The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) released a
report on Monday stating that 21 cities in the United States have some kind of
restrictions in place for sharing food with homeless people. Houston, Seattle, and Salt Lake City
are among some of the bigger cities with restrictions.
While most of these are in the form of legislation, there
are also some areas that have community-level restrictions that are enforced by
homeowners and business owners because they don’t want homeless people
congregating in their areas.
It is certainly understandable that homeowners and
businesses want to clean up their area.
Not only do homeless people put off a bad appearance, but it is often
symbolic of an area with high crime.
With that said, passing legislation to prevent people from
being charitable is not only anti-freedom; it is also just plain cruel.
The government pretends to be this great protector of people
and advocate of those in need. But
here, as in so many other circumstances, it stands in the way of people trying
to be good and charitable.
The NCH report stated, “One of the most narrow-minded ideas
when it comes to homelessness and food-sharing is that sharing food with people
in need enables them to remain homeless.”
If you visit a national park with a lot of wild animals, you
may see signs telling you not to feed the animals. They don’t want the animals becoming dependent on handouts
because they lose their ability to fend for themselves.
And while this analogy can certainly apply to humans at
times, it is hard to see how preventing food sharing will actually help
homeless people. It is not as if
some homeless guy will just say, “oh, nobody is feeding me today, so I think I
will get a job.” I suppose that is
possible, but probably not likely.
Of course, the main point here is that this is a case of
government force versus voluntary action.
You are forced to pay your taxes or else you risk going to jail. Your taxes will be directed to whatever
the politicians and bureaucrats decide, whether you agree with it or not.
In the case of charity (such as food sharing), it is
voluntary (or should be). If you
think that a homeless person doesn’t deserve to be helped, then it is your
choice not to give him anything.
If someone else wants to help, they can voluntarily give their own food
or money without forcing anyone else to participate.
It is ironic that some government officials would support
these bans on food sharing with the reasoning that it creates dependency. That is the government’s main
I would much rather see a homeless person helped and kept
from starving than to see government handouts that enable capable people to buy
cell phones, cable television, and alcohol while not working. Homeless people aren’t typically
collecting government welfare in this manner.
It is also ironic that it is government that is creating the
problem of homelessness in the first place. Many of these big cities have people living in the streets because
they can’t afford to live anywhere because of rent control and strict zoning
laws. And they can’t get a job
because of minimum wage laws. And
they can’t afford consumer goods because of taxes and regulations that add to
This is not to say that many homeless people have not made
some bad choices in life. But do
we need the government perpetuating the problems by making it harder to
recover? Do we need the government
preventing charitable people from helping them out?
The message is clear: Don’t share your food with homeless
people. Instead, pay your taxes
and the government will decide for you.