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Break The Cycle

instant employment for homeless people
  (+17, -2)(+17, -2)
(+17, -2)
  [vote for,

One of the reasons for homelessness are the high entry barriers to full-time jobs, leading to a vicious cycle: No address, no bank account, no bank account, no job, no job, no money, no money, no address, etc.

The solution is to create a low skill job market with no entry barriers. Fortunately, such a thing already exists. On amazon's mturk.com, you can instantly earn between $2-$5/hour by completing simple tasks. No qualifications or interviews required. The only problem is that homeless people don't have an internet connection.

So I suggest setting up a charity that purchases cheap, 5-year old PCs and sets up a computer room/ soup kitchen where homeless people can come and work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To discourage abuse, the internet connection is monitored. The charity would own a bank account where the workers can transfer their funds and be paid in cash on the same day. A homeless person who is determined to break the cycle could make $800/month, which is enough to rent a room and buy new clothes.

kinemojo, Jun 14 2006

Related homeless idea Cleaning_20the_20homeless
See this idea for some good discussion of the possible issues of running an installation that works with the homeless. [James Newton, Jun 16 2006]


       There are many other barriers among the homeless - mental illness, addiction, alienation etc. etc. That being said, there are people whom this will help and therefore this should rightfully be bunned.
wagster, Jun 14 2006

       Actually I don't know about that. It seems this mturk.com is rather on the side of the commercialist pigs. Don't think the best way to reenter society is by joining the enemy and don't think they will want to really. Does the term heelock mean anything to you?
zeno, Jun 14 2006

       Did a search for heelock [sp?] but couldn't find anything, will try again later.
zeno, Jun 14 2006

       Well, I found heloc (home equity line of credit) also an invention by the enemy, but it's not quite what I meant. I'll try to explain.   

       It's from an old movie. Two hobo's are watching a car go by. The one played by a bigshot moviestar says he would sure like to own that car. The other one replies with a long story explaining why he doesn't.   

       It starts with the cost of the car, but wait there's more! The car uses gas and you have to have money for that too. But then you need to get it insured and suppose you get in an accident and have to pay for repairs, and then you need a lawyer you cannot afford and you are up to your neck in debt for the rest of your life, you lose your house, you loose your wife etc. etc.   

       During this lengthy monologue the old man says things like "They're all heelocks I tell you!" "Heelocks are out to get you" "Heelocks, Heelocks" [sp?]   

       The old hobo dies and the hero finds a job and a woman. Black and white, about 90 minutes, no action, just talk and emotions, great movie. Anyone know what I'm talking about?
zeno, Jun 14 2006

       Zeno: Are you being sarcastic? People who have money and are willing to exchange it for labor are the enemy? Where else is money supposed to come from?
supercat, Jun 14 2006

       Creating good and durable trousers, selling them for money to support your family and employees=good.   

       Having children in third world countries make the trousers for less than a dollar a week=bad.   

       Where did the trousers around your butt come from [supercat]? Do you own anything that is marked <made in taiwan>?   

       You see, exchanging money for labor is not all there is to it.   

       No I was not being sarcastic. I have a job and use money to get by but I know a commercialist pig when I see one and they are the enemy of the poor, the unintelligent, the illiterate, the powerless. That's about 90% of society.
zeno, Jun 15 2006

       //Having children in third world countries make the trousers for less than a dollar a week=bad.//   

       I agree. But if you stop buying trousers from the third world those children will be even worse off.
kinemojo, Jun 15 2006

       //It seems this mturk.com is rather on the side of the commercialist pigs.//   

       Am I a commercialist pig?   

       I used mturk to spell-check my thesis. It cost me about 1/3 of what a commercial copyediting company charges. What's more, 90% of what I paid went directly to the worker, who no doubt was badly paid, but he wouldn't have earned more working for the commercial copyediting company. This service cuts out the middleman, and the middleman is normally a fat corporation. It is to employment what ebay is to retail and skype is to phone calls. Like most p2p applications, it's a wonderful, liberating and empowering service.
kinemojo, Jun 15 2006

       //am I a commercialist pig?\\   

       I hope not.   

       Let me give an example, I love examples they make everything so much more difficult to understand.   

       P2P ebay is wonderfull right? Suppose you find a box of old records on the attic, you don't even have a recordplayer anymore, so what do you do? you put them on ebay. A week later some hippy comes to your house to pick them up, he pays you a couple of bucks and goes home a very happy hippy indeed with some records he had been searching for for years. Stories like this happen every day on ebay, yes we are one big family.   

       Now the reality of the situation is that, moneywise, this kind of trading is less than 1% of all ebay trading. The rest is companies. you still might get a good deal, but you would have gotten a better deal if they weren't commercialist pigs.   

       So to get back to your idea, en grosso modo mturk is about information, information that cannot be electronically generated which means it is expensive information. Information is power is money. I think the image of a student getting a thesis checked through this system and somebody getting fair wages for it is really very romantic. Call me sceptic but I don't believe that is what mturk thrives on.   

       Anyway, that is just my belief. It is also my belief that the homeless are not up for it for fear of being exploited
zeno, Jun 15 2006

       zeno, that last commercialist pig bit is utter economics nonsense. You might have gotten a better deal how, by them charging less than they can get away with? That is the best way to guarantee that you can never get anything   

       As to the merits of the idea, the author should better define what homeless is. At a time where every Western nation is struggling to control flow of immigrants looking for work, it seems that finding low level jobs is unlikely to be the problem
theircompetitor, Jun 15 2006

       mrturk.com may not be the only source of such computer based work. The suggested organization may take on jobs directly or find other interesting, money making work.   

       Having access to the internet could also be an educational opportunity for homeless people. My local library's computer and internet access has been used by at least one (very nice) homeless man to educate himself about local opportunities.   

       Another option is providing web space for resumes or VOiP based voice mail accounts.
James Newton, Jun 16 2006

       [zeno], it's this over-intellectualized theoretical babbling that leads to inaction to help real, live human beings. Ever been homeless? Ever known any on a personal basis? Your comments would suggest not, but I'm keeping an open mind.   

       Bun for the idea. Any resource that the homeless could use to help narrow that gap between yesterday and tomorrow is a benefit.   

       Finally, I just have to scream that "the homeless" are not a thing with a unified voice or even a unified thinking. Some are actually happy. Most are not.
zigness, Jun 16 2006

       Could help out the homeless, even if one person is helped this way it's worth it. I won't enter into the economics arguement, but this idea deserves a bun.
Germanicus, Jun 17 2006

       Thank you for the open mind [zigness], I do not deserve it, I am a prejudiced basterd. I think 90% of the homeless are filthy alcoholics who couldn't hold on to a job if their life depended on it.   

       I know one homeless person by name. He is about 70 years old, really skinny. He has worked all his life in the machine rooms of big ships going around the world. He is as tough as nails, still surviving winters. He is very friendly and a lovely old guy. He get's a little pension and spends it all on alcohol, he is crazy, he doesn't have a clue about what's going on around him, he is a total nut job even when he is sober. He is very dirty. I picked him up from the street when he was to old, weak and drunk to walk and had fallen on his face breaking his teeth, I freed him from the toilet when he locked himself in because of being to old and weak and drunk.   

       My earlier point was that it is commercialist pigism that allows for people to become homeless and now it is suggested that it will be commercialist pigism that will save them. Note that I did not fishbone the idea, I just think it's not that easy.
zeno, Jun 17 2006

       People becoming homeless has nothing to do with capitalism in any sensical way -- at least not in a way that semantically matches the use of the word "homeless" here. In other words, we're not talking about the guy that lost his house cause the township ran a highway through it.
theircompetitor, Jun 17 2006

       //I used mturk to spell-check my thesis... This service cuts out the middleman, and the middleman is normally a fat corporation. It is to employment what ebay is to retail and skype is to phone calls. Like most p2p applications, it's a wonderful, liberating and empowering service.// nonsense. It is a lame attempt to get suckers to do real work at almost no pay.   

       Since I originally read about mturk on here, I tried it out. I explored it. I did some HITs (those are Human Intelligence Tasks). I've made 16 cents. I didn't want to comment on mturk without direct knowledge, so I investigated.   

       In it's current implementation it's a lot of things, but it ain't "wonderful, liberating, or empowering". As a website it doesn't even work very well. I started doing one (a short podcast transcription) that would have paid $3.23 for about an hour and a half worth of work. I thought I'd give it a go and get some good typing practice. However, I inadvertently hit the enter key while the page was up, and it said, "you've submitted your work... thanks." That was it. Couldn't get it back. I gave up.   

       The only bright spot was a guy on there who is paying a penny for your thoughts. Give him a thought, and he'll give you a penny. I thought that was creative.
zigness, Jun 30 2006

       food: dumpsterdiving known as freeganism   

       a place to live: rooftops
beanangel, Feb 24 2008

       Yeah. Forget any kind of dignity and self respect you may have. You will do marginal work hunched over an out of date computer that has absolutely no potential for advancement and drags you further away from any kind of meaningful life. If I had to choose between the two I think I would stick to panhandling.
WcW, Feb 25 2008

       I rather like the concept, but the execution (as detailed above) seems to be lacking. Having not checked out this mturk site, I can't really comment with my own experience.   

       The concept of a free and open labour marketplace for unskilled/casual labour is/can be a good thing. Perhaps it could be done in a barter fashion whereby payment is in the form of coupons for low cost housing (catered) or some other such currency, in addition to funding put into a savings account/managed fund or otherwise. The idea being to build up savings to eventually "get out of the system", or not if you so desire. This is getting rather close to the often touted "work for the dole scheme". As I see it, the most effort needs to go into ensuring that the workers are not exploited <any more than necessary...> and the only real chance you have of doing this is making it government run. And then you have socialism, or something pretty close to it.   

       So I don't really know the answer, but a heartfelt bun for anyone trying...
Custardguts, Feb 25 2008

       Capitalism provides no mechanism to protect people from demeaning and dangerous work as long as there are desperate workers always available to replace the fallen. I would rather have a welfare state than a darwinian state where personalitiy traits that I can understand and even commend can doom a person to the most dehumanizing work.
WcW, Feb 25 2008

       //Forget any kind of dignity and self respect you may have. You will do marginal work hunched over an out of date computer that has absolutely no potential for advancement and drags you further away from any kind of meaningful life//

That's a crock. The premise of the idea is that some percentage of homeless people are homeless because they have no money, they have no money because they have no job, and they have no job because they have no home address. Assuming that these people actually *want* a home, the solution is to provide money (via providing a job) which doesn't require a home address. The "potential for advancement" derives from providing the money which may provide a home address which may provide a better job. You think that becoming a contributing member of society is "further away from any kind of meaningful life"? I would suggest that it's precisely the opposite.
angel, Feb 25 2008

       Why is it acceptable to presume that because they are homeless they have no usefull skills? Or would not be able to learn such. Shame.
WcW, Feb 26 2008

       I tried out some podcast transcriptions on mturk.com to see how much money I could make. After repeated attempts, I concluded that I could make no more than $4 an hour. It is, however, a good way to learn about random topics, such as Hawaiian business communities, or internet security firms.
Cuit_au_Four, Feb 26 2008

       //Why is it acceptable to presume that because they are homeless they have no usefull skills?//

That's not the presumption. The presumption is that because they are homeless, they're unable to get a job which requires a home address, regardless of their useful skills. The current idea enables them to attain a home address.
angel, Feb 26 2008

       At 4$ an hour? Home ownership? Thats a pipe dream, even in a community where the cost of living is quite low. Generally the homless live in areas where even a modest flat can be quite expensive. Some people make more money panhandling than people living in my home town make at minimum wage. Even with a solid income securing a morgage or leasing would be impossible for someone with bad credit or a criminal history. These people really are screwed and getting them involved in work from home schemes isn't going to solve that.
WcW, Feb 26 2008

       //Home ownership?//

Not necessarily. A home address does not imply home ownership.

//Generally the homless live in areas where even a modest flat can be quite expensive.//

I would have thought that the homeless, by definition, don't live in any particular area.

//Some people make more money panhandling than people living in my home town make at minimum wage.//

Those people are not, then, the target for this idea, which is aimed at that section of the homeless who want a home address and a job.
angel, Feb 26 2008

       Yes, wouldn't it be nice.... Such obvious opportunities for these people. They must simply be to lazy to take us up on these wonderful opportunities. No problems here.
WcW, Feb 26 2008

       Snarking doesn't really help. Given the premise of the idea, the solution it offers seems perfectly reasonable to me. Which aspect are you denying, the premise or the solution?
angel, Feb 26 2008

       Neither. However offering a homeless person menial work at a marginal wage doesn't seem like an effective solution to help them leave the homeless lifestyle. The unskilled labor on the internet is so marginal that it isn't even taking hold in the third world. And where do they go from there? Why not simply give FREE REAL TRAINING in real skills in demand? This online work looks more like torture IMHO.
WcW, Feb 26 2008

       Well, it could be argued that a significant part of the transition from relying on welfare to supporting oneself is to do with the change in mindset from parasite to contributor. No doubt there are many who prefer to live as the former; I understand that this idea is aimed at those prefer the latter, who believe that there is more dignity, and more moral integrity, in working than there is in relying on the labour of others.
angel, Feb 27 2008

       'work will make you free'
WcW, Feb 27 2008

       You could pay a homeless man for the opportunity to shoot him with a gun.   

       This would be breaking the cycle.   

       I'm pretty sure that idea is baked, though.
mylodon, Feb 27 2008

       If they knew how to rummage for berries and catch fish they might enjoy a life in the countryside. Perhaps Ray Mears should get involved in some practical wild-man lessons for the homeless.
theleopard, Feb 27 2008

       I think the trouble with a homeless in the wild is that they make a mess. Scattered rusty pushcarts, broken records, torn clothes hanging from tree branches, broken glass, soggy books -- they'd just drag the city detritus along with them, and ruin it for everyone who wants to go out and just enjoy nature. It's easy to sweep up in an alleyway -- not so easy scattered in the underbrush.   

       If possible, homeless should be kept in K-Mart parking lots.
mylodon, Feb 27 2008

       //'work will make you free'//

Godwin's Law rears its head. Once again disregarding the snark, if you consider that the ability to partake in a voluntary exchange of goods and labour characterises freedom, then you are correct. The converse is that if (some portion of) the fruit of anyone's labour is forcibly taken from him, then he is, to that degree, not free, and those responsible for the taking are, to the same degree, violating his freedom. In the present scenario, those doing the taking are those who obtain some good without exchanging it for equal value, while those being violated are those whose labour pays for that good. To that extent, it is the work of those who *do* work which provides the 'freedom' for those who don't. It's an odd form of freedom that's posited on the slavery of others.
angel, Feb 27 2008

       was not being snarky i was refering to the slippery slope of this sort of reasoning. Maybe suggesting that you could put this in your Potemkin Village is more up you cultural alley. Conservative ideologs have always hated placing thier rational on a moral contenum. We know the relative direction of social darwinism we just can't talk about how far.
WcW, Feb 27 2008

       My reasoning does not have a slope, slippery or otherwise, and if you choose to characterise my holding a minority opinion as a 'cultural alley' then so be it. Further, I'm happy to place my rationale on a moral continuum. (I assume I'm correctly interpreting your typos.) It is simply that for any stance to be moral, it must be applicable, in theory, to all. Thus it's moral that you keep the results of your labour, just as it's moral that eveyone else keeps the results of theirs. It's not moral that you take the results of my labour while giving nothing in return because if everyone did it, there would be no-one labouring. *That* would be a form of Darwinism, the survival of the parasite, which is fine until there's no-one left to parasitise.
angel, Feb 28 2008

       If 'helping out those less fortunate' is a common morality -- and it is -- doesn't it mean that if you are fortunate, and not helped out, but are helping, while someone who is unfortunate, and is being helped, all exist under the same moral law?   

       Even if it is a coerced morality (i.e. it starts to infringe on the 'stealing is bad' morality), that morality itself is still pure, isn't it? It certainly is possible for moralities to clash. They don't all have to get along.
mylodon, Feb 28 2008

       Charity is distinct from taxation because it is voluntary, whereas taxation is coerced. I regard charity as neither moral nor immoral; it depends on circumstances. Certainly, a lack of charity is not immoral, and charitable giving is not a moral obligation. Note also that I was speaking not of voluntarily 'helping out those less fortunate' but of being forced to support the indolent.

Stealing is 'bad' because it's an assault on the rights of others, namely the owner of what is stolen. To proscribe theft is not to apply 'coerced morality' - coercion is itself immoral - it's simply to protect individual rights.
angel, Feb 28 2008


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