Panhandling Madness

People get so angry about panhandling.  It is a dividing point in our society.  There are passionate people on both sides of the issue.  There are those who love bypassing all the bureaucracy and administration of nearly every non-profit to give directly to a person in need.  Then there are those who hate seeing people have to beg for money, and know that most of the donation is going to feed a chemical addiction.  There are those that want to have a connection with a stranger who is struggling as directed by most spiritual texts.  Others see people who have made mistakes or are perceived to be lazy, and want government to respond to these "problems."

There were flair ups in this war over the last month in both Akron and Cleveland.  The City of Akron and Fairlawn both have extremely restrictive laws to protect pedestrians from the evils of panhandling. The Summit County Council was scheduled to add a panhandling law to cover the unincorporated places in the county.  They were prepared to make panhandling a job as the other communities in the county have done.  They had proposed requiring a license to beg and forcing panhandlers to wear a uniform (a vest).  Calmer head prevailed and they ditched these two provisions, but is working on passing a law that limits where a person can ask for money and outlaws aggressive solicitation (which is already illegal under the menacing laws).  Cleveland suffered a black eye over giving a good samaritan a ticket for LITTERING because the individual threw a dollar at a panhandler and it landed on the ground. 

All of these stories generated a ton of comments in the Plain Dealer and the Beacon Journal.  Yet, there is very little rational thinking on this issue.  No matter how many laws are made, begging will continue.  People will figure out a way around any and every law.  You can sponsor all the campaigns that you want, the people who like giving will continue.  The only way to stop panhandling is to find alternatives (such as a Street Newspaper!!!).  Sponsor a competition among the non-profits to see who can find alternatives for the most panhandlers.  No matter what Akron or Cleveland does with the laws, people will continue to keep giving and panhandlers will figure out ways to beg.  If a person finds themselves without options, they will turn to begging for money as the last option.