Opinion: Beggars

POSTED: 07/1/11 7:27 PM

We’re not entirely sure whether we have a law that prohibits begging and we have to say that we are very seldom bothered by people who come asking for a dollar.

The sheer perception beggars have will ensure that they will stay where they are for the rest of their life. Asking for a dollar is mediocre at best and it almost screams: I wanna be poor!

On the French side begging is more common place. Just go for breakfast to Sarafina at the waterfront in Marigot on a Saturday morning and see what happens. If you’re not well prepared, you’ll feel guilty for every piece of petit pain au chocolat you are stuffing in your mouth.

Ah, no, we are not making fun of beggars here. These people are in dire straits and begging gives them what they need, or so they think.

Our opinion about being poor may sound radical to some, but here it is: being poor is a choice. Life consists of an endless string of choices and guess what: all these choices have consequences.

So the road to being poor might actually start in school where some students prefer to terrorize teachers and fellow students rather than actually learn something. This is a sure path of destruction, but it is not the whole story.

As we grow up, we encounter all kinds of challenges – from cigarettes and girls, to bad friends who ask you to rob a gas station, to alcohol and drugs.

Throwing yourself on alcohol, is a choice, so don’t turn around and blame the world for becoming an alcoholic. Same with drugs and with getting pregnant at an age when you shouldn’t.

There are probably endless other possibilities to ruin one’s perspectives in life and we’re not going into them all. We’re just saying: don’t blame the world for a mess you got yourself into.

The mayor of The Hague, a man named Jozias van Aartsen proposed this week to his municipal council to introduce a begging ban. The idea stems from complaints by companies and town residents who complain about the increasing number of beggars on the streets. These people cause trouble, because they are an inconvenience. They also show others who do not belong to the beggar’s guild a picture they’d rather not see.

We’re not sure how bad the situation in The Hague is –we’d rather be in the Caribbean, and that’s where we are – but we suggest that Van Aartsen and co go and have a look in places like Berkeley, San Francisco or Los Angeles. That’s where you break your neck over homeless beggars on every street corner.

While many people consider the number of beggars in the street as a yard stick for failed government policies, one could as easily argue that this is an indication for the way people fail to take responsibility for their life.

Trust us, nothing feels better than control over your own destiny, but the beggars of this world have somehow missed this point.

In The Hague in the meantime, Van Aartsen did not get sufficient support for his beggars-ban. The usual suspects voted in favor of the plan – VVD, CDA and Freedom Party – but all leftwing parties including coalition partner PvdA (Labor Party) votes against.

So the beggars in The Hague can go on begging. But will it really help them? We doubt that very much. Once a beggar, always a beggar. If for instance soup kitchens would help the people they serve, the lines at these kitchens ought to become shorter over time.

This is not the case: the lines become longer, proving that operating soup kitchens is creating more beggars. They benefit the people who run these soup kitchens, because they feel good about helping others. But the sad reality is that they only facilitate beggars to do nothing about their situation.

The Hague is now operating some kind of grand-scale soup kitchen: it allows beggars to beg – and that is of course what they will do. Beggars from other places will soon join them. Amsterdam and Rotterdam do have a beggars-ban and in those cities the number of beggars on the streets have gone down. So who is fooling who in the Netherlands?


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Comments (2)


  1. Steven Luongo says:

    Amen brother!

  2. Belle says:

    Did you know that human beings are the only creature that has to LEARN how to be a human being? Everything we know,we learn how to do it, some consciously some unconsciously. Therefore, we have to learn how to CHOOSE also. It doesn’t come naturally and as much as we wish it did. If we all knew how to CHOOSE RIGHT then there would be no jails.

    “…getting pregnant at an age when you shouldn’t. … is a choice, so don’t turn around and blame the world.” I want to hear you say that same thing if your mom, wife, sister, daughter happens to get raped by someone who made a horrible decision to do so.

    I understand your point, but please you must know that life is NOT black and white. Think clearly before making such opinions, it is published and you do not know your readers.

    Remember that time and words are the two things you can’t take back after you let them go.