Wednesday, 18 April 2012

It begs the question...

So, lately I have found myself having this conversation with a number of people, and hearing different opinions on the topic. The topic is street beggars.

When I visited some family friends in Vancouver a few years back, the woman told me “never give money to beggars here, half of them aren’t even homeless. Some of them even own shoes but take them off and hide them while they’re begging to get more sympathy…” Bleeding Heart Social Worker Miss had to bite her tongue very hard to not come back with some hilarious quip such as “Now, is that manipulative, or good business sense? Wait there’s no difference between the two in the Business World, why should there be here?”

And that is basically the crux of my argument. If people choose to have it their job to sit out on the street and beg, then that’s their job, just like you go to work everyday, they go to their street corner with their mangled “Going through court, need money for legal costs” or “need place to sleep, not drugs” signage that sits behind their squashed hat to catch 5c pieces. Why should we judge this? An answer to this Q that deserves some consideration is “because they are duping/defrauding people to feel sympathy for them”. But I’ve thought this over, and I still believe that this is ok. Whether or not it’s an act/performance, people choose to freely give them money. And the givers feel a sense of righteousness because they have spared money on a poor person. So if you think about it like that, people who beg on the street are doing society a favour, they are providing the public a service by which they can feel smug at their deed of altruism.

What do you guys think?


  1. I don't really have a problem with them (aside from the smell).

    Though I am more inclined to give money to buskers rather the beggars, as they are doing something for the money- even if its the crazy guy at central playing the same 1 note on the recorder over and over.

    Who I don't like giving money to are the paid charity collectors. I've got no problem giving to charity, I just really don't like their method of collection.

    If I'm in business atire in the city at midday and walking quickly, perhaps I'm rushing to get a quick lunch before needing to be back at work and don't want to be cornered and hassled.

    1. Thanks for the comment Alex! I remember your slight obsession with the recorder guy at Central when you were a freshy High School student! I too really dislike the aggressive Greenpeace or other charity collectors on the street. One, they couldn’t give a crap about the charity they’re trying to sign you up for- they’re all just backpackers and this was the easiest job to get. Two, they hassle you in the most inconvenient places, including inside Redfern Station! I mean, isn’t it obvious we’re all running to catch other trains/get to work, we can’t stop and give you our credit card details now, piss off! But it must work, otherwise they wouldn’t do it…