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Old 11.08.2011, 22:30
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Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

Someone in another thread mentioned a conversation she'd had with a well dressed lady who was begging for money because she "liked to keep herself" and "people had the right to refuse to give her money".

She makes a very fair point there: although this probably doesn't really apply in Switzerland, which has a very efficient and fair welfare system, could one argue that, compared to accepting social support, begging is actually a respectable activity?

Beggars actually go out and do something for their money: it is a humiliating and difficult job, occasionally dangerous, with potentially great rewards, but also the potential to come home with nothing but sore feet and damp armpits.

Furthermore, beggars do not rely on the compulsory extortion of money, unlike those who rely upon social support, whose cash is taken from working people whether they like it or not. Anyone can refuse to give spare change to a beggar. One is not entitled, on the other hand, to refuse to pay tax or national insurance contributions.

Might one argue, therefore, that begging is more honourable, more honest and more decent than accepting social support from the state?

Indeed, might one even go so far as to argue that the abolition of welfare, resulting in widespread begging, might actually encourage entrepreneurial spirit?

What do you think?
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  #2  
Old 11.08.2011, 22:31
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

Yes. For those reasons it's infinitely more respectable than living off the theft that is taxation.
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:34
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

However, in CH, you have to pay it back if you come into some cash (unlike other countries). Much better system.

Tom
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:37
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

To receive social assistance from the state, the candidate must fulfil certain requirements - otherwise any Tom Dick or Harry would be 'on the social'.

What safeguards are in place for beggars so that potential donors can assess the worthiness of their cause? None as I see it...
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:38
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

I myself, do not understand why someone would chose begging from actually receiving money from the government. Yes, begging might give the person the feeling that they are doing something, but are they really? i don't think so. It is only a handful of cases where people really have the need to ask for money thorugh begging, at least in CH...
Back in my country, unfortunately, people have made a business out of begging, they rent out children or drop their old parents at an intersection to beg, it is a true disgrace.
When back home, I give crackers or apples to kids that are begging, I feel a bit sorry for older people but I never give money (ok almost never)...
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:39
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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What safeguards are in place for beggars so that potential donors can assess the worthiness of their cause?
The market: just as one can decide which hamburger stand to frequent, or which financial advisor to consult, one can decide which beggar to enrich, according to one's own free choice.

Caveat donor.
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:42
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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I myself, do not understand why someone would chose begging from actually receiving money from the government.
Self respect? Unlike accepting welfare, which merely entails a trip to the Jobcentre once a fortnight (in the United Kingdom - OMMV), begging gets one out and about, meeting people, participating in the hustle and bustle of daily life, just like other entrepreneurs.
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:46
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

If I were take the example of a friend of mine, a mime artist, he used to come to Zurich each Summer and did mime up and down Bahnhofstrasse. He took in about CHF15,000 per month. From there he went on to finance a mime school in the UK and I think another in the US.

Begging is probably a better route, though she might have more frequent run-ins with the police...
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:48
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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She makes a very fair point there: although this probably doesn't really apply in Switzerland, which has a very efficeint and fair welfare system, could one argue that, compared to accepting social support, begging is actually a respectable activity?
The woman at the station was Swiss and it appeared that her dealings with the Swiss authorities, had left her frustrated, embarressed, humiliated. She was adamant of "I can look after myself. I am healthy. I am clean. " I ended up feeling respect, some concern for her and humbled by what appeared to be her determination to try to keep well, without continous state handouts. "Stubborn" may have described her, but I also thought of "independent" and "brave."
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:49
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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To receive social assistance from the state, the candidate must fulfil certain requirements - otherwise any Tom Dick or Harry would be 'on the social'.

What safeguards are in place for beggars so that potential donors can assess the worthiness of their cause? None as I see it...
With regards to your first statment ... if only that were the case (in the UK, at least). Maybe there are more stringent controls in Switzerland to ensure that only truly worthy and needy people receive benefits.

Human frailty may also play a part in the assessment on the part of donors of worthy recipients. Buxom blondes would almost certainly fare better with men and the potential for exploitation of minors and the elderly could potentially know no bounds. Indeed, I seem to remember cases of children being intentionally maimed in order to elicit sympathy in some country or another (can't remember which).
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:49
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

What are we defining as begging? Just going and asking for money or performing an act such as busking to receive money.

Also is prostitution more respectable than both? After all that's an actual job.
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:50
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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Self respect? Unlike accepting welfare, which merely entails a trip to the Jobcentre once a fortnight (in the United Kingdom - OMMV), begging gets one out and about, meeting people, participating in the hustle and bustle of daily life, just like other entrepreneurs.
How on earth is begging in any way shape or form entrepreneur-ism . I know it's been the buzz word for a few years but calling a beggar an entrepreneur is laying it on a bit rich don't you think.
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:53
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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The woman at the station was Swiss and it appeared that her dealings with the Swiss authorities, had left her frustrated, embarressed, humiliated. She was adamant of "I can look after myself. I am healthy. I am clean. " I ended up feeling respect, some concern for her and humbled by what appeared to be her determination to try to keep well, without continous state handouts. "Stubborn" may have described her, but I also thought of "independent" and "brave."
Precisely my point: by refusing to participate in the humiliating circus that applying for - and accepting - welfare involves, she has maintained her dignity and self-respect, in a way that challenges our perceptions of such notions.
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:54
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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Self respect? Unlike accepting welfare, which merely entails a trip to the Jobcentre once a fortnight (in the United Kingdom - OMMV), begging gets one out and about, meeting people, participating in the hustle and bustle of daily life, just like other entrepreneurs.
I think you over-romanticing this scenario DB! The downsides being traipsing around in often freezing cold weather, being on the receiving end of disdainful looks and sometimes actions ... to name but two ... all in all a pretty soul-destroying lifestyle, I would imagine.
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:55
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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Human frailty may also play a part in the assessment on the part of donors of worthy recipients. Buxom blondes would almost certainly fare better with men and the potential for exploitation of minors and the elderly could potentially know no bounds. Indeed, I seem to remember cases of children being intentionally maimed in order to elicit sympathy in some country or another (can't remember which).
This is business in its purest, most honest - and most cruel - form. Buxom blondes sell cars, maimed children sell Christmas cards.

What is the difference, in reality?
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:58
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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I think you over-romanticing this scenario DB! The downsides being traipsing around in often freezing cold weather, being on the receiving end of disdainful looks and sometimes actions ... to name but two ... all in all a pretty soul-destroying lifestyle, I would imagine.
Like selling the Evening Mail on Corporation Street in the middle of December? Like trying to sell double glazing to angry householders?

Most 'normal' jobs are pretty soul-destroying, but people do them rather than fall back on the state.

Why can't begging be considered a 'normal' job?
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Old 11.08.2011, 22:59
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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This is business in its purest, most honest - and most cruel - form. Buxom blondes sell cars, maimed children sell Christmas cards.

What is the difference, in reality?
Quite possibly. But what happens to Mr Joe Average?
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Old 11.08.2011, 23:00
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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What are we defining as begging? Just going and asking for money or performing an act such as busking to receive money.
Just going and asking for money. The emphasis being on the word "going".

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Also is prostitution more respectable than both? After all that's an actual job.
Begging might also be considered an actual job.
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Old 11.08.2011, 23:00
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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What safeguards are in place for beggars so that potential donors can assess the worthiness of their cause? None as I see it...
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The market: just as one can decide which hamburger stand to frequent, or which financial advisor to consult, one can decide which beggar to enrich, according to one's own free choice.

Caveat donor.
If someone just asks me for money I refuse. If someone has fashioned something out of bits of wire to make a little metal flower, or otherwise making some sort of effort to create an actual exchange, I give them something (if I have it). But then it isn't begging anymore, is it?

I did run across a fellow one evening who asked me in French for money- said I didn't speak French, in German, so he asked in German, admitted that I actually don't speak German so he switched to English which he spoke beautifully; he simply had a good humor about him so I gave him 5 francs. He thanked me in all three languages.

Now, DB, you really ought to look at a career change to political speechwriter or lawyer; you have a knack for wording questions in such a way that inspire response and debate but ultimately not really to or around what you actually asked. Is begging more respectable than accepting social aid? What are the circumstances that put the beggar in his situation? Did he bankrupt himself caring for his elderly parents and then lose his job? Did he foolishly incur debt living above his means and then land on the streets? Is it someone who simply doesn't want to work? Or someone who has mental problems and has slipped through the cracks?

To try and answer the simple question simply, no I don't think asking people for money is more respectable than taking social aid.

Which isn't to say that begging is not respectable. As the old joke goes- "What does a 90 year old man's underwear smell like? - Depends."
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Old 11.08.2011, 23:01
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Re: Is begging more respectable than accepting social support?

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Quite possibly. But what happens to Mr Joe Average?
He sells hamburgers, double glazing or newspapers, just like all the other Mr Joe Averages.
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