|Image credit: blog.asiantown.net|
It is illegal to loiter for money in New York City subways.
In addition to going around asking for change, beggars now show up with their newborn babies. It's a kind of new fashion based on the supposition that, seeing the baby, subway riders will feel pity for the poor thing and give money. Reeking of urine and a mixture of foods the commuters consume on their way to work, school or home, a dusty crowded subway car is not an appropriate place for a newly born to spend his or her days. It is especially irritating when there are both parents begging. You would think one of them could take a baby to a park to breathe in some air or keep looking for a job instead of hanging around bothering people who probably don't have a lot themselves.
Yes, it has indeed been really hard to find a job in New York City during the past few years. The recession is not over, and there are lots of people who need help getting over it. Still, there's nothing that can justify using an innocent child who can't protest or complain as a money-making asset, no matter how desperate you are.
Yes, you might argue that a baby that small doesn't really care where to sleep and what to do, as long as it is fed. But how does one manage to feed a baby or change a diaper (or something that does the job of a diaper) while wandering the subway cars all day long? Besides, the temperatures are not always comfortable inside the cars and train stations. Cold wind is often blowing in your face as you're waiting for your train to come and get you to your destination, and in the summer 100 degrees is not a wonder, not mentioning that the air-conditioned cars are too cold for an average person's comfort temperature. What if the baby got sick, how would they afford the health care?
About a year ago there were no or little beggars with babies in New York City subways. The number is growing now, which tells us that it's working. If they weren't making money, they wouldn't do it all over again. Sadly, it's becoming more and more popular. We might be bringing up a new generation of beggars, introduced to the "spare some change" scenario before they could even speak or walk. It is horrible that New York City is home to the wealthiest people, who can afford going out to the fanciest restaurants, and to the poorest, who have no clue when - or if- the next meal is coming. Still, it is unfair to play on the commuters' pity for the baby when you have no pity for it yourself.
This situation is not unique to New York City. Take, for example, India. However, India is far away, and there's little you can do, but when you see a beggar with a baby in your city, you should feel no pity but contempt. Everywhere in the world people use helpless children for their own profit. If you give no money to those people, you will see that their number will decrease, which will tell you that it's not so much desperation but rather taking advantage of having such a fragile creature in their arms that makes the beggars approach you.
Give the babies the real change they need.