What do you think of creating city zones where begging is prohibited?

City commissioners in Fargo want to expand the area where panhandling is illegal. City ordinance already prohibits begging downtown. Today’s Question: What do you think of creating city zones where begging is prohibited?

  • John

    In the upcoming crash, 1/3 to 1/2 of the population will be in the begging mode, so since I have a 33-50% chance of being one of those I would rather government did nothing. Government usually makes bad choices for the people, no real need for Government.

  • reggie

    If we start with the areas in which lobbyists and politicians meet to beg for favoritism (lobbyists) and money (politicians), I’m all for it. If we’re going to focus on people who are just trying to survive and are relying on asking for the kindness of strangers, then no.

  • I admit that I am often just as uncomfortable as the next person when someone approaches me on the street and asks me for money, whether or not I’m able to help them. But the way to deal with that discomfort is not to criminalize what makes you feel that way, but confront it and understand it. And while we wait for the city and our fellow residents to make a real effort to help the homeless community, then the least we can do is not restrict their ability to ask other residents for help in the meantime. Being poor doesn’t need to become anymore dangerous, difficult, and criminal than it already has become.

  • I am surprised that this is being done. I am on the Rochester City Council and we have been told that prohibition of pan handling amounts to a violation of constitutionally protected free speech. I understand that the supreme court has established that pan handling is constitutionally protected by the 1st amendment. Other issues aside, if this were to stand up in court I would love to address some heavy intersections in Rochester where there are some real safety concerns.

  • A

    I would approve of a no begging zone. It sounds harsh, I know. But after years of living in the city, I’ve developed a very thick shell against panhandlers because I’ve seen too many people doing it that aren’t actually destitute. In my old neighborhood (Seward, Mpls) there was a young punk couple who sat on the same corner for two years with a sign saying that they were traveling and needed money to get home. They weren’t traveling – they lived in a place in our neighborhood. My friend, who has a soft spot for Christians in need, got scammed one time by a guy who gave him a sob story about needing money for his church. He gave the guy $20 and then saw him 15 minutes later smoking crack on a porch in the next neighborhood over. A friend of ours, who lives in some apartments near Ford Parkway and Cleveland Ave in St. Paul, says that one of his apartment neighbors regularly sits at the corner of Minnehaha and 46th with a sign saying he’s homeless. I could go on – I have many examples like these. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t believe anyone panhandling anymore. There are too many support networks for those who are actually homeless – shelters, churches, etc. – anyone that is truly in need will go to those support networks. People begging on the corner are just scam artists.

  • matt

    When you create an area where an undesirable activity is not allowed you do two things:

    1. You move the honest people who engage into that activity to some new area (problem not solved, just rearranged. City Council will hear from a new group of unhappy people next year).

    2. You create an incentive to break the law. If 50 pan handlers can collect $1000/day ($20 each) in the area and you move out the honest panhandlers you leave a lot of supply on the table. A panhandler willing to break the law might clear $40-60 day due to less competition.

    Beyond that you now have the additional burden of policing and enforcing any penalties brought against offenders (do panhandlers pay fines?).

    Why not just make it illegal to be poor?

  • Ann

    What are you going to do to them for punishment? Put them in jail, where they can get food and shelter? Are the residents too proud to have beggars where people can see them?. Don’t the police officers have other things to do? They could just put their ideas together and come up with a way to help people in some other way than to push them out or arrest them.

  • Jim G

    This misguided ordinance tells us more about the city of Fargo than the MOVIE does. It’s REALLY COLD.

    My question for the officials in Fargo is what are they going to do to enforce this discriminatory panhandling prohibition? Are they going to arrest the down on their luck offenders and give them lodging and a couple meals at the publics’ expense? Or are the North Dakotans going to load these unfortunates into pick-ups and drop them off across the border in Minnesota?

    Fargo city commissioners should know that across the country our city and local governments have been shedding jobs more than any other sector, so it is completely plausible that some of these noxious panhandlers could have been their recent employees. When I used judgmental language, my Norwegian Grandmother admonished me with these words: “There but for the grace of God go I.”

  • Steve the Cynic

    Want less panhandling? Vote for politicians who understand the importance of the social safety net. Expect to see a lot more panhandling if the Gang Of Plutocrats works its will on America and imposes the social darwinism they’ve been advocating lately.

  • david

    If that zone was all of Washington DC, and those beggars were the corporations, rich, and useless bankers who contribute nothing to society, then yes! Ban away! If we put a stop to these deadbeats then i have a feeling there would be a lot less of the other panhandlers everywhere else.

  • Rich

    I can’t wait for the invisible hand of the market to deal with this issue…

  • Rex Hamann

    Hey, I think I’ll expand my range of cities to boycott to include Fargo. After all, if I’m ever in need because I lost my job or my wife loses hers, we’ll have to sell everything we own just to get by, and how long will that last? We’re both in our 50s and that means getting rehired will cost more money than it’s worth, so becoming homeless will be the only option. Then how will Fargo treat me? Tell me to go to the back of the bus before I can be issued a permit for panhandling? Sure, let’s just find even more ways to disenfranchise the needy. By making the problem invisible, it will surely go away!!

  • Wally

    If we keep borrowing trillions, and keep using fiat money (and no, you Keynesians, that is not what you’re saving to buy an Italian car), the country will be foreclosed on (by the Chinese) and we’ll all be on street corners holding signs “Will _______ for food.” (Fill in the blank with your own area of expertise, and blogging, texting, and other e-skills don’t count.)

    Of course, the only presidential candidate who understands this is the one most of you were impugning yesterday, Ron Paul.

    So, begging should be allowed everywhere.

    Of course, this BEGS the question, haha, why would any city try to restrict begging when they are so dependent on professional beggars–i.e. members of Congress–to get back the money the IRS thugs stole from their citizens.

  • Steve the Cynic

    That won’t happen, Wally. The Chinese are smart enough to know that if they crash our economy theirs will go down, too.

    BTW, there’s no such thing as “real money.” Even gold and silver, apart from their useful and esthetically pleasing metalurgical and electrical properties, only have value because people think they do.

  • Jefferson

    It is up to local governments to set up their own rules and zones. If you disagree with those rules/zones then you have two options, either get some new elected officials or move.

  • Melina

    I can see both sides of this issue. However, I think it is important for our society to recognize the issues we have. If we make the “poor” disappear, it’s going to be even easier to forget about them and pretend they don’t exist. Their visible presence reminds us that this is an issue we still need to deal with as a society.

  • Sue de Nim

    What’s next, if we force the poor to hide their poverty because it makes us “respectable” folk uncomfortable? Will we force ugly people to keep their faces hidden? Will we prohibit people with disfiguring injuries from going out in public, lest someone be offended? Shall we keep the mentally ill safely locked away in institutions so they won’t disturb the rest of us? I think it’s important that we all be confronted with the reality that is at the margins of society. If we’re not aware of suffering, we have no incentive to change the systems that cause it.

  • EAL

    This has little to do with the poor and more to do with governement beaucrats and legislaters who, once in power, forget to govern based upon the U.S. Constitution. If one does not grasp hold of this concept, please take a moment to read and understand the basic foundation of the Constitituion and not those who attempt to intrepret it to meet their whims. At its core, the intent of the Constitution is to protect the country, individual freedoms and limit the role of the federal government.

  • Wally

    Steve the C.

    We aren’t the only market for Chinese goods. As the Chinese and others grow wealthier, and they don’t need us, and grow weary of our begging, they can “call the note.”

    What do you mean “there’s no such thing as real money”? Centuries ago, the world could have picked platinum and beryllium, or something else, but it picked gold and silver. Some cultures used cattle or other things of worth. There is INTRINSIC VALUE in such. Well, our paper currency has intrinsic value, if you run out of Charmin.

    But today, our “money” exists as numbers in computers, easily manipulated by those in power: inflate it, deflate it, raise interest rates, lower interest rates, just takes a few keystrokes.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Money, Wally, is something that represents value, not something valuable in and of itself. Whether represented by a quantity of some physical substance, or by information printed on slips of paper, or by data in a computer, money has no value beyond what we collectively agree to pretend it does.