Thursday, April 24, 2008

Uh, what?

I'm reading this story in the DI today about panhandling in Iowa City, and I read a comment from a city council member, Mike Wright, that really baffles me.

"Panhandling is a legitimate form of creating income."

Uh, what?

Please, someone tell me what I'm doing racking up thousands of dollars in debt and wasting years of my life trying to get a degree when it's perfectly acceptable (according to Mike Wright) to just go out and ask everyone else to support me? Why didn't I think of this?

It's not that there aren't truly unfortunate folks who need our help in Iowa City. It's not that there aren't homeless disabled veterans and moms down on their luck. But I can promise that there's also people who leave the house a few days a week in their scrappiest and go work the major area intersections for some "weekend money." I'm not kidding.

I've seen one guy in particular who likes to stand at Park and Dubuque. I've seen him put a Starbucks cup down gently (careful not to spill your latte!) so he could answer his cell phone.

I'm not saying they're all like that. I'm not saying the majority of them are even like that. But to describe begging as a legitimate form of income? Huh?

Mr. Wright, I'm sure your point was a good one, and I'm sure you're just trying to do the best thing, but you're very wrong. Panhandling is not a legitimate form of income. Hopefully that was just a slip of the tongue, because if you honestly believe that we should be content and accepting of poor people who have to beg for their lives then, well, you're just damned wrong. And stupid.

Why do I feel like Iowa City is more considerate of panhandlers than cars that need parking?

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