"A hand up, not a handout” is a political saying, most popular with conservatives. Government handouts are often associated with income redistribution from earners to non-earners. “A hand up, not a handout” means help up out of poverty and not simply providing free money and free services.
The saying “a hand up, not a handout” has been cited in print since at least 1937; in William Safire’s The New Language of Politics (1968), it was described as “a political cliché.”
A handout is something given freely or distributed gratis (without compensation). It can refer to materials handed out for presentation purposes or to a charitable gift, among other things.
During the Great Depression, many people lived entirely on handouts of one kind or another. The term became especially popular among hobos, who developed a system of signs and symbols to describe the nature, quantity, and availability of handouts.
In more recent times, the perceived ineffectiveness of simple welfare schemes has given the term a negative connotation. “Give a hand up, not a handout” is a common remark among proponents of workfare or other welfare-to-work systems. As the issue of homelessness has become more visible and controversial, handouts to panhandlers are more often frowned upon by those who believe the behavior encourages homelessness. The term “government handout” is often applied to both welfare systems as well as corporate welfare or pork. The implication is that a handout is unearned and undeserved, unlike a “donation” or “contribution”.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
That which is handed out; spec. (a) food or alms given to a beggar at the door; (b) a gift of money. orig. U.S.
1882 SWEET & KNOX Texas Siftings 195 If I can’t get a ‘hand-out’ for it I can at least expatiate on its merits.
1887 M. ROBERTS Western Avernus 71 ‘Bummers’ is American for beggars, and a ‘hand out’ is a portion of food handed out to a bummer or a tramp at the door when he is not asked inside.
1896 Dialect Notes I. 418 Hand-out, clothes such as a tramp asks for.
1896 ADE Artie vi. 50, I see barrel-house boys goin’ around for hand outs that was more on the level than you was. 1903 Daily Chron. 4 Apr. 5/2 The weekly hand-out for the butcher.
1904 ‘O. HENRY’ Trimmed Lamp (1916) 32 Pretty soon I was in the free-bed line and doing oral fiction for hand-outs among the food bazaars.
9 July 1920, Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID), pg. 4, col. 2:
A HAND, NOT A HAND-OUT.
The soldier bonus is dead.
22 September 1937, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 6, col. 2:
Suggests “Hand Up,” Not
“Handout,” for Juveniles
The president of the International Optimist clubs, William J. Tamblyn of Toronto, Canada this morning was optimistic about the organization’s crime-prevention program among boys, about the serious polio situation in Toronto, even about the international political situation.
Tamblyn, superintendent of schools in a swanky Toronto, suburb, spoke at the meeting of the Omaha club this noon at the Elks club, explaining that the aim of the organization’s youth program is to co-operate with existing authorities and “boy-specialists” to give under-privileged boys “a hand up, not a handout.”
16 October 1938, Washington (DC) Post:
“‘Give a Hand Up—Not a Handout’ is the slogan adopted for the 1938 (Washington, DC—ed.) Community Chest appeal.”
11 January 1943, New York (NY) Times, “Gives 3-Point Plan for Republicans; Stassen Maximum Production and Employment in Free Industrial System,” pg. 6:
“The Republican party’s program must offer to other nations, after the war, a helping hand, not a hand-out,” (Minnesota Governor—ed.)Stassen declared.
Catholic Social Education:
Principles and purposes in the social studies program for Catholic secondary schools
By Thomas J. Quigley
New York, NY: W.H. Sadlier
Charity is not a “handout,” it is a “hand-up.”
8 November 1954, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, “Up and Down the Street” by the Want-Ad Reporter, pg. 34, cols. 1-2:
‘The clothing you donate,” Francis says, “helps to give some handicapped person a job in one of our Goodwill stores. Out slogan for handicapped people is ‘Not charity, but a chance.’ Another slogan I like is ‘A hand up, not a hand out.’ The handicapped people who work for us become tax payers, not tax burdens.”
7 April 1961, Gadsden (AL) Times, “Kennedy Foreign Aid” by Paul Harvey, pg. 4, col. 5:
President Kennedy’s new look in foreign aid proposes that each do something toward becoming self-sustaining. We will provide a hand-up, not a hand-out.
I am still unenthusiastic about foreign aid, per se, because the best laid plans too often go astray in administration.
23 March 1962, New York (NY) Times, Editorial:
A Hand Up, Not a Handout
27 October 1965, Dallas (TX) Morning News, Editorial, pg. D4:
Hand Up, Not Handout
IF WE ARE to avoid total government in this country, we must find ways to help people who need and deserve help without relying exclusively on the cure-all of government handout.
The New Language of Politics:
An anecdotal dictionary of catchwords, slogans, and political usage
By William Safire
New York, NY: Random House
Handout is an attack word on welfare payments. A political cliché is “People want a hand up, not a handout.” The word has connotations of begging; the usage began in the late nineteenth century hobo lingo, referring to the bundle of clothes or plate of food given at the beck door.
28 June 1972, Boca Raton (FL) News, “Washington Merry-Go-Round” by Jack Anderson, pg. 5A, col. 2:
McGovern will take the offensive against the welfare mess. He will promise reforms that will give the poor a “hand up, not a hand out.” He will warn that the United States is solidifying into a class society. He won’t seek to take money from the over-privileged and give to the underprivileged so much as to offer the lower classes the opportunity to pull themselves up into the upper classes.
Google News Archive
5 August 1982, Palm Beach (FL) Post, “House Approves Program To Replace Expiring CETA,” pg. A4. col. 3:
“This is a joint effort to get back to the essential elements and purposes of job training acts—to help the most disadvantaged and to work on the serious problems or production,” said Rep. James Jeffords of Vermont, the ranking minority member of the House Education and Labor Committee. “We’re giving them a hand up, not a handout.”
New York (NY) Times
Looking Good Thanks to Some Who Care
Published: August 7, 1993
Photo: The Newark Veterans Stand Down, with the theme of “A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out,” began yesterday at the Rutgers University athletic field. The event, which ends tomorrow, provided hundreds of homeless veterans and their families with food, shelter, jobs, health care and social service assistance. Anthony Buchanan admired his new haircut. (Sam D’Amico for The New York Times)
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (0) Comments • Sunday, November 14, 2010 • Permalink