By Don Rush

As the cold weather gives way to warm, gentle breezes of spring, and if you’re planning on leaving the ruralness of our communities for a metropolitan area, chances are you’ll be hit up for a few bucks.
People in tattered clothing, sad faces and dirty hands will ask you to “help” them. Rightly or wrongly, if I plan on going “downtown,” I usually pack about $10 worth of one dollar bills to hand out. I know, I know — some of you are gonna’ say, “Way to go, Big Spender! Feel better for giving away a whole $10? The charitableness of Don knows no end.”
And, others of you will say, “Way to go, Big Idgit! You’re encouraging their panhandling. Don, why don’t you keep your own money?”
There’s no winning on this issue. I will be danged if I do, and danged if I don’t. I reckon the best course of action is to do what you feel is right. Give or don’t, it’s your call. That said, the other week one Donald Bishop, of Independence Township, cornered me whilst I was sipping a cup of coffee. It was a Thursday morning.
“Don,” said he.
“Don,” said I, nodding a little to get the formalities over and to the gist of the conversation, “What’s up?”
The Don who was not me then laid out a plan he’d been pondering on for a while regarding panhandlers — people who legitimately can use a hand versus those hucksters just claiming to be broke.
“I always wonder who is who — who really needs the money and who, once the day is done, get in their car which costs more than mine, to drive home? How about if they want to ask for money, they have to register with the local police department? If they are truly in need, it won’t cost them anything.”
Don went on. Local police can verify the legitimacy of each panhandler — getting rid of the scammers. I told Don I thought his thoughts were fresh and interesting ideas. I thanked him, then continued the affair with my fast cooling coffee.
Fast forward. For fun, I went online and searched the word “panhandler,” however, before I even finished typing the word, I saw a suggested set of words to click on. Those words, “panhandler license.”

Brother, can you spare a dime?

I thought the idea from the Don who was not me was new. I guess that’s what happens when you live, work and play in the same places you have since, oh . . . . forever. (Can you say, ‘comfort zone?’) Ever the Curious George though, I started down the rabbit hole. I clicked on Panhandler License to see where it would take me.
I found, “A panhandler’s license is a way for cities and towns to govern the act of panhandling. By requiring individuals to obtain a license, cities can check if the applicant has any warrants or a history of violence. They also can register the applicant to track the number of active panhandlers in the community.”
According to an article on the website, “As a way to alleviate community concerns and regulate the growing numbers of panhandlers, some municipalities require panhandlers to obtain a license before they start panhandling. Obtaining a panhandling license is usually not difficult since cities use the practice for regulating panhandling, not preventing it.”
The more I clicked, the more I read, the more I discovered the pros and cons of such restrictions. And, the bottom line, of course, is figuring away to eliminate the need to beg, solicit or panhandle. Since such hard thinking is way above my pay-grade, I will continue to bring the extra Washingtons when I go downtown.
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Here are some more readers’ thoughts in regards to a past column about letting 16-year-olds vote:
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“I hope you won’t stick to safe topics, like the weather, in your weekly columns to avoid alienating subscribers . . . As to whether 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote, I keep thinking of James Agee’s poem, A Lullaby, and the lines in it, ‘Be careless while you can/ Soon you are man.’ In other words, why rush kids into the mixed blessing of adulthood any sooner than they have to be. Yes, being of ‘legal’ age entails more freedoms, but with them, serious responsibilities too from which we can never escape. — Kara
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From Dennis G., “Funny how the left wants 16-year-olds to vote. I wonder if they would allow them to run for office, too? If they are old enough to vote then why not?”
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And, from Mark W., “This here government can’t even really decide what an ‘adult’ really is, let alone find the right voting age. 21 to drink, 18 to smoke, 16 to drive, 18 to be sexually active (yeah, right), the government says a parent is responsible for a ‘child’s’ healthcare until they are 25 . . . Sometimes I think there shouldn’t be an ‘age’ level of voting. Maybe there should be an intelligent level for voting . . . Unless you can pass a reasonable voter’s intelligent test, no voting. There are a LOT of people who ARE citizens that can’t even pass an immigration test, basic American knowledge! NO, to 16-year-old vote, absolutely!”
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