Friday, December 14, 2007

No Stop to Panhandling Yet

The Austin City Council continues it tribulation with the issue of panhandling inside the city limits and what to do about the increasing number of complaints from Austin residents. Within the last few years more and more surrounding towns like George Town have passed city ordnances against panhandling. This has cause an influx of even more indigent and low income persons to the Austin area to seek money. These days it is hard to go a few blocks in south Austin without seeing someone out begging for money at a street corner. At times 3-4 to an intersection, battle for the favor of driver-bys loose change.

What’s the big deal some might say, they don’t hurt anyone? Ah but they do! I speck from personal experience to the fact that while for the most part the homeless and poor that prowl the cities corners a far less then harmless some are not. After I had refused to give particular man money, he proceeded to call me ever foul word in his vocabulary, and finished up by throwing what ever he was drinking on the windshield of my car. All because I wouldn’t give him a quarter? I believe that it is these few people that take begging to a somewhat violent level, that will ruin it for the rest of those that rely on their income though the charity of others.

Austin seems stalled of this issue choosing to perform a study of its panhandling population rather then taking any action. Meeting stiff resistance from civil rights activist that claim that to make panhandling illegal, would be to "criminalize the poorest and most valuable" residents in Austin.

While my heart drops every time I see a disabled vet begging for money on the side of the street, something needs to be done to bring more stability to these homeless people’s lives. While you may help them in the short term by giving them money, you are only helping to fuel their ability to not in prove their own lives.

The Political Circle

While most of our attention is focused on the up coming presidential campaign, it has become second nature to most Texans to loss interest in its states senate races. Where it has become, even for incumbents, a costly battle that requires upwards to 2 million dollars to win their district. Campaigns have become increasingly more expensive in the past years even for seats in the House of Representatives. What does this mean for the average voter, a lot more then one would expect. The question of where the money comes from is now becoming just as important as where the represenitive stands on particular issues. ` And the need for politicians to attract big time donors is becoming more important and with their money comes their influence on those they fund.

It seems to be a win lose scenario, while the increased price of gasoline, airtime on TV and other expenses has grown in recent years, and there has also been a change in the political climate of Texas as a whole. Areas that where once strongly republican are making shifts toward the democrats and vise versa with democrat controlled districts, is creating more swing districts then ever before. Victory is no longer assured to some incumbents or even members of a particular party. Which can be a good thing, requiring those that win a particular seat to focus on the need of those that his/ or her office serves in order to increase their chance for reelection when their term has expired.

However this mad scramble for funds in which to wage their political war has to come from somewhere? While some politicians may be independently wealthy enough to use their own money to help finance their campaigns most are not that lucky, and most rely on donations to help flip the bill. Conversely, these donations come with a price, and those that make them can have a big influence on how a representative may vote.

There are to certainties in all politics these days. First, it cost money, and second is that that money come with a cost. “Texas needs fewer politicians and more leaders”