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Bitcoin The Almighty Buck The Internet

Homeless, Unemployed, and Surviving On Bitcoins 403

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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  • Not bitcoins. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @11:31AM (#44903309)

    earns small amounts throughout the day by visiting various websites that pay him to look at ads.

    He's not "surviving on bitcoins", he's surviving off ad viewing.
    This has been around long before bitcoin, and will be around long after.
    What currency he chooses to get paid in really isn't important, but hey, you need people to click your damn story.

  • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Informative)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Friday September 20, 2013 @11:32AM (#44903319)
    Have you compared the price of those energy drinks with a bag of apples or coffee?

    I wouldn't call coffee nutritious in any way, but I know that I can get about 5 pounds of bananas, 1 pound of beans, or 2 pounds of rice for the price of one of those "energy drinks".
  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Friday September 20, 2013 @11:35AM (#44903361) Homepage

    expect a clampdown to get taxes from it, though it will be couched in verbiage of For The People they will demand government scrutiny and regulation.

    It doesn't need to be. Americans are already legally obligated to report capital gains from trading in Bitcoins, and any income measured in Bitcoins must be reported as income, converted to dollars. If people aren't reporting such details, they're actually engaging in tax evasion, and can be caught just like any other evaders.

    Having gone through the investigation process myself, it turns out it's not really that big of a deal. The IRS sends you a letter with a phone number, which you can call and talk to an agent about it. Being willing to correct mistakes is a big factor in resolving the issue quickly. If someone doesn't report Bitcoins because they don't realize they have to, they can just file an amendment to their return that reflects the correct figures, and send in a check to cover the difference. The IRS will check the return again, and determine whether they believe it or not. Repeat as necessary. Again, the key is to not be hostile towards the IRS. Believe it or not, they're people, too.

    In my case, I got a notice saying the IRS thought I owed a few thousand dollars. I rechecked my paperwork, found that I owed about $400, and sent in an amendment and a check. They responded saying they didn't accept a certain deduction for which I had no verifiable paperwork. I sent in a signed letter attesting that it was valid. They then sent me a notice saying that they owed me a few hundred dollars, along with a check. The numbers all finally matched, so that was the end of it.

  • Re:Why bitcoin? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aaden42 ( 198257 ) on Friday September 20, 2013 @12:18PM (#44903873) Homepage

    Opening a US bank account generally requires a permanent address and proof of [traditional] employment. Not something the homeless are likely to get. Even an account established pre-homelessness likely had some minimum balance required to keep it open. Keeping that last $100 or so locked up to maintain an account when you’re hungry isn’t a choice I think many would make.

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

    by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Friday September 20, 2013 @01:56PM (#44905137)

    With proper mental health care, a great deal of those people could be medicated, counseled and otherwise treated to the point where they could become contributing members of society, and the ones that are too far gone for that, could be off the streets and getting proper care somewhere.

    We have free/public health care in Canada, as well as public drug plans like the Trillium plan here in Ontario, which can offer up to 100% drug coverage depending on your income level. We still have homeless people with mental illness. We probably have less than in the US, but you can only help people who want to be helped, and some people will always choose to live on the street. (some people will end up there because they don't realize they have a choice, but that is a different discussion entirely)

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller