A Tale of Two Homeless Men

I posit a hypothesis regarding two homeless men and how they would be commonly viewed by the typical man on the street, as expressed by current government policy.

These two men are the same in all observed respects except as noted related to location and activity.

The first man encamps upon a bench in an urban park.  His activity includes begging from those passing him on their way to and from jobs, and receiving food and emergency lodging paid by the government.

The second man encamps in a wilderness park and has very infrequent contact with any other person.  He builds a shelter, plants a garden, traps game, and catches fish in the nearby river.

Based upon public policy, what is our evaluation of these two men?

The urban homeless man is at liberty to squat unmolested by the police.  Further, he has a “right” to sustenance provide by others.

In contrast, the wilderness homeless man is a trespasser who infringes upon the public’s “right”.  He will be subject to harassment from park rangers and possibly prosecuted.  His efforts to turn a wilderness into a place fit for human habitation is a “blight” and the property that he created will not be legally protected.

Consider the contrast.

  • Does this correctly describe typical facts that we observe?
  • Do you agree with this public evaluation of these two men?
  • What are the principles that you used to make your evaluation?
  • How do these principles apply to issues in the current political discussion?

Add your answers below, or link to this post if you answer on your own blog.

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4 Responses to A Tale of Two Homeless Men

  1. Gerald says:

    I wish it were not true, but you are correct in your assessment. Despite the fact that the wilderness man would be seen in a better light by the public at large, the government has no use for him as a self-sustaining non-taxpayer.


  2. Donald says:

    It’s not quite as simple as that. What does the wilderness man do with his waste? Are the animals he kills public property or do they belong to someone? Is he using his environment in a sustainable way, or will his hunting lead to a depletion of animals? There really are a lot more factors to consider, in both cases, that what has been put forth above.


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