Fraud. That’s a strong word. Defined in the Google.com search engine as “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain,” one wonders if this applies to The Paracast host Gene Steinberg, a man who has been begging his audience, his guests, his co-hosts, and his email list to pay all of his bills and rent for the past 10 years as a form of charity for an evolving set of excuses that tend to evoke pity. His begging is well-chronicled. The letters he sends to his email list are often cut and pasted haphazardly, as if even that is too much work. And there’s this underlying expectation that this is how things should be, like in this letter from 08/08/2016 titled, A Brief Stay, But Time Is Short, where Gene writes, “If you can assist me in getting through this crisis, I’d really appreciate it more than I can say. If you’ve already done your share, just tell me and I won’t annoy you again.” In fact, these two sentences encapsulate what is wrong with the last ten years of begging letters. Let’s unpack them.
“If you can assist me in getting through this crisis….”
Everyone with a heart wants to assist in a crisis. Heck, Jeff Ritzmann and I helped raise donations for Gene years and years ago on Paratopia, before we realized there was no crisis that couldn’t be solved by Gene getting a job. But he’s made it clear that he will not. First excuse was the bad economy, which worked for a while because there was actually a bad economy. But as Gene tells it, the economic recovery brought not one job for which he is qualified to his home state of Arizona. He has told us he’s moved to different towns within Arizona in the last 10 years. None of them have work. All of the potential employers on down to the convenience stores and fast food chains are discriminating against him based on his age. For 10 years. Now that the economy is bouncing back, he talks about how hard it is to get a job in the summer. What about the winter? Spring? For 10 years?
What, then, is he doing to make money? Podcasting. It seems he’s put all of his eggs in that basket. It’s difficult to make money through podcasting let alone make a living. But here he is telling us he’s working hard, always on the cusp of success but never quite there, if we can just continue to subsidize his life for a little bit longer… little bit longer. He’s the leech drummer boyfriend with a band and a dream and we’re the enabler girlfriend with high hopes and low self-esteem funding his weed-fueled X-Box sessions.
What about social services? Apparently, there are none of those either. Not for him. Not for his wife. The State of Arizona is also ageist, not just the private sector. There is no welfare for Gene Steinberg, no food stamp program, no Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefit that keeps him away from GoFundMe.
What about his son? Can’t his family help? No, no–it’s on you. And that would be fine–would not sound suspiciously like fraud–if he just asked for money because he felt he deserved to get paid from his podcast audience. Nothing wrong with that. But that doesn’t bring in the big bucks. The thousand-dollar donors rarely come out for anything but a crisis. If I remember correctly, Gene’s “crisis” used to be that he gave all of his life savings to a family member to pay attorney fees for a lawsuit. His family won and so he was due to recoup his money and pay the donors back. It wasn’t charity, it was a loan. But that payday never came for him or for those kindhearted people who loaned him money.
What happened to those loans?
His wife gave their bank account info to a Nigerian scammer and they all got wiped away. So the next crisis was needing all of that money all over again. (UPDATE: 7/3/2017: Here we are a year later. 59 begging letters in the first half of this year alone. And what’s Gene concerned with? That I’m getting in the way. In a private email, after some confusion about what I could possibly be referring to, Gene corrected this bit about the Nigerian scam. Again… A YEAR LATER. Gene’s wife never gave their info to a Nigerian scammer, although their funds were stolen via fraud. It was a lapse in security on the part of the bank–not her fault. It was investigated and resolved. So, if you gave to Gene as a result of them having lost everything back in 2009 or so, I hope he returned it to you after the crisis was resolved.)
Then came the mounting electric bills.
Then his wife’s knee surgery.
Then came rent.
Then it kept on coming.
And it wasn’t a loan, it was for keeps. This is where we are now. Gene and his wife are perpetually on the verge of being evicted from their home. They just need a little more… a little more… because they have this demanding “slumlord” who, I take it, is such because he’s demanding they pay their rent the way Gene demands you pay his. But isn’t this slumlord a different person than the landlord from the last home they had to vacate in 2012? This eviction thing isn’t new, is it? It gets confusing after a while and you’ll be forgiven if you forgot that it has happened before.
“If you’ve already done your share….”
He’s written (or pasted) this a number of times in his crisis emails through the later years. Done your share? Your share of funding his life? Is there a Steinberg Tax hiding somewhere in the code? It’s this type of arrogance–this expectation that you will give him money–that it’s your turn–that really makes me wonder if this is a long con.
“…just tell me and I won’t annoy you again.”
I am not on Gene’s email list, but I get his missives forwarded to me by others who have
Also Gene Steinberg (courtesy of John Randall)
tried to get off it and can’t. This has been a chronic complaint for years: you try to unsubscribe from Gene Steinberg’s entitlement poverty crisis acting, but the letters keep coming.
I don’t know if these crisis events are real or not, but after 10 years of refusing to get a job, and with no significant podcasting revenue in sight, it is fair to say that begging is Gene’s career. There are homeless people in India who will lob off appendages for greater sympathetic coin. Gene may be their American counterpart, living in such a way that the crises are real but they are of his own making, one after another after another so that there is no choice but to fund him to keep him and his wife from going homeless. (Although that is the whole of the analogy, as the poverty in India is real.)
In an email letter dated 08/10/2016 titled Closer To Success, Gene begs for money for just about every moving expense imaginable, including a cleaning fee. In the middle, he makes a hopeful promise: “Once everything is paid up, though, I expect to be able to keep the rent payments up to date each month.”
Really? How? Did he find work? Did his wife? Has some rich benefactor come to his aid? Whatever his newly found steady stream of income, I was kind of glad to read this. Maybe this is all real, I thought. Maybe there’s an end in sight. If not for Gene’s follow-up email two days later titled So Close and Yet So Far, I would never have written this blog post. In it, after much of the same begging, he retracts his promise: “I won’t say I’ll be completely past this financial nightmare once we’re settled in our new home. I may still need a little help from time to time. But I’m working real hard to boost cash flow to keep this from ever happening again.”
Oh. I see. The begging goes on. The crisis morphs again. Another ten years goes by. A sucker is born every minute. But you don’t have to be one of them. In fact, thanks to the work of Tyler Kokjohn, we now have a list of agencies in Gene’s area that may be able to help Gene with all of his misfortunes, provided they are not ageist. Instead of sending Gene your money to help boost his cash flow, consider sending him these links.
ENERGY BILL RELIEF
The link below takes you to the Maricopa County emergency assistance program web page. This links to resources for homeless persons, or those at risk of becoming homeless, but if you notice the county also helps with energy bills and other issues.
FREE DENTAL CARE
FREE & INCOME-BASED MEDICAL CARE
In the past, to speak these facts out loud was to invoke Gene’s ire in private emails and in the comments section of any blog or forum where he found his poverty questioned. He’s got plenty of time to defend himself even while being evicted. Ultimately, what he says is, “Shut up. It’s none of your business.” Here’s where I disagree. Gene is a person who calls out ufologist frauds on his show. He wants to run the UFO Watchdog Hall of Shame, where he judges the fraudulent from the decent. But who is watching the watchdog? And how can he afford to juggle another unpaid, time-consuming hobby in such dire crisis?
None of it adds up. Be weary of adding to it… which should be the closer for this but as I was about to click the publish button, I heard that friendly phone jingle telling me I’ve got email. And in that email is the latest from Gene, just published, titled, Waiting for a Monday Miracle!
I’m not reading it. I’ve read it before. We all have. You shouldn’t either. Time to let this bird fly on his own.