Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Economics of Street Charity

This article reminded me of having a similar conversation with Dad about street beggars when I was in 9th grade. My health teacher said when she lived in a city, she wouldn't give beggars money because they might spend it on booze, but would instead buy then some food. I thought this was a great idea, and told everyone that night at dinner about it. Dad's response was that the homeless person might need alcohol, not food, so you shouldn't make that decision for them.


James said...

I like Mark Cuban's answer because what he's saying, I think, is that you should choose the option that makes you happiest. Since the question is about disposable income, your moral and ethical burdens have been met by other income before you spend this $10. Different people will choose different spending patterns, but it should be driven entirely by how much happier the spending will make you and not by some universal imperative.

Empirically, I think Cuban is also right, too -- the vast majority of people are happiest keeping their disposable income in their pocket when such a situation presents itself.

Thursday, August 09, 2007 1:53:00 PM  

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