Letters to the Editor

Giving to panhandlers is no way to help

The truth is flexible | July 6, story

Giving to panhandlers doesn't help

I am very sympathetic to anyone who is "down and out," but deceit is inexcusable and these people have turned their hardship into a business.

The thing I really resent is that they say they make more money panhandling than they could working. What is wrong with this picture? And St. Petersburg is trying to solve the homeless problem? It doesn't sound like it if the general public hands out money the way the article stated to someone on a corner with a pitiful sign.

I ask those of you who give this money: Do you really think you are helping or are you just doing it to feel like you've done something? Think about it. You are enabling these people to continue doing this. Do you really like having them on every street corner?

We have helped out at Pinellas Hope since it opened in December 2007, and I strongly suggest that people who wish to help in St. Petersburg ignore the people with signs and go out there and give your money or get involved serving dinners. Especially if you have a spare $400 like the one lady mentioned in the story. With that, I could prepare and serve a dinner for 200 people at Pinellas Hope. As it is now, in order to do a dinner we sell donated items at a yard sale to make the money to buy the food. I guess it would be less work than a sale to stand on a corner (if we chose the right corner) with a sign.

Wake up, citizens of St. Petersburg. You're encouraging "panhandling" to continue and even grow in popularity.

Bonnie Parr, St. Petersburg

The truth is flexible | July 6, story

Donations encourage the undeserving

Your article outlining the art of panhandling will hopefully expose to the supporters of this "occupation" that giving a dollar to someone holding a cardboard sign is not necessarily helping the homeless. More than likely, the act of kindness suggested by offering a dollar through a lowered car window will benefit an undeserving individual who's sad expression, dirty clothing and tale of woe printed on cardboard were carefully designed for sympathy, not honesty.

There was a time when begging on the street was a last ditch act of desperation. It was what one might do in lieu of watching his family starve to death. Few people kind enough to donate cash at an intersection are aware of the fact that sign-wielding panhandlers have turned this once-desperate act into tiny tax-free business franchises. A donation once believed to stave off starvation now helps men and women buy beer in between incarcerations.

Donating to these sign-holders does nothing but encourage more cardboard sign franchises to pop up nearby. This used to be a rare sight here in Pinellas, but now these con artists are everywhere. It's an occupation that requires no investment or skill, merely a lack of pride or self-worth. As long as these people keep making good money for looking pathetic, more and more of them will be popping up at new street corners in more neighborhoods.

There's nothing wrong with helping the less fortunate. The problem is that giving some people money instead of actual sustenance does them more harm than good. Want to help the guy on the street? Call a shelter or food bank and ask them where your money is best spent.

David Fraser, Clearwater

The truth is flexible | July 6, story

There's a better way

The sad thing about contributing to panhandlers is that the same amount of money could do so much more if contributed to a legitimate charity which would:

1. Make sure the recipient is truly in need.

2. Provide food, medicines, shelter, utilities and other needs, not beer.

3. And, in some cases, could help set the needy on the way to earning a living and supporting themselves, not just fund indefinite neediness and homelessness.

John Royse, St. Petersburg

The truth is flexible | July 6, story

Stop the beggars

This article only confirms what I knew all along. Outlaw panhandling! This scam should never have gone on this long. How can someone read this article and still want to help manipulators? They admit they use any means possible. Wheelchair or cane? Use military jargon because it gives you credibility and look sad? Parade your limping dog? Vary the signs you hold?

This is downright obscene. They are admittedly ex-cons, drug users and alcoholics. And they are proud of it. When will this be stopped? I refuse to give any of my hard-earned income to anyone who isn't looking to work, and these panhandlers in this article admit they prefer to beg from us rather than find a "regular" job. It's time someone finally made the decision to end this practice. Get them out of our beautiful area. Give us back our Florida. They do not belong here!

Dana Clock, Pinellas Park

Church plan for homeless merits support | July 6, editorial

Neighbors in need

Thank you for seeing the value in helping our homeless neighbors and for supporting the use of the diocese's land on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa to provide needed shelter. The Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County applauds Catholic Charities' initiative and passion to help expand needed services.

We agree with the Times' editorial that the proposed project by Catholic Charities is not a perfect plan, however the location is not one of the reasons. The presence of homeless services do not in and of themselves add "visual blight and depress the potential to attract industry to the area." Nor do they automatically lower property values or increase crime. There are examples throughout the nation where the addition of a homeless service organization in a community has done just the opposite of the usual NIMBY arguments.

Much has been said by the opposition about "the homeless" who will be staying at Hillsborough Cares. Yet, despite the facts and evidence to the contrary, the stereotype that all homeless people are lazy, addicted to alcohol and drugs, mentally ill, criminals who have been homeless for years because they want to be homeless is what's been described. The facts tell us that 65 percent have been homeless for less than one year and 41 percent are experiencing homelessness for the first time. Eighty-one percent do not have a substance abuse issue; 63 percent do not have a mental illness.

While the use of tents is not supported by the Homeless Coalition, its members or other leaders in the community, the project can with some adjustments comply with housing standards and help our homeless neighbors find their way off the street. We stand ready to help enhance the partnerships and plans needed to make Hillsborough Cares a reality.

We ask our Hillsborough County commissioners use this opportunity to step up, not just to meet some portion of the comprehensive plan, but rather to set the example that we, as a compassionate and caring community, have a responsibility to help our neighbors in need — including our homeless neighbors.

Rayme L. Nuckles, CEO, Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, Tampa

That '30s show | July 6, Paul Krugman column

Krugman logic

Once again you have presented Paul Krugman, singing that same tired old song about how Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal didn't work only because the country did not go deep enough into debt to spend our way out of the Depression. His philosophy seems to be if it isn't working throw more and more money at the problem. Of course, that is money that we do not have.

In the current economic problem, Krugman describes any opposition to further stimulus plans as being "unconstrained by facts or logic." Of course those are facts according to Krugman, and logic according to socialist philosophy.

Then he continues this theme by proclaiming that, "It has been a rude shock to see so many economists with good reputations recycling old fallacies." Obviously, a fallacy is any opinion that is contrary to his.

F. Darrell Thomas, Trinity

Same old complaints

The whiners in the media and the fading ranks of GOP activists are complaining about the House of Representatives passing legislation to cap air and water pollution. They trot out the old claim that emission caps will bog down the economy and hamper our ability to climb out of the Bush recession.

It's the same hogwash we heard when George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990. The additional costs would put all our small companies out of business. The same claim was made when Bill Clinton attacked the deficit in 1992 with some tax rate adjustments. Somehow the business community survived, and actually prospered, with record growth through the 1990s.

Almost all scientists agree that we need to get serious about the environment and about carbon emissions. There is only one Earth. The question for Republicans who want to do nothing is this: What planet are we all going to move to if the scientists are right and the stubborn politicians are wrong? And how are we going to get there?

Scott Cochran, Tampa

Giving to panhandlers is no way to help 07/07/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 9:11pm]

    

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