Should we give more strategically?

28 Nov

When it comes to choosing who to give to, I am swayed by my emotions. I’m more inclined to give to people who are one of the following:

  • women, especially women with children
  • old me
  • the disabled

But if I were to think about it, that’s not very strategic. I should probably give more to people who would otherwise be more likely to present a threat to me. If they can’t make a living from begging, what are the chances they’ll turn to crime?  So, if I were to have my own best interests at heart, I’d give more to able-bodied young men who present the biggest potential crime threat. These, as it happens, are the same people I’m least inclined to give anything to. As many people argue: why can’t they get a job?

But jobs, as we know, are hard to come by. Also, giving a job to a person you don’t know is dangerous, especially for a woman. There are far too many stories in the news of brutal attacks, sometimes murders, where the victim allowed the perpetrator into the house as an employee.

Giving money to a beggar is a relatively easy way to salve one’s conscience, opening your window to somebody – but not your life.

What do you think?


3 Responses to “Should we give more strategically?”

  1. PM November 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Giving strategically….interesting idea, but strategically for what?

    First, this assumes that you can alter their behavior by rewarding them–a form of positive reinforcement, one that is used quite successfully by most animal trainers (and goes back at least to B. F. Skinner and operant conditioning theory).

    But more interestingly, what is it that we want them to do instead? Do we want them to change locations? Do we want them to thank us? Do we want them to disappear? Do we want them to give us something in return–perform a service or entertain us or hand us a receipt/toy/whatever?

    If, for example, there was a underutilized job training program locally, then it might make sense to hand them a flyer for that program as you handed them cash. Same with either housing or feeding programs, or some group that could help illegal immigrants, or even a battered women’s program.

    Any other ideas?

  2. PM November 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Somewhat related: teaching the very rich to be better at charity.

  3. Mogomotsi November 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    they say beggars cant be chosers, but is it not by choice that they are begging in the first place. my view could be bias, but ive kind of noticed that the number of beggars seems to be increasing- which begs the question – where do they come from. there seems to be more blind beggars, and the ones with children. Dont they qualify for grants ? anyway in my experience , there are also the guys that sell stuff on the side of the road, maps, kiddie toys, newspapers- i personally would rather support someone that is selling something than one thats begging. The is a new trend of those that con you into giving money by washing windshields as you come to a halt and now ercently, i saw one that i call the entertainer , what the basically do is paint their faces with some white substance and dress up in dresses and blow a whistle whilst dancing- which i find entertaining as my mind wanders while 5 minutes of my life is being paused my a red robot.

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