Saturday, February 12, 2011

I know Maryland Counties are Hurting for Cash, but This Is Odd, Even for Montgomery County

You've seen them and probably ignored them. Maybe you are more of a giver than I, and will reach into your car's change holder or your wallet and give that panhandler some money. While I question whether these people are truly poor or truly in need of cash, the fact that they are panhandling doesn't bother me at all.

Apparently it bothers Ike Legget to the point that the Montgomery County executive wants to regulate panhandling. Seriously.

Montgomery County panhandlers such as Garnes would have to apply for
permits to ask drivers for spare change under legislation Leggett is requesting
from state lawmakers.

Leggett said panhandlers often stand in the median strip of county roads --
which is allowed under county law -- but that many approach drivers by walking
into the street, which is not.

In the county, panhandling is legal, but aggressive panhandling is
not. Aggressive panhandling invovles using verbal or physical threats when
seeking donations.

A permitting system would allow the government to better regulate
panhandling and other solicitations -- from medians or roadsides -- by
tracking panhandlers and educating them on the rules.

Yeah, you read that right- "tracking" panhandlers. Handing out permits--which will come with rules and almost certainly a fee of some sort-- is meant to track people nothing more right now.  But the next step will be a tax on panhandling receipts--you can almost hear Leggett's thinking on it.

I am not a big fan of panhandlers, but so long as they ask for money without verbal abuse, then I don't really give a toss one way or the other about their activities. I don't have to give them money.  They have freedom to ask and I have freedom to say no.

Having said that, I firmly believe that they have the right to engage in the activity so long as it is legal. If Leggett wants to ban panhandling--pass a law banning panhandling and allow the police to enforce it. Otherwise, stop trying to "track panhandlers."

Seriously, Leggett, you make Big Brother look positively near sighted.

2 comments:

Bruce said...

I resent the folks who panhandle for charities in the middle of traffic, but not those who do so to survive. When the fire department or someone else who ought to know better than to risk public safety start hounding motorists for money and interfering with the task of driving, I think they ought to be arrested. But some guy trying to get money for something to eat (yeah sometimes it's dope but sometimes it's dinner) for the night doesn't bother me.

Eludius said...

@Bruce - interesting opinion. When I was in college we would canvas a busy intersection to raise money for our fraternity's philanthropy. We always collected over $1000 for a day's work. Obviously there are enough people who want to give.

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