by Jay Monaco
Rita Mercier, noted Donald Trump supporter, city council member who received the most overall votes across the city of Lowell in the last several elections, says that panhandlers are like ducks and we should stop feeding them. While it may not be uncommon, in the year 2016, for the disadvantaged to be stripped of their humanity, it is rarely done so cruelly or brazenly.
Council Member Rita is not alone.
If you haven’t heard already, the Lowell Sun reported last week that the elected legislative body of the City of Lowell has determined that of all the pressing, complex, daunting issues that face the city and nation, the number one thing, the big challenge of our time, is people asking other people for money. The greatest danger we must face together, is the fact that some people ask other people to give them money that they can use for things. Your spouses, your children, your families – none of them are safe. In time, they too may be asked for money.
Bravely, the august deliberative body took action several years ago to protect the citizenry from this existential threat, passing a law banning panhandling altogether in the downtown area. But then a cruel Yankee judge said that law was actually illegal and that it’s okay to ask people to give you money, putting all our lives at risk. Now, many cities and towns, upon being told by a federal judge to stop picking on poor people, would just give up. They’d surrender, they’d compromise. They’d stop picking on poor people, or at least pick on them less.
Not the brave city council of Lowell. They took a vow of responsibility to the public and they will not rest until we are safe from putting money in Styrofoam cups. They’ve formed a committee dedicated to figuring out how to solve the problem of being told not to pick on poor people.
The MENSA wunderkind responsible for this special committee is Councilman Bill Samaras, but it was Mayor Ed Kennedy who dropped the bigger bomb when he dramatically uncovered his unbeatable solution to the epidemic. If the city wasn’t allowed to say that people who ask other people for money are criminals, they should instead declare that people who give money to other people are criminals. Reportedly, several members of the public watching from the gallery said their lives were changed by witnessing the public introduction of such a groundbreaking legal innovation.
Councilman Rodney Elliott agreed and was quoted by the Sun as saying “Let’s find ways we can regulate what is permissible and what is not,” which is complex Ivy League lawyer jargon that translates roughly to, “The federal government told us what we’re not allowed to do, but let’s find ways to do it anyway.”
The Sun‘s rough and tumble investigative team followed the story up with an additional report later last week revealing in an act of sheer fairness and balance the other side to this compelling story. It turns out that many ordinary people are also assholes, not just members of the City Council. As a result of this reporting effort, some are calling on those who claim our society has no unifying culture to eat their words.
The reality is that many people who drive cars are very concerned that the people who ask them for money might have a home or eat more than two meals a week. There are also grave concerns that destitute people asking for money might be stressed and depressed and want a cigarette or a beer, the implication being that cigarettes and beer are reserved only for the stressed and depressed people who already have jobs and homes and cars. Those greedily taking advantage of the opportunity to humiliate themselves by asking strangers to give them money are bound by Holy Writ to spend their time frowning and repenting and learning to understand that the people who have jobs and homes and cars – the ones allowed to drink and smoke – think society is fair and just, and this means that it is.
Some average folks featured in the above article suggest a darker truth – that those who cleverly act poor and walk exposed in the elements asking people for money all day might be making more money than the rest of us decent folk. These pampered “beggars” are getting away with it! We’re stuck working and living in houses and they’re actually getting away with having no place to live and no job and just asking for money. It isn’t fair. We all could do that if we wanted, but instead we choose the high road, using our privilege and luck to live in houses and get paychecks. We are, clearly, the Good People.
*&^*&$#Q@#($)#&^^////// OK that was almost fun but I can’t keep this up any longer.
STOP PICKING ON SOCIETY’S MOST VULNERABLE PEOPLE. THAT MAKES YOU A BAD PERSON.
How insecure do you have to be to worry that a panhandler might be getting one over on you and the Honest Folks with that dollar you didn’t give him? If someone asks you for money, what the hell do you care what it’s for? Do you wish to enforce some kind of earmarking for the $1 non-profit donation you just made?
And don’t even get me started on the fact that so many of you call yourselves “Christians.” Do you know what’s in those Gospels?
In both Sun pieces, and some other ones I didn’t even bother linking to because it’s all the same garbage, everyone from the mayor to randos in the street describe panhandling, again and again, as “a problem, a major problem, a holy moly think of our children problem.” Panhandling? What kind of drug do you have to be on to perceive that the problem is the poor people asking for money and not the fact that some people have more than they could ever possibly need while others are denied jobs and apartments and have no other way to get money than asking random strangers for it? How does anyone possibly get high enough to see panhandling as a random act against society, as if all of us were born with a feral urge to ask strangers for cash money and the good folk manage to overcome those urges with virtue and playing by the rules?
If you want to talk about a problem, ask yourself what really causes people to have to beg for money.
As for outside-the-box solutions? Well, we could always expropriate the personal property of the City Council members and distribute it evenly among the panhandlers. Then they wouldn’t have to ask for money anymore.