Paying alcoholics in beer to clean Amsterdam streets: Good or bad?


A group of chronic alcoholics was a nuisance in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark. So the group was put to work -- in exchange for beer, Agence France-Presse reports.

Thanks to a program supported by donations and state funds, they work three days a week, earning 10 euros (about $13), tobacco and five cans of beer each day. The beers aren’t given as a lump sum but are doled out throughout each workday.

“The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park,” Gerrie Holterman, who heads the Rainbow Foundation project, told the news agency.


Amsterdam isn’t exactly known for being uptight – its famous Red Light district hosts legal prostitution and marijuana smoking (you can even be offered a pot menu upon entering a “coffee shop”).

AFP notes that the beer-for-work program “demonstrates typical Dutch pragmatism which could be found shocking in other countries, but not here.”

Naturally, the alcoholics don’t seem to have a problem with it. One who spoke to AFP said working makes him feel satisfied and less likely to drink at the end of the day.

Holterman, who keeps track of the workers’ beer consumption while they’re on the job, puts it like this: “You have to see things like this: Everyone benefits.”

Frank, another alcoholic who talked to AFP, notes that the 10 euros they get as payment can also be converted into beer.

“When the supermarket opens at 8 a.m., we’re the first there so we can get some drinks,” he said.

What do you think? Is the program a practical solution, or does it cross a line?

Twitter: @lauraelizdavis


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