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Criminalizing poverty: During economic crisis, new laws crack down on America's poor, homeless

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  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 13, 2011 11:23 a.m.

    We need changes in some of our icons to reflect our changing attitudes.
    Lady of Liberty
    2)Change from:
    "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
    To:
    Give me your elite, your wealthiest, your brightest, the rest of you: Go to the nearest eugenics clinic for further directions.

  • TheRealBigDaddy MAGNA, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 11:46 a.m.

    @FDRfan, I am confused.

    Are you a fan of FDR? Because didn't FDR order the illegal detention of Japanese Americans and confiscation of their property? Wouldn't that be counter to what you are believing in?

    I would agree that we have an elitist problem here in America, however, it is not, nor should it be, the governments problem to take care of anyone. Freedom has a price, and that price is self sufficiency.

    With freedom, also comes personal responsibility. That means that you take care of yourself first, your family second, your friends, third, your community fourth, and your country fifth and last.

    In all of that, Charity is paramount, and that comes in the form of friends, then community. After you have taken care of yourself and your family, then you must do what you can to help friends and community.

    If we decide that country comes first, in that the government has the responsibility first to take care of everyone, we lose our freedoms as we become slaves to our government for this perverted form of charity.

    The US is the most charitable country in the world. Let's keep it that way.

  • Wyomex Burlington, WY
    Aug. 13, 2011 11:53 a.m.

    Good point FDRfan. That wonderful philosophy at the base of the Statue of Liberty doesn't seem to have much relevance anymore to the political rhetoric of the day, including poverty, mental health, immigration, prison and tax policies.

    Empthy, it has been said, is the next highest law to charity - the pure love of Christ. Unfortunately, we have little of either. Too often caring, sharing and burden bearing (or the lack thereof) are both institutionalized and legislated.

  • wordjems HINCKLEY, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 11:54 a.m.

    The lawmakers better be careful, for one day they may be homeless!

  • Digbads South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 12:07 p.m.

    They should have also mentioned public urination laws, where the indigent and homeless can make it to the sex offender list because they have no private place to urinate.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    Re: "Criminalizing Poverty"

    C'mon!

    There is no such thing as criminal poverty. And everyone at DN knows it. Yet we see a headline proclaiming this socialist "community organizing" blather as if there were actually some substance to it.

    This is so typically indicative of liberal disdain and disrespect for poor Americans, the writer should be ashamed. To suggest that the poor do not have the capability of conforming their conduct to the requirements of the law is to establish them on some rung of the ladder below humanity. It demeans both them and our Nation of Laws.

    If writers want to advocate increased benefits for the poor -- do so. But do it honestly, objectively, decently.

    Articles like this one simply prove the socialist bias of the "mainstream" media.

  • SnowCanyonDad SANTA CLARA, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    Everybody, and I mean everybody, should be very careful of whom fingers get pointed. For one day in the blink of an eye or a beat of a heart, you could be homeless, literally. No family to lean on, nor church, nor community. They only thing you will have to rely on is your self sufficiency. A novel idea lawmakers don't grasp. Where will the lawmakers and the greedy go to get fed and sheltered? From those who have and are living on the streets, and know how to survive. Lawmakers and the greedy are living, the rest of us are surviving. Survivors will survive, the living will perish.

  • Clarissa Layton, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 12:33 p.m.

    Agree with part of this article, but not all of it. I do think that we should help the poor, but I do believe in drug testing if you are getting government help. Hopefully, it would discourage drug dependency. I know that many drug addicts use their welfare checks to get money.

  • rok San Diego, CA
    Aug. 13, 2011 12:35 p.m.

    What a terrible and misleading headline.

  • Thunderbird Boise, ID
    Aug. 13, 2011 12:52 p.m.

    So many of the homeless and drug addicted are veterans. We send our sons and daughters to enforce our foreign policy and so many come home physically and/or emotionally destroyed. And then we criminalize those whom we have neglected. Is it cheaper to house them in jails then to provide assistance? So many raise the "personal responsibility" banner but refuse to be responsible for those who serve the policies they support.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 12:53 p.m.

    procuradorfiscal,

    Did you read the artcle?

    "Since 2006, there's been a 7 percent increase in laws prohibiting camping out in public places" and "a 6 percent increase in laws prohibiting begging and a 5 percent increase in laws prohibiting aggressive panhandling"

    You said, "There is no such thing" and I say, yup... well at least the rest of us see the Elephant in the room.

    -------

    Begging for money isn't protected speech under the first amendment? That's a problem by itself.

    Is there a way out? Yes. Is enough of the right form of assistance readily available and widely known? No.

    There are clear problems with this issue, however illegalizing things in this regard is a counter-intuitive approach. Not only does it neglect any attempt to do something productive about this issue, it belongs in a category of human treatment that I will never support. There are those today who feel that people of 'filth' (as they view it anyway) don't belong around everyone else. I can understand the mentality in one very slim way- sometimes peace requires separation. But with homelessness? No. With unjustified force, mistreatment, no aid? Such things are simply wrong, evil, immoral, and illogical.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    Aug. 13, 2011 12:58 p.m.

    This country has gone through such a change in the last few years, many of us no longer even recognize it.
    What has happened to it is sick and wrong. It's every rich man for himself.

  • Nosea Forest Grove, OR
    Aug. 13, 2011 1:18 p.m.

    While I make in the six figures, I remember reading this book by Barbara years ago, and I am intelligent enough to understand and acknowledge that the poor now-days are getting a very raw deal. As Isaiah prophesied, the rich "do grind upon the face of the poor," especially after the financial collapse (which ironically the poor had very little say in, and rich in fact instigated). I would recommend this book to any who are so easily duped by trite talking points so fashionable in today's rhetoric and diatribe. "Nickeled and Dimed" is an insightful look into just how unjust our economy is, and how difficult the burdens of poor are. No wonder the scriptures also warn of quickly approaching day when only the "poor of my people will trust in Zion," Zion being the ultimate "socialistic, liberal" program ever devised to care for the poor. It will be interesting to see these prophecies fulfilled, in the face of so rampant and strong countervailing opinion of our day. I do feel to plead the cause of the poor -- ironically, those most opposed are often those only a pay check away from the streets themselves (clueless).

  • Linus Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 1:23 p.m.

    I am saddened to see class warfare reflected in these comments. The political climate in our great country is fostering this class resentment. The rioters in England reveal the disdain young Brits have for the propertied and business class. They are the product of Socialism, and are nothing more than spoiled, cradle-to-grave-entitlement-addicted hoodlums wanting their fair share of other people's property.

  • Sego Lilly Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 1:56 p.m.

    to:Linus | 1:23 p.m

    personally I'm waiting for the LDS church leaders to ask the members to live the law of consecration(sp)

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Aug. 13, 2011 1:57 p.m.

    Hillary Clinton, in true liberal fashion, proposed that what America needs is a federal Department of Poverty. That, she claims, will end poverty in our nation. Um...wasnt the creation of the federal Department of Education going to end our nations education ills?

    When will we realize that problems (like the two above) are best solved at the local level, where the most impact is felt? Theyre best solved by the individuals/families/groups that have the most skin in the game.

    Principles of economics teach us that money is best spent by him/her whose labor is traded to earn it. He/she is the one who cares most that that money is spent on the best/highest use.

    Our bloated, off-track federal government is headed for a crash, which, I hope, will cause us all to re-evaluate our current system, and to start anew.

  • BobP Port Alice, B.C.
    Aug. 13, 2011 2:29 p.m.

    I have never in my life, nor will I ever, pass a street beggar without giving money.

    There but for the grace of God go I.

  • pharmacist South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 2:58 p.m.

    Ineresting that ACLU claims it wrong for the poor to sit in jail while the rich write a check and get out. Their first reaction is to want to sue. How about they spend that money spent on lawers and instead pay to bail for the poor.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 13, 2011 3:15 p.m.

    While we are at it we need to change our preamble to the constitution to reflect a recent factor point:
    Preamble to Constitution
    Change from:
    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
    TO:
    We the Wealthy of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect government that protects Laissez Faire and Caveat Emptor freedoms, and provide for our defense, and the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, and protect our property from the masses, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  • geedub Santee, CA
    Aug. 13, 2011 3:37 p.m.

    It should be illegal to camp in public places that are not designated campgrounds. It UNSANITARY.

    It should be illegal to loiter in front of a business or residence. What about the property/business owners rights?

    Of course aggressive panhandling should be illegal. What about my right to walk down the street without being accosted?

    Of course we should screen welfare applicants to make sure that they're not playing the system or using the money to buy drugs. That takes resources away from people who really need and deserve our help. There are numerous private and government groups that are working hard to help the homeless, but many homeless people don't want help. They'd rather beg and do drugs or drink than take responsiblity for themselves.

    It's not illegal to be poor.

  • Brightenpath Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 3:37 p.m.

    But whom have we embraced, rather than the poor?

    "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." Ezekiel 16:49

  • B Logan, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 3:46 p.m.

    @FDRfan

    Instead of coming up with catchy new slogans to run your fellow countrymen into the ground, why don't you propose a solution? I thought your other 'great' Democratic President, LBJ, declared war on poverty. Why hasn't it worked? Are we not socialist enough? Help me understand why people come here from the poor Asian countries with nothing and end up doing so well. Don't buy into the politician-generated hype of class warfare. United we stand, divided we fall.

  • MormonDem Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 4:18 p.m.

    TheRealBigDaddy@11:46am,

    You said that America is the most charitable country in the world. That is simply not true. As a percentage of Gross National Income, the US's governmental development assistance ranks 20th, behind virtually all of Europe and Scandinavia. As measured by % of income donated to charities by individual citizens, we're ranked #8.

    Linus@1:23pm,

    How is it that creating policies that hurt the poor is okay, but when the poor or their advocates complain about it, only THEN is it called "class warfare"?

    While greed and unkindness have always existed, it seems that hearts have truly waxed cold in the last several years.

    The religious scriptures I believe in make two things very clear:

    1) one of the clearest signs of a corrupt society is a widening gap between rich and poor,

    and

    2) We're all beggars, and it's morally wrong to withhold from the poor because we think their poverty is self-inflicted. "It is unworthy of us as Christians to think that those who suffer deserve their suffering."

    So many of the poor have serious mental health issues and other challenges we can never know; wo unto us if we judge them harshly.

  • MormonDem Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 4:54 p.m.

    ""If you're lying on a sidewalk, whether you're homeless or a millionaire, you're in violation of the ordinance," said Joseph Patner, a city attorney who represented St. Petersburg, Fla, in 2099 when six homeless people filed a lawsuit against the city."

    This attorney's statement is both heartless and mindless. How many millionaires does he see lying around on the sidewalk? That's like defending segregation by saying "This policy isn't discriminatory. Any person, black or white, who ranks lower than 20 on the van Luschen skin-pigmentation scale is allowed to eat at this restaurant."

    This is the 21st-century version of "Let them eat cake."

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 13, 2011 5:26 p.m.

    The U.S. is NOT the most charitable according to amount of foreign aid per capita.
    Who is? Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Japan, Belgium, Ireland, Germany are the top 10 (2004 figures). The U.S. comes in at #15.

    As for criminalizing homelessness? Yup, we don't have enough prisons or prisoners, so let's fill them up with the homeless.
    What a joke.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 5:27 p.m.

    False and misleading title.

    THe left the liberals, while their hearts may be in the right place, have it all backwards as ususual,

    You do NOT help the poor by forcible taking from another,

    If that was the right way wouldn't Jesus have done that? or any of God's prophet?

    Would the axriptures be full of "take from wealthy",

    No. it is about free aganecy, it is about love, it is about personal charity,

    Many great government programs and systems were created to help the poor, bring "social justice", revolutions and world wars were fought, millions upon milluions have been murdered, their stuff taken by governments,

    ALL of them, without excption, have been failures,

    Forcibly taking from another doesn't work.

    Juesus showed they way,

    you change people's heart so they are desirious to give and to help.

    The laws mentioned in the article were created to create a more safer and healthy environment for all,

    We can help the poor, the right way, but not by enabling them,

    and certianly history has shown not by taking from others.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 5:34 p.m.

    The legal issues:

    'Camping in public places'

    'loiter in front of a business or residence'

    'begging for money'

    -------

    Consider the following,

    Imagine a person loitering or begging for money; they camp out in a public place all day.

    Now, instead of the picture you drew in your head- imagine a clean-shaved, showered, well-presentable person wearing a well-kept 3-piece suit- doing the very same things.

    Such a man would not have faced the legal recourse given to those without homes. Such a man is not trespassing on the property of said businesses or residences, he simply stands in front or near it doing nothing but standing. Most people would have walked by without even noticing him. He asks for money and less people would probably be disgusted with him.

    The problem people have is moth eaten clothes and a lack of showering. I know college students who fit that description. So what justifies them having less rights than any of us?

    ---

    I'm all for wanting a clean society and no more poverty- but taking away rights so we can simply pretend there isn't a problem is not the way to do it.

    Better laws, please.

  • Ok Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 13, 2011 6:14 p.m.

    Be kind to people in need. To criminalize poverty is wrong. Those who advocate such are mean spirited and moraly wrong. Do what you can to help the poor. Only you know what help you can provide, use your resources wisely. Sleep well at night knowing that you did what you could. Peace.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    Aug. 13, 2011 6:41 p.m.

    To the people who say that those who receive welfare need to be drug-tested: Does that include the CEOs who have been bailed out by the government?

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 7:08 p.m.

    If the parable of the rich man and Lazarus has universal application---Luke 16--- (and I don't know if it does)......in the next life it will be better to have been a homeless beggar than to be rich and to have enjoyed every day of life. Fifty years ago people lived in tents in our country-----we should return to that with no shame.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 13, 2011 7:29 p.m.

    B
    Good point.
    My suggestions
    1) Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the top 5%;
    2) Adopt the budget ideas of the gang of 6;
    3) Promote home ownership by giving no or low down payments to borrowers with ability to make payments and who intend to occupy;
    4) Promote incentives to states to provide a system of health care for all of its citizens;
    5) Appoint T Boon Pickens to cabinet;
    6) Request and implement input from Warren Buffet, Jon Huntsman and Ben Stein and others like them.
    7) Do away with the primary system and implement instant runoff elections;
    I have tons of other ideas but I'm running out of room.
    I'm still waiting on the inventor of the internet to get back with me before I comment on your previous post, but Al is sleeping it off.

  • MormonDem Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 7:30 p.m.

    thetruth@5:27 said:

    "Many great government programs and systems were created to help the poor, bring "social justice", revolutions and world wars were fought, millions upon milluions have been murdered, their stuff taken by governments,
    ALL of them, without excption, have been failures."

    This statement has no basis in fact whatsoever. The GI bill was a failure? The CCC and WPA programs that kept my ancestors alive during the Great Depression were a failure? Baby Your Baby, which provides prenatal counseling and help to poor mothers, is a failure? WIC, which feeds children and pregnant mothers, is a failure?

    The social safety nets in Scandinavia are failures? You might not agree with them, but that certainly doesn't make them "failures."

    If leaving it up to charitable folks to solve all the world's ills was adequate to save the desperate from terrible circumstances, it would have worked already. Some problems are just too big to be addressed by individuals or even churches. Some people have no voice with which to make their needs known, and have no advocates. You cannot preach poverty away, and it is a gross perversion of the New Testament to say that you can.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Aug. 13, 2011 10:13 p.m.

    Author Barbara Ehrenreichs tribute to socialism, aka Nickel and Dimed (mentioned in this article) is now being used by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for incoming freshman. I know. What a surprise to learn that our college-age kids are being indoctrinated by the left.

    Heres a heads-up for all. The book Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepard is the answer to her rhetoric. Get a hold of this book for the college-age kids in your life.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 13, 2011 11:13 p.m.

    The frequency that blatant liberal propaganda appears in this paper is astonishing!

    "Poverty" is not being criminalized, but harmful behavior is.

    The myth of the "homeless vet" is unfounded, as many of the mentally ill, who make up the majority of the truly homeless (often by their own BAD choice) dishonestly claim to be vets as it makes generous suckers more likely to give.

    The real problem is that we have, through several generations of liberal handouts, created a permanent underclass or dependent people who are unable or unwilling to function on their own to support themselves. Many prefer handouts to a hand up. Work is for suckers when government programs will provide for most needs.

    The truly unfortunate, hard working, temporary homeless people are appropriate recipients of charity from private individuals (all you folks above- write checks!) and religious groups.

    It is telling that several people above try to denigrate the amount of charity giving by Americans by measuring only government programs.

    Poverty does not relieve anyone of their responsibility for their own actions and doing what they can to support themselves and get off the welfare/handout lifestyle.

    Hard work fixes poverty, not government programs.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Aug. 14, 2011 12:31 a.m.

    BobP wrote: I have never in my life, nor will I ever, pass a street beggar without giving money. There but for the grace of God go I.

    Bob, Id like you to meet a Salt Lake City women who holds a sign and begs for a living; since, hey, people just stop and give her money. A camera crew follows her to her home, from which she emerges dressed regularly to go to her other job. This is a must-see.

    Go to youtube and search for John Stossel-03/25/11-A and watch the special entitled Freeloading.

  • Nosea Forest Grove, OR
    Aug. 14, 2011 7:28 a.m.

    Lasvegaspam:

    Putting your comment in a proper context, Joseph Smith said in effect that he would rather temporally assist 9 imposters rather than turn away one truly needy. In any case, now-days I would surmise that there truly are many more "truly needy" than there are "imposters" -- just look at the unemployment rate to discern this.

  • Trev Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 14, 2011 10:32 a.m.

    My latest homeless drunk patient yet again called an ambulance for the millionth time (on your charitable tax contributions) and spent the night getting expensive tests in the ER (again paid for by your charitable tax contributions). And like all homeless drunks manages to have enough money for a cell phone (general assistance checks paid for by your charitable tax contributions) and has been pregnant at least a dozen times (all paid for by your charitable tax contributions) to raise criminals who are institutionalized (all paid for by your charitable tax contributions)... you get the idea. She told me she uses the money she panhandles to buy as much beer as she can get. You are not doing any of them a faveor- you are enabling them and bankrupting our community.

    My father said "poor men have poor ways." I'm starting to see he is right. Yes sometimes someone gets laid off, or has an unexpected illness, but 90% of the time poverty is self inflicted. And it breeds itself rampantly.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Aug. 14, 2011 11:08 a.m.

    Nosea: Thank you for mentioning Joseph Smith, who learned (D&C 104:16) and then taught that helping the poor is to be done in mine own way.

    So, when you're unsure of imposters or the truly needy, you'll never go wrong by donating to the Church's welfare efforts. That is the Lords way.

  • Nosea Forest Grove, OR
    Aug. 14, 2011 1:21 p.m.

    Lasvegaspam:

    You miss interpret the scriptures here -- the "Lord's way" spoken of in the D&C you quote is referring to living the Law of Consecration, not the current welfare system as you imply. Maybe if we had more members with real charity, not the phoney variety, as Joseph Smith had, demonstrated by a real desire to assist the poor, we could actually live in the "Lord's way," consecrating all we have to be a Zion people. So, let's be clear on this single point -- we are not now living the "Lord's way" collectively as members, and I would surmise from what I have seen that the welfare program is a very poor substitute as poverty has actually increased in and out of the church.

  • MormonDem Provo, UT
    Aug. 14, 2011 9:44 p.m.

    At the day of judgment I would much rather be deemed a sucker than a scrooge.

  • pburt Logan, UT
    Aug. 15, 2011 1:53 p.m.

    Trev,

    I think it is shameful to assume, based on one or two stories and sayings from "my father," a ridiculous thing like 90% of poverty is self inflicted. What brand of idiot would choose poverty? Only one who did not have the capacity to choose otherwise. Remember, there is a real percentage of people with diminished abilities that we have stripped of resources. There are few places for a marginally mentally ill or diminished person to go for real help, yet holding a job is terribly hard for them. They need our help, and can't just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. We need to stop being selfish and judgmental and just help people, weeding out the frauds when we can but not at the expense of those who truly need our help. Worry more about people than about spending a tiny fraction of your money erroneously. Just help, and that is what the government is for. We agree, via our laws and lawmakers, to help and protect each other. Those that believe in god cannot justify any other path, I believe.