Posts Tagged ‘Homeless’

Service of Fair Wealth Distribution

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

A homeless man hangs out in a post office satellite the size of a small room that is unattended but has a self-service mail kiosk that I use frequently to weigh and mail packages. I’m afraid to be alone with him so I walk by with package in hand. He’s there on my way to and from work.

A few blocks away I found myself in a Godiva chocolate store earlier this week with a friend who was making a purchase. I noticed the handsome Swarovski luxury box [photo above], priced at $125 or $2.08/per chocolate. There are millions in the city who would relish such a gift to share with family and friends but I don’t think that they will be the recipients. I envision the executives and business owners who will receive it who may wince at the calories or put the box out at the reception area or not even bother to take it out of its gift bag.

All the talk about the one percent got me thinking of something that has always been true: The people who don’t need and often could care less about expensive gifts receive them. This goes for taxes, benefits and holiday presents.

Photo: amazon.com

Which led me to think: I wish that there was a City Harvest for holiday business gifts. City Harvest rescues food from restaurants and other venues with leftovers in NYC and distributes it to the hungry. This hypothetical organization would scoop up unwanted or unneeded executive gifts and redistribute them to those who would appreciate them.

However, the concept wouldn’t work because corporations send notes to vendors asking them to restrict gift-giving to a modest sum, maybe $25, or they forbid gifts altogether. Executives receive their gifts at home. And they can’t admit to receiving expensive gifts as they aren’t supposed to get them so how could they volunteer to give away something they shouldn’t own in the first place?

Some businesses send electronic holiday wishes noting that they donate to charity the money normally spent on cards and postage. I hope they really do.

I don’t mean to pick on Godiva or other purveyors of luxury treats and manufacturers of gifts like chef’s knives, drones and wireless headphones. It just seems that giving fancy business gifts to the wealthy is like bringing diamonds to Amsterdam.

Similarly, does it make sense for the wealthiest to benefit from the tax plan that’s about to be voted on in Washington, causing a deficit for the poorest and middle class to shoulder via paltry tax reductions and reduced Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits?

If you were giving a gift to a wealthy client, what would it be?

Photo: metro.us

Service of Canaries in the Coalmine

Monday, June 29th, 2015

 Homeless in NYC

I am seeing more beggars in my travels around NYC and increasing numbers of people sleeping on the street such as the men in the photos above and to the right. They are hard to see in these poor images taken within a few days of one another. One is tucked beneath steps in Katharine Hepburn Garden on 47th Street off First Avenue and one is on steps up the street from my office on East 45th near Second Avenue.

One panhandler who disappeared for years reemerged near Grand Central Station the other week, much plumper than her younger self but with a similar cardboard sign asking for help. Was she OK all those years or hanging out elsewhere?

I was astonished by a man in his 60s who was also begging one rush-hour outside of Grand Central. He was well groomed, wore a gray business suit, white shirt and necktie and held a sign that said he was going on job interviews and was looking for work and to please help. Who knows whether he was in trouble or a creative conman? Tragic whether he so desperately needed money that he resorted to the streets or was taking money from kind people who couldn’t afford to help but did anyway.

homeless in NYC 2To confirm my anecdotal observations I looked for statistics but was unable to come up with the number of panhandlers in NYC [or anywhere else] at any time.

I found a recent one about homelessness in a New York Daily News headline from an article by Harry Stevens and Greg B. Smith from February: “Thousands of New Yorkers living in dangerous ‘cluster units’ as homeless population tops 59,000, a record high: The homeless count represents a 10% jump during Mayor de Blasio’s first year in office.”

So that addresses why I’m seeing more people sleeping on the street, but it’s not proof of an increased number of beggars. Michael S. Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, Inc. and clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School wrote: “Contrary to common belief, panhandlers and homeless people are not necessarily one and the same. Many studies have found that only a small percentage of homeless people panhandle, and only a small percentage of panhandlers are homeless.” Scott’s article, “The Problem of Panhandling,” was on his organization’s website.

Editorial written by people involved with charities that help indigent citizens urge the public not to give money to panhandlers but instead to donate to legitimate organizations funded to address ways to earn legitimate income and where to get food and shelter. I’ve always heard this.

Have you noticed more panhandlers and homeless people lately where you live or work? Does this situation indicate an economy more troubled than publicized or that charities have fewer funds to help people in need or that your city or town isn’t doing its job to help the underserved?

Photo: i09.com

Photo: i09.com

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