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Do you give money to beggars?

Mapraputa Is
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I mean if people walk to you and ask? I always do, out of abstract humanism. My friend also does, our of new Russian superstition that giving money to beggars will bring you luck� Other opinions?


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Roger Johnson
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everybody could be a begger someday, who knows....
[ May 05, 2005: Message edited by: Roger Johnson ]
Steven Bell
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Never.
Mapraputa Is
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Why.
Steven Bell
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In the US most of the beggars are there by choice. They make enough money begging it's not worth it for them to get a job. Alot of this money will go to fund drug and alcohol habits. By giving them money you enable them to continue begging. I understand in some countries it may be a different story, people actually begging for food to stay alive, but most of the beggars I see in the US are just fat and lazy.

Personal story:
I was with my step-dad going into a Burger King. Outside was a man asking for money. We didn't give him money, but when we were inside my step-dad bought an extra burger for the man. When my step-dad gave him the burger the man threw it back at us and screamed that he didn't need food he needed money.
John Dunn
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I give to the folks that really look down-and-out. (i.e. Old worn down men, most ladies, young seriously-down-trodden others) I don't even care if they by beer, etc. I just don't mind giving towards a bit of pleasure.
[my two cents... (no pun intended)]


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R K Singh
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Only when s/he is old enough to not work. Children specially No no..

And I also prefer to buy food than giving money ..
Roger Johnson
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there is nothing wrong with not giving to begger, but about paying tax, it is a diifferent story..
Jim Yingst
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I've given money to beggars in the past, but several times I've been dismayed to see the same person there a week later telling the same exact story to someone else. And since these stories often tried to portray the need of money as a one-time special event (e.g. "I'm travelling across country with my family to a new job and ran out of gas" or something like that) it's pretty obvious they're lying. Which ticks me off immensely. I would genuinely like to help people who have temporarily fallen on hard times and are working to get their lives back on track, but I really do not want to support people who make a career out of begging. Most of the time I have no way of knowing which category a person falls in - but I fear that career beggars are far too common. So nowadays I will almost never give money to a beggar. I think there are many charities which, on average at least, are far more deserving of donations.


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Mapraputa Is
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Jim: I would genuinely like to help people who have temporarily fallen on hard times and are working to get their lives back on track, but I really do not want to support people who make a career out of begging.

Um, actually I meant exactly "career beggars"... "I'm travelling across country with my family to a new job and ran out of gas" is a different story, whether true or not. People I have in mind do look like "career beggars", and look pretty happy with their way of living. As long as they aren't violent, don't you think we should let them live how they like?
Max Habibi
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Always, if I have spare change: if they're elderly, I might stop and get the money. The world can be a pretty heartless place.

M


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Warren Dew
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Mapraputa Is:

I mean if people walk to you and ask? I always do, out of abstract humanism. My friend also does, our of new Russian superstition that giving money to beggars will bring you luck� Other opinions?

I usually don't, because I don't like to encourage people to bother me in this way - especially if they are holding up traffic. I have on several occasions offered to buy a meal for someone who claims to need money for food; they've never taken me up on it.

I will give money to beggars who are quiet and don't get in my face about it. And I do donate money to shelters; here in Boston, truly homeless people won't survive winters without them.
Jim Yingst
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[Map]: As long as they aren't violent, don't you think we should let them live how they like?

Let them? Sure. Support them? No. At least, not for those who have other options. There are some people who have suffered hardships which more permanently prevent them from supporting themselves by getting a productive job - e.g. due to a severe illness, or perhaps just old age. I'd like to support those folks. But sadly, my limited experience is that they're outnumbered by those who are simply too lazy to find some honest work for a better way of life. If there were some easy way to tell one group from the other, that would be great. I do like the idea (expressed most recently here by Ravish) of buying food rather than forking over cash. That seems like a reasonably good way to distinguish between the truly needy and the lazy bums. I admit I haven't actually tried that yet - but I will.
Alan Wanwierd
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Gee some opinions in here seem *waaay* harsh to me... but hey - thats me being a bit of a hippy as usual! (As far as I'm aware most homeless dont choose the life - they fall outside of social security loops due to problems often mental health or drug related..)

Personally I find it very dificult to give money to beggars - I rarely carry cash and they dont take credit cards!!!

no seriously - in Brisbane there are a couple of homeless guys (probably less than 100 in a city of 2 Million which is pretty good really!)who I have a lack of sympathy for that shocks me to the core! I think too many years of wandering around London where doorways often had homeless souls in and pedestrian underpasses that were community dormitories full of cardboard beds and people could FREEZE to death means I think the guy sleeping with an entire 10 acre park to himself in Brisbane when the nighttime temperature falls to a shocking 18C has a pretty cool life.. Council provide showers, a selection of free food sources *are* available and basically I think apart from the social isolation the lifestyle sounds relatively relaxing!

On the other side of the coin, there are urban-youth-junkie-scum who try to fleece unsuspecting city-folk out of a few dollars with lines like:
"Can you spare me a dollar for a cup of coffee?"
"I need my bus fare to get home"...
In these cases I have been known to ask the guy to walk with me to the coffee shop so I can buy a cup, or I offer to pay the busdriver their fare invariably they decline.. sometimes angrily!



...... wow - I started this post by accusing you all of being cold-hearted and now I sound like a crazy biggot myself!
Thomas Paul
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Never. There was an article in the NY Times a couple of years ago about the beggars in Manhattan. Virtually every dime goes to drugs and alcohol. The city provides food and shelter so they don't need money for that. They need to get high. When I first started working in the city, the beggars were a shock to me. I was getting lunch from a hot dog stand with one of my co-workers, a life long city resident. A beggar stopped us and asked for money. I bought the guy a hot dog but he didn't want it. My friend walked over to a nearby liquor store and came back with a cheap bottle of wine. The beggar thanked him for the wine and wandered off. So I don't give money to beggars on the street because I don't help people buy drugs. I do support organizations that provide food and shelter and drug counseling for the homeless.


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Angela Poynton
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I don't know if it's the same in the US but here it's rather annoying that they always seem to install Cash Machines (ATMs) right next to a homeless person.


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Mohd Ali Advani
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My country India is a begging country.everybody is begger so its give and take relationship.
Michael Matola
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Book recommendation alert, Map.

Travels with Lizbeth by Lars Eighner

Some interesting things to think about in there, plus some brilliant writing.
[ May 06, 2005: Message edited by: Michael Matola ]
Max Habibi
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Along the same line, you might find Down and Out in Paris and London interesting.

In my opinion, anyone who is sleeping on the street and asking for help probably needs it. They may be using the money they beg from us to buy food, drugs, or alcohol: I don't know, and I can't say. Maybe they need some combination of the three to get through the life they live: I don't know.

But I do know that I can't walk by without handing out some pocket change that I'll never miss: it's not the way I was raised. In all honesty, I can't decide which bothers me more: the fact that there are beggars, or that fact that there are people who walk past them.

M
Warren Dew
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Max Habibi:

But I do know that I can't walk by without handing out some pocket change that I'll never miss: it's not the way I was raised. In all honesty, I can't decide which bothers me more: the fact that there are beggars, or that fact that there are people who walk past them.

Many of the beggars in Boston will look at you like dirt if all you hand them is change. They want folding money. Ready to start handing it out?
[ May 06, 2005: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]
Michael Matola
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In my opinion, anyone who is sleeping on the street and asking for help probably needs it. They may be using the money they beg from us to buy food, drugs, or alcohol: I don't know, and I can't say. Maybe they need some combination of the three to get through the life they live: I don't know.

The best way to help people in need is to give them exactly what they've asked for?

But I do know that I can't walk by without handing out some pocket change that I'll never miss: it's not the way I was raised. In all honesty, I can't decide which bothers me more: the fact that there are beggars, or that fact that there are people who walk past them.

How do you know with certainty that people who walk past them aren't helping in ways unseen by you? For example, donating money, food, clothes, etc., through established charities or volunteering their time at shelters or back-to-work programs?
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
But I do know that I can't walk by without handing out some pocket change that I'll never miss: it's not the way I was raised. In all honesty, I can't decide which bothers me more: the fact that there are beggars, or that fact that there are people who walk past them.


Although this may make YOU feel good about yourself, you are actually hurting these people. Go talk to someone at social services and they will tell you that by giving them money you are preventing them from getting real help. Giving money to a beggar is like giving drugs to a junkie or alcohol to a drunk. Over at AA they would call you an enabler. If you want to help then give your spare change to organizations that help the poor.
James Carman
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:


Although this may make YOU feel good about yourself, you are actually hurting these people. Go talk to someone at social services and they will tell you that by giving them money you are preventing them from getting real help. Giving money to a beggar is like giving drugs to a junkie or alcohol to a drunk. Over at AA they would call you an enabler. If you want to help then give your spare change to organizations that help the poor.


Well put!


James Carman, President<br />Carman Consulting, Inc.
Warren Dew
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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.
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:
They want folding money. Ready to start handing it out?



These days, that's pretty much all I hand out. I can afford an extra $5-$10 on my nights out.
[ May 06, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Gregg Bolinger
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What I've noticed here in the little town where I live is there are 2 kinds of *street* people. There are those that *really* need it and there are those that beg because it's better than getting a job. Those that really need it never beg because they already know about the shelters and diners they can go to and get a free meal and/or hot bath. The *con* beggers don't go there out of fear they will be found out as frauds sucking resources away from those that do need real help.

So in short, if I am asked for money from someone, I don't give it to them. But I know the address of The Lord's Diner by heart. Oddly enough, they don't want to hear that.


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Max Habibi
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Although this may make YOU feel good about yourself,

Sometimes. Sometimes not.

you are actually hurting these people.

I don't agree with this assertion, though I know that many people take comfort in it. Both my wife and I are active in our community, and we actually are some of the down-on-the-ground social services people you're talking about. I'm not as active now as I was in college, but I'm still volunteer, and I'm still working with these people.

The sad fact is, these people are not so much hurting themselves, as just plain hurting.

M
[ May 06, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Michael Matola:
In my opinion, anyone who is sleeping on the street and asking for help probably needs it. They may be using the money they beg from us to buy food, drugs, or alcohol: I don't know, and I can't say. Maybe they need some combination of the three to get through the life they live: I don't know.

The best way to help people in need is to give them exactly what they've asked for?

I don't feel I'm qualified to speak to the best way to help all people, all of the time. But in the case of someone begging for change on the street? Yes, I think the best way for me to help is to give them some.



But I do know that I can't walk by without handing out some pocket change that I'll never miss: it's not the way I was raised. In all honesty, I can't decide which bothers me more: the fact that there are beggars, or that fact that there are people who walk past them.

How do you know with certainty that people who walk past them aren't helping in ways unseen by you? For example, donating money, food, clothes, etc., through established charities or volunteering their time at shelters or back-to-work programs?


I'm not sure I said they did not. I think I said

In my opinion, anyone who is sleeping on the street and asking for help probably needs it.

I think that if you're helping with donations, then you're not walking past them, as it were.

M
[ May 06, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
James Carman
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I usually DO give money to folks who are out there providing some entertainment, such as playing music or dancing. I also have a rule that I never pass by a lemonade stand without buying something from the kids. :-) They're not exactly beggars, but they can be very persistent!
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
Both my wife and I are extremely active in our community, and we actually are some of the social services people you're talking about.
What I am talking about are people who are trained, professional social workers.
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
What I am talking about are people who are trained, professional social workers.


My wife was actually a state social worker for a couple of years, and she volunteers at a free clinic now that she's a pediatrician. She and I have both been counselors for various civic organizations, a well as more down-on-the-ground work.

The way of these agencies is that most of the actual work gets done by volunteers. When a homeless person is directed to a shelter, there are volunteers serving, cooking, cleaning, and raising funds. When they go to educational support, there are volunteers leading classes. You can get as much first hand experience with the homeless as you can stand, if you can stand it.

M
[ May 06, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
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Thanks for book recomendations, Mike and Max.

Max: In my opinion, anyone who is sleeping on the street and asking for help probably needs it. They may be using the money they beg from us to buy food, drugs, or alcohol: I don't know, and I can't say. Maybe they need some combination of the three to get through the life they live: I don't know.

I agree with it.

As for them being lazy, I would rather say "detrained". If they want to get their life back to normal ("normal" from our POV, of course), they can, but to press them do it by not giving money isn't right, I think. It's not very respectful, and I would thnk respect is what they need first. I can be totally wrong here, as I don't have that much experience.
[ May 06, 2005: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
James Carman
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Max,

Wouldn't you have to admit that you, as a social worker, only typically encounter the "good" homeless folks, those who really have problems and need help? Most of the bad ones (con artists) won't go to shelters and the like, as someone else pointed out. So, your sympathetic stance on the topic would be based upon your experiences dealing with those who truly are in need. By no means am I saying you're wrong. I applaud your good will and generosity for volunteering your time to help those in need. There's no such thing as too much kindness.

James
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by James Carman:
Max,

Wouldn't you have to admit that you, as a social worker, only typically encounter the "good" homeless folks, those who really have problems and need help? Most of the bad ones (con artists) won't go to shelters and the like, as someone else pointed out. So, your sympathetic stance on the topic would be based upon your experiences dealing with those who truly are in need. By no means am I saying you're wrong. I applaud your good will and generosity for volunteering your time to help those in need. There's no such thing as too much kindness.

James


Absolutely! There are criminals out there who start out by trying to con you out of money, and some of them actually become violent. I agree, you need to protect yourself from them.

But my personal observation is that most of the homeless I'm aware are not such(over 90%, as a guesstimate). They're just down, and out, and they do need some change. Yes, they need more than that(education, training, many need mental health therapy, and many others need physical therapy).

But some spare change would be very helpful too.

M
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
But my personal observation is that most of the homeless I'm aware are not such(over 90%, as a guesstimate). They're just down, and out, and they do need some change. Yes, they need more than that(education, training, many need mental health therapy, and many others need physical therapy).


According to the NY Times the vast majority of the homeless are not just "down and out". The largest group is made up of drug addicts with those suffering a mental illness (mostly those who refuse to take their medication) running second. Giving either of these groups money is not helping them. A small group was made up of people who were "down and out" and were begging because they were unaware of how to get services. Pointing them to social services would be more helpful than giving them money. The rest were professional beggars who were able to make more money begging than they could getting a real job.
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
...... wow - I started this post by accusing you all of being cold-hearted and now I sound like a crazy biggot myself!


So somebody who chooses not to give money to beggars is a biggot?
Dave Lenton
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Another factor worth considering is economies of scale. If you give five homeless people 30p each, they can each go into a cafe and afford about half a cup of tea. If you give those five 30p's to a charity, then this charity can pool the money and buy numerous tea bags in bulk from the local supermarket. The same amount of money has been given, but a lot more people can benefit from it.
[ May 06, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]

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Jason Menard
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No, I never give money to beggars in the US. In Baltimore, a good portion of the people begging are doing it as a job. They make pretty good money at it too, and then they go home to their houses at the end of their "work" day and will be back at it again the next day. The really despicable among those use their children (or someone else's) to try to increase sympathy for their "plight". A group of friends and I were stopped by a homeless person in Baltimore and asked for a cigarette, which I have no problem with.

I distinguish between beggars and homeless people. I've had the opportunity to speak with and help many homeless people, although I never give money. Many homeless people do have some source of income, be it disability, a check from the VA, odd jobs, money from recycling aluminum cans, or whatever. These people generally won't beg.

I specified the US in my first paragraph because I have seen instances outside of it where I felt the begging was genuine and deeply needed. There was this young Gypsy girl with a baby in Bosnia I saw who begged every day on an intersection along a frequent route of travel. When we were stopped she would approach even the military vehicles looking for money. I tried to give her some but I was quickly stopped and told that we were forbidden by regulation from doing this. I didn't understand it at the time but I guess it made sense. We did give candy and parts of our MREs (rations) to the kids who would congregate by the gates, or either that they would just reach into the vehicles and steal whatever they could grab (it seems to me to be pretty brave/foolish to reach into an armored vehicle filled with armed men to steal something, but whatever). My point is, I have seen instances where begging is truly required and the people aren't in their situation because they're adicted to drugs or alcohol or whetever, I just haven't run across it in the US (not to say it doesn't exist).
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:


According to the NY Times


I'm not aware of the article in question: perhaps you can provide a link?


the vast majority of the homeless are not just "down and out". The largest group is made up of drug addicts

My personal, first hand experience is that the vast majority of the homeless are without places to sleep and food to eat: that seems to be the biggest hurdle. To be honest, if I were forced to sleep on the streets and live off the charity(or not) of my fellow man, I might be tempted to turn to drugs as well.

with those suffering a mental illness (mostly those who refuse to take their medication) running second.


I would be very, very surprised if the article actually attributed the mental health problems of the homeless to an unwillingness to take medication.

M
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
No, I never give money to beggars in the US. ... I just haven't run across it in the US (not to say it doesn't exist).


My observations have been different than yours: most of the people begging, begging, mind you, I've found are in need. Your experiences, of course, may be different. But I've actually followed up, interviewed homeless people, read case files, sat down with their health care providers, and talked to them in shelters. Your experiences, as I said, are not consistent with my own, even as they are equally valid.

I'm also not aware of beggars borrowing children(I wonder where they get them? Who are the parents? Are there groups of people out there who are not beggars, yet lend their children out to beggars? Is this a cottage industry? If so, how do the beggars pay them? Is this a common phenomena?).

M
 
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