Some people won't give charity (money) to beggars on the street, be they old wrecks or young punks, because they are afraid--or certain--the recipient will only spend the money on drugs and/or alcohol. They might buy food vouchers sold by a local charity instead and give those, or genuinely offer to take the beggar to a fast food joint and buy them a meal. Other people get upset, or feel superior, when they notice the woman paying for steaks with her food stamps--she ought to be using the money for beans and rice that will stretch for the whole month. I completely understand not wanting your money to be used in ways you disapprove of, that's one reason I questioned my kids when they asked me for money. But the judgmental attitude some people have about the poor really annoys me.
I've lived poor (almost entirely when I was too young to work, because as soon as I was old enough, I worked so I could buy food for myself and siblings), and I know how important it is to be able to spend a little extra on what counts. The thing is, what counts differs from person to person.
I'm guilty of judging other people's choices, just like most people. And of judging myself by them. But the poor have fewer choices in the first place; having lived it, I cannot condemn splurging on steak even if it means going to the food bank at the end of the month, or paying for gas for a daytrip to the beach even if it means the phone gets turned off. Living in constant dreariness (whether in your diet, clothing, free time, whathaveyou) is depressing; the occasional treat or indulgence makes the regular drudgery tolerable, and encourages the hope of a better future.
Even middle class and up families are subject to judgmental criticism of their choices. The Common Room quotes Lyman Abbott's 1896 House and Home:
Each family differs in the standards of the necessities imperative for the maintenance of family life. Opportunity for education is the uppermost need of one family. Establishing the semblance of social prominence is the one universal want of another family. Clothes that attract the eye of the passer-by is the one desire of another family. What we term a good table satisfies the wants of another family. It is the gratification of the special taste of each family that secures for that family the greatest happiness. We may admire or condemn, but if we are discerning, we shall know that we, in turn, are being criticized for the arrangement of our own lives- that in the judgment of many, we are sacrificing the best things of life, we are not securing the best results for the amount of money at our disposal. Accepting this fact, then, it behooves us to concentrate our attention on our own affairs, being careful to secure the results in our own family life that minister best to the life of that family without regard to outside standards.
and then goes on with more examples:
In addition to personal taste, I would say that each family also has its own unique purpose. We have guests in our home every single week (and usually more than once a week), but we don't do sports. One family doesn't bake bread but does play baseball (Hi, Cindy!); another family has a flair for music and life lived large (Hi, Queen S.!). One family has a knack for putting together bits and pieces and using them creatively and frugally (Hi, Mama Squirrel!), and others have a gift with art.
Some folks have money and the desire for five thousand dollar weddings with a dozen bridesmaids, and some people think 100 dollars and a potluck should just about cover everything. Your family may be dressed in blue jeans 365 days of the year, or perhaps Austen style gowns, or Edwardian dresses, or skirts and blouses. Your special niche may be writing and homeschooling and children with special needs. Your special talent might be elegant food or plain down home fare.
People make different choices because they value different things. And that's not just not bad, it's actually good.