Beggars versus Bakersfield: Our responsibility for change?

James Macias, Reporter


Homelessness and poverty are symbols that some unsavory and undesirable types use to avoid doing a hard day’s work.

Some homeless are in poverty because of legitimate disabilities, which render them unable to care for themselves. As a society, we have a social responsibility to these individuals.

However, there is a segment of our population that makes its living begging for your change while you are trying to walk into 7-11. They seem to think they have found a loophole in the basic tenant that a person should earn their own living, through hard work and perseverance.

Some have even been heard to paint what they do as a legitimate form of labor. They have said that standing around begging is easily as hard as any job. They point to hot weather and the attitude of people they accost as very difficult to manage.

I have found that there are an inordinate number of these beggars in Bakersfield. It is offensive, not just to us but to the legitimately homeless as well. Every single cent these scam artists make off with is another cent the truly unfortunate will not have. This is the worst kind of kicking a man while he is down.

Not only that, but what true hard luck cases I have seen, have disappeared as the city crews rolled through “cleaning things up.” Somebody should pick these beggars up.

The local constabulary has plenty of time to make things “cleaner” in terms of sweeping the unsightly and disenfranchised under the proverbial rug but often cannot be bothered to deal with what amounts to a real criminal element (albeit a petty one at best), which is therefore left to flourish.

It’s enough to make one downright livid with indignation.

These people expect you to just give them your money. They will ask again and again as if you somehow failed to hear them when they accosted you while getting out of your car or the next time as you stepped toward the store. They can be very demanding and overbearing with no sense of shame about what they are doing at all.

It seems like they think that merely the fact of their existence means the rest of us somehow owe them a life.

This is the single most disgusting aspect of this situation. That a person so completely without motivation to contribute to the larger social group or the self respect to overcome said lack, would be ego centric enough to think he or she is owed anything by anyone is sad state of affairs. To say nothing of the indirect impact their actions have on the pathetic souls they impersonate.

There is no reason why we here in Bakersfield should be more accustomed to being accosted by rude, demanding, money-grubbing strangers than to being beseeched on behalf of the less fortunate. There is a difference.

If you spend some time in the right parts of Los Angeles, you will see a throng of legitimately – sometimes hopelessly – homeless individuals. These people still scratch out what truly meager livings they can, right next to many others whom our society has just plain forgotten.

But in Bakersfield, it’s a motley collection of the criminally lazy and the dangerously insane. They are either asking rudely for your change or shouting at someone who is not there about your change. We as a community need to stop avoiding the problem and find a way to make our home a good home for everyone willing to be a part of it and give the unwilling a new home in our jails.