Larry Elder

Registration for panhandling? Cincinnati, patterning itself after a similar measure enacted in Dayton, Ohio, now requires registration for panhandling.

Since Dayton enacted the measure in December 2000, according to Alan Colmes on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," "only 100 people signed up." The Cincinnati measure went into effect in May 2003. Signing up, so far: 53 people, the majority of them only to protest the ordinance.

According to many studies, most of the homeless suffer from drug abuse, alcoholism or mental retardation. Some, holding up signs, "Will Work For Food," simply operate as scam artists, rejecting offers of work rather than food. A compassionate society takes care of the truly needy in assorted ways, most efficiently and humanely by non-profit organizations such as the Salvation Army.

San Francisco belatedly learned that giving panhandlers financial incentives simply increases more homelessness. At one time, San Francisco offered panhandlers certificates to use in exchange for food. Surprise, surprise, this increased the number of panhandlers. The city now offers shelter, but no longer cash subsidies. According to K. Lloyd Billingsley, editorial director of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, "San Francisco's policy has been to give the homeless generous cash grants of up to $395 monthly, with few questions asked. The easy cash attracted what an Australian paper, unconstrained by Bay area political correctness, called a 'hobo boom' -- a tide of vagrants, drunks and junkies. The lesson here is that, as the movie 'Field of Dreams' put it, if you build it, they will come. But they won't clean up after themselves."

But back to Cincinnati. What, pray tell, does a panhandler who, by definition, lives on the street, put down on an application? The "City of Cincinnati Application/Temporary Registration for Solicitation" appears as follows:

Last Name__________________________________________________

First Name___________________________Middle_________________

Telephone__________________________________________________

Address____________________________________Apt. No.___________

City_____________________________State________Zip Code_______

Race______________Sex_____________DOB_____________________

Driver's License/Ohio ID_______________________________________

Height______ Weight_______Hair Color_________Eye Color_________

I attest, under penalty of law, that I have provided true and accurate information about my identity for the purposes of applying for this Registration Card.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.