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Amsterdam pays alcoholics with beer

posted 12/5/2013 12:05:35 PM |
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I don't think this is a good idea. As a matter of fact, I think it's pretty nutty.

AMSTERDAM — After more than a decade out of work because of a back injury and chronic alcoholism, Fred Schiphorst finally landed a job last year and is determined to keep it.

He gets up at 5:30 a.m., walks his dog and then puts on a red tie, ready to clean litter from the streets of eastern Amsterdam.

“You have to look sharp,” said Schiphorst, 60, a former construction worker.

His workday begins unfailingly at 9 a.m. — with two cans of beer, a down payment on a salary paid mostly in alcohol. He gets two more cans at lunch and then another can or, if all goes smoothly, two to round off a productive day.

“I’m not proud of being an alcoholic, but I am proud to have a job again,” said Schiphorst, the grateful beneficiary of an unusual government-funded program to lure alcoholics off the streets by paying them in beer to pick up trash.

In addition to beer — the brand varies depending on which brewery offers the best price — each member of the cleaning team gets half a packet of rolling tobacco, free lunch and 10 euros a day, or about $13.55.

The program, started last year by the Rainbow Foundation, a private but mostly government-funded organization that helps the homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics get back on their feet, is so popular that there is a long waiting list of chronic alcoholics eager to join the beer-fueled cleaning teams.

One of the project’s most enthusiastic supporters is Fatima Elatik, the mayor of Amsterdam’s eastern district. As a practicing Muslim, Elatik disapproves of alcohol but says she believes that alcoholics “cannot be just ostracized” and told to shape up.

It is better, she said, to give them something to do and to restrict their drinking to a limited amount of beer with no hard alcohol.

The Columbus Dispatch

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Comments:

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sugarnspice005

Dec 5 @ 12:51PM  
I'll agree it's "nutty", but, it has it's benefits.

At least he and others are not just sitting around begging for money to get booze, they are cleaning the streets and earning their booze and getting a drink.

They're getting paid so they can eat. I know, alcoholics drink..but sometimes they eat.

It's not perfect, but it's better than letting them waste away.

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Amsterdam pays alcoholics with beer