The Beggars of Shanghai


This post was originally published in 2007
It may contain stale & outdated information. Or it may have grown more awesome with age, like the author.

I thought, after the last post, it would be a good idea to write an entry about those whose lifestyles are rather different, beggars. New Zealand doesn't really have beggars, not like China. We have 'transients', or 'homeless people', but they aren't the same. You see, our country has a welfare system, whereby people (unless they screw the system) are guaranteed at least enough money to eat when time gets rough (or the rough get lazy). China doesn't have that, people rely instead on their family, or when that fails, begging. Some of them (the beggars) are probably just lazy. Walking around the streets, one can't help noticing large amounts of blue overalled workers sweeping or picking up (the plentiful) rubbish. Doesn't look like fun, probably isn't. It wouldn't pay well either. I'd say their job is about as low as it gets, maybe slightly above sewage duty. These people will be making barely enough money to sustain themselves, performing quite labour intensive jobs. It isn't hard to imagine that at least a small number of them chuck it in and resort to street begging, or maybe some of them just use it as a secondary source of income on their off day/s. Diversification is the key to success, so many newspaper-advert finance advisors claim. Yvonne claims that a lot of the beggars change occupations because they find they can actually make more money begging than they could sweeping, and as an added bonus they get to sit/lean/stroll all day. It is this class of beggar that seems to have spoiled it for the legitimate ones, the ones who actually can't work due to injury or illness. Also, once they get used to the filthiness that accompanies such an activity, the ever foraging beggar has a veritable smorgasbord of treats available to him/her in the form of discarded trash. I've been called callous and inhumane for my lack of empathy for my fellow humans that find themselves in such sorry states, criticisms that I can understand when I consider how my views might appear to someone so misguided that they don't understand how our western society works. You see, we, those rich enough to have had sufficient education to read this page, need to maintain the status quo, else we'll lose our cushy lifestyles. Those of you who don't believe it, think about where your crappy throw-away consumables come from, and why they are so cheap! You get them from China and India (and maybe South America soon), the result of cheap and ready labor camps. Without these hives of industry, it'd be our country being polluted all to hell, and you working fourteen hour shifts at the Nike factory six days a week. I know you wouldn't be able to handle that, because you're accustomed to a high value dollar and all the benefits that brings. I'm not inhuman, not at all - I used to feel sorry for the beggars of the world too, but then I realised: the world is like a pyramid, richest highest, poorest lowest. Put another way: fewest highest, most lowest. This is the truth, get used to it, go join the other crazies and volunteer; or shut up with your holier-than-thou proclamations about how sad and messed up the world is (we know), go back to the couch and watch your Dr. Phil or daytime infomercials, shows like that are designed to make people like you forget about the nasty world, let them do their work.* Taking photos of beggars is actually quite a challenge, because no-one wants to be chased by a possibly diseased angry wretch. They have nothing to lose, and your camera to gain, whereas you have a desire not to contract AIDS. I walk past the beggar, ignoring his/her pleas for loose change, and go around the corner. Then I poke the camera around the corner and quickly snap of some shots. Or I just wait until they aren't looking and take photos. Either way is fine, so long as one is prepared for anything. A few times I've seen beggars actually eating from the trash! Yep, gross - glad he didn't see me taking that photo So, beggars huh. Feel sorry for them if you like, hell, even give them money, but don't be surprised if they turn around and spit in your face, they know where they stand more than you do. *The paragraph you just read may offend, please don't read it
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