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Quora Answer : Begging: Would it be immoral to ask a panhandler to pick up trash for 20 minutes or so in exchange for a few bucks?

Oct 31, 2013

It sounds like you're basically one of :

  • trying to do a test : "let's see if this guy is willing to work or is just lazy"
  • teaching what you consider to be a moral lesson : "see how work is good for you!"

Both of those make you look pretty ugly. After all, you wouldn't go up to other random people on the street and start testing their integrity or trying to teach them moral lessons. So being willing to do it with this guy is clearly a result of you feeling superior because you have money while he needs it. That basic economic inequality has fooled you into assuming there must be a moral inequality too. (Something that's wholly unproven at this point.)

It's not immoral per-se to offer someone who might need a job, a job. But it should be done sensitively. And with some kind of framework that respects the person and their position. For example, things like The Big Issue and other newspapers sold by the homeless are not that different, and I don't think they're immoral. But they start by focussing on the system and respect for the people they're trying to help. They weren't created to score points.

Quora Answer : How might beggars be affected by a cashless economy?

Jul 10, 2017


Beggars get most of their money from people's spare change.

Without cash, people won't have spare change.

And that means that they won't give it to beggars.

So, some very generous people might well try to donate other things. Eg. buy a sandwich etc. But that requires a much larger commitment than just dropping a couple of coins in a cup or hat with a mumbled "good luck" as you walk past.

That requires going out of your way to talk to the beggar, to find a sandwich shop etc. etc. It will take 5 or 10 minutes of your time you may not have available. It may require you to involve yourself to a degree you don't feel comfortable doing.

People have some rosy idealism about this. How that would be so much nicer and more useful for the beggar.

The truth is that far fewer people are going to put this extra effort in. So the absolute amount of donation will go down.

And secondly, even beggars have needs other than convenience food. A beggar might be collecting money to stay in a shelter, or pay a small rent to stay on someone's floor. Or need to charge a phone card to keep in touch with a distant family member. Or need to repay a debt to someone that lent him money. Or need to buy some new socks without holes in them. Etc.

There's a rather ugly, smug, superiority complex that some people have : which makes them think "ah, I know what's important for this guy asking for help. I know if I give him money he'll only waste it on drugs or alcohol. So I will do the good thing and buy him the food directly."

You know how I know that? I used to be that guy. I'd offer someone food rather than money because I thought I knew better than the guy himself what he needed.

But, frankly, I didn't. And nor do most people.

So, yeah. A CashlessSociety is going to be a disaster for beggars.

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