Tag Archives: poverty

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag…”

panhandlerThe ethics quiz based on a reader’s off-site query regarding the ethics of giving to panhandlers when they are unlikely to use the gift wisely prompted a rich and thought-provoking thread. There were many “Comment of the Day” worthy responses, but I chose this one to represent them, in part because it is the most altruistic in spirit.

Here is my old friend Mark’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag…

Back in the days when street folks still asked for a quarter, I used to pass the same guy every day and always gave him $.50 ($2.50 a week). A co-worker seeing me give money to the guy mentioned that the same street person usually arrived to his “office” in a cab. I thought about it for a second and decided that my $2.50 a week – constantly available to me and replenished on a bi-weekly basis – was not enough to challenge what he did with it after it left my hands.

I am also one who will invite someone into McDonald’s with me and have them order what they like. I keep a few dollars in the car for the men and women who haunt the very large intersection near my house. My end-of-the-year charity dollars go to the local food banks.

I am no paragon (I will, however, agree to “exceptionally soft touch” or “sap”). It is simply my own personal practice to help when I can with a fair certainty that I will not – God willing – in this lifetime lack for a dollar (or someone to help me). Perhaps it’s just so much new age crapola, but I believe we get back what we put out. For this sap, it’s just that simple. I have enough trouble sussing out my own motives without trying to figure out strangers with a hard-luck story.

My $2.50 🙂

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Daily Life

Ethics Quiz: From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag…

burningmoneyimageReader and sometime commenter Elizabeth 2 e-mails…

Here’s a question for which I’d appreciate some input.

I am generally a sucker for street people who ask for money. I frequent the 7-11 for quick trips for needed household items, and over the past couple of months I’ve often seen a young woman outside, just sitting there.  She once asked me if I had any spare change:  I gave her $10.  A couple of weeks later, same question, same response.

Then a month or so after I had last given her money, I was in the same 7-11 and saw her buying lottery tickets.

Last week she saw me as I entered the 7-11, recognized me, and asked me again for “spare change.” I said “I don’t have any cash at all.  Sorry!”  I was not of a mind to help this young woman use my charity for the biggest scam of all time:  the Virginia Lottery.

My question is this:  if I am willing to part with money for a person who seems to need it, and to do so without the vetting that a charity usually gets from me, am I in any position at all to care or change my behavior because of the way the money is spent?  Admittedly I have no ability to realistically judge the true need of anyone who asks me for money, but if I have some evidence that makes me wary, should I act on it?

Or, since charity (monetary or otherwise) is an important pillar of character for me, should I simply give what I can when I can and make no judgement whatsoever?  After all, these people don’t have Form 990s for me to examine.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it ethical to withhold charity from a needy individual because you regard her likely use of your gift as irresponsible?

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New Jersey Tries An Ethics Experiment

bail-reform

New Jersey, a state for which many would say ethics itself would be a novelty, has taken the lead in a truly revolutionary criminal justice experiment that resolves an ancient ethical dilemma in favor of mercy and compassion. Beginning on January 1 this year, New Jersey  judges are expected to release all but the most dangerous and untrustworthy defendants pending their trials, often with certain conditions, rather than  to require cash bail as a condition of avoiding jail.

In 2014, voters decided to amend New Jersey’s Constitution and virtually eliminate bail, responding to a national movement to reform a system that has always discriminated against poor defendants. Although bail requirements are usually modest for most offenses (a bail bondsman typically charges a defendant 10% to post the entire bond), many defendants are still unable to pay even small amounts. Then they wait in jail, often losing their jobs and causing hardship for their families. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Hero: Minu Pauline And Her Curbside Fridge

free food

Ethical people will come up with the damnedest ways to do good things.

After watching the poor and homeless rummage through the dumpster outside of the restaurant she owns in Kochi, India, Minu Pauline thought about how she could facilitate access to the perfectly edible food that her establishment had to dispose of on a regular basis. So when she opened a second restaurant, it included a fully functional refrigerator on the sdiewalk out front.  She stocks it with leftover food from her restaurant, and invites others to do likewise.  Now her customers and residents of the community leave their leftovers and excess food, marked with the date, in the curbside fridge too.The homeless and the poor can take whatever they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without having to beg.

Pauline calls the refrigerator  nanma maram, which means “tree of goodness” or “virtue tree.” The name is particularly apt, for she is providing dignity and kindness, as well as charity.

________________________

Pointer: Fred

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The Great Texas Warrant Roundup

debtors prisons

If the news media did their job, somebody would have asked Ted Cruz about this by now.Something like, “Senator, what is your position on the growing use of debtors prisons in your state and other states around the U.S.?”

On March 5th, Texas commenced what is known as the Great Texas Warrant Roundup, an annual statewide collaboration of courts and law enforcement agencies to squeeze payment of overdue fines and fees from Texans. The Texans targeted are overwhelmingly poor citizens who have outstanding warrants for unpaid traffic tickets, many of which were dubious, the product of aggressive policing to meet budget quotas. The carrot is an amnesty period that precedes the “roundup;” the stick is the threat of arrest and jail for those who can’t pay.

In Texas, a ticket for failing to signal a lane change—a favorite way to start the process of bleeding vulnerable citizens to cover city and county budget shortfalls— will cost about $66. That’s just the beginning, though.  Texas adds $103 in court costs, a public defender fee,  a fee to put you on a payment plan if you can’t pay,  and the always versatile “administrative fee.” Writes the ACLU: “For people who are too poor to pay their tickets, that $66 fine can grow to over $500.”

Once the victim can’t pay the collective fines,Texas will suspend renewal of the driver’s license, adding the License Renewal Suspension Fee, another $30.  Now it’s illegal to drive to the work, and without work, it will be impossible to support a family and pay bills. Faced with that dilemma, many citizens drive anyway, and get eventually get pulled over, leading to more tickets, fines, fees…and more debt. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith

Looks thoughtful, sounds thoughtful, isn't thinking...

Looks thoughtful, sounds thoughtful, isn’t thinking…

“I don’t know…I think we are in a weird place in the world when the following things are considered political. Five things, I’m going to tick them off. These are the five things that were on his and our president’s agenda. Caring for the marginalized and the poor — that’s now political. Advancing economic opportunity for all. Political? Serving as good stewards of the environment. Protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom globally. Welcoming [and] integrating immigrants and refugees globally. And that’s political?”

—-Fox News anchor Shep Smith last week, responding to critics of the Pope’s visit to the U.S. and his message, as it was being celebrated by Democrats, Catholics, intellectually dishonest progressives, and, apparently, naive news anchors.

The short answer to Smith’s question is, “Of course it’s political. All of those issues are political.” I would also add, “How can you report political news and not understand that they are political?”

Now I’m going to tick them off:

….”Caring for the marginalized and the poor” requires time, money and personnel, as well as planning and efficiency. All of those in turn require re-allocating resources away from other needs and activities, including important ones that allow people to avoid poverty and marginalization. A society that makes cariung for the non-productive members of society its first priority becomes non-productive itself. So where does “caring for the marginalized and the poor” fit on the priority list? What is the definition of  “the marginalized and the poor”? The Pope doesn’t have to define them, but to seriously create policy that accomplishes the goal of “caring for” them—which also requires a definition—is a political task.
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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Environment, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Pope Francis

The Pope and "the Angel of Peace"...

The Pope and “the Angel of Peace”…

Sigh.

I apologize in advance to all the Catholics and others who will be offended by this post. I wish I didn’t have to write it. But I just read one too many “nyah, nyah, nyah conservatives and Republicans, you’re so big on waving God at us and now the Pope says you’re full of crap” Facebook posts from someone who would no more set foot in a church than Damien in “The Omen.”  The Pope is as fair game for criticism when he abuses his influence and power as Kylie Jenner, who was the subject of the previous post, and for similar reasons. To those who say that it is disrespectful for me to compare the Pope’s ethics to those of an ignorant 18-year-old minor celebrity drunk on her own fame, my answer is that the Pope needs to stop acting like one.

I’m going to try to avoid the mocking tone I used with Kylie, I really am.

With great power, the saying goes, comes great responsibility. What I see in this Pope is a very, very nice and well-meaning man who suddenly was given the power to have his every opinion on any subject immediately plastered all over newspapers across the world and recited by news readers as significant, and literally can’t stop himself. He told an Argentinian journalist last week that he just wants to be remembered as “good guy.”  Mission accomplished: I believe he is a good guy. He’s also an irresponsible guy, who knows or should know that his pronouncements will be exploited for political advantage by people and parties that could not care less about his Church, God and religion generally, but who will use his words  to persuade voters who feel the need to know no more about a subject that what the “Vicar of Christ” tells them.

It may be “good to be Pope,” to paraphrase Mel Brooks, and it’s also not “easy being Pope,” to paraphrase Kermit the Frog. I don’t care: he accepted the job, and with it the duty to do it responsibly. Being a responsible Pope means not shooting off your mouth about every topic that occurs to you. In that same interview, Pope Francis opined that humans care too much about pets. I get it: poverty is, by his own assessment, the single most important aspect of the Church’s mission, so it’s natural for the Pope to believe that the money spent on movies, cable TV, make-up, CDs, and Jack Russell terriers should all be given to the Clinton Foundation or his Church instead. That’s a facile opinion from someone who has a staff catering to his every whim, and who sits on billions in the Vatican Bank. Does the Pope understand loneliness? Does he have any compassion for those suffering from it? Does he understand the needs of my sister, divorced and with both children gone, and her desire to have some unconditional love in the house when she returns to an otherwise empty home,  love that  takes the form of a happy, loyal, Havanese? “Care for pets is like programmed love,” the Pope told the interviewer. “I can program the loving response of a dog or a cat, and I don’t need the experience of a human, reciprocal love.”

My response: “Shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and millions of people will assume you got this point of view straight from God.” Continue reading

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