Today’s New York Times ran a story titled “Let them eat cash”: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/opinion/let-them-eat-cash.html?emc=edit_th_20140630&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=44005038&_r=0
The author proposes giving cold, hard cash to the poor rather than either giving to organizations with a mission to assist the impoverished or offering gifts to the poor that come with the intent already designated. While I agree with the sentiment that controlling how the poor spend is akin to treating folks like children who aren’t capable of making sound choices, the mishandling of money poses a greater threat to those who have no reserves.
Recently, Edwina asked me to chip in some money for her phone bill. I told her I’d give her a small amount but she’d have to find the remainder elsewhere.
“Ok, Miss Rayan,” she chirped. “I can get the other money if you give me some.”
A few days passed, my contribution already in Edwina’s hands, before I heard from Edwina again.
“Can you give me money for the whole bill?” she texted me. “I spent the money I had on something else.”
My answer was no. I told Edwina that while I’ve done the same thing myself, using money intended for one thing on something else altogether, I always knew that I wasn’t going to get that money back. There’s a limited amount of cash I have for my family’s expenses, and there’s a limited amount that I can offer to her.
“Ok,” she replied, letting the matter rest.