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Beggars and their evil begging


JesusFightClub

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Don't give to beggars, give to charity instead!

theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/06/dont-give-money-beggars-help-them

I'm not entirely sure how any of this is news. Loads of people begging take your couple of coins and translate it into drink or drugs. However, not giving them it doesn't mean that they're going to suddenly lead a virtuous and upright life, and giving it to charity instead probably just means you've paid a bit more of the CEO's wage.

Withdrawal from drink or drugs is a really horrible thing and it might kill them. If tonight is the night they're sat begging on the streets, tonight is also probably not the night they've decided to go into a detox facility, so giving them cash isn't "getting them drunk" so much as "stopping them withdrawing". Nobody makes promises of what they're going to do with the cash, and if they did you probably shouldn't believe them. It's up to you what you decide to do, give them a quid or so or not.

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I always give if I have change. My husband hates it, or maybe he hates the fact that I remind me that person may be on drugs but he is worthy of having food, money and shelter like we are. That they are someone's sister or brother, daughter or son, niece or nephew or aunt and uncle. And what if the teens/young people there had to runaway because of abuse. No one knows the real reason why someone is living on the street and presuming its because they are drug addicts is just rude.

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I'm of a different mind. I do give to a charity that serves the homeless, but I never give to people begging on the street. It is up front understood that when I give to a charity, a portion goes to running the charity, and I am able to look up how much and if I am OK with that. People need shelter, food, mental health care and programs that address drug and alcohol abuse. While not all street beggars are addicts, some of them are and ALL of them need some type of services. If you are on the street your life has gone completely off the rails and you need more than your next drink or hit to get it back together. I don't think too many people are able to get off the street without outside help or programs.

Yes, it definitely could have been me if circumstances in my life had been different.

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The BBC's even more sensationalist this evening - 'kindness to beggars could kill'. This really, really pisses me off big-time, because there's just so much classism, elitist sub-context and othering in it. (And they haven't even got a 'Have your say' on the article so I can tell them that.)

To start with 'beggars' is such a loaded word - it's laden with echoes of Elizabethan poor laws, paintings of 'Gin Lane' by Hogarth, and sickly Victorian tract novels about street children. It categorises, simplifies to the point of stupidity, and it others the person to whom it is applied..

To go on with, their 'kindness can kill' is fucking patronising because it implies that only they can make the right decision about who to benefit and how to benefit them. It says to me 'you may think you are doing good, but you're not in a position to make that decision.' If I give money, I don't do it to 'do good'. I do it because someone asked me, I had it, and I could. If they didn't need it, they wouldn't ask me. Do I have to question them minutely about what they want it for? Or is it enough that they are on the street asking? No, and Yes. Simple.

Thirdly, it stinks of the distinction made between the 'deserving poor' and the 'undeserving poor'. Sure, if I give to the charity, they can direct my money to whoever they think best, but then I have no say over their decision about 'best', and their decision may well be based on grounds of which I disapprove on an ethical or moral basis. (Christianity . . .for example.)

But finally, their attitude takes away from one of the few remaining freedoms of someone from whom society and misfortune has removed nearly every liberty. It's nobody's business but mine whether I give to someone on the street - which I do, often. If they spend it on drink or drugs, then that's their decision to make. It's their decision to take the drink that kills, or the drugs that kill. How is that any different from my decision to eat saturated fat, clog my arteries, and die of a myocardial infarct; to go skiing off piste and die in an avalanche, climb Everest and die of hypoxia at the summit, drink champagne for breakfast every day and develop cirrhosis, or simply hurl a ton of metal down a motorway at 100mph and fatally impact a crash barrier?

There is no difference - except that I, who am capable of courting self-destruction in any of the above-mentioned ways and many more, am not currently homeless, and therefore deemed lesser, other, and not deserving of the right to self-determine.

There is no essential difference between my mother-in-law, who is currently drinking herself to death against medical advice, and a homeless person who is currently drinking themself to death against medical advice but the simple fact that she is rich, and the homeless person is poor.

And so everyone, but everyone, thinks they can tell the homeless person what to do.

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To me the only difference between your mother-in-law drinking herself to death in comfort and the person on the street drinking themselves to death is that your mother-in-law is not asking me for money. That's it. There is no other difference. Once I have to make a decision of how to help I am going to decide to spend the money one way, and another person is going to decide the opposite with their money. It's probably best if neither side tries to win the "My decision is more moral than your decision" sweepstakes.

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I don't know, AreteJo. I'd agree that nobody's winning the moral equivalent of a gold medal here, but Artemis's post was very well put.

You can buy an item from a shop and be contributing to the child of the owner's slide into drug abuse or alcoholism. You can give someone on the street who you suspect strongly is an alcoholic or drug abuser some money and it's actually similar. We have polite addiction, which just gets on with it and doesn't face the person giving money with what addiction looks like, and we have impolite addiction, which begs on the streets.

I have seen some frankly horrifying withdrawals, and so I would definitely rather give to someone who I suspect is going to have to put up with that if s/he doesn't get something to take or something to drink than to take the moral line that they shouldn't have been doing it in the first place. It is a pitiful attempt at helping, but there's not really another solution that will alleviate that person's suffering right in the present moment.

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Aretejo, my comment, although its proximity to yours may make it look oppositional, was not meant to be, and I wasn't trying to play 'holier than thou'. Everyone makes their own decisions about what to do in these cases. I suppose the point I was trying, rather clumsily, to make, was that I'm not someone else's moral arbiter. I don't see it as my business to not give them money in case they make a use of it I don't like. I mean, I don't assess every penny I spend with a view to whether it is only spent with companies of whose activities I approve. (I probably should, but I don't have time.) So I don't see a difference between giving someone a quid or two without exercising control over where it is spent, and buying a piece of clothing second hand off ebay without checking whether the company say, invests in concerns that endanger lives. Please excuse my muddled explanation, I'm nearly incoherent with fatigue, and just checking in for a bit of light relief after hospital visiting. It wasn't my intention to appear to attack you. .

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Artemis,

No worries, I didn't think your post was an attack or oppositional. I was just trying to explain that not giving is not always about othering the person asking for money. For some people it is, but for some it isn't.

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Good, that's ok then. :-)

JFC that's the best definition about polite addiction and impolite addiction I have ever come across. It is so true. I'll remember that one.

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I had a guy ask me to buy him something to eat once, so I did, and the cashier at the convenience store (who I think was probably the owner) gave me shit for it. It pissed me off because it was SOOO none of his business! How dare he presume to tell me what to do or not do with my own money? The underlying implication was I wasn't smart enough to think through all the possible reasons why this man asked me to buy him something, nor was I smart enough to understand without input that I shouldn't do so. :roll:

Aaaaggggh, it's nobody's business but the people in question.

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If someone is in need, and they ask for money, and I have it to give, then I give. It may be that the person isn't really in need, and they're scamming (Razing Ruth, anyone?), or they may use the money for bad purposes (drugs or alcohol) The point is, whether or not I choose to help is on me, and I personally feel that it's none of my business what they do with the money I freely chose to give. I'm giving out of the goodness of my heart, not so I can tell someone else what to do with their money. I don't go to church, so I "tithe" by giving 10% of my spending money to others. It usually comes out to about $10 a week, but one time I found a $100 bill on the ground. There was no way to know who it belonged to, but I felt wrong about spending it since it wasn't mine. I decided to break it into 20's and give it to homeless people, but before I could do that, a woman came up to me with her two small children begging for change. She said they had left homeland had nowhere to go. I took her and her children to a motel, paid for two nights, and gave her the 20 left over. I was on welfare myself at the time, and could have used that money myself. I don't know if this lady was being truthful with me. I don't know if she took advantage of my kindness. She could have used that room to get high in, or prostitute herself. All I know is that she was grateful for an act of kindness from a stranger, and I felt really good about helping her. For me, that's the point of helping others. No expectations,just the joy of doing good. Buying a cup of coffee for they guy outside 711, or a cheeseburger for the guy by the mc Donald's, or handing out ponchos on a rainy day is the best part of my week. It benefits me as much as it does them.

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My small city has started a Handouts Don't Help campaign. People are encouraged to give to the charities that help the homeless. The thing is our only homeless shelter has room for about 95 men and has beds for 8 women and children.

It is also run by a fundie light group so that people who need a meal and a cot have to sit through a longish service to get the help.

What I do is carry some tuna and dog food in my car and give it away.

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I give money sometimes, or will buy some fast food if someone is asking for money in front of a Mc Donald's or something. When I give cash sometimes it's because I'm feeling generous, or because the person seems in need. Sometimes I do it because I'm scared of the person who is acting aggressively.

I don't like to give money if I'm fairly sure it's going to feed an addiction. Addiction doesn't just hurt the addict, it hurts their family too. I would rather give to a charity that gives food or shelter to the whole family, instead of cash that will go to drugs/ drink instead of paying rent or buying groceries. Or to a treatment center to help the person not to be an addict. Or to a family resource center so the addicts parent can get counseling to help them deal with the grief and worry their addicted child has brought on them.

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I am of a similar mindset as Full enough quiver. If I am giving someone money on the streets, it is not a strings attached sort of deal. Random acts of kindness shouldn't come with a caveat attached.

At the same time, I would never ever give money to a religious based organization that includes any sort of religious statement, service, image, or anything else in their charity, because I feel like that is a strings attached donation and I don't agree with the strings.

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A few or five years ago, I watched an episode of the american tv series "Intervention." Basically, the family of a loved one who suffered from addiction used a trained therapist to offer that addict free treatment at some plush treatment center.

The episode that has haunted me involved a very intelligent young man named Kelly. He was raised in Southern California, nice parents, no abuse, but had horrible dyslexia and believed himself to be stupid. He started drinking in high school and became so addicted that he was on the streets with his dog (O.D.) and girlfriend by the time he was in his early 20s. He was an only child, I believe, and his mother and step-father were desperate to save him.

The only thing that mattered to him was OD, who had somehow wound up in a shelter. His mom got OD out of the shelter, then said the only way Kelly could get OD back was to go to treatment. He did exactly 30 days (the agreement), went across the street and bought a beer, collected OD, and went back to live on the streets. In the end, he lost OD and didn't know where he was, and he was still on the streets. For whatever reason, he chose this.

So I think of Kelly when I see homeless people, and I give them money, hoping they survive another day. It isn't my body nor my decision. If they want to die from drinking, it is indeed tragic, but it is their decision to make, not mine. My hope is they will live long enough to decide to make the right decisions. Letting them die on the street is not going to help them.

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A few or five years ago, I watched an episode of the american tv series "Intervention." Basically, the family of a loved one who suffered from addiction used a trained therapist to offer that addict free treatment at some plush treatment center.

The episode that has haunted me involved a very intelligent young man named Kelly. He was raised in Southern California, nice parents, no abuse, but had horrible dyslexia and believed himself to be stupid. He started drinking in high school and became so addicted that he was on the streets with his dog (O.D.) and girlfriend by the time he was in his early 20s. He was an only child, I believe, and his mother and step-father were desperate to save him.

The only thing that mattered to him was OD, who had somehow wound up in a shelter. His mom got OD out of the shelter, then said the only way Kelly could get OD back was to go to treatment. He did exactly 30 days (the agreement), went across the street and bought a beer, collected OD, and went back to live on the streets. In the end, he lost OD and didn't know where he was, and he was still on the streets. For whatever reason, he chose this.

So I think of Kelly when I see homeless people, and I give them money, hoping they survive another day. It isn't my body nor my decision. If they want to die from drinking, it is indeed tragic, but it is their decision to make, not mine. My hope is they will live long enough to decide to make the right decisions. Letting them die on the street is not going to help them.

Except you could be helping them to die on the street by giving them money to get high. People can, of course, die from DTs or withdrawal, but they are far more likely to die from an overdose, or exposure because they nodded out when it was freezing, or from liver damage, or from a bad batch of whatever, or from getting into a violent altercation when drunk. Giving them money for drugs or alcohol isn't likely going to help them live another day, it's far more likely to shorten it. And of course it is theoretically their decision. But to someone who is deep in their addiction, they aren't making rational decisions, the overpowering desire for drugs/alcohol is taking over and leading them to make any choice that leads to more drugs/alcohol.

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I wish this had easy answers.

I give more through organizations because I think that there is value in organizations--I don't begrudge the over head either (I've had people argue that I shouldn't have my job because it's 'overhead'--there's value in me having a job, even if that's not the purpose of my job!) and I think that many times, me giving $5 to an organization can, with them using it well, go farther than the $5 I give to someone on the street.

That said...I hand out more than my share of money on the street. (Actually, given where I work, I try not to carry cash. What usually happens is that, since I live in Michigan, home of the 10c bottle deposit law, I hand out a lot of bags of empties that are the equivalent of $3)

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Except you could be helping them to die on the street by giving them money to get high. People can, of course, die from DTs or withdrawal, but they are far more likely to die from an overdose, or exposure because they nodded out when it was freezing, or from liver damage, or from a bad batch of whatever, or from getting into a violent altercation when drunk. Giving them money for drugs or alcohol isn't likely going to help them live another day, it's far more likely to shorten it. And of course it is theoretically their decision. But to someone who is deep in their addiction, they aren't making rational decisions, the overpowering desire for drugs/alcohol is taking over and leading them to make any choice that leads to more drugs/alcohol.

But he did 30 days of rehab, so he was completely clean and sober when he walked out and went and bought beer.

I may not approve of his lifestyle, but there are plenty of lifestyles I don't necessarily personally agree with. That doesn't mean I get to decide what they do. (For example, I *personally* don't approve of a teen mom keeping a baby. That doesn't mean I am going to *only* support organizations that force her to give the baby up for adoption. It's her choice.)

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I thought that this was going to be about that horrible piece that John Stossel did recently. He dressed up as a hobo to prove....I don't know what. His point seems to be that homeless people make money too easily begging

Donning a fake beard, Stossel sat on a New York City sidewalk with a cardboard sign asking people for help. “I just begged for an hour but I did well,†he said. “If I did this for an eight-hour day I would’ve made 90 bucks. Twenty-three thou for a year. Tax-free.â€

Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who recently purchased a $4 million home in Greenwich, gasped in horror at the prospect of poor people earning $23,000 a year. Some people asking for money “are actually scammers,†Hasselbeck warned, seemingly unaware of the irony that the only panhandling “scammer†Fox News identified was Stossel.

Because he was able to successfully convince good-hearted pedestrians that he was poor, Stossel went on to chastise people who gave the homeless money because, in his view, “most are not…for real.â€

He implored viewers to stop giving money to poor people because if you do, “you’re an enabler.â€

None of the answers on this thread have been wrong because this is one of those gray areas where a good argument can be made by both sides. However, Stossel is an ass and Fox News is the home of assholes.

thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/11/21/2977711/john-stossel-poor-people/

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I don't really get the "it's their choice if they want to drink" argument here.

1. Sure it's their choice - but it's also a choice if someone donates money. Most of us don't just give out money without caring about where it's going or how it will be used. If you feel strongly that you wouldn't turn down someone in need asking you for money, or that you specifically want to give directly to someone and give them the feeling of have money in hand and a choice in how they spend it, that's something else.

2. It's difficult to talk about alcoholism or drug addiction as a "choice". Someone may choose to talk a drink, or may choose whether or not to enter treatment (if that option is available), but people don't sit down and rationally decide one day "yes, I really want to be an addict and lose my possessions, my home, my family, my job, my health and maybe even my life". To get to that stage, you are likely dealing with untreated mental illness, genetic predisposition to addiction, or really serious trauma in someone's background.

3. The real question IMHO is what forms of giving will allow your money to do the most good, save the most lives and provide the most dignity to the recipients. Handing out warm clothing and sleeping bags and food during a cold snap increases the odds of survival for those that won't go to a shelter. Funding secure single rooms for those with addictions would likely save the system money and increase life expectancy. Funding shelter programs may assist children and others too vulnerable to benefit from begging. Other programs may work to prevent those experiencing temporary hardship from becoming chronically homeless.

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I strongly--STRONGLY--believe that all people have certain rights. Everyone.

No one should have to listen to preaching or believe in God (or whatever the charity wants them to do) to get food or shelter. With Kelly (the guy I mentioned earlier) it was indeed his choice. He walked out of rehab and got drunk. It was very sad, but it was his choice. He had treatment options, and his family had money outside of the show, so if he wanted to get clean, he could. For whatever reason, he doesn't want to.

My ex-BIL died from cancer that was directly related to his alcohol abuse last summer. He was on the path for many, many years and we all saw it coming. His parents have money and would have happily paid for his treatment. He liked drinking and being drunk. He died young. Sad for his family, and sad for my ex-husband. But...his choice.

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Except you could be helping them to die on the street by giving them money to get high. People can, of course, die from DTs or withdrawal, but they are far more likely to die from an overdose, or exposure because they nodded out when it was freezing, or from liver damage, or from a bad batch of whatever, or from getting into a violent altercation when drunk.

Not necessarily, Mrs S.

I am not sure if one can die from drug withdrawal, but one can from alcohol withdrawal. And when you are in the throes of DTs or drug withdrawal, you're 100% more likely to be making bad/stupid decisions, because you are away with it. It's not like you're a bit crampy but sober and going "Could really do with a bit of that..." It's more like collapsing, twitching or seeing things - I have seen a few of these and I remember the woman besieged by an (imaginary) evil dog while in the DTs and the bloke who was sagging and looking like his face was melting coming off heroin. Also, you're constantly terrified, because you do actually think you are going to die. In a detox emergency ward, that's OK. On the streets, not very OK.

Liver damage'll catch ya, but it won't be overnight. The others can happen, certainly, and I would not give money for drugs/drink to an addict trying to come off, so I do totally agree with the principle behind what you are saying. These guys, however, aren't trying - and if they do try, it won't be tonight.

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I agree that DTs can be awful, and yes people can die from them. But they can also die suddenly from alcohol poisoning, as well as the longer term issues like cirrhosis. I don't want to give anyone my money to basically help them kill themselves, and make their families miserable in the process. So it is of course their choice to wreck their lives, but it's my choice not to pay for it. And I don't think " choice" is even the right word for someone deep in the disease of alcoholism / addiction.

If I was in a situation where the only option for someone in the throws of DT s was to give them a drink, yeah, I might, but only in a really desperate situation and only if they were at least willing to try to get help, otherwise it would be the same situation next week, and the week after and on and on.

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