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The date was 16 May 2002. I had just left the Steel Plaza subway station in Pittsburgh, PA, and was heading for the bus stop to catch a bus back to Oakland. I went home on Wednesday night to see Star Wars: Episode II with some friends - back to summer classes I was on my way.

Just a few yards outside of the station I was walking in front of the Mellon Bank Building - a place I've never seen a beggar before. At any rate, I was keeping to myself, and a somewhat large, black woman with a stroller and child in tow approached me, telling me about how she was living under a bridge, and had no food, no clothing, nothing for her child, etc... - I believed her, I think. She smelled foul. She was asking for some money. I dug into my pocket, but all I had were a few coins of a low denomination. I pulled them out and handed them to her, saying "Sorry, it's just a few cents" but never did I expect what she did next.

She threw the money on the ground, exclaiming that it was not enough.

That one event was, perhaps, enough to make me not give to a vagrant ever again.

Then again, she could have been not truly needy, and just out there for a few extra bucks (unlikely, but possible). At any rate, she ruined it for the countless others. Do I feel bad? Sure. Do I intend to put up with garbage like that again? Not a chance, sister.

The beggar who refuses two bits is not so rich; they are frustrated. All their life they are left to suffer and struggle and what compassion is afforded by their fellow man? A penny here and there, a kind look of helpless sympathy, or some nugatory morsel unfit for an animal. But those people are kind. The beggar is also told to "Get a job", as if one can possibly receive a pay-check by mail when one doesn't have address. To some they are just another burden on a checking account, another reason for the state to tax the hell out of America some more. Why should we give them any sympathy, they're already living off us, off low grade voluntary public welfare? If they don't smile, damn it, they should be made to.

And it seems the Gospel of Wealth was burned too long ago for anyone to so much as care anymore.

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