Jason 123's Liked Comments

These meters aren't really about the homeless, they're about panhandlers. The point isn't to raise money. Often they collect very little money and take a while to even cover the costs of the meter and installation.

The point is to give the suckers who are targeted by professional panhandlers an out. You don't feel guilty telling a panhandler no when you've made a donation at the meter... or more likely, plan to give a donation but never get around to it. While it surely varies from place to place, in my city when the police do sweeps on aggressive panhandlers, they find that the vast majority (over 80%) have homes and most have jobs... they're just supplementing their income because it's easy and has almost no downside.

Aggressive panhandlers are destroyers of business and entertainment districts. Most of the homeless do not panhandle! While there is some overlap between the two groups, it is not as much as one would think. Governments and social agencies have tried lots of methods of breaking the panhandler-guilt-visitor money flow. The meters are just the latest attempt. They might end up working but let's not fool ourselves into seeing them as any kind of cure for homelessness. While they do provide some money for programs aimed at the homeless, it is a very tiny drop in the bucket and the meters are really about changing the quality of experience people have while visiting the district in question.

If this works to get rid of the aggressive panhandlers, it should also help the homeless by allowing people to feel sympathy for them again. There is nothing like being followed around and cursed at by someone wanting your money to harden your heart. Panhandlers masking themselves as homeless doing tremendous damage to the image of the truly homeless and make it difficult to raise funds for programs that can make a difference.
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  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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