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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brother can you spare a dollar?

Panhandling is one rough gig... but that's their point of view and I can see that. For me, it is a sometimes guilty feeling for not giving, sometimes stupid feeling for giving. What is my handout used for?

Drugs and alcohol is guess one. Food and money to live on is guess two. One reporter in Seattle came up with a number of non-definitive answers. Many beggars do the drug/alcohol thing for sure... but according to one, that is a very small percentage... most buy food and some even help other homeless people. Hope so.

Some of the "homeless" are not. Some of the "jobless" don't want one. Some of the "helpless" aren't. Many have mental problems. Most cities want them off their streets... or at least, controlled by whichever means work. Most agencies designed to help those in need advocate not giving money to panhandlers on the street. A few argue that you should.

I did find a recent blog post by author Gay Talese observing that almost all panhandlers need a little help with their signs. "Homeless. Please help" sometimes just doesn't get it done. So he tried to help them rewrite their plea. His offering: "Please support Pres. Obama's Stimulus Plan, and begin right here. Thanks." Much better, I believe.

But how about "If you were me, what would you give." Or, "Pencils, $1, 6 for $5. Orders taken with payment." Or, "If I were you, I wouldn't give me $10. I'd go no more than $5, maximum." Or, "The end of the world is coming. Look good in front of God." Or, "All contributions tax deductable."

Some do it very well. One Seattle beggar boasted he makes $300/day tax free. Hmmm. I'm not doing anything Thursday. I wonder...

Not to make too much fun... most represent a social problem or they wouldn't be there. It does tug at our collective conscience because we are a caring people and many of these need that care in one way or another.

1 comment:

  1. I used to drive a limo. Often when in downtown Manhattan, especially on the East side, I would order 2 meals from 'wherever', I would eat one, and when and put my arm outside the car, some would pass it up, but most would take, and eat. Jim H.

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