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|The Hierarchy of Handouts|
Dec. 31st, 2009 at 5:52 pm
Some people in Utah think that the area surrounding Temple Square is the panhandling capital of the world. I don’t know if that’s true — I’m not well traveled or well educated enough to say for sure. However, it it’s at least in the top twenty, I submit that Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, would crack the top five.
Without getting into the comparative merits of giving to charitable institutions, etc., vs. giving directly to an individual, I propose the following experiment:
You have one dollar in your pocket to donate to whomever you like. You may not get change and split it up. To whom do you give it?
1. One of the many homeless-looking people scattered around the benches or in wheelchairs. Theirs is a passive technique — they merely sit by their cup (occasionally with a cardboard sign) and hope you will notice them.
2. The young man in the Ralph Lauren shirt and Tommy Hilfiger jacket that rattles his cup incessantly right next to the door of the CVS Pharmacy and says “quarters only” to everyone that comes out.
3. The Spare Change News guy — he is very pleasant and always greets everyone with a smile (often accompanied by a compliment) and enthusiastically asks if you could help the homeless today.
4. The guitar / karaoke busker — hey, at least he’s doing something.
5. The Amnesty / PETA / Children / Greenpeace activist — standard manipulative cold approach: “Hey, do you have a minute to save the ___________?”
Give your preference in the comments. What factors influence your inevitable “judgment” of those you find more or less deserving?