Sunday, July 27, 2008

Panhandling Columbia Style Part 3

The construction of the pedestrian crossings at Route 175 and Dobbin Road has given motorists a brief respite from the institutionalized panhandling that has become common at this intersection. On most days, legions of reflective vest wearing people with white buckets have worked the captive audience of vehicles stuck at the intersection. The charity they purport to represent does not appear to be based in Howard County.

It must be a very lucrative spot for them since they keep returning.

Now there is even some competition. In the past few weeks two women have also appeared holding up cardboard signs bemoaning their fate (no job, no money for rent, three kids, etc.) as they work the line of vehicles stopped for the traffic lights. Since these women show up everyday I wondered what they did with those hungry kids and how much time are they devoting to finding real work. My sense is that they have determined that this panhandling is rather lucrative.

Since my office is on Dobbin Road, I regularly encounter these panhandlers in my daily travels. Though I initially tossed a buck or two into the white buckets, I have grown increasingly cynical as time has gone by.

One thought that occured to me as I sat at the light watching them work the cars was the irony of the county ban on roadside selling that went into effect a few years ago. Apparently it is okay to beg for money on the streets but it’s not okay to sell produce.


Anonymous said...

I vaguely recall Ulman's initial contribution to the council seat was to ban street vendors. Not very 'green' for many reasons. We need more local produce stands, not less.

Regarding the women showing up daily - maybe provide them with the help wanted ads when giving a few dollars.

Freemarket said...

Anon 8:15- what evidence do you have that local produce is more "green" than any other produce?

Are you suggesting that we could, for example, raise oranges in Howard County in a less environmentally intensive way than growing them in Florida and shipping them to Maryland?

Anonymous said...

We import many items we grow right here, for goodness sake. Your question is ridiculous regarding the specific example of importing tomatoes from Mexico rather than eating our home grown.

If we can grow it here, we should have easier access to the produce here and street vendors is one way. If I need to complete that thought with an explanation of trucking impacts on gas, highways, environment, then I have to respond that you can lead a horse to water...

(readers: don't threaten FM's access to oranges)