Letter: Embrace panhandling | PostIndependent.com
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Letter: Embrace panhandling

Eric Olander
Glenwood Springs

My solution to the panhandling problem is to legalize it as a business enterprise. These people are in fact there to sell you something: an opportunity to pity someone. I know because I’ve been there and done that. Hitchhiked around with the sign-flying crowd. It’s a perverse form of busking. Playing the sad-faced clown.

Granted, there are some who engage in this form of employment because they are broken down to a point where they are unemployable in any other job. Especially unskilled labor. Most do it because its a quick buck and tax free, so turning it into a legitimate business opportunity with licensing would eliminate much of the problem.

Allow a few days for those passing through, then inform squatters we require buskers to be licensed.

This would also organize the bridge entertainers into a better product serving the community. In fact the buskers themselves could be constructed into a nonprofit and create regular performance opportunities for musicians, much as they’ve done in Seattle’s Pike Street Market decades ago. They could access those whose panhandling is actually the only job they are able to do and create a community-sanctioned oasis for these people who are presently being put out of business by the drifters.

Embrace it as a given. Make it into an asset rather than grumble about it year after year; summer season after summer season. Go to any metropolitan area and you’ll see panhandling is here to stay. Unless we treat it as legitimate micro-business.


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