Someone fairly recently criticized me for throwing a coin or two in the hat of certain panhandlers, believing they were working illegally and that I was contributing to their unlawful activities. "You may find artists and craftspeople, bohemians, circus performers appealing, cute and quaint or whatever but Peru does not, as it does not allow for such visas. They lied to get into Peru and have no intentions of following the laws of Peru. Spitting on Peru, its people and laws."
Last I checked, there is nothing illegal about panhandling. How is it different if someone sticks their hand out and asks for money offering nothing in return vs. someone selling caramelos vs. someone strumming a guitar with a cup at their feet? Not a one of them is technically working. They have no boss. They didn't fill out a job application. They have no job. Without a job, they are no more illegal than the person sticking their hand out offering nothing in return. If these people are a problem for entering Peru to strum a guitar hoping for some coin, should we all check for their legal status? Should I ask the woman selling caramelos if she is Peruvian and can produce a DNI or if she is from Bolivia and thus panhandling illegally, or taking "work" away from Peruvian panhandlers, or those foreigners who entered Peru legally with working papers and have the legal right to panhandle? How 'bout those street musicians? Do we need to confirm their legal ability to strum a guitar or blow a flute on the street before tossing a coin their way? What if they are Chilean?
Me, I give money to people panhandling on the street based on how I feel in the moment. Some people you know really need it, and some don't. There's this local kid around 14 or so who turns on and off the crocodile tears like a water faucet. I've never given him anything. There's another local who is physically deformed (lack of fingers on one of his hands). I used to give him some coin occasionally until one day a local pointed out to me that he actually is quite well off and to take a look at his clothes (which were rather nice). I usually help out the people who really look like they need it or the random person who's hustling a candy bar (though I usually don't take one). It's not too hard to discern from who's really hurting and who is being lazy sticking their hand out instead of working a box of candy bars or a bag of caramellos or some other item they can work.
When I lived in Venice Beach we had a 'street performer' named Bobby Brown who billed himself as the 'World's Greatest Wino.' He's schtick was that "I'm not lookin' for something to eat. I'm not lookin' for a cup of coffee. I lookin' to get drunk!" He'd tell jokes on the boardwalk hoping to score some booze money. "I'll kiss your mother-in-law for a dollar!" Every now and then we'd gift him a bottle of cheap, Trader Joe's wine, appreciating his honesty. He was a good old guy with some real interesting stories and agreed to sit for a portrait for my then g.f., a painter, as the three of us shared a bottle of wine. I encountered this guy once when getting out of my car to go into a coffee shop. He asked if I could spare some change for coffee but repeatedly turned down my offer to actually buy him a cup of coffee instead of giving him money. "No, can you spare any change for coffee," he kept saying, as if I didn't understand his request. Had he been honest and asked me for a little help so he could chase the morning alcoholic shakes I might have helped him out, but he got no coffee (which he didn't want) or change out of me. The best panhandlers I ever encountered were a very talented group of Chinese students going to the Berklee School of Music who performed as a string quartet in the main Boston T (subway/tube) station, entertaining the going home from work crowd. They cleaned up.