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The elegant beggars June 23, 2009

Posted by keithkchan in fun stuffs, Philosophy.

I am pretty busy these days, for no good reasons as usual. But I have to say something on this blog. This time let me say something I find totally ridiculous here in New York (or America).

The beggars people usually have in mind, at least I have in mind, are usually humble and pitiful. But this is not the case in New York. Beggars can be found everywhere here, particularly in the subway. I find it very annoying because I commute by subway everyday.

“Ladies and gentleman, sorry for disturbing you. My name is Peter. I am homeless, jobless. I am hungry. I have XYZ disease. Blah, blah, blah… I am grateful if you can give me some money or change.” Then the guy goes around the compartment to collect money when somebody is kind enough to give them money. The guy then goes to another compartment to continue his speech. The guy’s voice is loud and clear despite the fact that the guy claims himself to be “sick and hungry”. From the speech, I get the impression that the guy’s voice is energetic and confident, it sounds we have the responsibilities to pay him. Most of the time the beggars decently, sometimes they wear better than I do. In one occasion, the beggar wears a suit, isn’t it totally ridiculous? Should I call them gentlemen instead of beggars?

Most of the time I ignore them. But some people are “kind” enough to give them money. Let’s estimate how much money they make. From my observation, they get on average one dollar in each compartment in the train. Suppose this takes, say 5 minutes. So they make 12 dollars in one hour. Let’s assume they work 8 hours in one day. They make 96 dollars in one day. If somebody gets about 100 dollars a day, how likely that he suffers from hunger? That’s totally ridiculous. In fact, they make more money than I do! As a poor graduate student, I only get 70 dollars each day from the stipend. So I am poorer than a beggar!

So I will say those people who pay these beggars are not kind, but stupid. Almost all those people who ask for money are stronger and bigger than me, and have no apparent disabilities. OK, if they want to find a job in Wall Street, it can be difficult. I don’t think it is so difficult to get a job in McDonalds’ or in a pizzeria. They don’t do it because those stupid people keep on paying them money. This “job” as a beggar is easier and maybe more profitable than being a worker in a restaurant.

My observation is only limited to New York City. I don’t know if this is a local phenomenon, or it also occur in other parts of America. This is one of the ridiculous things I find in New York.



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