In America, if a beggar asks and I have change, I will give it to them if they admit it’s for their addiction, which they readily do once they understand that telling the truth gets them what they want. It’s not so much a condition as it is a way of my making it known that I’m not stupid enough to believe those track marks were left by your fairy godmother.
In China, at first I made the mistake of giving and a lot, like many foreigners, but soon learned that even the sick, crippled, burnt/horribly disfigured ones must turn over the money to the gang leaders that allow them to beg in prime areas (namely the ones foreigners frequent the most such as the busiest metro stations and Catholic churches foreigners attend). I never saw beggars in smaller cities like Fuzhou. Probably there aren’t enough foreign suckers so they all go to Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, etc. Once, a tiny old grandma begged from me to distract me at the same time as her second accomplice was distracting me by pretending to help me with a ticket machine while their third comrade picked my pocket. They saw my stuff was so poor they didn’t even steal my wallet.
So overall, I say screw beggars, like most people. I understand that life sucks and you need a fix so if you’re decent enough to ask rather than try to rob me or worse, and I have some change, fine. If you’re forced to give a certain amount of money to your “boss” so you don’t get beaten, and already you’ve had your entire face burned Slumdog Millionaire style, or are rolling without legs on a skateboard on the train, I will sure as hell feel for you, because your life surely sucks even more than mine, but my prayers are all I can afford there.
One of my brothers has been a professional beggar since his teens. Because he was young and handsome, people gave him money. He decided that doing that and getting wasted was better than working and now his life is so bad I don’t even wanna talk about it. Giving $ isn’t always going to have a beneficial effect.
Not wanting to be scammed (like the money goes to gang leaders who feast and party every night even though you think it’s to help a dying man) is different than wanting to control how alms are spent. Deciding who is morally worthy of your precious money as far as drug addicts or drunks go just seems really distasteful. You know where the money will go even if they deny it at first (which they only do because they know how quickly it changes your generous heart). They aren’t owed your money, either. It’s just the idea that it’s unquestionably okay with people to assume that the “undeserving poor” are not worth giving to because the cash goes to buy a fix to keep them from getting potentially deathly ill rather than to a cheap meal that allays a hunger pang.
In other cultures, the sick/crippled/disabled, etc are looked upon with just as much contempt and are also deemed unworthy of compassion, much less money. They also have their reasons for thinking so. What makes them any worse?