Would You Give Them Money?

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I haven’t had much time to write these last few days so I wanted to get you (the readers) to do some of the work. Today I have a hypothetical situation to puzzle you with. It is a question I have spent a great deal of time thinking about myself. Please read the question and then leave a comment letting us know what you would do. I am not going to tell you my response until I have seen a good amount of discussion.

The hypothetical situation is this:

You have been given $500 to donate to a starving family with four children with the condition that you have to donate 50% of the money to someone else who is going to buy drugs with your donation. Would you still donate?

Mull it over. Let us know. I am very interested to hear what you all have to say. Particularly my regular readers who I feel I am getting to know quite well.

39 thoughts on “Would You Give Them Money?

  1. Tricky Situation, but I would give it the entire amount to the starving family, because that is what it is meant for and if necessary I would give money to that someone whom i know, from my pocket.

  2. Yes I would. The person who is going to buy drugs is going to do it anyway by stealing, begging, borrowing or some other method. Secondly giving the money to a drug addict would introduce me to them and I possibly could help them as well. Thirdly maybe I could get the drug addict to sit down and eat with the family and they could all learn something.

  3. Being hypothetical, it’s kind of a silly dilemma, but let’s play it.

    The answer is YES.

    If “I have been given $500 TO DONATE TO A STARVING FAMILY”, where is the dilemma? The reason and the condition is that I donate to the starving family, there’s no question nor decision to make here. I have to. One thing was made with the condition that I’d make the second thing. Period. The third thing is consequence.

    Even if I had the choice, the answer would still be yes. You know that the family is starving. That’s is its current status, a reality. It’s emergency, it’s natural that you help. The other person, that “someone”, is GOING TO buy drugs, so there is a hope, even if super tiny, that he or she won’t buy it – because that’s not his/her current situation. But even if he/she buy it, it’s okay, because you gave him/her money, not drugs — it was his/her decision to choose that way.

    On both cases you won’t be saving nor condemning anyone. You’d be just giving out money. It’s up to them to do what they want to do with it. The starving family will probably buy food and save itself — but ultimately you don’t know it. The drug addict will probably buy drugs and keep him/herself in a unhealthy trying to escape reality situation — that doesn’t kill anyone (if not overdosed) nor create any other starving family. Which is condition enough for you to act on an emergency.

  4. Of course. If I had the chance to give money to a starving family I would not hesitate. I think the good greatly outways the bad here.
    So, even if I know that this person was going to spend my money on drugs, the half of what I gave will do more good than if I kept it and spent it on.. I don’t know shoes or whatever I waste my disposable income on.
    Plus the drug addict is suffering too, and although we may not approve of the way they deal with their pain, you may help them too in some small way. Helping them deal with their problem I think is probably a separate issue.

  5. I wouldn’t even donate the $500 to the starving family in the first place.

    This hypothetical question seems far too presumptuous.

  6. No, the money and the conditions of the money seem dubious at best. Not only would I not donate the money, I wouldn’t even take it to begin with.

    Furthermore, $250 worth of food is a temporary fix, while $250 of drugs could reinforce a permanent problem.

    Great question.

  7. I would.

    I feel like the drug user will find a way to smoke, inject, or otherwise ingest his/her choice of drugs one way or another, with or without your help. Even if they have to steal from another for that quick fix.

    Of course an ambiguity arises as to the nature of the “drugs”, are they highly addictive? Deadly? Etc. To be honest, I don’t think that really matters either, because when someone wants to escape reality, they will “pick their poison” and end the day the way they prefer.

    Nice question, by the way.

  8. No, I will not use this maney for donation under the condition that i should give 50% of the money to a guy to buy drugs.. it is just like i didn’t any thing, and even worse.. if i did so, it is just like i’m helping another group of people to buy drugs (the guy, his freinds, family, people around him.. the drugs shop..etc..) and we all know the disadvantages of drugs and their bad consequences on society..
    But, since i already knew that there is a starving family over there, i would donate to them from my own money without any condition.. !

  9. Some great replies here. Personally, without getting too deeply into the motives behind the offer, or scrutinizing the details too heavily (after all, it’s all hypothetical), I would give the the first 50% to the starving family, and give the other 50% to the drug addict, with the condition that he gave 50% to the starving family! Nobody said anything about adding my own conditions.

  10. Well I wouldn’t give them money actually.

    Here is my reason, what will that money do for them? Give them food for a few days and then what happens after that?

    Why not try to help that family by teaching them to make more money or something of that nature.

    Tell a man he is free, he will be free for one day, tell him his rights, he will be free forever.

  11. I’m surprised how many people seem to be so stuck on semantics. The question isn’t meant to be a trick or a puzzle. It doesn’t have a right or wrong answer or even a secret right answer. It’s simply meant to make you think, consider your own morals, and why you feel the way you do about certain circumstances.

    BJ, I like your answer. Aaron, I found your answer quite interesting as well!

  12. Assuming no other conditions, I would say yes.

    The situation boils down to giving to people I know will use the money wisely (a positive good) as well as those I think might use it poorly (a probable, but not certain bad).

  13. It would be a lot more helpful to offer the starving family the address to some soup kitchens, a food stamp applications, and use the $500 for job or interview training. That money for will be gone pretty quickly for 6 people. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.

    I wouldn’t accept the responsibility of distributing the funds. If I felt it was important enough to make this moral decision, I’d pay it out-of-pocket without the second set of conditions.

    What if the people who going to buy drop over-dose on your $50?

  14. Interesting ethical dilemma. I recently argued ardently against a hypothetical program in which drug addicts would be given heroin from society in an attempt to reduce problems of prostitution and criminality.

    The question is whether we are responsible for how the drug-addict spends the money. I don’t see that we are. In the end it is the individuals responsibility how he chooses to live. The same principle applies to the poor family. You might advise them to spend the money on making a lasting change, but then – either they do, or they don’t – it is their choice. By giving the money you are at least giving them an opportunity.

  15. the kids are dependent, so you have to help them. adults make their own choices, and so we should not be stopped by piety. just my 3 cents.

  16. but if the parents can’t help the kids and the kids can’t help themselves, how will throwing money at the problem solve anything?

    Obviously they are in this situation because of the habits they have, isn’t it better to teach them new habits?

  17. I don’t see any kind of dillemma at all. People think that if they don’t give money to drug addicts, that the addict is going to decide to become clean. That’s ridiculous. This whole drug situation is something that 9 out of 10 people contradict themselves over anyway. They think that it’s such a bad thing to give a beggar money that he’ll use for crack, and then they go home and pop pain and sleeping pills.

    To answer your question, I wouldn’t hesitate to give the money to the family, knowing that half of it would go to drugs. Big deal. The guy is going to do drugs anyway, so I’m not doing anything bad, but I AM doing good by helping a hungry family.

  18. No.

    * There are food banks, homeless shelters, churches, etc where food can be had for free.

    * Family would most likely spend money inefficiently.

    * Transportation burden to the grocery store (potential need for baby-sitting as well)

    I personally tend toward non-monetary assistance when possible. A “starving” family doesn’t need money. It needs food.

  19. of course i would do it. for those with the “teach a man to fish” philosophy i would say it is a great philosophy. but when there are no jobs, there are no jobs. if we have another depression, you will see that for yourselves.

  20. The Giving is the thing. Right?

    Setting expectations for what the gift is used for, how it is welcomed or not, is clinging to the gift. Setting expectations to how it is to be used is not a gift. No strings.

    If you can give, give freely. If you cannot give freely, perhaps it is better to not give. Your gift may be abused. That is ok. It is not yours.

  21. in a conditional deal that strips one bare of his/her ethical values, it starves the opportunity of help for those that badly need the help. in this case, i would not give to either as the condition is irrational and oversteps my moral values.

  22. Yes I would definately donate. If a family is starving then why shouldn’t I donate the money? Sure 50% of it will be used by a drug user to buy drugs, but if someone wants to waste their money on drugs then it’s their body and their decision and therefore their choice. I’m not saying using drugs is right, of course it isn’t, but if someone uses drugs then it’s their choice to do so. Given the choice I wouldn’t hesitate to decide to give the money to a starving family, even if 50% is going to be used to buy drugs.

  23. The answer is YES!
    Just think that with the 50% of the money you will be saving a starving family of 6 members. Well I don’t mind for the condition at least I will be pleasing all the 7 people.

  24. I second this comment – the Giving is the thing. Give unconditionally or don’t give at all. What I would do in a real life situation I don’t know, I would hope not to pre-condition my response!

  25. My answer is yes, without a doubt. I think the more good we do in this life the more others try to do good as well. The Lord always gave to the the poor and needy. I think people forget this or analize things too much. As for the drug addict I would try and talk with him, and maybe his higher power my give him guidence. This maybe far fetched but you just never know. I do think the good outways the bad. Just my thoughts.

  26. Okay, I am a few weeks behind in my web reading though YES, I would donate.

    BJ, Excellent response and thought process.

    Everyone is assuming drugs mean drug addict, bad drugs. There are so many people without health insurance and need prescriptions filled – legitimate, needed drugs. It would not be difficult, to find a “good” place for the 50% for drugs.

    Though, either way – a good deed usually is returned 10 times or more. Believe and act in the goodness.

  27. Yes. Gives food for a family, but at the same time prevents the drug abuser stealing the money from someone else. It’s not like if you’re not giving the money to the druggie, they’re still not going to get drugs.

    Drugs makes you kah-razy mahn!

  28. Of course I would..

    1. That family will get some money to eat on and survive.

    2. The druggie will buy drugs which in return kills him and he dies. One less.

    3. That money.. if we all play our cards right will be taken from the drug dealer because he was discovered, from heavy investigations, that he was in fact dealing.

  29. no I wouldn’t, its a temporary fix, that wont solve a thing, better to use the money to teach them how to make food, and buy seeds from crops so they can grow it themselves that way they become more independent,

    “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day, Teach a man to fish, feed him for a life time”

  30. Yes, I would.
    1. I think temporary help is better than none. The starving family will be given say 10 more days to live – their circumstances can change significantly during this period.
    2. Give money to drugs guy and inform police: they could jail the drug dealer and his staff if lucky.

    Anyway, 6 > 1. I’d help.

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