Queens St Auckland, begging, poverty and solutions

eight_col_begging-1

via RNZ

by Whaleoil commenter Doc45

I had occasion to walk down Queen St and back on the other side on Friday.

I was disgusted with the number of beggars on the footpath.

I spent sometime yesterday thinking about this and wondering whether my ‘disgust’ was a just reaction or whether I needed to re-think my attitude. Its easy to brush the problem off as “they don’t need to” because of the support that is available or to compare it to poverty in the third world. It would be fair to say that some were smoking, some looked glassy eyed and were clearly affected by drugs, some had fast food containers for collecting coins, some had expensive footwear and none were thin or emaciated.

I stopped and talked to three of them sitting together. I asked some gentle questions about ‘why?’ Lucid, rational answers were not forthcoming. “Need money for fags”, “no where to sleep round here”, “gotta a kid to look after”, ” haven’t had a decent feed for months”, “wanna head down to Ruatoria to the whanau”, “rents are too high, mate”, “governments not doin nuthin for us poor” and when I pressed them a little more two of them said they had “health problems”. When I pushed harder I was told to “F off”.

They didn’t have much in their takings – maybe $2 – $3. So, why bother?

There are no easy answers or quick fixes.

The social commentators, ‘experts’ and media deal in statistics, averages and cohorts. They want to gain a headline with an exaggerated big picture claim.

The problem isn’t in numbers – its in individuals. Maybe the resource that goes into defining poverty, bleating about poverty and running the numbers would be better applied to each individual case.

The Net Present Value of a beggar on Queen St to the taxpayers suggests we could afford to spend a lot more on dealing with these people on a case by case basis.

 


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