On Giving Money to Those Who Beg

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I regularly give money to people others call "beggars" or "pan-handlers."

I give because I can. I give because giving is the most god-like thing I do. Divine bounty is shared unconditionally, so I share unconditionally.

Not giving because the person might use the money for alcohol or drugs is judgmental, and I don't judge. When I give money to someone the money belongs to THEM not to me. What they use it for is NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

The way I see it, people are exactly where they need to be on their life's path. Who knows, if they use the money for drugs, or alcohol, maybe it will be THAT drink, or THAT fix, that causes the person to hit the rock-bottom that they HAVE TO hit before they can recreate their life.

And, so it is.

Steve.I.Am's picture
Steve.I.Am
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Comments

I agree. That is why I don't mind it too much when Exxon or BP beg for my tax money. God knows they need it to survive.

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 6:53 am

I do the same, eventhough I can't afford it. But a fellow human being at that stage clearly needs help surviving. There's no point moralizing whatever it is they need. We can only hope the appropriate social service agency will eventually intervene, either by voluntary shelter-seeking, hospitalization, or arrest, because that is what a beggar truly needs- social service.

This is not to say I donate to the meth-crazed machete man who may demand my purse at a Miami intersection. It is a matter of safety in such cases to throw everything in the car and on one's body quickly out the window till the light changes. That cannot be considered donating. Therefore, I just realized how erroneous it is that we have always classed "beggars and thieves" together in a phrase.

Thieves are predators who take things against your will, beggars are people asking for help. Nevertheless, when pushed far enough, some who would normally remain beggars, become thieves. Society's unwillingness to simply "help" one another escalates to violence.

What is so very frustrating is that poverty is an infection easily cured, but when left untreated can become fatal.

Who are called beggars are quite a diverse pool of individuals with complex social, medical and psychiatric problems which need professional identification to meet each individual's immediate needs, and someone to guide them to develop treatment and sustainable living plans.

Hopefully one day society will be re-organized, and a legion of recruiters can round up all the beggars and figure out how to make their lives better.

Meanwhile, offer an old sot help in the form of cash, as a gesture of well-meaning, as an apology for not doing more.

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leighmf
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Steve.I.Am:

I regularly give money to people others call "beggars" or "pan-handlers."

I give because I can. I give because giving is the most god-like thing I do. Divine bounty is shared unconditionally, so I share unconditionally.

Not giving because the person might use the money for alcohol or drugs is judgmental, and I don't judge. When I give money to someone the money belongs to THEM not to me. What they use it for is NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

The way I see it, people are exactly where they need to be on their life's path. Who knows, if they use the money for drugs, or alcohol, maybe it will be THAT drink, or THAT fix, that causes the person to hit the rock-bottom that they HAVE TO hit before they can recreate their life.

And, so it is.

Thank YOU Steve! I bless you from the bottoms of your feet to the top of your ahead. May you walk in beauty -beauty before you, beauty around you. May the beauty you bring to our world be reflected & received by yourself & those around you.

I thank you for the fresh air you brought ot us here. And for your thoughtful knowing heart.

Ironic isn't it - here in the land of cultivated christians we can't yet manage to practice some of the most basic concepts brought to us by the son of God, the big "J". Although Big "J brought us - let he who is without sin cast the first stone. We still don't grok this. Maybe in 10,000 years we will be there. In the meanwhile, an inspiration offering from another mystic - Rumi:

Out beyond the ideas of wrong doing or right doing

there is a field I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn't make any sense.

from Coleman Barks, Essential Rumi

media_muse
Joined:
Dec. 10, 2011 2:09 pm

If I knew 100% that someone was going to use my donation for a hit of meth, I might not give. Yet, there's no way to know that usually, and I would rather give to a hopeless drug addict than allow my suspicions to keep me from helping someone who is truly needy.

To look at someone who is standing on the road side with a cardboard sign, asking for money, and to assume that they are an addict or lazy or manipulating the system is to diminish myself. I don't have to know what anyone's particular needs are to know that all humans HAVE needs. Those who assume the worst of their fellow humans as a justification for not caring about them are cheating themselves. They diminish their own humanity when they do that to another.

I don't really subscribe to the notion that every person is where they need to be on life's path. To do that is to, on some level, excuse the inhuman conditions under which many live. There are millions of starving people here and abroad, many of them children, who aren't learning any lessons from their poverty except the lesson that the greatest crime on this planet is not having anything. For that infraction-which is the default, inborn human condition- there are many with too much who would gladly see them die.

This country does not have a poverty problem, it has a compassion problem.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm

I don't know if a culture of begging helps anyone, and I am fairly neutral about the idea that people who are living on a deficit budget feeling bad about responding to needs the rich shun. I also do not buy into the crap from the privateers about how they give more than liberals to charity. It is how they vote that matters.

I think it does matter what you advocate and where you donate your time, and money if you have it. Creating the institutions that help people and undoing the culture of greed will do more than a quarter or a buck given to make you feel better. Our national compassion problem is the correct target, and if you are giving a token as part of your larger mission, bless you. If you are using it to assuage your guilt, not so blessed.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote D_NATURED:

If I knew 100% that someone was going to use my donation for a hit of meth, I might not give. Yet, there's no way to know that usually, and I would rather give to a hopeless drug addict than allow my suspicions to keep me from helping someone who is truly needy.

To look at someone who is standing on the road side with a cardboard sign, asking for money, and to assume that they are an addict or lazy or manipulating the system is to diminish myself. I don't have to know what anyone's particular needs are to know that all humans HAVE needs. Those who assume the worst of their fellow humans as a justification for not caring about them are cheating themselves. They diminish their own humanity when they do that to another.

I don't really subscribe to the notion that every person is where they need to be on life's path. To do that is to, on some level, excuse the inhuman conditions under which many live. There are millions of starving people here and abroad, many of them children, who aren't learning any lessons from their poverty except the lesson that the greatest crime on this planet is not having anything. For that infraction-which is the default, inborn human condition- there are many with too much who would gladly see them die.

This country does not have a poverty problem, it has a compassion problem.

D_NATURED you are right on - we have a poverty of compassion here. Thanks for bringing this up.

I am reminded of something the Dali Lama said when someone asked him about 'practicing loving kindness'. He replied: "if we could just practice the 'kindness' part this would be enough".

Sometimes I just don't understand this question 'to give or not to give' & the judgement which is passed off as thoughtful reasoning.

When our banksters, trumpsters, tax evaders need to stand on the side of the road with their cardboard signs (I wish) asking for a hand out - rather than getting a blank check (from us socialists through our over lords) handed to them on a platinum platter - we might level the playing field.

media_muse
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Dec. 10, 2011 2:09 pm

To give or not to give...obviously a big question. So, I find these postings fascinating - all the ways folks approach this and I am encouraged.

Several years ago when I could see the tsunami of poverty coming - I was concerned. I had learned sometimes my BS detector did not always work the way I hoped it would. So my ego took a few hits when I realized I had been conned by a pan handler on the street. (Wow, that took years of counseling to reconcile!) Now I can accept, that on occasion I may be fooled. However, these experiences are rather minimal on the Richter scale of rip offs we are subjected to by those who govern us.

And why is it.... our amerikan government feels the need to be charitable, helping out the multitude of those poor developed & undeveloped countries while subjecting us to death panels here?

And why did our governance not spend some time with this big charitable question of existential angst, "to give or not to give" before they bailed out those dingle ballsy drug addled, alcohol addicted, prescription abusing, food abusing, prostitute using, wife cheating, LAZY banksters?

media_muse
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Dec. 10, 2011 2:09 pm

The only reason that there are so many beggers on the streets of industrialized nations is because that is the policy. It's for weeding out the intellectually inferior so that they will die early deaths, hopefully without reproducing. It's tied in with many other tried and true methods of killing off the undesireable classes such as surrepticiously using sterilization and uranium poisoning. What is really strange about the sick ideology of the current ruling class is that they themselves are of an inferior intellect and philosophically they are planting the seeds of their own demise being that they are truly of a lower class.

jmacneil's picture
jmacneil
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Mar. 6, 2012 6:24 pm
Quote media_muse:
Quote D_NATURED:

If I knew 100% that someone was going to use my donation for a hit of meth, I might not give. Yet, there's no way to know that usually, and I would rather give to a hopeless drug addict than allow my suspicions to keep me from helping someone who is truly needy.

To look at someone who is standing on the road side with a cardboard sign, asking for money, and to assume that they are an addict or lazy or manipulating the system is to diminish myself. I don't have to know what anyone's particular needs are to know that all humans HAVE needs. Those who assume the worst of their fellow humans as a justification for not caring about them are cheating themselves. They diminish their own humanity when they do that to another.

I don't really subscribe to the notion that every person is where they need to be on life's path. To do that is to, on some level, excuse the inhuman conditions under which many live. There are millions of starving people here and abroad, many of them children, who aren't learning any lessons from their poverty except the lesson that the greatest crime on this planet is not having anything. For that infraction-which is the default, inborn human condition- there are many with too much who would gladly see them die.

This country does not have a poverty problem, it has a compassion problem.

D_NATURED you are right on - we have a poverty of compassion here. Thanks for bringing this up.

I am reminded of something the Dali Lama said when someone asked him about 'practicing loving kindness'. He replied: "if we could just practice the 'kindness' part this would be enough".

Sometimes I just don't understand this question 'to give or not to give' & the judgement which is passed off as thoughtful reasoning.

When our banksters, trumpsters, tax evaders need to stand on the side of the road with their cardboard signs (I wish) asking for a hand out - rather than getting a blank check (from us socialists through our over lords) handed to them on a platinum platter - we might level the playing field.

No doubt it's a perverted sense of equity that makes us suspicious of ragged street people but not of those in the ivory towers. We worry that the bum on the corner might be lying that he's homeless and hungry, ripping us off for a buck, but don't care about the "indiscretions" of the job creators.

You called the bail outs socialist but they were not that. Perhaps socialist in the NAZI sense, but that's just fascism. For the good of the people we will relinquish control to private enterprise, is a toxic idea. It is wealth worship and begins the process of measuring humans on a monetary scale..slavery.

The problem with capitalism is, despite all of the glitter at the top, there exists, inherently, a wretched underclass chasing a carrot on the worlds longest stick as a substitute for a minimum human guaranty. The role of the government to protect the poor is compromised on every front. Poverty is sold as potential for wealth. That's what modern America is.

I wish we did have some socialism in this country. The idea of allowing private interests to skim a percentage off the top of everything necessary to people is insane to me.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm

[/quote]

You called the bail outs socialist but they were not that. Perhaps socialist in the NAZI sense, but that's just fascism.

[/quote]

D_NATURED. I appreciate you! And that you are on the look out for the correct use of socialism, & the fascism which currently passes for capitalism here in amerika.

I am not so sure socialism is not the correct word here. Admittedly, I've exercised some creative liberty in my use of it. So I'll continue to use it. Hopefully when the spin stops, we'll get right side up again - or is it left side up?

Whatever side it is - we aren't on that side - we are NOT on the side which keeps our faces up towards fresh air, breathing freely - instead we're bobbling in water face down - almost dead - with only non stop treading keeping us afloat.

Until we get rid of the our current system - the vampiric hybrid of fascism with a sugar coating of crazy capitalism - and our governance stops privatizing profit & socializing debt - we are stuck with these words. And, worser possibilities.....

media_muse
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Dec. 10, 2011 2:09 pm

[/quote D_NATURED]

You called the bail outs socialist but they were not that. Perhaps socialist in the NAZI sense, but that's just fascism.

[/quote]

D_NATURED I appreciate you! And that you are on the look out for the correct use of socialism, & the fascism which currently passes for capitalism here in amerika.

I am not so sure socialism is not the correct word here. Admittedly, I've exercised some creative liberty in my use of it. So I'll continue to use it. Hopefully when the spin stops, we'll get right side up again - or is it left side up?

Whatever side it is - we aren't on that side - we are NOT on the side which keeps our faces up towards fresh air, breathing freely - instead we're bobbling in water face down - almost dead - with only non stop treading keeping us afloat.

Until we get rid of the our current system - the vampiric hybrid of fascism with a sugar coating of crazy capitalism - and our governance stops privatizing profit & socializing debt - we are stuck with these words. And, worser possibilities.....

media_muse
Joined:
Dec. 10, 2011 2:09 pm
Quote media_muse:

And, worser possibilities.....

such as my unskilled used of the quotation system here, oops...........

media_muse
Joined:
Dec. 10, 2011 2:09 pm
Quote media_muse:
Quote _NATURED:

You called the bail outs socialist but they were not that. Perhaps socialist in the NAZI sense, but that's just fascism.

D_NATURED I appreciate you! And that you are on the look out for the correct use of socialism, & the fascism which currently passes for capitalism here in amerika.

I am not so sure socialism is not the correct word here. Admittedly, I've exercised some creative liberty in my use of it. So I'll continue to use it. Hopefully when the spin stops, we'll get right side up again - or is it left side up?

Whatever side it is - we aren't on that side - we are NOT on the side which keeps our faces up towards fresh air, breathing freely - instead we're bobbling in water face down - almost dead - with only non stop treading keeping us afloat.

Until we get rid of the our current system - the vampiric hybrid of fascism with a sugar coating of crazy capitalism - and our governance stops privatizing profit & socializing debt - we are stuck with these words. And, worser possibilities.....

People tend to argue a lot about socialism. They say many things are socialist that are not. The standard of socialism should be, does it serve the people? We can know how much socialism is being applied by how well society functions. It's very simple.

Corporations can externalize costs, governments can't. Governments seem less efficient to Tea Baggers because they don't realize that fact. When a company creates a product through which process pollutants are generated, it can invest a small amount in political bribery rather than spend a large amount in correcting their assault on society. They can allow the cost of their process-in cancers and childhood asthma-to be absorbed not by the customer, but by society at large and nature itself.They cheat by creating law that allows them to have an unfair advantage.

Governments must serve people or they will be replaced by ones that do the job better. Unfortunately, people are often dazzled by the lifestyles of the gluttonous and ostentatious, not realizing that they are not the apex of society, but a sign of its weakness.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm

It is ridiculous how some people try to give socialism a bad name when all it does mean is taking care of the necessities of society and letting a limited capitalism work within that framework. The only real problem with it is that once an idealistic government of the people for the people is working then there would be extreme limitations on the paths to glory for the brutes and the greedy. But a just society could easily live with that. A humanist or socialist government in the U.S. would mark the end of an age and, in fact, that end of an age is already upon us whether the half-wits and criminals who think they run this world are ready for it or not. Their idea of "improving" the race by weeding out the undesireables is the foulest idea possible and is in no way different than the final solution of the Nazi's with their ovens.

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jmacneil
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Mar. 6, 2012 6:24 pm

I rarely write on your blog, but I came here specifically to thank Thom for his great words. As an activist for the low income and low income myself I do not beg, but I do know those who are forced to do so. Most of these people are *not* addicts, but even if they were, they are SICK. I do not care where it goes, I give because I am ashamed that my country treats the least among us with such insensitve cruelty. I give on a fixed income because I want these people to know I care about them even if the rest of society doesn't.

A former nun told me a story once about some housing she and other nuns ran in Seattle that did not require a person be clean and sober. Their only requirement was that residents did not buy or sell whatever they used in their building. Not only did residents adhere to this rule strictly, they were as a group quite severe with the one or two who tried. More importantly however, was the other things that happened in this building: They had over an 80% sobriety rate because once the people got off the street and into stable housing they could take care of their addiction. They also lived where right below their streets on weekend nights were a lot of bars and taverns. Below them would be fights, broken bottles, police, ambulances and the like. Right above this mahem was the building the nuns managed and it had flower boxes in the windows, clean building, clean stoop, it was peacful.

If someone is begging it is because they are desperate. Well I care and I will share what little I have to let them know others care about them too. Thank-you Thom for your wonderful words. As someone who sees this desperation every day I cannot tell you how precious your message is to those who are on the ground seeing this every day and who know of the terrible harm the conditions of poverty does to the soul!

Cat in Seattle

P.S. I do hope sometime you will speak with Willie Baptist who runs the Poverty Scholar Program at the Theological Union in NYC by the Riverside Church (where former Presient Clinton goes and where MLK spoke). He and his "army" along with Hunter college students have done amazing work around the reasons for homelessness that actually put 6 figure city planners to shame. They proved that homelessness is basically a myth. Plus he just wrote a book he could talk about. While it is long believe me, it is worth your time to show the homeless are *not* so ignorant, in fact they pulled a coup. Of course the city (and the world) ignored them because it was so embarrassing. Here is the press conference they gave about the banking industry and homelessness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvwu4eN0CSw&list=LLnXU4R0Cu6v9VXigeflGvqA&index=4&feature=plpp_video

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mntleo2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Namaste, Media_Muse.

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Steve.I.Am
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I give my loose change to those who approach me out of self interest. I have stuff they can take or destroy, and I'm not in the class that has a Plan B that involves a compound in Paraguay.

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Bravo mntelo2 ! ! !

Your voice we need to hear - you speak with experience & with heart - we need these more than anything else right now. Excellent examples you gave us about what is closer to the truth than the fallacies passed off as facts. I bless you from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. May you continue to walk in beauty, may you continue to bring your beauty to the world. May your beauty be gracefully received in our world. Thank you.

media_muse
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Dec. 10, 2011 2:09 pm

This may be a nice gesture and somewhat helpful, but it is only a drop in the bucket, not a real solution. We need public support and oversight of better programs in HUD and in other agencies.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I think that, in the moment, when the dollar goes from my hand to the homeless person's, the solution is more real than a bunch of suits talking about reform. The bucket can be filled by small drops, if there are enough of them.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm

The people talking about reform should be John Q. Public, not merely the politicians. I think social workers who sometimes work to help the poor would question whether private giving especially to someone standing on the street is anywhere near sufficient to meet someone's needs. There are many poor people here in America. All of the abstract talk about political ideology is not very helpful those who have immediate worries.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Yeah, but unfortunately the poor don't vote and the republicons aren't making it any easier.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm

In a predominately "Christian" society, poor people should not be the only ones to be concerned with economic inequality and suffering, and the fall of many middle class people from job loss or, for recent college graduates, of never having obtained a decent first job, should be more than enough reason for people to be concerned with this issue.

The whole liberal enterprise is partly based on the idea that the government needs to help out where the private sector ignores and marginalized people, and that the government is capable of helping and accomplishing something with social well-being. If a program is set up in an unfair, inadequate, or half-assed way, then the money that is being spent is not being well spent. The message should be, do it right. That message, in a democratic society, needs to come from the people.

The Occupy movement should see about taking up the slack left by Acorn's demise. Organizing people on many income levels, not just the alienated middle class, is something that is clearly needed. There are those who criticize the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson as being racisists, a criticism that I think is largely unfair and uncalled for, given how far behind many blacks have fallen economically. But they seem to know something about organizing and even inspiring poor people. As a youth, I attended sunday school at a reformed synagogue which for many years has been the headquaters of the organzation founded by Jackson, Rainbow/Push. The congregation moved to another nearby temple that is across the street from Obama's home. The temple has a urban gardening program, and they do a lot to promote sustainable agriculture and local growers.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Robindell:

This may be a nice gesture and somewhat helpful, but it is only a drop in the bucket, not a real solution. We need public support and oversight of better programs in HUD and in other agencies.

As you wrote " We need public support and oversight of better programs in HUD and in other agencies." Absolutely we need this but for some reason the folks running these agencies don't agree because they aren't doing it. Why aren't they? Since they aren't we need every drop in the bucket. The every drop in the bucket works for our governing over lords - they shake every drop out of of a certain range of tax payers - from the lowest tax bracket to the upper edge of the middle class - all those piddly drops add up to a substantial sum. They count on these drops for their revenue stream. BTW, when the Obama admin started up this is where they focused first - to pull in money to our coffers looted by the Bush grubbing greedsters. Another example is the recent spike in gasoline prices. Even if the spike is only 5 cents this adds up to boku bucks for the oil barons - this keeps them in the baron over lording part. I could give you a myriad of examples from the banking industry alone - from what passes as business greed for a few cents here & there. Don't underestimate these little raindrops of a few cents here or there.

Quote DRC:

I think it does matter what you advocate and where you donate your time, and money if you have it. Creating the institutions that help people and undoing the culture of greed will do more than a quarter or a buck given to make you feel better. Our national compassion problem is the correct target, and if you are giving a token as part of your larger mission, bless you. If you are using it to assuage your guilt, not so blessed.

Absolutely it matters what you advocate, donate, give. It took a while for us to get the institutions in place that we currently have. We need to do something right here right now. And, if someone gives because they feel guilty what's wrong with that? Gee whiz, what a wonky world we wallow in here - NOW one must only give from an enlightened mind space. (really?)

Quote chilidog:

I give my loose change to those who approach me out of self interest. I have stuff they can take or destroy, and I'm not in the class that has a Plan B that involves a compound in Paraguay.

Thanks chilidog - I found your succinct comments here to be the most realistic & spiritually aware at the same time.

Quote Robindell:

The people talking about reform should be John Q. Public, not merely the politicians. I think social workers who sometimes work to help the poor would question whether private giving especially to someone standing on the street is anywhere near sufficient to meet someone's needs. There are many poor people here in America. All of the abstract talk about political ideology is not very helpful those who have immediate worries.

Robindell - I am quoting you here because I believe what you wrote here speaks to the most practical, realistic, accessible approach to do the best possible help in beginning the bridge we need to get to the next level - and I hope it is a step up & not another backwards slide in to the puritanical past of punishment for the poor. The dilemma facing us at every turn is this part as you wrote - "The people talking about reform should be John Q. Public, not merely the politicians

media_muse
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Dec. 10, 2011 2:09 pm

Thank you for your analysis.

In the interest of fairness, I amend my comment to read, "John and Jane Q. Public."

Chicago will be hosting the NATO conference in a few months. The city has a sizeable number of homeless people, some asking for help right downtown. This event will be an interesting case study in social protest on a national and even international level.

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Robindell
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Currently Chatting

The other way we're subsidizing Walmart...

Most of us know how taxpayers subsidize Walmart's low wages with billions of dollars in Medicaid, food stamps, and other financial assistance for workers. But, did you know that we're also subsidizing the retail giant by paying the cost of their environmental destruction.

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