Comments about ‘In our opinion: Cities vs. panhandlers: People asking for money is hurting businesses’

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Published: Friday, Nov. 29 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Taylorsville, 00

One thing I'd seen in a small Colorado town was the town operating a recycling center that employed the mentally and physically disabled, or even just down and out. By itself, this wouldn't address Salt Lake City's issues, but multiple things like this, and having them well known, would be one thing that could be done to help with panhandling.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The greatest force against the Free Market comes from the existing businesses.

The small businessmen, who are mostly forced to operate a business of Begging, should have all the help and benefits accorded other small businessmen.

Society and their government have the right and the authority to regulate and control business operations within its venue. But society and their government should apply the same standards to all businesses and not block some small businesses just because the small business might compete with other business.

Nor can the existing businesses use the argument that the unpleasant presence of annoying people be used to discriminate against them. For the most part the existing businesses are the greatest annoyance of our world by their uninvited invasion of our personal world by their billboards, advertising and commercializing of holidays and phones and media and …

The ever present propaganda about helping poor people through proper, approved and authorized charity while we are also bombarded with the negative stories to make us hate the beggars makes me believe that charities may have more ulterior motives than we know of.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

I heard that you need a license for a kid to sell lemonade. I figure that someone wants to make a dollar any way they can.

clearfield, UT

Nice idea for some, but that requires people to actually "work" at something instead of just panhandling. And I'd bet many of those panhandlers make more money than they would working at a recycling center.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Remember, panhandling is free enterprise at its ultimate state. No regulation, no taxes, no permits, no safety compliance issues, no nothing, but an unreported, untraceable cash income. And, they get to keep all the freebies- welfare, food stamps, medicaid, shelter living and meals.

If these folks put as much effort into a "real job" they would probably take home less money.

Salt Lake City, UT

"Some panhandlers make a living off of begging and misrepresent themselves."


Yeah, "some....misrepresent themselves", as in a sizable majority, probably exceeding 80%.

I grew up in a part of SLC that was and even more so now considered the "poor" part of town. I personally knew many other families who, like ourselves, were always on the hairy edge of being completely destitute. Yet, for everyone, the thought of actually **begging** rather than doing ANYTHING to earn some money, however meager, was completely unthinkable.

Consequently, from the time I was about 9-10 I've had a variety of janitorial, farm, construction, yard work, jobs to earn whatever I could to contribute to our family's income. It was sometimes hard to find a job, but there was always something if I was willing to condescend to what were often some pretty humbling/strenuous requirements.

I have no sympathy for someone who is capable of earning **something** at one of the many menial labor type jobs that are always available, and of which I've had dozens over the years, but who would rather stand/sit on a median or curb with some sign begging for handouts. They simply don't deserve it.

Salt Lake City, UT

This is great, you all have this massive mistrust of poor people while simultaneously believing that we can cut the welfare state and it'd be replaced by private donations. As if people would multiply their charitable giving to people they have negative views of. Hah.

Sego Lilly
Salt Lake City, UT

I wish that "regular" panhandler on the north side of Temple Square would find another place to beg. She is a professional.

Orem, UT

atl134: "..you all have this massive mistrust of poor people.."

No, we have massive mistrust in lazy scam artists who now make up an increasing percentage of those "poor people".

Americans in general are very generous when it comes to giving time and money to really help someone who has fallen on hard times and is willing to meet you halfway. It only helps to "teach a man to fish" if he is willing to pick up the fishing pole.

What is ruining it for everyone is professional panhandlers and welfare queens who expect money to flow their way with zero effort on their part. It has gotten so bad that too many people on the dole actually make more than the hard working individual who is sometimes forced to contribute to them.

clearfield, UT


Has it ever occured to you that it is partly BECAUSE of this massive welfare state that the non working people continue to not work? I've heard it said that if people take advantage of all the government funded social programs available they can make as much or more money, and benefits, than if they bothered to actually work and get a W2 at the end of the year.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Because we all know that "Business" is more important than "People".

And we wonder why Utah is so Republican.

Stalwart Sentinel
San Jose, CA

samhill - Justify all you want. The only 80% of people that misrepresent themselves in Utah are the ones who claim to be good members of the LDS Church and pretend to follow it's precepts... then make excuses for their inaction and refusal to help our downtrodden brothers and sisters.

I know of a scriptural reference wherein Christ turned away a young, rich man. Please, educate me on the times He turned away the poor for their "misrepresentation".

Brer Rabbit
Spanish Fork, UT

I choose to not enable bad behavior, and I don't mean the bad behavior of panhandling, I mean alcohol and drug abuse. There is support for those down on their luck, or having a real bad time. I prefer to give to the shelters, food kitchens, and those organizations that are trying to help.

Panhandling operates on the same system of supply and demand as any business. Take away the enablers that give to money to the chronic panhandlers that you see in the same spot every day and the panhandlers will leave. As the cold months approach we will see fewer & fewer panhandlers.

I doubt that the recession has anything to do with the large increase of panhandlers in Utah. Utah unemployment is low by national standards. There also has been substantial increases in support services for the chronic homeless, but drug and alcohol abuse has overwhelmed these services. They are unable to help those that are not willing to accept help in over coming their addictions. Tossing a few bucks to panhandlers only feeds the addiction beast. Not every panhandler is addicted, perhaps 5-10 percent are not, but addicts make it worse for them.

payson, utah

or we could just have the government do what they do best. Regulate it to death. Make them have to get a business license, take CE classes, have to get license to the department of panhandling. Make them have to carry liability insurance. Make them have to pay their quarterly taxes and keep records of their transactions going back 10 years.

Salt Lake City, UT

I wonder what King Benjamin would think of this editorial and the comments above? I say that sincerely, not rhetorically or with any malice.

Obviously, many who read this newspaper do not know who King Benjamin is. But, many do. For those who study the Book of Mormon, someone please read the fourth chapter of Mosiah and tell us how we can best liken that scripture unto us when it comes to beggars and begging.

I suppose verse 27, which tells us to do things in wisdom and order, helps some readers head in the direction of giving to established social welfare programs, not individuals. But, the qualifiers in that verse aren't necessarily consistent with that reading and that direction is expressly contrary to most of the rest of the chapter and many, many other scriptures.

So, what to do with panhandlers on the street (especially near the temple?) is a conundrum--to say the very least.

Are we not all beggars?

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Everything said about individual beggars can also be applied to “charitable organizations”. Only thing is, we praise and reward organized charity and don’t hold it accountable for their charitable claims.

The very biggest of charitable organizations refuse to allow the public to see their financial dealings. And even those who do report to the public don’t show a true picture. Organized charity is a scam. Examples might include, the Arts, amusement parks, Aviaries, Zoos, recreation centers, and even political groups.

My pet peeve is the military active and veterans. Billions of dollars are being hauled in under the pretext of their poverty and undeserved praise while they live and enjoy a better life than many ordinary Americans.
To be fair, it is not the fault of the military people and veterans themselves. It is the legions of parasites who want to make a fast buck on the sympathy and respect that they drum up.

So if you think begging on the street is bad, consider that there are thousands of beggars who are just as bad and probably worse hiding behind closed doors of respectability.

Spears II
Oregon City, OR

I think the issue of panhandling is a very difficult problem for civil leaders. I really feel for cities trying to address this issue. As an aspiring economist, I recently conducted a field experiment to satisfy my own curiosity on just how much money panhandlers can make. I went undercover and and spent 80 hours panhandling at an exit ramp. My average hourly wage was considerably north of minimum wage ($8.90 an hour). I also collected interesting data on the people who donated. I wrote about my experiences in a book called Exit Ramp: A Short Case Study of the Profitability of Panhandling. I think any city dealing with this problem needs to acknowledge that there are both those who panhandle because of an inability to get steady employment (mental health issues), and those who panhandle because it is possible to earn good money doing it. Figuring out how to help the one and discourage the other is no easy task.

Huntsville, UT

"Poor people, begging, are hurting my SALES! Can you please make poor people go away?"

Money, money, money. It's all about the money.

Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, UT

That is your perception. For some, giving a dollar to a panhandler relieves them of the responsibility to support constructive assistance programs. In fact many have increased their donations to community shelters, recovery groups and organized help groups. In addition to providing temporal help, most of these organizations attempt to deal with substance addiction and other issues that keep people from financial and emotional independence. There is a significant difference between being an enabler and offering help.

Salt Lake City, UT

I have four guys who live in my apts downtown........2 are roofers and 2 are beggars......they all make the same income, and maintain the same standard of living. Weekends they party and drink beer and Monday they are all back to work. They all pay the same rent of $600 a month for one bedroom apts.

If people didn't give to the beggars, they would both be working an honest living just like most everyone else. But so long as people continue too enable them, they will continue to take advantage of the situation.

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