Social Question

cinnamonk's avatar

What is your reaction to this political advertisement I got in the mail?

Asked by cinnamonk (5397points) March 29th, 2017
28 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

Since moving to Madison, WI three years ago there has been a visible rise in the number of pandhandlers on median strips in my city. I have not decided what my feelings are about this issue. I’m not a fan, obviously, but I try to have empathy and reserve judgment, because I have no idea what series of misfortunes have led to these people being in their current situation. I’m aware that some panhandlers are scammers but I don’t think the majority are. I’m inclined to think that the majority of people who panhandle do so because they believe they don’t have any other choice, not because they woke up one morning and decided “I’m going to start being a leech on society!”

Recently my city passed an ordinance prohibiting this activity under the premise that it endangers drivers, which I find dubious. There have been no reported accidents due to panhandling.

Yesterday I received this political advertisement from some guy named Steve Fitzsimmons in the mail. On the front it features a picture of a panhandler (taken locally) and the message “Incumbent Ald. Cheeks voted to allow young, able bodied scammers to endanger safety on our busy streets”

Ok, wow, that’s quite a scathing accusation! How does this guy know that they’re able-bodied? and scamming? and endangering our streets? Already, I am feeling put off by this ad.

This was the message on the back. (My commentary is in brackets.)

Mayor Paul Soglin described the danger of the median stip scammers…“The vast, vast, vast majority are not homeless. They are NOT homeless…Studies have shown theyc an make between $40,000 and $80,000 a year if you get yourself a good corner. And…no one is filing taxes.” -2–6-2017 [What studies? Where and when were the studies? And what does that have to do with safety?]

Thankfully, the majority of city alders put public safety first. But not Ald. Cheeks – even though the ordinance that passed includes an education campaign and help finding real jobs. [Again, what does that have to do with safety?]

“Panhandlers should steer clear of roads” [Mayor Soglin’s] effort to stop young drifters from distracting drivers who should be watching the road deserves strong support from the public and City Council. -Wisconsin State Journal 8–10-16


I am a little grossed out by this. First, to take a potentially homeless person’s photo without their knowledge, assert without evidence that that person is a scammer, and then use their image without their consent to promote your political career, rubs me in just about all the wrong ways. Even if it’s true that the woman is a scammer (which I concede the possibility of) I’m about 9000% sure that this Fitzsimmons guy has no idea whether she is or not. I think that his statement that panhandlers “endanger safety on our busy streets” is really just contempt disguised as concern (it doesn’t help that he offers no proof for this claim, either). My gut feeling is that he finds panhandlers irritating, knows that other people also find them irritating, and is eager to leverage their irritation to make it so he doesn’t have to look at them anymore. I don’t know anything about this guy beyond his feelings about panhandlers, but I suspect that I would feel “put off” by him on a lot of other issues.

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Dutchess_III's avatar

Man. I would steer clear of this guy. He’s a fear monger. He’s following in Trump’s footsteps by spreading fake news. In fact, I’d send him an email telling him how tasteless and misleading you found that ad to be. I’d put it on his Facebook page. If I had the money, I’d take out an ad in the local paper.
I read something once that often times people become successful by creating non-existent “threats,” then gain support by promising to save you from those “threats.”

cinnamonk's avatar

tasteless. That’s the word I was looking for!

I like your idea. I’ll see if he has a Facebook page.

Edit: he does not appear to have a facebook page, but he does have his own website with contact information.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m right behind you! Send a link!

Mariah's avatar

Yuck. Let’s shit on society’s most unfortunate, why don’t we.

cinnamonk's avatar

@Mariah it’s an American pastime.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I don’t think anyone should be in the median doing anything on a regular basis. It is distracting for drivers and dangerous for those hanging out on the medians.

Side bar: My friends in New Orleans call the median the “neutral ground.” I have laughed about that for many years. There is a good historical reason but it is still funny to hear.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You have a point @MollyMcGuire, but what was THEIR point in making such snarky, hateful claims about them that they don’t even know are true?

stanleybmanly's avatar

There are those among us who would prefer not being reminded that there are struggling folks in their neighborhood. It isn’t the fact that the panhandlers are begging so much as “I’m forced to see them”. The unspoken argument goes “Don’t THOSE people have any shame?” How can they prefer the shame of public begging to simply hiding their suffering from the rest of us.

cinnamonk's avatar

@MollyMcGuire I agree with you that the median should not be used as a hang-out spot.

@stanleybmanly those are my feelings exactly.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Out here, there is a growing trend of beggars hanging out at the exits from the drive through windows at fast food restaurants, the exit doors from supermarkets, and any establishment likely to have customers leaving with newly acquired pocket change.

zenvelo's avatar

Calling panhandlers “scammers” is an extension of an urban myth about beggars that is so ingrained that a Sherlock Holmes story was written about it.

But the truth is far from attractive:

In San Francisco’s Union Square, the typical panhandler is a disabled middle-aged single male who is a racial minority and makes less than $25 per day despite panhandling seven days a week for more than five years. Though Stossel was insistent that panhandlers just use the money for beer and pot, the majority of those surveyed did not. In fact, 94 percent used the meager funds they raised for food.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@Dutchess_III They most likely think the panhandler distracts from the attractiveness of the area. I don’t disagree. But, that needn’t come into play here. No one should be in the median. There are plenty of places to beg that is safe for the beg
gar. It’s become an occupation for some. I pretty much ignore all of them now.

cinnamonk's avatar

I am also curious as to how someone can be simultaneously a “drifter” and not homeless. Isn’t a drifter homeless by definition?

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@cinnamonk No. Drifter doesn’t even mean poor or broke. Anyone who drifts from place to place s a drifter. He may stay in Holiday Inns each night or rent funished apts as he travels.

Zaku's avatar

People who vilify the poor are down there with bullies and racists on my scale of people I think should be removed from society and reeducated.

Response moderated
RedDeerGuy1's avatar

In Edmonton an aggressive pan handler makes $400 per day and lives in a penthouse suite next to the city hall downtown. Sorry for the writing standards in the previous quip. LURVE. Lurve for the poor.

zenvelo's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 That Edmonton Police Inspector passed on unsubstantiated gossip. Why didn’t he call him out by name?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@zenvelo It was on the local tv news 20 years ago. They reported that a beggar was making over $100,000 a year panhandling. At $20 a pop twenty times a day (with weekends off ). I don’t know the panhandlers name. I met the man in front of the main library. he was 6’7” 250 lbs and indigenous status. I told him my life story and he gave me $20.

zenvelo's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 It was in the news because a police inspector said it at a hearing on a panhandling law.

SergeantQueen's avatar

It’s almost like click bait but in the form of a letter. They print big text, hateful words. All to get people’s attention. People probably believe things sent through mail than they do over things they see online. I think it’s terrible he used someone else’s picture also. S/he might have been just picking up the signs. Didn’t look homeless to me
also, hello fellow Wisconsinite

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@zenvelo O.K. thanks I didn’t think that anyone remembered the story.

cinnamonk's avatar

I really want to know where this $40,000—$80,000 figure comes from but I can’t find any “studies” that support this claim.

Patty_Melt's avatar

FRICK THE POOR! We give them free fluoride in their water; what the hell else do they want? If they are going to hang out on useless little plots of ground, they should plant some damn seeds and grow their own fricken’ food. They are great at dumpster diving. They could build a still and make their own booze.
Okay, really, the ad sounds obtuse, and the guy should be slapped.

cazzie's avatar

He’s a moron and wouldn’t get my vote. He claims they aren’t homeless and then calls them ‘drifters’. I don’t want any politician to see a problem and try to leverage that problem in this way. I want a politician who sees a problem and tries to find an actual solution for it. ‘Moving them along’ is not a solution to the problem.

cinnamonk's avatar

Funny, when you search for “panhandlers earn $80,000 a year” one of the top results you get is the article @zenvelo excerpted from.

This guy must live in some sort of alternative reality.

cinnamonk's avatar

Just wanted to report the results of yesterday’s election for all curious:

Mo Cheeks (Incumbent): 84%
Steve: 16%


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