Ethics is perhaps my favorite subject to contemplate, even though I never feel as if I genuinely get any further. Today however, I have made a commitment for this year. Whenever I encounter someone who begs me for money, I will donate at least some money to them. There are a few reasons for this, that I will explain below.
- I’m a socialist. Socialism means solidarity with the working class. Most of the homeless are white working class men who grew up in poverty and suffered traumatic experiences. Give your money to white men who really need it and you will hear a thousand shrieks from overweight pink-haired catladies with useless college degrees. What if I encounter a brown homeless person? Well, I don’t discriminate, discrimination is for SJW’s.
- I could also give my money to causes that are “more effective”. In practice this means you’re giving your money to the charity industry. Some of these are relatively cost-effective (charities that give people access to birth control and prevent iodine deficiency), most of them are not effective (most breast cancer charities). These are charitable donations that effectively serve to keep middle-class white people who are bad at coding but good at social interaction employed. Give your money to charity and you’ll find that a portion ends up in the pockets of upper management, a portion goes towards marketing to recruit more dumb people into handing over their money to socially competent middle-class white people, then a portion goes towards industries that don’t really accomplish much of anything.
- I often hear it said that homeless people will just buy drugs with the money they receive. My response to that is: Great! If they want to buy drugs, they should buy drugs. It’s not like I spend my money on anything I genuinely need (Oysters and Psilocybe mushrooms), so why should I be deciding what homeless people should spend their money on? In addition, when they buy drugs, they’re helping to keep other men stuck at the bottom of the social pyramid employed. You don’t need a four year college degree to run a coffee shop, you just need guts.
- If you don’t give money to someone who is clearly desperate, you’re still giving them something: You’re giving them an insult. If I’m hungry and forced to sleep on the street, being ignored when I’m asking for help or hearing lies would mean being subject to emotional abuse.
- If you give money to beggars, you’ll have more beggars. Having more beggars is great, because then it becomes a problem for the government, as it starts to affect tourism revenue and rich babyboomers start to feel unsafe. Homelessness is kept intact, because it fits in the status quo. Have a few homeless people around and poor people remember that they would be worse off if they quit working in the supermarket or a call center where they need to register their toilet breaks or if they refuse to pay off their predatory debts. The homeless are needed to preserve the illusion that capitalism still works, even though it should be clear to anyone that there’s simply not enough work left that genuinely needs to be done. This is how we end up with every mediocre job requiring a college degree (keep young people off the labor market for four years and keep paper-pushing cat-ladies employed), bullshit jobs, ten different electricity companies with ten different marketing departments all trying to get you to switch over to their shitty company and all sorts of other nonsense we don’t genuinely need. What we need is an unconditional basic income, which takes away most of the ridiculous government bureaucracy that merely serves to keep middle-class white people with four year non-STEM college degrees employed. An unconditional basic income would mean that homeless people can simply rent a cheap apartment somewhere, buy food and ultimately receive mental health care.
- [TW: Reading this risks destroying our universe]There’s a relatively high chance that we live out our lives in a computer simulation. You can read some really entertaining papers on this theory here. If we live in a computer simulation, there’s a high chance that the simulation is imperfect, that planets circling around other stars and people who live further away from my own day to day experiences are not simulated in as much depth as I am. In addition, there’s a high chance the simulation will come to an end and our universe will cease to exist once artificial intelligence comes into existence, or once most human beings start to suspect that they’re living in a computer simulation, to prevent an endless loop of simulations within simulations that don’t achieve productive results for those running the top simulation. The point that follows from this, is that a homeless guy in the street may be more “real” than a starving orphan in South Sudan. Obviously this has huge ethical implications if true and it’s inevitably going to be a struggle to put a good probability estimate on it. If the Simulation Hypothesis is wrong, this leads to a very distressing conclusion: The animals in factory farms experience amounts of suffering that may vastly exceed the suffering that would occur in the absence of industrial civilization.
- [TW: Humblebrag]It used to be the case that I didn’t really have a good income. These days I earn good money doing very little actual work. I am now more acutely aware of the need to make sure my actions do not have a negative impact on my own karma. Based on my own contemplations, I have come to believe that the main characteristic on which I will be judged is my ability to engage in a prosocial intuitive manner with the people I encounter in my own day to day existence. Theoretically abstract prosocial behavior is profoundly dangerous: Even the Nazi’s and the Bolsheviks believed they were making the world a better place!
- Most of the formerly homeless seem to agree that it’s good to donate directly to the homeless. The charities for the homeless are parasitic bureaucracies that serve to keep middle-class white people employed. The argument that they might buy drugs is also rejected: If they’re miserable enough to want to die of an overdose, it’s not our right to stop them. You can’t properly judge what it means to be homeless, if you have never been homeless yourself.
- The homeless tend to be pretty cool compared to normies. When someone has to sleep rough for the first time, they’re often taken well care of. The homeless tend to be honest in their interactions, they don’t obscure reality behind meaningless intellectual abstractions. They struggle to fit into a world where we derive our rights from our ability to sustain giant paper-producing bureaucracies that have no genuine relevance to our day to day reality. The homeless tend to be people who struggle with accepting authority in their lives, who want life to be exciting.
- My own hometown doesn’t have a homelessness problem. Even in the worst case, where I somehow had to commit to donating three times per day, the impact on my own standard of living would be negligible.
Am I just that bad with computers, or is wordpress bad at keeping lists intact?
- What if they’re not really homeless, but merely culturally bourgeois crust punks with wealthy parents, who decided they wanted to escape their bourgeois ennui by living on the street and hopping trains? Great! That means they’re my heroes. I sometimes wish I was brave enough to live like that, but alas, I fear that I would eventually be in my late thirties, realize I still haven’t died of a heroin overdose and merely became an embarassment to my family. If donating to homeless crust punks somehow came with a guarantee that we’ll have more homeless crust punks, I would probably sell my kidney to donate to them.
- Donating to the homeless is a cost-effective solution to a problem. People beg out of desparation. If those people wouldn’t beg, they would have to steal. If your wallet is stolen they might get 10 euro out of it, but the damage and lost time it causes to you greatly exceeds the benefit to them.
- I want to live in a truly egalitarian culture. Most attempts at egalitarianism tend to lead to the emergence of a new elite of managerial types, who are tasked with ensuring that inequality does not get out of hand. Example: Every communist regime ever. This is how you end up with self-proclaimed “Marxist” college professors who use “I bet he works at a gas station” as an insult. Every solution to poverty that cuts out the management class that ultimately benefits from keeping the problem intact is a solution I support.
The points made above apply in my own local Dutch context. The context of homelessness differs enormously from one country to another. In some countries begging is part of a criminal racket, as organized gangs use young children to earn money from passerbys. In developing countries my recommendation would have to be against donating to the homeless, unless you have properly studied the context.