Panhandlers are manipulating people
Has anyone noticed the number of panhandlers standing on corners?
I noticed a huge increase right before Christmas last year. It seemed like there was one on every corner. Though their numbers have decreased a little, I still see one or two as I travel from Springdale to Fayetteville every day.
I don’t feel compelled to give them any money to ease my conscience. Instead, I have come to resent their presence. The reason is because reports by the news media show many of them are not poor or homeless, but make good incomes off the goodness of others. They stand on corners with their signs asking for handouts. They take advantage of the compassion of others with signs that say homeless, will work for food, stranded, hungry, have a wife, and sometimes they have a dog sitting next to them. Then at the bottom of their sign it says, “God Bless You.”
Am I my brothers’ keeper? Yes, I believe I am, but these manipulators make it difficult to give to those who are truly in need. I have been stopped crossing Wal-Mart parking lots, filling my tank at gas stations and walking down streets. Many times I strike up conversations with panhandlers to learn that they don’t want the gas or food they are asking for, but cash. I have said “Follow me over to the gas station at the end of the parking lot and I’ll get you some gas.” They say OK, then don’t show up at the pump.
Some have said they are traveling across the country with family and ran out of money and are stranded. What responsible person goes from point A to point B with a family without enough resources to get them there? I wouldn’t dream of doing this to my family or expect others to pay my way. While pumping gas one time, a panhandler came up to me asking for gas money. I told him to bring his car over and I would get him some gas. I filled his tank and afterwards he asked if I had a twenty for some food. I replied that he would have to get that from someone else.
What has happened to self- respect and character? Why do some think they can take advantage of the goodness of others? The current unemployment rate in Arkansas is about 5.7 percent. In Fayetteville and Springdale, it’s 3.8 percent. In Northwest Arkansas there are jobs available for those who want to work them. I certainly would take a job to feed my family and provide shelter for them before begging on a street corner.
Recently in the news, Fort Smith is looking at putting in place city ordinances that will prevent panhandlers from standing near busy intersections and street corners. Perhaps it’s time Northwest Arkansas did the same.