Almost every street and food court in KL has its resident beggars. Some merely ask for your spare change, some try and sell you tissue paper. The annoying ones are those that have plastic folders full of information of the group/charity they represent or the blind ones guided by sighted people (shouldn’t the sighted person be hauling ass and working instead of begging?). I have certain criterias when it comes to giving these people money, but mostly it’s based on gut feeling. Sometimes when I’m in a cantankerous mood or when too many have asked me for coin, I brush off even the ones that fulfil my personal requirements and spend, as Mr. No Impact Man puts it, “an uncomfortable block – rationalizing to myself that I didn’t give it to them “for their own good.”
I really liked what Ms Ehrenreich said on the Freakonomics blog about the subject (and quoted by No Imapct Man on his):
Although I’m atheist, I defer to Jesus on beggar-related matters. He said, if a man asks for your coat, give him your cloak too. (Actually, he said if a man “sue thee at the law” for the coat, but most beggars skip the legal process.) Jesus did not say: First, administer a breathalyzer test to the supplicant, or, first, sit him down for a pep talk on “focus” and “goal-setting.” He said: Give him the damn coat.
It’s not always that easy however. I’m sure all of you read the reports and articles of syndicates using children and disabled people to beg and depriving them of their earnings. Do we want to contribute to that just to ease our own conscience? Stinky and I decided no. So we came up with a plan that whenever streetkids asked us for money, we’d buy them food instead. This plan hasn’t worked too well. The kids usually don’t understand or run away in horror that some freakos would actually want to buy them a hotdog value meal from 1901. The only time it worked was when we met a begging mother with an infant and 5 year old kid on Bukit Bintang. We asked if we could buy her kid a meal and icecream and she wearily said yes. The look on that kid’s face as he ate his huge chocolate ice cream cone made us both cry. We broke our rules and gave the mom a tenner afterwards.
We never saw them again.
What are your views on giving money to beggars?