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Do you give money to beggars?

David De La Roche
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A sentence fragment


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SG: Really!!! And that is because you think that other people, who they think different from you, must definitely be wrong!!

I meant basic stuff: don't kill, don't steal, stop on red light - this kind of things. Complicated problems don't occur too often, but I can be wrong even in this
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I was reading a book about Ludwig Wittgenstein, and he was quoted to say that for to understand a savage's way of thinking, we need to see him as an equal, otherwise a researcher turns into a savage himself. This may be too radical a program, but it helped me to understand my puzzlement about people who would buy a homeless person food, but not give money. This position presupposes that we know better what he really needs, which looks pretty arrogant to me. I didn't live his life, I never lived on the streets, I don't know what this life involves. Or maybe know a little bit more, after I read "Travels with Lizbeth" and then another book -- a sociological report about homeless population of Austin in 1985, if I am not mistaken. This book was particularly interesting, proving that our ideas about homeless are nothing but stereotypes. Reality is far more complex, and I only feel more sympathetic, which, admittedly was the book's goal, so no surprise here... Regarding "drinking, then become homeless" vs. "become homeless, then drinking" - both happens. Not all homeless are alcoholics, but the longer a person stays on the streets, the more she drinks. But almost all homeless have problems with family support. Disproportionally high number of orphans, divorced, migrant workers, families so poor one can't rely on them in difficult times... Nothing unexpected really.

I don't want to persuade anybody in anything here, if you are interested, it's easy to do your own research, if not, then not.
Matt Fielder
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NEVER. It usually fuels their alcoholism / drug habit that often times got them there in the first place.

I have however been known to take a guy and buy him dinner.
Done that on a few occasions.
Roger Johnson
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so if i do not have money to give to anybody, i suppose life will be easier?
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Matt Fielder:
It usually fuels their alcoholism / drug habit that often times got them there in the first place.


This is an interesting statement. I'm aware that it's considered canon and 'common sense', but I'm not sure that it accurately reflect reality. What facts, specifically, lead you to the conclusion that:

1. a person begging for food is a drug/alcohol addict.
2. Based on 1, that giving beggars pocket change fuels this assumed alcoholism/drug habit(that is, assuming 1, don't even drug/alcohol addict sometimes need to eat? They can't literally spend all their money drugs, or they would all be dead, and we wouldn't have a homeless problem).
3. That Alcoholism / drug use led to their initial condition?

M
[ June 17, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]

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Matt Fielder
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:


This is an interesting statement. I'm aware that it's considered canon and 'common sense', but I'm sure that it accurately reflect reality. What facts, specifically, lead you to the conclusion that:

1. a person begging for food is a drug/alcohol addict.
2. Based on 1, that giving beggars pocket change fuels this assumed alcoholism/drug habit(that is, assuming 1, don't even drug/alcohol addict sometimes need to eat? They can't literally spend all their money drugs, or they would all be dead, and we wouldn't have a homeless problem).
3. That Alcoholism / drug use led to their initial condition?

M


I do recognize that there are many factors that would lead someone to ask for money. I have seen a desperate man huddle over steam exhaust to avoid hypothermia. I have also witnessed a guy collect the change from his cup, pull his keys from his pocket, deactive the alarm on his car, get in, and drive away.

Perhaps I was going by statistics by that comment, or just personal experience.

As I mentioned before, I have offered a hot meal to several different homeless people. On occasion, I was overcome with emotion as I handed a warm meal to the most appreciative and grateful person so he could have a full belly for the evening.

On other occasions, I have had people laugh and tell me, "I don't want your F'n food. Gimme money." And even, "Screw food. I just need some beer / booze / drugs."

Call me jaded, but I'm not going to fuel others' addictions or bad intentions. If you're desperate, I'll help you with a hot meal. Maybe my generosity will be the one act that turns your life around. Probably not, but I can hope.

Regarding my blanket statement about drugs, I can only add what I know and see. So far, people that truly need help because they were dealt a tough hand are far outnumbered by those that are just lazy or addicted.
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Matt Fielder:


I do recognize that there are many factors that would lead someone to ask for money. I have seen a desperate man huddle over steam exhaust to avoid hypothermia. I have also witnessed a guy collect the change from his cup, pull his keys from his pocket, deactive the alarm on his car, get in, and drive away.


Not to make light of this, but have you actually seen this in person, or was it on TV? The reason I ask is because I actually have seen a video tape of exactly that on television, but never, never, in person.


As I mentioned before, I have offered a hot meal to several different homeless people. On occasion, I was overcome with emotion as I handed a warm meal to the most appreciative and grateful person so he could have a full belly for the evening.


You're a good man to do it. I think what bothers me are people who don't do anything. That's their right, of course: but it does bother me. I suppose that's my right


On other occasions, I have had people laugh and tell me, "I don't want your F'n food. Gimme money." And even, "Screw food. I just need some beer / booze / drugs."


Fair enough: but I have to ask. Has anyone actually ever said Screw food. I just need some beer / booze / drugs.. Those words? If you assert that they have, then I'll accept it 100%. But I have to say, I've never, ever heard that in my personal experience. 97/100, if I offer food, all I get is a sincere thank you.


Regarding my blanket statement about drugs, I can only add what I know and see. So far, people that truly need help because they were dealt a tough hand are far outnumbered by those that are just lazy or addicted.

Fair enough, we all have to trust own eyes and ears. But again, in my experience, the opposite is true. I find that people who are down and out turn to drugs and/or alcohol because they are a bad spot, and they can't get any help, and D&A are really the only escape they have left.

have a good weekend,
M
Thomas Paul
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Fair enough, we all have to trust own eyes and ears. But again, in my experience, the opposite is true. I find that people who are down and out turn to drugs and/or alcohol because they are a bad spot, and they can't get any help, and D&A are really the only escape they have left.

According to the NY Times the opposite is true. Most of the people on the street became alcoholics or drug abusers and because of that they lost their jobs and homes. Not that it matters either way. In either case, giving them money is a bad idea. Much better for them to go find help in a clinic or outreach center to get over their addiction than to be given money to get drugs or alcohol.


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Max Habibi
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According to the NY Times the opposite is true.


Sight unseen, I'm willing to bet that this isn't the official opinion of the NYT(not that it would matter to me if it were: I've been forming my own opinions of these sorts for things for a while now). I'm willing to bet that at some point is the last x years or so, many individuals who write for the Times have had their own opinions, justifications, observations, and rationalization on this topic, and some of those have written about it.

Some of these articles have been advocates of helping the homeless, others have been against, others still have argued on exactly the best way to do so, etc.

Most of the people on the street became alcoholics or drug abusers and because of that they lost their jobs and homes.


This assertion is one of the statements that I'm trying to understand, per my questions to Matt. I'm just not aware of the evidence that supports it. I'm aware that this is the opinion of a great many people who chose not to help, and of many others who would help but for this "truism", but it's not been made clear to me why people accept this statement. I mean people who have been trained to think critically, as most engineers have.


Not that it matters either way. In either case, giving them money is a bad idea.

Again, this assertion is at odds with my own, personal experience, and at odds the objectives facts that I'm aware of. These people are damaged, tired, hungry, in need of medication, cold, hot, wet, dirty, frustrated, emotionally isolated, and frightened. I'm not at all convinced that my spare change is greasing the road to hell for them. On the contrary, I think it's a welcome relief to people who too often ignored.

M
[ June 18, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Marilyn de Queiroz
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  12
I don't give money to street (homeless) people in the US (I'm excluding street performers with this statement). I have bought them food on occasion and my husband and I have hired some of them for odd jobs.

I have not personally seen a begger going to his own car (although I've seen them getting into a car -- sort of like a change of shift -- one begger goes in and another comes out and goes to the same corner). However, I have a close personal friend who I trust who told me that they gave a beggar some money, saw him go to his car, asked for their money back. The beggar pulled out a roll of bills and refunded their money, got in his car and drove away.

I have seen people passed out next to a bottle at the corner with a begging-type sign. I have seen people begging for "food" with a backpack full of food. I have also seen people who were really hungry and gratefully took the food that I offered them.

Some homeless people are drug addicts/alcoholics, some are not. Some are mental patients, some are not. I can't usually tell the difference just by looking at them on the corner, so I choose not to give cash.

I support the many charities/soup kitchens and programs like Step13 which help a homeless person become a contributing member of society by education, housing and help getting them a job. When they finish Step13 (which 38% do successfully), they have about $8000 in the bank and have held a job for at least 6 months and are able to read and write English. In my opinion, it is the "Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day; teach him to fish ..." principle.

In third world countries, begging is usually a different situation altogether. In those countries, young children sometimes DO get kidnapped by professional beggars. They then cripple/deform the child and send him/her out on the street to collect money for them. I have not yet heard of that happening in the US. Most people who beg in third world countries really have NOTHING, and the volume of those who have nothing there is overwhelming. Also, the soup kitchens, etc. are not as available there.


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Max Habibi
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Some homeless people are drug addicts/alcoholics, some are not. Some are mental patients, some are not. I can't usually tell the difference just by looking at them on the corner, so I choose not to give cash.

I agree with you observation, though I tend to reach a different conclusion. Specifically, I can't usually tell the difference just by looking at them, so I'll offer some pocket change when/if I have it. My reasoning is that
1. They shouldn't be punished for something I only suspect them off.
2. Even addicts/alcoholics/mental patients need to eat. They need to eat a couple of times per day, and they need to eat everyday. If the change in pocket can help towards that goal, I find it difficult not to give.

M
Marilyn de Queiroz
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
My reasoning is that
1. They shouldn't be punished for something I only suspect them of.
2. Even addicts/alcoholics/mental patients need to eat. They need to eat a couple of times per day, and they need to eat everyday. If the change in pocket can help towards that goal, I find it difficult not to give.

I can afford an extra $5-$10 on my nights out.


My reasoning is that
1. I'm not punishing them, but neither am I supporting their behavior.
2. There are plenty of places that they can eat free food if they are hungry. And as I said, I have fed some of them. I've also seen some of them throw good food onto the ground when given food rather than cash. If they want the money for food rather than for booze, why would they do that?

Also, I see them every day, usually several times a day, at all times of the day, not only when I'm having a night out.
Marilyn de Queiroz
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
Maybe if Map and I are able to keep them fed long enough, ...


Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Therefore money instead of food, and if he decide to spend it on alcohol or drugs, so be it.


There is a very strong supposition here, Max, that they always use your cash to buy food, whereas Map doesn't seem to care whether they use the cash to eat or not. This makes me think that some people give cash just to make themselves feel better (or for good luck?).
[ June 18, 2005: Message edited by: Marilyn de Queiroz ]
Thomas Paul
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These people are damaged, tired, hungry, in need of medication, cold, hot, wet, dirty, frustrated, emotionally isolated, and frightened.

Exactly, and giving them money will do nothing to make them less damaged, less tired, less hungry, less in need of medication, drier, cleaner, less frightened, less isolated, of less frsutrated. It will get them high. If you want to support the homeless then support the many organizations that are out on the street helping them. If someone came up to you and said give me $10 and I will give away crack to the homeless, would you give them the money? Because that is exactly what you are doing. Every study has shown that the homeless don't need money to eat or stay dry. There are plenty of soup kitchens and plenty of shelters.

Found an interesting article about the homeless in Rochester, NY:

http://www.rochester-citynews.com/gbase/Gyrosite/Content?oid=oid%3A2426
Randall Twede
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the way things have been going, beggars should be giving money to me...i have been evicted for the second time in two months and neither time my fault(i pay and i do nothing wrong)...

it cost me almost $1000 for first move...i have no job i am student out for summer..i do not have much money left and not likely to find summer job..

now i am totally screwed and will probably end up homeless

[ June 18, 2005: Message edited by: Randall Twede ]
[ June 18, 2005: Message edited by: Randall Twede ]

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Matt Fielder
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:




Not to make light of this, but have you actually seen this in person, or was it on TV? The reason I ask is because I actually have seen a video tape of exactly that on television, but never, never, in person.


Without requoting everything said, yes I have experienced everything I wrote. I have seen "homeless" drive off in their car, I have people respond with, "screw food, etc etc" I have also seen and helped the guy laying over steam vents by getting him some food.

Due to all I've seen I've become quite numb to the homeless and selective of who I choose to help. I've also been asked for money by very able-bodied 20-somethings sitting on the sidewalk choosing to be a waste of oxygen. If you want to better yourself, I'm all for helping. I don't play the game though.

*note: I went to the University of Pittsburgh and lived in South Oakland for 5 years. Much of what I've seen was on the streets surrounding the university including begging, homelessness, assaults, robberies, muggings, fights, shootings and one friend bound to a wheelchair and paralized from the neck down from a drive-by shooting. Fun fun.
Dave Lenton
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During my walk along the South Bank of the Thames from my office to the station, there are three or four beggars who I regularly see asking for money.

The first one has a dog. This seems a bit strange as the beggar now has to raise enough funds to feed the dog as well. This leads me to believe that he either is a very successful beggar, or doesn't need the funds as much as he is saying. Surely he could give up the dog (there are many organisations who accept unwanted dogs and give them a good life) and get himself some more money?

The second beggar is always reading a book and smoking a fag. The book thing isn't a big problem (its possible that someone donated it to him, but the way in which he seems more concerned with his book then asking for money makes his plight seem less then serious), but the smoking is. I would not give money to someone who is going to (or seems likely to) spend it on something as pointless as smoking.

The third beggar is almost always in possession of some very cheap lager, and is more often then not very drunk.

The fourth beggar is always asleep, but appears to be reasonably genuine. Unfortunately given that the previous three seem to be unwilling to help themselves, I find myself questioning all the beggars I see. To often they seem not to need the money (especially given that the UK has a welfare system that should not let anyone go without food or shelter), or unwilling to help themselves.

Another example: recently a beggar got on my train and began asking for money, saying that he was unable to collect his batch of The Big Issue (a magazine given to homeless people to sell) because the depot closed early. Only problem was that I've heard this same story on each of the many other occasions I've seen him on the train.

Its not that I'm unwilling to help (I'd gladly help people find a nearby shelter, and happily donate to a charity helping the homeless), but now I'm unable to tell the genuine needy people from the people who aren't, and suspect that giving money to a person who is not needy of it makes their situation worse. The observation I've had that more seem(I could be mistaken) to be unneedy means that I end up with the suspicion that every time I pass a beggar, the chances are giving money would make their situation worse.


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Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Marilyn de Queiroz:


Map doesn't seem to care whether they use the cash to eat or not. This makes me think that some people give cash just to make themselves feel better (or for good luck?).

[ June 18, 2005: Message edited by: Marilyn de Queiroz ]


I choose to interpret Map's motivation more positively. I think she's saying that she can understand why they might want cash for something other than food, sometimes. To be honest, I can understand that as well.

And while helping the less fortunate might, in fact, make her feel better, I think it's a well deserved feeling, and does not diminish her generosity, kindness, or effectiveness.

M
[ June 20, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Matt Fielder:

Fun fun.


This isn't Matt Fielder, living in Columbus, Ohio, is it?
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
These people are damaged, tired, hungry, in need of medication, cold, hot, wet, dirty, frustrated, emotionally isolated, and frightened.

Exactly, and giving them money will do nothing ...


I disagree with the assertion that giving pocket change to the homeless damages them, and the branching assertions that flow from it. I simply not aware of the facts that lead to you believe that this statement is correct: as a matter of fact, this statement contradicts my own observations. We may just have to agree to disagree on this topic, which is fine.

M
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Matt: I have also witnessed a guy collect the change from his cup, pull his keys from his pocket, deactive the alarm on his car, get in, and drive away.

Some homeless live in their cars (as long as they can keep them) and store their stuff there. I am not saying this particular guy must be one of them, but it's a possibility.

Tom: There are plenty of soup kitchens and plenty of shelters.

Maybe in New York? Not where I live.
Matt Fielder
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Mapraputa Is:
Some homeless live in their cars (as long as they can keep them) and store their stuff there. I am not saying this particular guy must be one of them, but it's a possibility.


I recognize this, but I figured the waxed blue IROC with chromed wheels and kicking stereo was a far cry from a vehicle that he might be living in. Trust me, this wasn't a dual-purpose vehicle.



Max Habibi:
This isn't Matt Fielder, living in Columbus, Ohio, is it?


If I say yes, are you going to stalk and kill me? No, its not though. I'm not going to appear in an episode of Cops now am I?
Aj Mathia
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guess my view is slightly differnet.
I think giving is in my hand.
I give when i am in a happy mood.

Actioning on the favour recieved is in the other persons hand
if we expect the person to do what we want him/her to do is the whole fault. we are trying to be control freaks.
any comments


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Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Matt Fielder:

If I say yes, are you going to stalk and kill me?


No, no, my stalking days are behind me. Really.


When I first started out, one of my first mentors was a Matt Fielder: he also went to Pitt, so I though you might be him.

M
Thomas Paul
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Tom: There are plenty of soup kitchens and plenty of shelters.

Map: Maybe in New York? Not where I live.

I thought you lived in SF?
Christopher Copeland
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:
Michael Matola:

How do you know with certainty that people who walk past them aren't helping in ways unseen by you?

Or, for that matter, that they are necessarily better off than the beggars? Some of those people might be begging themselves if they weren't pinching their pennies to be able to afford food or rent.
Christopher Copeland
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:
Michael Matola:

How do you know with certainty that people who walk past them aren't helping in ways unseen by you?

Or, for that matter, that they are necessarily better off than the beggars? Some of those people might be begging themselves if they weren't pinching their pennies to be able to afford food or rent.



I agree...just because someone walks by without giving money doesn't mean
they are an uncaring person. Being single on a limited income, I need every
dollar I can get just to survive. After paying rent, heating, electric, transportation, clothing, food & medical expenditures...not to mention other basic necessities in life, sometimes I have less than $20 in my wallet between paychecks. That $20 or less has to last me for 2 weeks!
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I just read this story:

"Leo Tolstoy, the great nineteenth-century Russian novelist and social reformer, was asked by a beggar for some coins. Tearfully, Tolstoy replied, "My brother, it pains me deeply to tell you that I have nothing to give you." Without hesitation, the poor man said, "But you have already given me more than any other person. You have called me your brother."
Stephen Boston
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Fair enough, we all have to trust own eyes and ears. But again, in my experience, the opposite is true. I find that people who are down and out turn to drugs and/or alcohol because they are a bad spot, and they can't get any help, and D&A are really the only escape they have left.

According to the NY Times the opposite is true. Most of the people on the street became alcoholics or drug abusers and because of that they lost their jobs and homes. Not that it matters either way. In either case, giving them money is a bad idea. Much better for them to go find help in a clinic or outreach center to get over their addiction than to be given money to get drugs or alcohol.


There is a guy here in Phoenix that I've seen on more than one occasion. Kinda of a shambles as far as dress and cleaniness, but he carries a sign that says "Need change for Beer". I've always been moving down the road (not stopped) when I've seen him other wise I would have given him a buck for just being honest.


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