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Bitcoin The Almighty Buck The Internet

Homeless, Unemployed, and Surviving On Bitcoins 403

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-does-money-become-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Wired profiles a homeless man who's supporting himself primarily through Bitcoin. Jesse Angle, a former network engineer, earns small amounts throughout the day by visiting various websites that pay him to look at ads. He then converts it to gift certificates and uses the certificates to buy food. '"It's a lot less embarrassing," he says. "You don't have to put yourself out there." And unlike panhandling in Pensacola, using an app like Bitcoin Tapper won't put him on the wrong side of the law. This past May, Pensacola — where Angle has lived since April — passed an ordinance that bans not only panhandling but camping on city property.' Angle learned about Bitcoin from a charity organization called Sean's Outpost that wanted something better than PayPal for accepting donations over the internet. The organization has even opened an outreach center paid for solely with Bitcoins. Founder Jason King said, 'Bitcoin beats the s#!% out of regular money, We've resonated so well with people because it's direct action. There's no chaff between donation and helping people.'"
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Homeless, Unemployed, and Surviving On Bitcoins

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  • Oh my god (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:05AM (#44902959)

    We've reached peak hipster.

    is it a failure of the US social safety net that this man has to do this?

  • Homelessness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:13AM (#44903073)

    This past May, Pensacola — where Angle has lived since April — passed an ordinance that bans not only panhandling but camping on city property.

    They can pass all the laws they want, but until they do something about unemployment, mental illness, and drug abuse, people will continue begging for money and "camping" on city property. You can put them in jail (which, for some, would be a step up in living conditions), but then you'll spend a lot of money while doing nothing to address the actual problem.

  • Re:Homeless? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:19AM (#44903139)

    Indeed. This isn't a real homeless person -- the type who not only doesn't have a job, but doesn't have much chance of getting a job (any job). This is merely a person who refuses to work "beneath himself". We all know he could have a job at Wal-Mart, 7-11, or McDonald's within a few hours. He just refuses to do it.

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:20AM (#44903147) Homepage

    is it a failure of the US social safety net that this man has to do this?

    Maybe, or maybe not. If he has to do this, because he's unable to obtain any other employment even with heavy searching, then yes. If he prefers this to any other position or hasn't tried to find such a position, then no.

    The biggest problem in charity is telling the difference between the two.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:20AM (#44903153)

    I saw large screen laptops, a smart phone, monster energy drink, bottled water, etc. in the articles photos. However, he was bummed out he lost power while playing a game on said large screen laptop. I guess it does suck being destitute in the US. Imagine your CoD game cut short. I will call BS on the poor homeless pity me routine.

  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:20AM (#44903159)

    This sounds like something from a Futurama episode.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:25AM (#44903215)

    And 2 packs of cigarettes, that like $8 right there. Like many who do the boohoo routine about being poor, they can't control their own spending and spend on the most frivolous things all the while saying "I can't live." What bullshit.

  • Re:Why bitcoin? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sqr(twg) (2126054) on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:30AM (#44903287)

    Those who are paying him are using fradulent methods to inflate view counters, so they want to stay anonymous.

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:35AM (#44903365)

    is it a failure of the US social safety net that this man has to do this?

    Of course not. He is earning a living. Why would it be better if he was on the dole? The safety net should be for people that can't work, not those who just don't want to.

  • Re:Why bitcoin? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:40AM (#44903431)

    So lets put you charity spending in a place where you cannot get tax deductions for it. Smart, way to stick it to the man!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:46AM (#44903483)

    Who knows if this story is true or not, it just doesn't seem to add up. Thanks to Jimmy Kimmel you can't trust ANYTHING you see on the internet anymore. The internet's best days are behind it.

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:46AM (#44903491) Homepage

    There's a major difference between being capable of doing a job, and being able to hold the job. Mental illness isn't often evident in a quick interview, but after a few months on the job it may be obvious. He could then be fired for "poor attitude" or similar reason, especially if the employer doesn't understand the illness. After a few such events, his job history is full of short jobs that ended with him being fired, and that effectively ends his career.

    IT specifically is a field full of outcasts. We have disproportionately high rates of several mental illnesses, especially on the autism spectrum. The people who never fit in anywhere else? They still don't fit in here, but it's okay because the rest of us don't, either.

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitalsolo (1175321) on Friday September 20, 2013 @11:18AM (#44903869) Homepage
    Absolutely. All we have to do is take it from those that are earning the money, and give it to those that aren't. If 50% of the society works really hard and makes a bunch of money, but we just pay 100% of society equally, it'll all work out.

    Of course, that 50% number is going to dwindle in both number and quality of output as you remove any and all reward for their work. "Atta boy" will work for some, but I think the math is going to fail on that one in the long term.

    To put this differently; I have a cousin who doesn't do shit. At all. She's a worthless drag on society with 5 children. I work my ass off to the tune of 60-70 hours a week, every week, sometimes quite a bit more than that. If she and I are suddenly paid the same, I am staying home and playing XBOX, fuck this work stuff.
  • by DarkTempes (822722) on Friday September 20, 2013 @11:19AM (#44903885)
    He doesn't pay for internet. He uses free public wifi in a park. He mainly survives off of food stamps but uses the bitcoin revenue to supplement that.
    I seriously doubt he pays a phone bill unless it's prepaid, certainly not for data. Bitcoin doesn't require a bank account (which often charges a monthly fee if you have too little money) and people can't beat you up and take your bitcoins.

    And exactly how is selling your laptop to maybe afford one more month of rent going to help your living situation? Then you're just homeless without a laptop.
    I think he has proved that keeping the laptop is worth its weight in food as a potential income source.

    I don't understand why people always hate on the homeless. Is it so impossible to imagine a situation where you're down on your luck and fall through the cracks? Not everyone has a safety net of family and friends. I almost feel like the idea scares people so much that they get reflexively angry about as a form of denial.

    "It's impossible! This could obviously never happen to me and so these people must be scammers, scum, or addicts!"
  • Re:Oh my god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Friday September 20, 2013 @11:44AM (#44904219)

    young men are last on the list when shelters are overcrowded.

    As a single young man I can say that single young men are last on the list for just about everything.

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeff Flanagan (2981883) on Friday September 20, 2013 @11:55AM (#44904385)
    >To put this differently; I have a cousin who doesn't do shit. At all. She's a worthless drag on society with 5 children.
    >I work my ass off to the tune of 60-70 hours a week, every week, sometimes quite a bit more than that. If she and I are suddenly paid the same,
    >I am staying home and playing XBOX, fuck this work stuff.

    I don't think anyone is suggesting you'd be paid the same. I haven't seen anyone suggesting that we ban work. In a free basic income system, people would still be able to earn more money, they just wouldn't have a miserable life if they're poorly adapted to our current society. Your "worthless" cousin might have some more money in her pocket, but you can still make widgets to sell to her to improve your situation. A purely communist country would be just as bad as a completely capitalist one. You always need balance between a free market and social services.

    Even if everyone was paid the same, which I think is a terrible idea, many of us are smart, capable people who enjoy and take great satisfaction from our work.
  • Re:Oh my god (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @12:03PM (#44904483)
    Yes but mentally ill becomes homeless quite fast, especially in a third world banana republic where the citizen comes last.
  • Re:Oh my god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @12:04PM (#44904493)

    Yes, holding down a job is tough when you are struggling with things like depression or any other mental illness. I compare it juggling with an extra ball added. While we are all juggle with ups and downs in life, I go into severe funks and cut myself off from the world.

    I have been fighting it for years and it makes it hard to concentrate. I also take things really hard when I don't know something or can't figure out something right away. So people think I just don't care sometimes when the opposite is actually true.

    While I can hold a job and went to a good school...its pretty middling work and I had poor grades. It makes me very frustrated and angry when I look back at this because I lost a good chunk of my youth sitting around waiting for the world to come crashing down on me.

    My experience has been that hard work and really investing in therapy has paid the most dividends. While I do take medicines like Prozac, and it does help, being totally honest with a strong group of people (led by a very competent counselor) about my situation and past gets me away from the crushing isolation I feel sometimes. The sad thing is, the whole mental health system in this country (US) puts almost all its stock to treat illness it doesn't really understand with medicines that they don't really seem to understand. Also the US has a rapidly deteriorating safety net and more and more people that could be treated and put back into circulation as productive members of society are just falling through the cracks of this country.

    I don't mean to be too political, but I have taken food stamps at one time and I can't believe the politicians are trying to cut it off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @12:11PM (#44904563)

    I have a word for it! It's BULLSHIT. Nothing to get the weekend going like another bit coin bullshit story!

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Friday September 20, 2013 @12:44PM (#44904993)

    young men are last on the list when shelters are overcrowded.

    As a single young man I can say that single young men are last on the list for just about everything.

    Wait'll you're a single old man, and we'll talk. Oh yeah, I'll be dead then.

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:4, Insightful)

    by realityimpaired (1668397) on Friday September 20, 2013 @12:54PM (#44905099)

    Give them a basic salary and then choose what menial position the Bureau of Suggested (Forced) Labor deems is best for their skills. Maybe that is doing stupid shit on the internet, I don't know, nor care, but they damn well should be doing SOMETHING.

    Finding a job is, itself, a full time job. What you're proposing is a bad idea, because once you get into a workfare system, it's damned near impossible to get out of it because you don't have the time to either upgrade your skills or search for a better job. Meanwhile, every time it's been implemented to date, it works out to paying *significantly* less than minimum wage.

    Some people will abuse the system. People will always find a way to abuse the system. But the system should *not* be set up to penalize everybody for the actions of a few, especially not when setting it up that way ends up making it impossible to get out of the system.

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flimflammer (956759) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:15PM (#44906835)

    Let me ask you: if you had a friend who you knew was sleeping in a carport, wouldn't you offer them a bed - or at least whatever space you do have? If your answer is "it depends on", then many of the things you are about to say tend to be traits common in someone with mental illness.

    Is it really that simple, though? Sure if I learned a friend of mine was homeless I would offer them a couch to crash on until they got back on their feet but this is also only possible due to my lifestyle. If I had a family to worry about, this might not be such an easy commitment to make, let alone the added cost of taking care of a homeless person no matter who they are with potentially no foreseeable fix in sight.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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