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< Back to question Should you give money to beggars? Show more Show less

For people fortunate enough to have extra money in their pockets, giving it away can be fraught with stress. The decision to give or not to give money to homeless people has real-world consequences. This question is not concerned with the legality of giving money, but rather with the moral and ethical dilemma that goes along with it.

No, it disincentives them from seeking serious help. Show more Show less

Homeless people experience many problems beyond lack of housing, and they're not going to fix those with the change you give them on the street.
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They may not feel pressure to seek employment

Beggars make easy money. Contributing to them further reduces the incentive to seek employment.
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Proponents


Context

The amount of money a panhandler makes per hour varies between locations.[1] One man in New York reported making $200 a day by sitting with his dog.[2] Other times, a daily or hourly income is $0. Exact numbers vary and are difficult to track down, Yet, some homeless people report that being skilled with panhandling increases their income.[3]

The Argument

You giving money to a beggar is just one more person who is incentivizing them to continue living on the streets and not seek stable employment. Panhandlers are said to make $8 - $15 on average each hour, which may provide them with better wages than a starting job[4]. The majority of panhandlers state that panhandling is their primary source of income[5]. A homeless person may want a job, but the more money they make while begging, the less likely they will be to make an effort to find one. For a homeless person, to successfully find and keep a job is an arduous task; lack of a residential address, phone number, and bank account - plus employers' unwillingness to hire members of the homeless population - turn finding work into a long-term project[6]. Continuing to make money via panhandling may not provide a steady income, but it requires much less effort and becomes routine after a while. Additionally, homeless people usually do not have a way to save their money[7], so their situation does not get better the more money they make. This is why it is more helpful to donate to charities dedicated to ending homelessness than to give cash directly to a beggar.

Counter arguments

The money that panhandlers get on the street is never going to measure up to a stable income and employment benefits; it is just a stopgap measure for people in a difficult situation. Homeless people do not want to be homeless. In fact, long-term homelessness lasting for over a year is a relatively rare phenomenon - only 5.6% of the 2 million adults who qualify as homeless on any given day could fit the definition of "chronic homelessness". Those who do often have a mental or physical disability that keeps them from finding work[8]. Additionally, many panhandlers that you see on the street may already have a job, but still do not earn enough to be able to pay rent or afford necessities for their family. In fact, according to a study conducted by Urban Institute, 45% of homeless adults already have real jobs[8]; just because panhandling may be a primary source of income, does not at all mean it's the only source.

Premises

[P1] Seeking employment is a desirable state as it allows one to gain more resources to be independent and self-reliant. [P2] Panhandling is a steady source of income. [P3] The homeless person is physically, mentally and legally capable of seeking employment. [P4] People who beg on the street are often not otherwise employed. [P5] Givers who are financially stable and independent should want to help homeless people achieve the same state of independence.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Panhandling is not a source of steady income. [Rejecting P3] A person who is homeless may not be physically or mentally capable to be employed. In addition, there may be no jobs available for them. [Rejecting P4] A person who is homeless may be employed elsewhere and are just looking to supplement a meager income.[1]

References

  1. https://www.invisiblepeople.tv/how-much-do-panhandlers-actually-make/
  2. https://www.ibtimes.com/how-much-do-panhandlers-make-new-york-city-homeless-man-earns-200-hour-sitting-2181312
  3. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/do-panhandlers-make-50-an-hour/
  4. https://invisiblepeople.tv/how-much-do-panhandlers-actually-make/#:~:text=Generally%2C%20panhandlers%20can%20make%20%248,%240%20is%20also%20a%20possibility.
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1885227/
  6. https://backpacksforthestreet.org/why-dont-homeless-people-just-get-jobs/
  7. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/03/should-you-give-money-to-homeless-people/72820/
  8. https://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/09/AR2010070902357.html

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 1 Jul 2020 at 23:59 UTC

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