Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Should we give money to beggars?

There is a very busy intersection near my work where I sometimes find myself waiting for a few minutes for the light to go green. Invariably there is a beggar (is that a politically correct word, like homeless? Is bum too offensive?) standing in the corner, with a sign of some sort.  It is always a new beggar. They vary in age, race and gender.  When I am caught on the red light, he or she walks by me, and I always feel uneasy. Should I give him some money? Should I give him a quarter? One dollar? Five dollars? Ten dollars so he or she can buy a meal?

I have heard people say that we should not give them anything, since the money will be used for alcholol or drugs. I also hear people say they should find a job, damn it! Some do look quite healthy and capable of working, and we all know there are plenty of jobs that not many people want to perform.  I imagine some of these homeless prefer to get by with some money donated on the streets (after all, this is the country of fundraising, isn’t it? There is always a charity asking for money, why can’t the homeless work independently for their own charitable goals: himself? :)), instead of slaving away in a hot kitchen in a fast food joint or doing some heavy lifting.

Nonetheless, my sensitive liberal side makes me ask: aren’t these beggars unable to work? Haven’t they been affected by the bad economy? Do they have a mental illness that prevents them from holding a job (many do)? Haven’t they lost their job and their health insurance and do not have anyone in the whole entire world to take them in? Aren’t they being discriminated by employers due to this or that? Do they have a criminal record that makes employers afraid of hiring them?  Were they once respectful and dignified citizens who lost everything with a bad business deal? And so on and so forth.

In this country, especially if the current administration has a libertarian point of view, people can go from MacMansions to homeless and uninsured very quickly. No wonder so many women suffer from bag lady syndrome, even the ones who have stable careers.  Even I have have that slight fear that I can be out on the streets, and at my age I cannot go ask Mommy and Daddy for help anymore.

In Brazil you see more beggars, especially children, also in busy intersections. I have to agree it used to be a lot more common in the 70’s and even 80’s, but not as prevalent as before, as the country has developed and bridged the gap between the haves and have nots.

Some of these kids are sent by their parents who watch from afar (or not at all), knowing that motorists will feel sorry for them and be more generous. Therefore, begging becomes very very lucrative for these exploitative parents.

Here in the US there are obviously less beggars around, and mostly in large urban areas.  But still, I don’t know what to do with them.  Of course I can spare one dollar.  Especially if that makes the difference between them eating or not. On the other hand, aren’t there charities doing that? Don’t they have places to go?

Opinions on this are welcome, I am not sure what is the right thing to go, whether to help them or not.

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September 24, 2008 - Posted by | Society

5 Comments »

  1. What if that $1 is going towards 2 50¢ beers? Or worse? Usually I just give them food if I have it. Can’t buy crack with food! Well, you can with steak.. but..not with fruit or something.

    Comment by Pete | September 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. Gosh! The last thing we ever should do is turn a blind eye against the poor! Put yourself in their postion! Wouldnt u love to have soething! When u give beggars food or money, they think hey maybe i should just beg instead of crime! That is the only way i will get food and money! By giving them food and money, they will stop crime!!!

    Comment by Nikky Chetty | March 16, 2009 | Reply

  3. Gosh! The last thing we ever should do is turn a blind eye against the poor! Put yourself in their postion! Wouldnt u love to have soething! When u give beggars food or money, they think hey maybe i should just beg instead of crime! That is the only way i will get food and money! By giving them food and money, they will stop crime!!!

    Comment by Nikky Chetty | March 16, 2009 | Reply

  4. While having lunch today a person walked up to me and asked me for some change. I asked him if he had any change to spare to me being sarcastic. I them seen a man behind me having lunch who called him over and gave him some change. It made me feel like crap and it made me realise that the small change I was able to offer that person would not have affected my life financial but may have affected his life. I remember when I was at school I would ask other students for change for lunch and I never consider it to be begging or was it. I’m glad it happened because it has made me realise a deeper awareness and reminded me of my behavouir.

    Comment by M | July 22, 2009 | Reply

  5. when you excessively help others, you keep them dependant on you. if they do not evolve into being able to help themselves, they invariably reproduce and bring similarly useless and needy offspring into the world. you should definitely not help them.

    Comment by bamabrasileira | February 20, 2012 | Reply


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