Michael Froemmcke


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The recognition of begging as a profession!

I was surprised, confused and intrigued by the fact that "begging" is not considered an economic activity.
This seems to mainly due to the rather unenviable status of people who are brave enough to take up this pursuit. Another reason that is mentioned is the absence of any formal qualification.
Recently a friend of mine made a rather derogatory comment when passing a person exercising his activity of begging.
I admire people who accept, in many cases probably not voluntarily, to live an existence at the bottom rung of society.

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    May 16 2013: No ... I am just appalled at waste, especially when disguised as a charitable action. I am also baffled by the disrespect many "beggars" are subjected to.
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    May 15 2013: I much prefer a professional Busker over a professional Beggar. Seems they are making more of an effort and earning your spare change rather than asking for it.
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    • May 14 2013: Wow, I had no idea this was going on, Kate.
      I wonder, do those beggars have a sort of 'quota' they are required to meet? If they don't come back with money, are they harmed, or possibly 'fired' for being 'incompetent'?
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        • May 14 2013: My lord, I had no idea.

          I just read about "Slum Dog Millionaire" (considering this horrific issue, it was a bit of a shock to see "The Feel Good Movie of the Year" scrawled across the cover art!) After I read the synopsis, I got it.

          On clicking through Wikipedia, I found more info about Human Trafficking in India, and read that the few victims of bonded labor who are rescued can receive the equivalent of $185 for rehabilitation...a laughable amount.
          This makes me wonder if they, knowing the kind of revenue begging can produce, wouldn't take to the streets again, doing what they 'know' on their own, as entrepreneurs.
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    May 13 2013: This brings to mind an excellent essay called "On Dumpster Diving" by Lars Eighner. Give it a read!


    Edit: This is an essay about a person who accepts living on the bottom rung of society. If you don't want to read the whole thing (I strongly recommend that you do), here's a quote:

    "Many times in my travels I have lost everything but the clothes I was wearing and Lizbeth. The things I find in Dumpsters, the love letters and ragdolls of so many lives, remind me of this lesson. Now I hardly pick up a thing without envisioning the time I will cast it away. This I think is a healthy state of mind. Almost everything I have now has already been cast out at least once, proving that what I own is valueless to someone.

    Anyway, I find my desire to grab for the gaudy bauble has been largely sated. I think this is an attitude I share with the very wealthy—we both know there is plenty more where what we have came from. Between us are the rat-race millions who have confounded their selves with the objects they grasp and who nightly scavenge the cable channels looking for they know not what.

    I am sorry for them."
    • May 14 2013: Wow, what a powerful article, Michael!
      When I read your first sentence, I was reminded of a show on TV called "Ultimate Cheapskates", which I thought was amusing. This goes much further, and deeper!

      What is valuable to one, does not mean it is valuable to another. I am an avid recycler and upcycler, I prefer secondhand to first for myself and my family. We make most of what we own and use ourselves, and the gifts we give are handmade.
      I also feel a sort of pity for those who are trapped in their own materialism. Will they ever find out what true value is, when they are surrounded by so much that is artificial?
  • May 23 2013: "...as a profession..."? As things stand, I do not even see "banker" as a profession.
    I prefer to look at this from another perspective. I remember reading about Native American Indian clowns, and how they might beg for food, & what it might teach them to have to depend on others so much, and I wonder how it might affect their ideas & feelings from within their sacred class; how to bring value to their community while doing nothing but being contrarians (and good warriors when warranted).
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    May 15 2013: But more of the funds are used to erect churches, cathedrals and buy sumptuous outfits and vehicles for the priests and highpriests
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    May 15 2013: People here also look down on beggars because the good ones make money "without" working. However, not paying taxes
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    May 14 2013: Religious organisations usually engage in begging and then, after having skimmed off the cream, proceed to a few charitable hand-outs while making sure that these "generous" gestures get maximum exposure. Thus they incite more, usually not rich people to make more donations. In most jurisdictions religious organisation are tax-exempt.
    Most beggars don't maintain palatial cathedrals or have a chief beggar with his/her own state.
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        May 16 2013: It might not be called begging but it is. And all the religious institutions I know build churches, temples, cathedrals ... All momnuments to their own glory.