Median income

The Duke City is taking a page from the Bibleburg playbook and trying to croak panhandling.

My old hometown has spent years wrestling with the issue of how the less fortunate earn their living, losing two falls out of three.

Nevertheless, that fair Christian community persists; its latest panhandling ordinance, like the new one here, seems targeted more narrowly on the red herring of “safety,” and the ACLU is watching closely to make sure this is not just another cudgel to beat the homeless out of the public right-of-way so their betters don’t have to see them, or think about them.

The ACLU will have its eye on the Duke City, too. And it seems likely that the lawyers will earn, and the City Council will earn, and the police will earn, and the reporters will earn, and the needy will not (for a while, anyway).

Both communities have more pressing safety issues, or so it seems to me. Duke City and Bibleburg-El Paso County both are on track to break homicide records, for example.

And as regards traffic hazards, I’d say the distracted, drugged and/or drunk Duke City driver poses more of a threat to life and limb than does the limper with the homemade billboard working the median at the corner of Fifth and Vermouth.

Part of the problem may be that Limpy has found his way north and east, where the money is. I’ve seen (and donated to) representatives of the Placard People all the way out here in Dog Country, at Tramway and Montgomery. By golly, it’s one thing if they’re shambling around down by Ed Siegelman’s Ground Zero Equal Opportunity Apartments, but up here? What about our real-estate values?

What about our values, indeed.

It might be educational for some of our elected representatives to stumble a few miles in Limpy’s brogans. I’ve done a little panhandling my own bad self, back in my Jackoff Kerouac days, and I can’t recommend it as a career choice.

I was slumming, of course, as are a few of the people you see working the off-ramps. I could go back to my real, privileged life anytime I chose, and I did. But not everybody is so fortunate. If we really want to get the needy off the streets, and keep them off, we need to think a little harder, a little smarter, and with a whole lot more compassion.

On the other hand, maybe this new ordinance will stop the cashier at Whole Amazon from asking me if I want to donate my bag credits to some “worthy cause.” Bloody do-gooder.

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21 Responses to “Median income”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Are there no prisons? And the union workhouses?

  2. khal spencer Says:

  3. Patrick O'Grady Says:

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    If you are poor in America, you are screwed. If you are a poor person of color, you get screwed twice. If you are a poor person of color and live in depressed areas in a large city, you are screwed 3 times, unless the gentry decide they want your land, then you get screwed 4 times. And if you suffer from mental illness or addiction on top of it, well, you know. Hey you hosers, get a job at wally world or hobby lobby. Then you can work 32 hours a week, and still live in poverty.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Lots of folks getting more than 40 hours … but not at one job. Herself knows people with two or three part-time gigs.

      I have two “part-time” jobs myself, but calling them “jobs” is a bit of a stretch. I don’t have to go anywhere to do them, or wear a uniform, or even be pleasant to my betters.

      True, there’s no health insurance, retirement plan, vacation pay, sick leave, or equipment provided. But they pay just enough to keep me off the medians.

      Doesn’t hurt that Herself has a real job, either.

  5. Dale Says:

    In my town of about 33,000, we have more homeless than you would expect. A group of nuns take care of several single women with children, but they have limited resources and space. Another church group serves individuals (a lot of individuals). They house them for the evening, feed them breakfast and evict them to the streets until dinner, when they are allowed back into the shelter.Between breakfast and dinner the homeless walk around town and try to stay warm, cool, or dry. They go to the hospital ER waiting room, library, county government building, and other public spaces.

    Some are left out though – the ones who are active substance abusers, or have a mental illness that is disturbing to the “good people” of the community. The lucky ones land in jail; the others migrate south or whatever.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I wonder what the actual homeless stats are, or if there even is a reliable source of information on the topic.

      Thing is, there are so many subsets of “homeless.” The under-the-bridge homeless, shelter homeless, sleeping-in-the-car homeless, skid-row-motel homeless, working homeless.

      Lots of people are getting left behind, some of them permanently.

  6. kathleen t holoch Says:

    i enjoy your commentary and, one day, hope to meet you in person.

  7. Shawn Says:

    The safety issue regarding homeless panhandlers is a bunch of crap. The ones I see and have seen are doing so from the sidewalks on corners (with the exception of the hard working newspaper windshield cleaners of the past). Yes, the considerate drivers who take a moment to give to these souls of last resort, may create a hindrance to the hurried melee of the damn-the torpedos and full speed ahead moronic crowd, but tough shit.

    If safety is an issue, what about firefighters raising money with the fill the boot campaign. With all respect to the efforts firefighters are performing and the benefits that result, individuals walking in the street between cars gathering donations really doesn’t seem logical to me, especially considering that they are the respondents to street based accidents that us non-safety oriented folks create. I politely pass by them and make my donation to them at their station house.

    Homelessness is a lot closer to most of us then we may think. I have a lot of respect for the homeless in my town and consider them my equal. I would like to believe that they may have the opportunity to obtain a modest meal and a safe place to lay there heads down at night. I do what I can by shopping at two of my towns thrift stores that operate the food bank and warming shelters.

    I wish I could offer an easy solution to the variety of people who find themselves homeless, be it by choice, by mental condition or by capitalist exploitation. But first starting with respect of an individual no matter their condition may be a start.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Indeed, Shawn. You can blaze down Tramway at 100-mph-plus on your scoot without getting pulled over, accumulate a dozen DWIs, fiddle with your auto’s “infotainment system” when you should be watching the road, use an I-40 off-ramp as a passing lane and the Comanche bike lane as a parking lot.

      But God forbid you should ask a stranger for a buck at a traffic signal. Forget that drunk doing 110 through the school zone, honey, we got ourselves a real safety issue right here in the median!

      We donate to food banks in Bibleburg and Duke City, and Herself shops at a wide selection of thrift stores. We also keep change and small bills handy to distribute as need be. We’ve both been extremely fortunate and try to share.

      We should probably do more. All of us should.

      • khal spencer Says:

        That, my friend, is a good letter to the Journal.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I never write letters to the editor, having been the target of too many such incoming rounds.

        That said, you’ve got to wonder what council was thinking, or if. Jesus wept, etc.

        • khal spencer Says:

          Going after the homeless and poor is shooting fish in a barrel to pols. They look like they are doing something about quality of life and besides, your average streetside panhandler probably doesn’t vote.

          Charles Dickens has it about right. Maybe those three spirits need to attend Council meetings.

          • Dale Says:

            Khal,
            What if the homeless were a voting block? In my state, a homeless person can register and claim his/her address as the local board of elections. I used to work there, but never saw one homeless person register.

            One other issue is how do they keep what little money they have? Banks charge fees unless you meet minimum deposit rules these days. Pawn shops and check cashing businesses rip them off with fees and payday loans that go far beyond the old definition of usury. Cops harass them at the behest of property owners and businesses. Bail – I don’t want to go there.

          • khal spencer Says:

            I think the old expression comes to mind, Dale. When you are up to your ass in alligators, etc, etc. I don’t know enough about the homeless to make a call here except to say that the ones I interacted with (rarely) ranged from damn smart but down on their luck (people like legal secretaries living in their cars in Honolulu) to raving mentally ill, like the street person who was pushing his shopping cart full of his life into the path of a peloton the day I was course marshalling a criterium. I imagine that in a lot of cases, voting (and surviving GOP led vote purges) is not on their short list of things to do to survive till tomorrow.

  8. Carl Duellman Says:

    thoughts and prayers.

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