Do You Give Money To Panhandlers?

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New York magazine has a regular feature where they ask various luminaries a short list of questions and print the answers. The questions are always the same, and one of them is “Do you give money to panhandlers?” Here are the answers from their past year’s worth of interviews:

  • I used to all the time. Now it’s 50/50.
  • You know, I try not to, but sometimes you should. So sometimes I do.
  • Yes.
  • From time to time….But it’s very capricious.
  • Not always.
  • On subways. It’s not like a rule or anything: only subways. It’s just I’m always very distracted on the street.
  • Always.
  • Yes, unless they are clearly high or wasted.
  • Only when my kids (ages 7 and 4) are with me.
  • Sometimes — it’s on a case by case basis, but I always give my leftovers away.
  • Seldom. But always to those Mexican musicians on the 3 train.
  • Sometimes.
  • Yes.
  • Yes. I give money, food, to whoever.
  • Musicians and street performers almost always. Panhandlers sometimes.
  • Depends — it’s case by case.
  • Yes.
  • All the time.
  • Yes, sometimes.
  • Yes.
  • Depends on the panhandler.
  • When they play instruments. Not like, every time I see a musician I’ll give them money, but usually if I give to panhandlers it’ll be if they’re playing an instrument.
  • Yes, and all buskers on principle.
  • Yes.
  • Always.
  • Only if they entertain me.
  • Yes, but I often feel I choose the wrong ones.
  • Occasionally, but never to those in expensive down jackets, new boots, and designer jeans.
  • Yup!
  • Sometimes.
  • Why not?
  • Yesss, I cant help it. I always feel deep inside that one day that could be me.
  • Almost always.
  • I do, not all the time, but I do.
  • I choose to share food, water, and a smile.
  • I give them money if I find them entertaining and not annoying.
  • I do. Who doesn’t need a little help now and then?
  • Yes.

This is, obviously, only a cross section of New Yorkers who range from well-off to rich. Still, I draw two conclusions from this. First, panhandlers would all have houses in the suburbs and buskers would all be millionaires if everyone here were telling the truth. Second, nobody is willing to just flat-out admit in a public forum that they don’t give money to panhandlers. Marla Maples (“I choose to share food, water, and a smile”) and Randy Cohen (“I try not to”) come the closest. Discuss.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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