Pan­han­dlers are ma­nip­u­lat­ing peo­ple

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

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.



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