The Difference Between a Handout, a Bailout, and a Gift

by Ron Haynes


A few days ago, I wrote how children learning to manipulate their parents and inadvertently come to believe that money has no end because when parents say “We don’t have the money,” or “We can’t afford it,” money seems to magically appear if the child is convincing enough. Children learn that a good enough story, a loud enough cry, or a well timed tear, can produce the needed cash!

Children take these money lessons with them into adulthood.

Begging DogThe lesson learned? Begging works. Adults resort to the handout just to quell the cries for candy, dessert, a new bicycle, or (fill in the blank). A handout is “a portion of food, clothing, or money given to or as if to a beggar.” Our tax dollars go for handouts to any one one of a number of different constituencies. We give handouts to other countries, defense contractors, university researchers, or any group that can afford to hire a professional beggar lobbyist.

Though bailouts are a little different, they are in essence the same thing. The operative word is “bail.” I was in deep trouble the last time I needed to be bailed out! (another story) Bailouts are defined as a rescue from financial distress. We’ve resorted to bailouts for all sorts of industries, corporations, organizations, and sometimes, people do need to be “bailed out,” but I personally have a hard time bailing out a failing industry or company. Successful companies (those that make money by serving customers and responsibly managing their assets) never need to be bailed out. To do so rewards bad behavior and punishes those who played by the rules from the beginning.

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A gift is something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation. When you give a gift, you don’t (or shouldn’t) expect anything in return. When someone gives YOU a gift, you shouldn’t feel obligated to return the favor (though we always DO feel that obligation, don’t we?), but you should always show gratitude. A gift is targeted toward a specific someone and there’s nothing better than giving a gift to someone who cannot repay you!

I love to give gifts to people I don’t know. When a new Chik-Fil-A opened in my town, it gave away free sandwiches in a promotional effort. Two boys, who appeared to be very low income, asked if the store was giving away free milk shakes. The cashier smiled and said, “No, just the sandwiches.” They got their sandwiches and ordered water with them. After they sat down, I bought two milk shakes and asked the cashier if she would deliver them and NOT tell the boys who paid for them. It was such a joy seeing their faces!

What makes giving a gift so enjoyable?

  • It isn’t deserved.
  • In many cases, it isn’t requested.
  • It is unexpected.
  • It makes the recipient feel special and wanted.
  • It makes the giver happy to spread some joy.

What other reasons can you think of that makes gift giving enjoyable?

The Government Racket The Government Racket: Washington Waste from A to Z. I felt both fascinated and disgusted by the amount of waste in our Federal government. From the Amazon review: “The Federal government fritters away at least $375 billion annually on questionable programs and projects, such as the National Swine Research Center ($13 million), a study on mail-delivery times ($23 million), and the Robert J. Dole Institute at the University of Kansas ($6 million). The book reads like a lengthy newspaper op-ed, full of short paragraphs, colloquial language, and pithy observations. By and large, his recommendations will sound like common sense to those who crave a smaller government or those who just want to know why the Pentagon recently spent $5 million to build a third golf course at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside the District of Columbia.” You may not agree with the author’s assertions for eliminating the waste, but you’ll be better able to understand why more taxes are not the answer … more accountability and financial prudence IS.

The Ultimate Gift The Ultimate Gift is one of the best movies for teaching the principles of giving that I’ve ever seen. We’re over-selfed in our society, constantly looking for another thrill. The Ultimate Gift points out that what is truly important cannot be purchased.

From the Amazon review: “The Ultimate Gift is a tale of one man’s tumultuous journey toward personal growth and fulfillment. Surrounded in life, and death, by avaricious family members fueled by a sense of entitlement, billionaire Red Stevens (James Garner) wants to bequeath at least one member of his extended family “the ultimate gift”: something he perceives as immensely more valuable than material wealth. Red’s arrogant grandson Jason (Drew Fuller) holds a deep-seated hatred for his newly-deceased grandfather, so he’s surprised to learn that he’s been mentioned in his late grandfather’s will. Far from a straightforward gift of cash, land, or stock, Red’s bequest comes in the form of a series of mysterious recorded instructions, the first of which requires Jason to hop on a plane for Texas the very next morning without a hint of the trip’s purpose or the nature of the gift that awaits him.”

Good stuff.

photo credit: chad050

photo credit: kennethg

[tags]Ultimate Gift, Washington waste, handout, bailout, gift, money, beg[/tags]

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 987 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.