There’s a lot of buzz on the Internet about Jeffrey Hillman, the homeless man in Manhattan who was given a pair of boots by NYC policeman Lawrence DePrimo. The latest today is an article in today’s New York Daily News, condensed by Yahoo News, in which he reveals that he is homeless by choice.
The Daily News article said that Hillman, who was on his high school basketball team, has a Bronx apartment paid for via a combination of rent vouchers, Social Security and military veteran benefits. He has a brother who says he would love to take him in, but can’t persuade him to. Jeffrey, it says, is bipolar and schizophrenic.
My takeaway from this story? This man, and others like him, are people who certainly need help. They need demonstrations of love, and they probably need material assistance. But the government is particularly unqualified to render this kind of help. They are not compassionate. Government assistance, rather than giving the receivers a feeling of kindness, as a rule gives them feelings of entitlement. And bureaucratic government doesn’t have the flexibility to get inside a life like Jeffrey Hillman’s to find out what he really needs – everything is reduced to formulas and paperwork. And part of the Hillman story is the government money that has been wasted on providing him help he doesn’t even want and won’t use.
No, Jeffrey Hillman needs private generosity, like the police officer who stopped to help him, and like many others in our great land. When they offer help, he may turn it down, saving them money. But he knows a helping hand is there.
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