If you want to ask people for money on the streets of Middle Township, NJ, you’ll need to get a permit, as local lawmakers have passed an ordinance aimed at reining in what some view as out-of-hand begging and panhandling in the area. [More]
The city of Charlottesville, VA, (home to the awesomest University on the planet) currently has a law on the books that forbids panhandling in and around the city’s Downtown Mall area. A group of homeless men tried to fight the ban in court, but a District Court judge dismissed the case. However, a federal appeals panel has said the lower court was too hasty in tossing the case out. [via CourthouseNews.com]
If you live anywhere in the NYC area, you’ve probably seen a “United Homeless Organization” table on the sidewalk, staffed by a volunteer who looks homeless himself. (If you don’t live here, imagine a year-round, homeless Salvation Army Santa.) If you thought the set-ups looked a little sketchy, you were right: the UHO is a “sham,” according to NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Everyone likes to help the less fortunate—at least, that’s what we’re going to go with publicly for the sake of this argument. That said, is it really appropriate to be asked to pony up donation money when you’re sitting in a theater waiting for your movie to begin? You’ve already paid more than you probably wanted to for the tickets, not to mention any refreshments—shouldn’t that ticket price also include an implied guarantee that you won’t be asked to tithe?
I’m an easy mark for panhandlers. One time, when visiting a friend in Chicago, I was waiting to meet her on a street corner when a single, fairly respectable hobo came up and asked for a dollar for some booze. This is the sort of honesty that speaks to me in a bum, so I gave it to him. Five minutes later, I was throwing all my bills into the air and weeping in despair as a cloud of homeless people swarmed about me, snatching the fluttering green pieces of paper from the air and shouting for more.