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Millionaire Turned Homeless Man Addicted to Welfare Entitlements

 

About the author: Kevin A. Lehmann, purveyor of CatchKevin.com, is a socially moderate constitutional conservative and outspoken opponent of progressive liberalism. A self-described iconoclastic Christian, Kevin rails against big government, organized religion and the cultural, ide ... [read 's FULL BIO]

Driving down the road in Ft Myers Beach, I saw a homeless man in soiled jeans and a wool cap lying on a bench baking in the Southwest Florida sun.

Having just left an all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfast buffet (my weekly splurge for being on this suicidal Adkins diet), I stopped to make sure he wasn’t dead from heat stroke. As I approached him, he quickly sat up, and in an unusual twist of irony, said, “Can I help you?”

“Unless you have a comfortable sofa and a cabinet full of Prozac, I doubt it,” I jokingly replied, as I sat down beside him.

“I don’t got that,” he said, reaching into his pocket.

Thinking he was fumbling for a liquor bottle, he pulled out a crumpled box of Sun-Maid raisins.

“But I do have these. You want some?” he asked, his breath nearly rendering me unconscious.

“Sure,” I replied. But what do you say we eat them in my air-conditioned car?

“Oh no,” he said, as beads of sweat cascaded down his weathered face, “You don’t want me sittin’ in your car.”

“It doesn’t bother me brother,” I told him, hoping to make him feel at ease. “Come on let’s get you out of this heat,” I said, as I popped the trunk to put his worldly possessions—all of two back pack sized canvas bags—inside it.

As we sat in my old air-conditoned Mark VIII eating stale raisins, I turned the radio on only to be surprised to hear Marvin Gay’s—I Heard It Through the Grapevine—playing. I started singing along and to my pleasant surprise, he chuckled a bit and said,

“Damn you got some soul in you brother.”

We both busted out laughing.

“Yeah, well don’t tell that to my Facebook friends or liberal foes,” I said.

“I got a hardcore conservative reputation to uphold.”

“Oh you wunna them politician people?”

“Are you kidding me?” I replied. “With the skeletons in my closet, I’d be roadkill before I ever got on a ballot. What do you say we get you a good breakfast somewhere?”

You would have thought I told him his mother just died as the jovial mood quickly dissipated.

“I ain’t got no money for that” he said with his head looking down at the floorboard, “‘sides, they ain’t lettin’ no people like me in there.”

Then he turned his head and looked me straight in the eye.

“I used to be a millionaire,” he said with complete clarity.

“I used to have furniture stores. I sold peoples furniture for them and I sold excess furniture that the big companies sold me for cheap. That was back thirty years ago.”

“Oh yeah,” I replied. “I used to be a millionaire too. Are you working anywhere now?”

“Oh no!” he quickly snapped, “can’t get my stamps if I do that.”

“Do you wanna be a millionaire again?” I asked him.

“Man, I’m 68 years old. I been on welfare since I went bust. Soon as I made some money, they took my stamps and I couldn’t see the doctor no more.”

“So you chose food stamps and welfare over reaching for your new dreams?” I replied.

“I gots used to em,” he said.

“Yeah, you got addicted, didn’t you? You became a customer of the system.”

“What you mean?”

Once you got hooked on those food stamps and medicaid, the fear of losing that security blanket from the government became greater than your desire to become an entrepreneur again, didn’t it?”

“Oh yeah, it’s bad on the soul; I ain’t got no pride no more; it screwed me all up on the inside. I wanted to start another furniture business and make a lot of money again, but my mother and my friends kept saying, ‘you ain’t gonna get your stamps and medicine no more you start making any money.’ They was right, and after a while I got too scared to lose it. So I just said, the hell with it. It ain’t nothin’ to be proud of, but now I’m too damn old. It’s like drugs, you just need it. It’s fucked up. The whole damn system is fucked up. It strips you of your dignity and screws with your head.”

“Forgive me for saying this,” I replied, “but that’s when you got castrated, figuratively speaking.”

“Yeah, I got used to it and lots a years went by so fast, I ain’t got no choice no more.”

“Wow! You have no idea how badly I wish President Obama could hear you say that. I mean no disrespect, but you are exactly who Barack Obama and the progressive socialists wanna turn Americans into—a socialist nanny state where people lose their desire, their edge, and their drive. They become completely dependent on the government.”

“So how did you go broke, brother?” he asked.

“A confluence of events,” I replied.

“Lost a few million in the stock market and casinos, blew some money on the wrong women, gave money to the wrong people, got behind a few million in income taxes, and the federal government was hell bent on putting my rags to riches butt out of business instead of accepting a settlement offer.”

“Motha Fuckas” he grumbled in disgust. “You was a multi-millionaire! And now you ain’t got nothing either?”

“I wouldn’t say that. I got this car, these clothes, a hell of a woman, a hell of a son, two incredible dogs, and a God that loves me! But you know what I really have, brother?”

“What’s that?” he inquired.

“My edge, my hunger and my drive, and I refuse to let the federal government and welfare take that away from me. I’m prone to addictive tendencies myself, and that’s one addiction I refuse to acquire. It’s all about freedom. If I gave into their sugar-coated entitlements, I’d be handing them my balls in a box. It would be psychological suicide and that’s exactly what they’re banking on.”

“You gotta a unique way of explaining shit,” he said.

“Yeah, I get that a lot.”

“So, are you a radio man?”

“Damn! Are you a psychic,?” I replied.

“No man, your back window says Titan of Talk Radio.”

“Yeah, well I’m working on it,” I told him . . .

“I always aim for the stars in just about everything I do. That way if I hit the moon, I didn’t do half bad. But yeah, I have an internet radio show.”

“Well, how you broke, then? Don’t them radio people make a lot of money?”

“Just the ones that are on mainstream radio. Internet radio is a labor of love more than loot. I’m just doing my part to help keep the majority of Americans from falling into the same trap you fell into thirty years ago. Only now, it’s even worse. It seems like everyone’s giving into the system. I do offer advertising on my show, but there is one thing people love more than family or God.”

“What’s that?” he inquired.

“Their money!” I chuckled.

“I ain’t made no money in years,” he reminded me with a sullen face.

“So you broke but not on no stamps?” he inquired.

“That’s right.” I replied.

“With the little bit of money I earn at the moment, I fall below the poverty level. I’m qualified to receive medicaid and every social welfare program federal and state governments have to offer.”

“Why ain’t you takin’ it?”

“For the same reason you shouldn’t have taken it thirty years ago. It’s like I said, I’m not handing them my balls in a box, at least not freely. I use the VA in case I get sick or need medical care, but that’s only because I’m a Marine Corps veteran. If I was to take stamps or other assistance, it would be like hitting a crack pipe for the very first time. Chances are good I’d be addicted for life.”

“You ain’t lying,” he said.

“In the long run that free shit just fucks you up. It’s like a damn drug. And I ain’t never gettin’ off it now.”

“Exactly! Would you want me or anyone else that’s been laid off, gotten fired or filed bankruptcy to make the same decision you did thirty years ago?”

He hesitated for a moment before before he bowed his head and murmured . . .

“No.”

“I appreciate your honesty,” I told him.

“And you know what?”

“What?”

“Today’s a new day and you got a new friend named Kevin.”

“I don’t have no friends and I don’t want no friends,” he said.

I knew that was a self-preserving response, probably from years of being rejected and ridiculed, and I respected that.

“Fair enough,” I replied.

“But can I at least buy you breakfast?”

“You can drop me off at 7-Eleven down the highway and let me buy one of them cold sandwiches.”

“How about a real breakfast at a sit-in air conditioned restaurant?” I suggested.

“I can’t.”

“How come?”

“I’d get sick. I have a sandwich once in while and eat my raisins. But if I eat a whole meal, I get too sick. Can’t chew nothin’ hard no how.”

“When was the last time you ate a whole plate of food?” I inquired.

“Bout nine years,” he replied.

“Air condition make me sick too. Being around a lot a other people makes me nervous. Can’t get sick. No sir, can’t get sick,” he emphatically stated.

I drove him to the 7-Eleven. When we got there, I gave him a five dollar bill that he quickly stuffed into the side pocket of his old WWII issued Army field jacket. When I told him I had another five dollars worth of quarters in my console, he pulled out his coin sack—three worn out layered plastic sandwich baggies made into a portable piggy bank. Upon dropping the quarters in it, he held it up and marveled at the sunlight illuminating his new gotten silver coins.

“I usually don’t take peoples money, but you and me’s in the same boat. Difference is, you still got time. I appreciate your kindness, man.”

He then exited the car and walked around to the back to retrieve his life’s possessions from the trunk. When he closed it, he hesitated for a second and walked to the driver’s side window.

“CatchKevin.com, huh?”

“That’s me,” I replied.

“Glad, I caught Kevin today,” he said with a glean in his eye.

As he headed into the 7-Eleven I uttered,

“Godspeed, brother . . . Godspeed.”

I invite you to share your thoughts on this real life article in the comment box below.

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  • ermom

    I was brought up to NEVER take gov’t (read ‘taxpayer’) help as it is a TRAP. After all, why work if the taxpayer is going to support you? And folk who take the bait, do NOT feel good about themselves, as clearly demonstrated by this man. Sadness leads to anger, and we get the angry, entitlement generations we see currently.
    Communists’ Cloward and Piven strategy, ‘Collapsing the System under the weight of the Poor’. It’s happening right now, and the Socialists are NOT being compassionate, they are using folk, and human nature, Socialist teachings by union teachers in our public school system, for power and control.
    Fire the Marxist Liar-in-Chief when you vote or we lose our very liberty and freedoms.

  • Scott “The Dad”

    My son, who did not have the drive to focus on college his first year, has been working at a convenience store for 1.5 years. It has been a job that pays his bills as he is now out on his own. He is below the poverty line, but as a single male, it doesn’t take much to live but he has nothing leftover every month. I hope he will realize and develop a hunger to become more and raise his level of expectation for his life beyond $8.25 an hour, but as parents, we can’t force that. He must experience life firsthand. The sad part to watch as a parent is the influences he is around on a daily basis with people who do not make good life choices, (e.g. smokers, EBT cards used on expensive conv store food items, unhealthy food, low wage earners, low goal setters, etc.) This story is something I will pass on to him to see the other side of life because he has stated that he could qualify for EBT. I immediately responded with, “No, you qualify to have 2-3 low wage earning jobs. That $$ is for people in need, not 19 yr old young men who simply have to work every day.” Keep preaching Kevin.

  • this is a sad state of affairs that the US is in considering that the Socialists { i.e. liberal republicans & democrats have allowed , not just in the last 3.5 years since Obama has taken the position of President { and diminished the prestige of the office} but more to the point; has destroyed lives of people. Yes he has done incredible harm to this Country, but not just him but political figures, of whom have made many promises to the people that they represent, and have failed miserably ,like Obama, they will have to answer one day to Almighty God, for the mess that has been caused. I am a married female/45 and I am too proud to ever think of taking “entitlements” that soo many have gotten addicted to { like drugs, from a drug dealer}. The truth lies in the fact the God has given all people , not just some, BUT ALL people gifts & talents, and they never tap those talents, they instead squander their lives in a sub standard lifestyle, I believe that if you have real dreams & goals, you need to go after & have the drive to achieve them. I pray that I can inspire just one person who reads this to go & seek their dreams….

  • LFRD

    Kevin–You Gave Me Goose Bumps…I do believe that is exactly what has happened. How do we fix this? How do we get people back to their drive and respect for themselves and their family, lives? Very depressing…..my America has flushed itself down the hole.

    • noprisoners49

      We didn’t get here all in one bite, and we won’t get out of it all at once either. Baby steps. First we get as many people back working as quickly as possible. Self-respect will grow naturally for many just by being employed.

      Some, like the gentleman above, are beyond help at this point, and will continue to need our support. Younger people will need their *benefits* cut over time until they see that it is more profitable to work than starve.

      These actions must be taken in concert with tax-incentives for businesses to hire, retain, and even re-train workers. We may need to also consider tax incentives for individuals to get off entitlements. Along with this, we need public figures to start re-educating our citizens on what America really is – maybe something like JFK’s “Profiles in Courage” series. Something to inspire and motivate on a social level.

      Way back in the Cretaceous, my elementary school had a “Citizenship Program” where kids could earn rewards and recognition for helping out in the community. Home Economics could be another way of inspiring children to take personal pride in the skills set those classes would provide.

      The point is, there are things we can all do. They may seem insignificant in the face of the enormity of our problems…but we must start somewhere. And, I’ll just bet that these small steps will reap huge rewards in a short period of time.

      • LFRD

        VERY GOOD

      • StoneQueen702

        Hands on experience for kids/teens by helping out in homeless and abuse shelters would let them see what could happen to them. Mock society role playing would let them compare govt/economic/cultural models to better understand how everyone is impacted by the society around them. The problem becomes doing so in a way that doesn’t “spin left”. Kids are quite capable of responsible behavior, if they’re taught that it’s an expected norm. . .it will take a generation or two, but we can take our values back along with our Republic!

  • Zermoid

    As one deep in that trap I can relate to him. Disability, Food Stamps, Medical Assistance, Heating Assistance. You go from living to existing, and you can’t get free of it, they plan it that way. You make $20 and they cut you back $30 in benefits, it’s designed to keep you dependent, I am wholly convinced of that.

    People say quitting smoking is hard, I did that, after 20 years, I decided to quit and I did, assistance is much harder to get off of. I’d say by a magnitude of 10 if not more.

  • HeavenlyXs

    God bless you brother….I wish the lady who yelled, “Obama! He gave me a cell phone!” would read your article, and all the other liberals too. Romney would have a slam dunk election.

  • Rhiannon

    I think this is fiction. The man was a millionaire but speaks like he is illiterate? That doesn’t pass the sniff test.

  • Bear

    Kevin… this is a great story… I qualify for SSDI and food stamps… take none of it… Your Explanation of Why I don;t is better than any I could come up with…

  • Kevin, GOD was guiding your every move and words, that was a golden monment sharing with that guy.and what a lesson for us all. Free stuff get your free stuff

  • momsaid

    Kevin! First time I’ve heard of you, and…what an introduction! You are a rare person, to be able to talk so frankly and kindly with a nearly-lost soul. You brought him both friendship and acceptance. You learned what he was about, without judging or shame. Can you bottle that and sell it? It would make a nice antidote to the snake oil Obama has been selling.

  • /intheGOP

    Love your story! The system created a slave and he doesn’t even know it! So sad! Listen to the degrading speech that is “acceptable” among all races and genders! It is appalling!!

  • Tomtom

    I was fairly successful. Bought a house, owned a business, raised 2 children and was raising 2 more all by the same mother until about 4 years ago she decided she wanted a divorce. Apparently she missed out on the night life, alcoholism, and whatever else she sought and I must have been in her way. She made up some crazy story about me being some kind of SOB and while I was sleeping in bed after working 3 jobs a day, because there were no full time jobs to be had, she called the police and said I had threatened her and the kids 2 days prior to that, I was arrested and taken to jail for the first time in my life, still scratching my head on how she was able to do that. Since then I have never been able to go back to our house, she took my car, citing that hers broke down. I got nothing from the house, she got custody of the children, made my 2 eldest pick sides as though it were a war. I pay child support, but my work cut my hours due to financial constraints, I work for the church and have for almost 6 years, and now I can barely afford fuel to drive to my 2 part time jobs, can’t get hired anywhere full time due to the CPO she has on me and has her friends signing affidavits that I have been to the house doing deviant BS, and quite honestly I haven’t so much as even driven anywhere near there yet alone been on the property! I swear this statement is true to the good lords name!!!! She also uses her false sense of power to keep my little ones away from me, it’s been 2 years since I last heard or seen them and it breaks my heart like nothing I’ve ever imagined! I strive to do better but it seems as though the best I can do is what I am doing and I receive $200 on a food card each month, can’t get any medical because I am a single male with no children in my household, which honestly if it weren’t for some family and friends I’d be completely homeless. Hell, I don’t even own silverware or a cup or plate! It’s such a shame that our government would allow someone who cries wolf and uses the system to hurt someone she spent 22 years with over her own greed and selfishness! When I am not working at the church or cleaning medical facilities I am volunteering my time at a veteran home helping with activities with those that have served our country, but have dementia and Alzheimer’s and it feels good to walk in and see their faces light up because I am there! I smile throughout my day, but inside I have this emptiness that at times, can overwhelm me and I can’t go through my day without needing to shun this feeling deep inside me so I won’t show weakness to those who look to me for guidance and support! I am a god fearing man, who literally fell victim to the American dream and the American way! My only hope is that someone will come along and change the way things are done and equality becomes just that, an equal opportunity for all and justice isn’t based upon trying to prevent being sued by not doing their job due to what others have done in the past, speaking of domestic violence, or the allegations that seem to be made by some even though it is far from the truth!!! The true victims are my children, my integrity and others who’s hands are tied due to A corrupt government and the faulty system which is biased and self preserving!!!