Monday, October 17, 2011

Donating to the Homeless

I never give change to the homeless. I think that most of the time, the homeless who are begging on the street corner will use the money for things other than food. Last year during Christmas my father gave a man $100.00. In my opinion, that is enough to eat and become presentable to apply for a job. I mean really, how hard is it to say, “Welcome to McDonalds! Can I take your order?” But that man still pollutes the streets of my hometown to this day.

You might say that I’m being harsh, maybe even callous. It’s an economic recession and I should be more sympathetic. I don’t agree with Thomas Malthus, the economist from Lisa Disch’s lecture. Malthus stresses that we should not be feeding the homeless because famine is a natural corrective to a crisis in supply and demand. Malthus’ 18th century ideology insists that there is not enough food to go feed all of society. However, in modern day America, this concept seems absurd when farmers are destroying crops to keep food prices high. This is shown in the below graphs. As supply decreases and shifts to the left, price increases. As supply increases and shifts to the right, prices decreases.   

I agree with Amartya Sen who finds famine to be a failure of people to command food. The individual homeless do not have enough to eat, not an entire society.  I do not agree that our food supply should necessarily be spread out. If one part of society can command more food than another because they can afford it, then they deserve it. 

In reading other students opinion about the subject, a person’s political persuasion was an argument for who donates money and who does not. The idea that liberals are more charitable versus republicans seems ludicrous. I am a liberal democrat and I still believe that giving money directly to the homeless is a stupid decision. I do not think the level of a person’s charity can be determined by their political persuasion. Everyone should feel a duty to help the less fortunate, how people contribute is different.

For the record, I actually do give money to the homeless, just not into their cups. I don’t donate change, but a check. My family donates semi-annually to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. This guarantees that the needy can obtain the food they need and not have the opportunity to spend money on other things. It is unfortunate that a group of individuals have generalized an entire needy population, but I would rather be safe than sorry. I don’t want to have to wonder whether my money is being used for a burger, cigarettes, or drugs. 

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