Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Answer To Our Panhandling Problem?


Rockdale, a suburb of Sydney, was having a problem with loiterers in a local park. So officials decided something must be done to drive them away.

Their solution? Play songs by Barry Manilow and Doris Day. Loudly. At all hours.

Residents near the park aren't too thrilled with having to listen to songs like "Copacabana," "Could It Be Magic?" and "Que Sera Sera" all the time.

The city is turning down the volume a little and reviewing the playlist.


Anonymous said...

It wouldn't bother me. I love Barry Manilow (though Copa is my least favorite of his songs) AND Doris Day!

mike said...

Sue the City government for creating a public nuisance! That'll teach 'em.

Seriously, there's good structural reasons for the appearance of panhandlers and grifters in high-density urban areas. The very density that folks like SMC find desirable is what makes sustainable the lives of panhandlers, etc. And if you have a system that rewards high achievers in life, then you'll also have "failures" down at the bottom.

Penalising them for congregating in the environment that makes their lives possible is akin to penalising deer for coming to the creek. The closest thing to a "solution" is to strengthen and invest in social programs (either religious, civic or governmental) that do outreach and redirection, support and improvement. Even then you'll still have panhandlers, etc., but you'll have fewer and the public will be less enabling since there will be options other than giving them money in order to survive.

But things like that take time and money. And they don't always work to the satisfaction of some. So, yeah, get the cops to do the dirty work. Cheaper and easier, faster results. I suspect what is in some folks' hearts is seeing panhandlers punished for being bad people. Maybe beat them with clubs, to reinforce the message? That'll teach 'em.