Give To The Homeless, Commit a Crime?

March 16th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

A councilman in Texas wants to make it a crime to give money to homeless people on city streets.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

A television station in San Antonio, Texas, recently reported that a local councilman wants to make it a crime to give money to a beggar or homeless person on city streets. Those who open their wallets would be fined. 

"If there's no money for the panhandlers, the panhandlers will go away," said Councilman John Clamp. 

 But some residents say what will go away is their right to give. “I think it is absolutely ludicrous to ticket someone for wanting to help out another human being,” one person commented online. “To me, that is the same as punishing someone for wanting to do the right thing.” Another wrote, “Whenever I am tempted to pass judgment over these people I ask myself how desperate would I have to be and how far would I have to fall before I would beg? Then I hand them a dollar and get on with my day.” 

“You are all missing the point,” wrote another resident who said giving cash to “bums” was ill advised. “I used to give them money,” the writer continued, “until I started seeing them in the park drinking and smoking crack!” San Antonio Express-News columnist Victor Landa, however, questioned the practicality of the proposed law by asking, “Whose responsibility is it to be the street-level charity police?” 

Tell us what you think: Should it be a crime to give money to someone on the street?