So one piece of news that has generated much discussion came out of the South by Southwest festival in Austin. BBH hired several homeless men to act as walking hot-spots. Naturally, this has provoked some reactions:
Although this is ostensibly about giving the homeless money—BBH says they keep all the proceeds from those who pay for 4G access—it’s categorically awful, and all for the convenience of SXSW’s widely well-off patrons.
But it gives the homeless jobs! Yes, as would using them as human coffee tables, or hunting them as game, or having them dance for pennies in Superman outfits at your next dinner party. Working as hotspot is worse than not working at all.
Similar reactions have sprung up all over the internet. I’ve thought about it or a couple of days and I’ve come up with the following thought:
Get over yourselves.
I’m reminded very strongly of the idiots who run around slagging jobs at Walmart as being beneath the dignity of the unemployed and poor (see Penn and Teller take on this line of bullshit here). They don’t seem to able to process this simple precept: work is work. Not all of us can get cushy jobs as pundits and writers and politicians. To be frank, I have more respect for someone who slogs it out at Walmart or as a maid than or someone who’s never had a lick of the slate in their entire life. They’re providing a wireless service. That’s a bigger contribution to society than half the twerps on Capital Hill.
If a homeless person is willing to be paid to be a hotspot, good for him. He’s providing a service and making money. There’s no indignity in that. I find it incredibly arrogant and condescending for someone with a good job to tell someone without one that they shouldn’t take that job. Who the fuck are you to tell this person what he can and can not do?
True, the job won’t last. True, probably most of them will be back where they started a week from now. But at least they’ll have a little more money in their pockets. Is that so bad?
Frankly, I don’t know what it is with the snobbery of the Left. They seem to think that outlawing cheap insurance will give everyone great insurance. Banning bad housing will put everyone in good homes. And forbidding “degrading jobs” — whether its being a human hotspot, working at Walmart or hooking — will somehow give everyone a job at Apple.
It’s bullshit. Insurance is insurance. A home is a home. And work is work. As long as these guys are doing it of their own free will, I have no problem with it. And as for BBH — the evil company doing this — I’ll just note that they’re doing more to help the homeless than 90% of the people criticizing them.