Policy: Entitlements

Deceptive 'advocates' don't help the homeless

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Gregory Kane,Columnists,Entitlements,Analysis,Welfare

Frankly, I’m outraged at their outrage.

That would be those so-called “advocates” for Baltimore’s homeless, who are now in a fit of near-hysteria over a city council bill designed to curb gratuitous panhandling.

These “advocates” are totally out of touch with reality, save for the reality they’ve constructed for that alternate universe they spend way too much time in. And what better way to show how out of touch they are than to use their own words?

According to news stories, Tony Simmons is one of those “homeless” persons. Here’s what he told a Baltimore television station:

“This bill is not designed to protect us. They want to protect us? All they have to do is house us. HUD’s position is that the housing-first method is proven to work.”

So is the get-a-job-establish-credit-then-rent-or-buy-a-home method, but I doubt Simmons is familiar with it.

In the world of the “advocates” for the homeless, it’s not the responsibility of the homeless to house themselves. That’s the government’s job. (Notice how quick Simmons was to invoke HUD.)

Simmons has a disease I call “entitlement-itis.” When people are afflicted with this disease, they believe they are entitled to anything and everything, and that taxpayers should provide anything and everything for them.

Those afflicted with entitlement-itis tend to see themselves as victims, and we all know victims are never responsible for their condition, right? (I wonder if Simmons has linked his disease to the fact that he’s homeless.)

Simmons claimed the proposed bill is “an attack on the city’s homeless and nothing else,” according to a story on Baltimore TV station WBAL. Rachel Kutler of the group Housing Our Neighbors would agree with him.

"This bill only criminalizes people who are sleeping on the street as opposed to getting at the root of the problem, which is housing folks,” Kutler said, according to WBAL.

A memo to Kutler and Simmons: I was born at night. But for heaven’s sake, it wasn’t last night.

For Kutler and Simmons, this is a simple story of victims — the homeless, the good guys — vs. the bad guys — those heartless elected officials who want to limit their public begging.

But Kutler and Simmons know, perhaps better than the rest of us, this truth: Not all of the homeless panhandle, and not all panhandlers are homeless.

I could say it’s disingenuous of Kutler and Simmons to imply otherwise, but I’m cutting right to the chase here: They’re lying through their teeth, and they know it.

As I said, I was born at night, but not last night. I’ve seen homeless people on the street. Many have all their earthly possessions with them.

Very seldom has one of these genuinely homeless people come up to me and asked for even a penny.

Panhandlers, on the other hand, are a different animal.

They’ll stalk you at gas stations, lie in wait for you outside of restaurants and just happen to show up when you’re making that withdrawal from an ATM.

Oh, these panhandlers will play the homeless card, holding up their “Homeless, please help” signs at busy intersections and lane dividers throughout the city.

But my guess is that once they’ve collected their take for the day, they retire to better digs than you or I live in.

The proposed bill would make it illegal for panhandlers to go traipsing out into an intersection to beg for money. That is, Simmons’ self-righteous posturing and objections notwithstanding, a public safety issue.

It is a law that would protect those that don’t have the common sense to protect themselves.

Gregory Kane, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.
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