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你会给乞丐钱吗?

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小编摘要:你是否愿意把钱捐给流浪者?对于这个问题,简短的回答是“不会”。答得详细一点则是:“会,但前提是你所捐赠的机构能够把钱用到实处。”

The short answer is no. The long answer is yes, but only if you work for an organization that can ensure the money is spent wisely.*


Giving money to the homeless is an economic crisis of the heart, a tug-of-war between the instinct to alleviate suffering and the knowledge that a donation might encourage, rather than relieve, the anguish of the poor.


We're all familiar with our mothers' reasons not to empty our pockets for beggars. "The best help is a shelter not a dollar," she's told us, and "They'll only use it on [something bad] anyway!"


The studies seem to back up mom, to a degree. One report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that six out of ten homeless respondents admitted problems with alcohol or drugs. Given the likelihood of self-reported bias, the actual number could be even higher. Studies on homeless income find that the typical "career panhandler" who dedicates his time overwhelmingly to begging can make between $600 and $1,500 a month. But since panhandlers often have no way to save their money, they're incentivized to spend most of their day's earnings quickly. This creates a tendency to spend on short-term relief, rather than long-term needs, which can feed this dependency on alcoholic relief.


THE CASE FOR GIVING


What do economists say about the instinct to help the homeless? (For these purposes, I'm ignoring the altruism factor, the idea that if giving 50 cents makes us feel good then it's an inherently justifiable donation.) Some argue that giving cash to cash-needy people is the most efficient way to spend it. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office has stated explicitly that the most efficient government stimulus targets the poorest Americans. And who's more indigent than a panhandler? What's more, if you donate to a charity, there are administrative costs and time-lags. If you put your money in the hands of a beggar, however, it's fast, easy, and guaranteed to be spent immediately.

 

外国乞丐

 


But the fact that beggars are likely to spend their money quickly is also the problem. Food stamps are considered highly effective government spending, but they're earmarked for food. Unemployment benefits can go a long way, but recipients have to prove that they're looking for work. A dollar from your hand to a homeless person's carries no such strings attached.


But what would happen if we provided both money and strings? Good magazine found a British non-profit that identified 15 long-term homeless people ("rough sleepers," as they're known across the pond), asked what they needed to change their lives, and just bought it for them. Some asked for items as simple as shoes, or cash to repay a loan. One asked for a camper van. Another wanted a TV to make his hostel more livable. All were accommodated with 3,000 pounds and a "broker" to help them manage their budget. Of the 13 who agreed to take part, 11 were off the street within a year, and several entered treatment for addiction.


The upshot: The homeless often need something more than money. They need money and direction. For most homeless people, direction means a job and a roof. A 1999 study from HUD polled homeless people about what they needed most: 42% said help finding a job; 38% said finding housing; 30% said paying rent or utilities; 13% said training or medical care.


BUT WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?


Organizations can obviously do more for the needy than we can with the change in our back pocket. But does that mean we shouldn't give, ever?


The consistently entertaining economist Tyler Cowen worries that giving to beggars induces bad long-term incentives. If you travel to a poor city, for example, you'll find swarms of beggars by touristy locations. If the tourists become more generous, the local beggars don't get richer, they only multiply. Generous pedestrians attract more beggars. Cowen writes:


The more you give to beggars, the harder beggars will try. This leads to what economists call "rent exhaustion," which again limits the net gain to beggars ... If you are going to give, pick the poor person who is expecting it least.


I'm certain that there are some cases where donations to an especially needy beggar are justified. But the ultimate danger in panhandling is that we don't give to every beggar. There's not enough change in our purses. We choose to donate money based on the level of perceived need. Beggars known this, so there is an incentive on their part to exaggerate their need, by either lying about their circumstances or letting their appearance visibly deteriorate rather than seek help.


If we drop change in a beggar's hand without donating to a charity, we're acting to relieve our guilt rather than underlying crisis of poverty. The same calculus applies to the beggar who relies on panhandling for a booze hit. In short, both sides fail each other by being lured into fleeting sense of relief rather than a lasting solution to the structural problem of homelessness.

 

你是否愿意把钱捐给流浪者?对于这个问题,简短的回答是“不会”。答得详细一点则是:“会,但前提是你所捐赠的机构能够把钱用到实处。”[1]


把钱捐给流浪者是一场心灵的经济危机,是心灵救赎及理智间的较量,因为你清楚知道,捐赠应该是一种鼓励,而非对贫穷之苦的暂时缓解。


小时候妈妈总是让我们别把口袋里的钱给路边的乞丐,我们都还记得妈妈的理由:“最好的帮助是给他们栖身之所,而不是钞票,”妈妈告诉我们,“他们只会把钱花在不良事情上!”


研究结果在某种程度上来说似乎更偏向于妈妈们。据美国住房与城市发展部(以下简称“HUD”)的调查数据显示,六成流浪者染有酗酒或吸毒的恶习。考虑到还存在不愿意承认的人,因此实际人数应该更多。对流浪者的研究表明,典型的“职业乞丐”把所有时间都来行乞,一个月能够挣600美元-1500美元。但由于乞丐通常都没有途径存钱,因此他们会迅速花掉白天挣来的钱。于是这种捐赠只是短期缓解其生活压力,而非解决其长远需求,因此只能依靠酒精来麻痹自己。


有关“捐赠”:


经济学家会怎么看待人们帮助流浪者这一“本性”?(不考虑无私精神的因素,捐赠的目的是认为给流浪者5角钱能够让我们心情愉悦,这便是一种发自内心的捐赠。)一些人认为,把钱捐赠给最需要的人便是把钱用到点上。国会财政办公布了政府最有效的财政刺激政策,即把目标锁定在美国最穷的人身上。那么谁能比乞丐还穷呢?如果你把钱捐给慈善机构,还存在行政花销以及时间间隔。而把钱放进乞丐的手里,又快又简单,还能确保钱马上被花掉。


乞丐会迅速把钱花掉也是一个问题。就像食物标签被认为是政府最有效的支出,但这些标签仅仅针对食物。失业补助虽然能够帮助流浪者渡过很长一段日子,但补助申领者必须证明自己仍未找到工作。但从你手中传到流浪者手中的1块钱却没有这一连串附加条件。


但如果我们除了给钱还提出一系列条件会怎么样?《好》杂志对英国无收入者进行调查。他们找到15位长期露宿街头的人,问他们希望得到什么来改变现在的生活。有的想要鞋子一类的用品、有的想要现金还贷,其中一位想要一辆野营车。还有一位想要电视,好为他的小住所增添乐趣。最后每人都得到3000英镑和一位理财经纪帮助他们管理钱财。13位接受这一帮助的流浪者中,有11位在一年内不再露宿街头,还有几位进了戒毒所。


研究结果是:流浪者需要的往往不只是金钱,他们还需要人生方向。对于大多数流浪者来说,人生方向就是工作和住所。一份来自1999年HUD对于“流浪者最需要之物”的民意测试数据显示,42%的流浪者认为他们最需要找到一份工作,38%的流浪者最需要住房,30%的流浪者最需要钱来支付房租或其他费用,13%则最需要培训或者医疗补助。


你会怎么做?


慈善组织对流浪者提供的帮助明显比我们自己只掏腰包做的要多,但这是否意味着我们就不需要做什么了呢?


经济学家泰勒?考恩担心,从长期来说,给乞丐过多的物质诱惑会带来不良刺激。比如说,我们到一个比较贫穷的城市旅游,往往会发现旅游点汇集了许多乞丐。如果游客出手比较大方,那么该地的乞丐并非得到更多的钱,而是聚集过来更多的乞丐。慷慨的旅客吸引了更多乞丐的到来。因此考恩写道:“你对乞丐施予的越多,乞丐便越难得到。这便是经济学家所说的‘仓储耗损’,其结果是再次缩减了乞丐的净收益……因此,如果你想要捐赠,应该选择期望值最低的穷人。”


当然有的时候,帮助特别贫困的乞丐无可厚非。但行乞的最大风险是我们无法满足所有的乞丐。我们的钱包始终如一,我们选择捐赠的对象只是凭自己的感觉而定。乞丐们清楚这点,因此他们会努力夸大自己的困难,比如夸大自己的处境或是尽量让自己看上去特别悲惨,而不只是普通地寻求援助。


我们把零钱放到乞丐手上并非为了解决其贫穷危机,而只是寻求自己心灵的救赎。同样,许多乞丐行乞只是为了借酒消愁。也就是说,施、受双方都为了寻求一种暂时的心灵缓解,因此这一行为对双方而言都是徒劳,并没有从根本上解决流浪者问题。

 

 

标签:乞丐
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2011-03-24 14:33 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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