At first, I thought this individual was truthful and sincere, but the post I read this morning enlightened me:
Max Weller: Even I love living here — for the beauty of the surrounding landscape and the wild critters who often visit my campsite, along with the people who have taken time to get to know me. Otherwise, Boulder does suck BIG TIME!
BldrWatch: Translation: anyone in Boulder who doesn’t contribute to the Max Fund sucks. Nice attitude you’ve got there.
Max Weller: Wow! America’s Smartest City, indeed. Great reading comprehension you’ve got there.
BldrWatch: Then perhaps you’d like to explain in detail why Boulder “sucks”? You seem to be somewhat intelligent and able, which makes your entitlement attitude all the more pathetic.
Max Weller: First, you explain “entitlement attitude” in the context of someone like me who has never applied for any taxpayer-funded benefits and doesn’t visit any of the free giveaway venues . . . If you mean that I’m entitled to be left alone by the do-gooders, I can agree. Surely, you can come up with a more clever pejorative than the trite “pathetic” which doesn’t fit, anyway.
BldrWatch: Oh, I can think of alternative adjectives replacing “pathetic”. Speaking of trite, I take it that you aren’t going to explain to us why you think Boulder “sucks”, are you?
Max Weller: Well, to be trite, go look in the mirror and you’ll see just one reason Boulder sucks. Feel better, now? The usual suspects on the DC website provide additional examples of suckiness (if you will), and reinforce the wisdom expressed in Niwot’s curse. All of you are festering boils on what used to be a beautiful valley; wish I could have seen it then!
BldrWatch: That’s it, just let it all out. Anonymous internet posters are festering boils on a physical valley? You should turn off your computer (or rather, step away from the taxpayer-provided one).
Max Weller: Are you Darren O’Connor, self-styled homeless advocate associated with a group calling itself Boulder Rights Watch? I notice you just joined Disqus today, and from your screen name . . . Just a guess.
BlderWatch: Nope. I’m just a long-time Boulder resident who’s grown weary of your derogatory comments about the town that has graciously supported you over the past decade.
Max Weller: Seriously, don’t read what I write. I shouldn’t be that big a deal to you or anyone else. My, you take everything seriously . . . BTW, I’m not at the library during my winter break from breathing the same air as uppity Boulderites, who remain the laughingstock of the entire country — if not the world, after Matt Appleblossom’s carbon-spewing jet plane trips to Italy and France.
Note: At this point, one of the cyberstalkers intervened and posted a harassing meme, which was once again deleted by the website admins.
Max Weller: The very first blog post I made here in Boulder, CO in September of 2009 was this one: https://homelessphilosopher.wordpress.com/about/ So, I’ve never tried to hide my felony record. That’s hardly all there is to tell in my life, before that black period or after, and if not for the totality of good and bad I wouldn’t be in a position to blog about homelessness as I do. What I regret more than anything is that a few individuals refuse to allow my mother — a woman they never knew — to finally rest in peace.
BlderWatch: Max might have paid for what he did, but I don’t think his past crimes are the main issue for most of the vitriol towards him. It’s his constant moaning about Boulder, whose citizens have should him an extraordinary degree of compassion and support over the years, combined with his blatant hypocrisy. For example, in the thread above he claim to have never applied for taxpayer-funded entitlements. Perhaps he means that it’s okay to defraud the gov’t to obtain someone else’s? Note that in his response to you, he never displayed regret for his fraud. The saddest part of all is he’s intelligent and able, but chooses to spend his time running down the very community that’s shown him compassion.
Max Weller: Here’s a sample of Boulder compassion directed at me by an anonymous poster on the DC website:
“If only the Boulder Sheriff’s Office would arrest you for camping illegally on county property for 8 years.
“If only the Boulder Public Library and Norlin would kick you out permanently.
“If only the Boulder Homeless Shelter would stop aiding and abetting your local criminal activities.
“And if only the Daily Camera would revoke all of the accounts you use to pollute their comment page with your endless and insane prattle.
“Laugh all you want Weller. You are going back to jail or prison or a mental hospital for the criminally insane permanently. Or you are going to freeze to death in your little ditch.
“Or you can save the local government a lot of money by leaving this county.”
Of course, I keep such comments filed under Only In Boulder . . .
BldrWatch: You’re the perpetual victim. Why don’t you also provide your respective posts that triggered those statements?
Max Weller: Look. Pinocchio wannabe, I’ve NEVER called myself a victim NOR have I entertained that notion for one second. If you can’t debate the issue of homelessness, and instead want to make it the issue of one critic of the corrupt shelter/services industry, that’s entirely your choice. Don’t pretend to be doing anything but sticking out your tongue and saying, “Nyah, nyah, nyah!” You’re no more compassionate than you are intellectual.
BldrWatch: Well, I’ve tried it your way in the past, and my direct handout doesn’t seem to have made much difference. Have you even tried to become self-sufficient? Your childish rants aside, you seem capable of it, much more so than homeless who have severe mental or physical handicaps. No, you seem more than content to live off of handouts in perpetuity, while insulting the very community that makes this possible for you. Unbelievable.
Max Weller: Has it ever occurred to you that every society down through the ages has had its ascetics, who reject the conventional lifestyle and critique the establishment? Plenty of people here in Boulder County understand that; if you don’t, that’s your failure. BTW, I don’t want one penny from anyone with your attitude, nor do I need it.
BldrWatch: BS. You have absolutely no issue taking money from me. You already have.
Max Weller: I trust you’ll not be offering it again, so we can both be happy. BTW, it’s been almost three months since I was on the corner at N. Broadway & U.S. 36 in Boulder. Is that the reason you give to a panhandler, so you can feel smug and superior? Think again . . . Homeless friends have helped me out with $20 at times, and I’ve done the same for them. It’s basic human kindness — not cause to pat oneself on the back.
BldrWatch: Well, you should refuse any future handouts if you think the giver is doing it out of smugness. You’re also assuming that I gave you money at your little fair-weather public perch. You’ve taken and stolen from so many people you can’t even keep track.
Note: At this stage, I should have known something about this character was off . . .
Max Weller: Here’s a more workable idea: People should give to others because it will make their lives just a little bit easier for a short time, not with the thought of reforming their lifestyle, which is something that FAILS even on the grand scale of Housing First at 1175 Lee Hill. I find it satisfying to help when I can, and so would anyone else who approaches charity this way.
BldrWatch: Well, now you’ve hit upon the core problem, and the reason you’re the recipient of so much vitriol (if you haven’t figured it out already).
I won’t presume to speak for everyone, but will venture that most support the homeless (via charity, directly giving money … whatever) out of a hope (misguided or otherwise) that their homelessness isn’t chronic, that they need a helping hand to get back on their feet.
You, as an able-bodied and relatively intelligent person, aren’t looking for a temporary helping hand. You could most certainly support yourself without handouts, but instead choose to mooch off others in perpetuity. If this isn’t bad enough, on top of this you feel the need to also denigrate the community that supports you, and any other former homeless that demonstrate any degree of success.
You fancy yourself a ascetic (albeit a self-important one), and people might even respect that if you supported yourself. As is, you’re the epitome of everything that gives the homeless a bad name.
Note: After reading the comment above this morning, I realized I’d been scammed.
Max Weller: Now the TRUTH comes out! If you had ever seen me at all, in north Boulder or anywhere else, struggling to get along with a cane when most others would be using a walker you’d never call me able-bodied. You’re just another bitter Boulderite, spinning a false narrative about homelessness in general and me in particular. BTW, Mr. Holier-Than-Thou, almost all of the folks who give anything to me at the corner of N. Broadway & U.S. 36 live out in the county, or in Lyons, or in Longmont — and quite a few have told me they agree with my views on the City of Boulder itself.
BldrWatch: Excuses, excuses. There are plenty of working people who have limited mobility. You apparently know how to use a computer. Be honest and just say that you have no interest in working, and you’re more than content to leech. Of course, honesty isn’t in your repertoire. I’m sure all of the people that give you money drive in just for your contribution – what a load of BS. If your marks are all from out of town, why do you bother coming here?
Max Weller: They have jobs in Boulder, genius, but — get this — can’t afford to live in that wealthy white enclave. And yes indeed, there have been a few folks I’ve gotten to know who do come to visit me for the sole purpose of handing me cash (around any holiday, it could be a $50 or a $100 bill) or books to read (when I’m done, I leave them at Boulder Shelter and I do the same with paperbacks I buy) or food I might eat myself and/or share with others. And you know what else? I’ve found that blue-collar workers are easily the most generous passersby of all!
And this is where I’ll leave it — but it will make for an interesting blog post today.
Really, the arrogance of do-gooders in Boulder, CO surpasses anything I’ve encountered elsewhere, and I’ve been “around the block” quite a few times in over thirteen years since becoming homeless. Reminds me of what must have passed between Alexander the Great and Diogenes of Sinope (the original Homeless Philosopher in ancient Greece, who also made a career of questioning and ridiculing the powers-that-be):