Paul Makepeace ;-)

October 8, 2004

Micro-employing beggars

Posted in: Drivel

For one reason and another, I don't give money to folks who come up and ask me for it. Instead I quite often share my food e.g. half a sandwich or something; I find it quite hard to not do something.

So I had an idea to tidy this filthy city and help beggars at the same time.

While having lunch in Spit's Market on the public benches, I spotted this guy was wandering around asking for money with quite frankly limited success. All about the tabletops, there were piles of discarded lunchy litter left behind: polystyrene plates, plastic forks, napkins, etc left over from the previous few hours munching.

It occurred to me, why not ask the dude to clear up the tables for a pound or two? The amount there could've been cleaned in less than a minute, so one pound isn't a bad score being effectively £60/hr. (Heck, I would do that since I occasionally clear up other people's trash anyway.)

I don't see anything demeaning about this at all, after all for thousands of city workers it's a full-time job. I think if I was effectively paid to do something for a small amount of money I would feel a lot better about it: it'd be an exchange rather than a gift. Not only that it provides people a pretext to hand over some money, bypassing that nagging sensation you're being conned borne from reports about professional beggars making quite a tidy yearly earning. I don't know yet but I suspect it would also weed out the chancers from the genuinely in need.

(I remember being asked by this well dressed guy in the street for some money. "I really need it bad," so he claimed. I offered, "how about twenty pounds?" He looked at me strangely and I continued, "yeah, I'll buy your headphones for twenty quid." He laughed and said no way. I had seen they were a set of Sennheiser HD-25s, world-renowned DJ 'phones, retailing in the UK for >£130. Sleazy bastard.)

So as of today I'll be employing beggars on ultra-short term contracts, reporting back in a month or so. Join in! Tidy up the city with your "spare" change!

Posted by Paul Makepeace at October 8, 2004 16:42 | TrackBack

Occurs to me that you might want to make very clear your motivation to the recipient, i.e. say something along the lines of "all this rubbish around annoys me, I'd pay x for it to be cleaned up, will you do that?", rather than just saying "dance for the cash, monkey boy".

Posted by: Jez at October 10, 2004 22:34

Nice idea. Let us know how you get on.

What about a 'homeless' employment agency funded by charitable contributions?

Posted by: Dave at October 11, 2004 03:55
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