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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why I No Longer Give Money to Beggars

I would like to think of myself as a charitable and generous person. If I have it to give to a church or worthy cause, I will. I draw boundaries at my giving, though. There was a time that I would give freely to panhandlers on the streets. However, since my financial situation is not as favorable as it was in the past, I have had to cut back in a major way on my giving to panhandlers.

After a closer look, I decided to nearly eliminate giving to panhandlers. It is not that I look down on the homeless or less fortunate. I have been homeless through no fault of my own, as a child, so I know exactly what it is like. I am also aware of what it is like to reside in shelters, in cars, and basically live from pillar-to-post. So, I am not here to cast aspersions on those whom are less fortunate than I am. On extremely rare occasions, I do give to panhandlers, when my gut instinct tells me that I should.

Anyway, I have observed of late that there is prevalence in scammer/panhandlers. These are the people that stand at busy intersections, with cardboard signs with statements scrawled on them, such as “Will work for food or money”. For the most part these people are full of shit. The way that I look at it, if you have the balls and gusto to stand in an intersection looking like a hot mess, begging for money, then you can get up and hustle for money. I mean, do some real work to earn money. We aren’t responsible for these people, they are responsible for taking care of themselves.

The scammer/panhandlers are just playing on our sympathies and they excel at it. Those little dollar bills that suckers give to them really stack up, too. I have not conducted a survey or taken a poll, but I think that most of the scam artists make more money in one day than the average American does in one week. They have the easiest job on Earth. All they have to do is wave and flash a toothless smile. Some of them may or may not be homeless, but many of them don’t have to be. They can take that money a make a fresh start if they truly wanted to. But this is the lifestyle that many of them choose. 

There are times that it is painfully obvious that panhandlers are scamming folks.  Once, I was at a gas station with my sister and this well dressed guy was panhandling.  I think he wanted gas money.  I almost hit the ceiling when my sister reached into her purse and handed him $5.  I told her that she just took food out her kids mouths to give to a scam artist.  The guy was wearing an Ambercrombie & Fitch leather belt.  If he was in such dire need of money he would sell that belt for cash.

I remember several years ago, I was getting ready to enter a Winn-Dixie supermarket. There was a young man loitering in front of the door begging for money. He asked me for a dollar and I felt sorry and gave it to him. He appeared to be able bodied and healthy. So, when I saw the same young man standing in front of Publix a week later, I was pissed. As I approached the store's entrance, I already knew he was going to ask for money, and I had a big fat “No!!” waiting for his ass. If he has a brain and a mouth, then he can get a J-O-B! In spite of the economic downtown, we are living in the land of opportunity.

I suspect that the scammers take most of the money to support substance abuse problems. I don’t want to be a part of that. A friend, of a friend, of a friend knows some people that panhandle on a regular basis. From what I hear, these “career panhandlers” use some of the money collected to support drinking problems. The panhandlers even bragged about making well over $200 in just a few hours. People like that don’t contribute to society. They are dead weights and use up resources for those who really need it, like starving and homeless children.

Long story short, I feel more comfortable giving donations to reputable charities, rather than individuals on the street. At least, there is a greater chance that your money is going to be properly allocated. I don’t donate to charities for tax write offs, but there is that added benefit as well when you donate to reputable nonprofits and charities.

What is your take on this? Do you give money to beggars? Should we feel compassion for scammer/panhandlers?

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt


 www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com
 

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