Beggars

Of Beggars

The early begging experiences begin with ourselves. We beg for sweets from our parents in the shop and throw tantrums if we don't get what we want. Sooner or later we begin to understand that this is not the way to go. There are better manipulation tactics like the nonverbal cute-dog-face expression. And once real life begging didn't pan out for me in the early years, it then extended into the virtual realm.

In my nostalgia-filled memory of the many moments in RuneScape float abundantly. In the earliest moments when my RuneScape adventures started I was quickly fed up with killing goblins and chickens dropping poor loot. So I quit grinding and bounced around Lumbridge and Varrock city and begged for money and equipment whit poor English. I didn't accomplish much with begging so I started scamming other people. It wasn't too profitable in the long run either. Though me and my friend laughed to tears when we managed to scam a rune scimitar and log out afterwards. Phew! We didn't get banned from that, but from botting later down the road.

Cashless Society

I think beggars are interesting. There were always beggars sitting on cardboard at the marketplace corners in Turku city center. The old harmless-looking women wiggled their disposable paper cup inside their few cents jingling. I was supposed to feel pity for their run-down clothes and sorry faces. Staged and coordinated obviously. Every time they sat there austerely and on the same spot and whatever the season.

What beggars want is cash, but living in a cashless society I find it amusing that I should carry cash. Hence I just shrug and go on about my day like usual. Rarely do I carry anything but the wallet containing the magic plastic card that contains virtual money somewhere in the mystical cloud. In the future beggars better carry a point-of-sale device and after a transaction ask if I want a receipt that reads “dickbutt :–)“. When cash is eradicated and/or banned the poor will suffer for it. In India, they banned around 80% of circulating cash, namely 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Follow-up stories tell it didn't go too well.

Developing into a cashless society is just part of a natural evolution in my opinion. Ultimately, we moved from bartering to gold, and from transporting gold to paper notes that then not-so-long ago transformed into plastic cards. Paper money seems to slowly disappear. The other day my neighbor demonstrated how she bought her groceries simply waving her smartphone. I think cards themselves disappear and bio-metric scanning will soon reign, which itself is possibly an another can of worms if you ask me. You can change your password, but you can't change your fingerprint nor iris.

Also, imagine teaching your children on responsible money use when money is in the background so abstract even you don't know how it works. Indeed, abstract thinking requires age of over 11 according to Piaget's theory of the cognitive development stages. Be as it may, I bet you don't know how money really works! What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray N. Rothbard is a short and concise book that describes money pretty well. Of course, some other advocate from different school of thought might suggest another book.

Furthermore, when governments limit cash withdrawals of over 10,000 euros, then how can you buy a new car from Germany if your own country has car taxes made by Mr. Death himself (hint: Finland)? You see, Australia is proposing a new law where paying over 10,000 in cash would be illegal and punishable. Fuck in' 'ell, those wankers!

Lastly, without getting into any doomsday prophesying or whatever, say if there was a financial crisis I wonder how can you withdraw your money from bankrupt banks whilst living in a cashless society? Where is your exit now (hint: Bitcoin)? You might think bank runs can't happen in your country, but it doesn't rule out that it could some time in the future. Take a look at Hong Kong right now.

You have to fight for your taken-for-granted living standards, for instance, being used to having freedom doesn't mean it won't be taken away from you in the future. You have to fight for it all the time. This applies not only to financial sovereignty, but also to the right for privacy as well which is taken away from you when cash disappears. Where is your privacy when every transaction you make has a digital trace? Nothing to hide you say? Here is a famous comment by Edward Snowden:

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

The Old Lady

In the beginning semester in year one I came across a few beggars on the Hague city streets. Next to the train station sat an old woman close to 70-years old. Technically she would be an artist and not a beggar. However, what followed was the most abhorrent accordion performance I have ever heard; even cats would've shrieked and fled; YouTube would have demonetized the video.

In any event, her smile is what did it: I gave her the coins from my back pocket maybe totaling four euros. Her brownish and few dropped teeth showed the pain that time had done to her. Her eyes glimmered and contrasted her worn-out face. Usually you can't tell old people's emotions easily (look for own-age bias), but you could see she was happy. Her smile made me feel glad.

The Black Dude

Funny enough, the second time I met a beggar was at the same spot as the old lady. He wasn't your stereotypical beggar either. A black man in his mid 30s who wore a spotless jacket and sleek jeans was just about to talk to me. It was a mistake to watch even in his direction. Should've kept my face down. Similarly happens when eyes connect with a chugger. I would know.

He was large enough to rob me without a doubt. Of course, I asked why he needed money and the answer I got was too honest for me to process. I didn't expect it. Apparently he wanted to take his girlfriend to movies, eat dinner afterwards and have fun. I don't know if he bullshitted me or what, but seemed very sincere. Before I managed to open my mouth and tell him to drag his lazy ass to work, my yesterday's finger wound began bleeding in volumes. So I told him:

Tell you what dude. If you find me a napkin quickly, I will give you two euros.

Off he goes and dashed next to other people. I chuckled on the inside. Not long goes before he found a napkin. I kept my promise. It was an expensive napkin.

The Stinking Bum

Third time I met a beggar was in front of the busy Jumbo grocery store close to the Leiden Central train station. They always swarm in front the shop. They wear rugged smelly clothes, thin as sticks, and they beg for cash from everyone who comes out of the shop. For certain they spend their money on booze and other drugs. One of the regulars begged for cash, so I asked him if he accepts bitcoin. He said:

Hahahah, hell no! That shit is a ponzi!

I didn't give him anything. The next time I met the same guy, I asked him why didn't he work for the hard-earned money like most of us. What ensued was a weak set of excuses; I returned the favor and excused myself out.

***

Having worked in various gigs and contracts, I know my hourly worth approximately. The way I see it is if I give them a minimum wage worth of cash, they would need to perform something for that one hour for me. That is obviously out of limits and I wouldn't want their services anyway.

So, what is in it for me?

Then, here in Noordwijk of all places, where tourists flood the town in summers, local drunkards yell at night and mostly pensioners stroll the streets, an obese gypsy woman close to forty on the opposite of the street yelled me something in Dutch. I told her I can't speak Dutch so please say it in English. She went on how she needed ten euros for a bus ticket to Haarlem. I was very hesitant. The rain was pouring and she was all wet down to her fleece. I gave space under my little yellow umbrella for her. Her mood lightened up for a moment. I asked a few more questions and her smile slowly faded. I could feel her becoming a tad bit frustrated. I focused on her shivering face for five long seconds. There and then, I saw from her desperate eyes that she wasn't lying. I gave her the ten euro note. To my surprise, she gave me a very long hug and thanked me.

I realized what beggars can do for money next time. A simple hug or a warm smile will do as long as it is sincere. I should keep an eye on my belongings though.

As you might be aware, there seems to be very little trust between “Us and Them”, namely working people and beggars and alike. To be specific, it is called stereotyping and prejudice, and that my readers is because of social categorization; no shame in that. We all do it. Though if you don't like it then just widen your categories and you're good to go! Or just abolish categories altogether if you can?