Do You Give Money To Panhandlers?

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.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.