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Government crackdown: Feeding the poor


If we can feed pigeons in the park, shouldn't we be able to feed the homeless?

This is a question Reason's Baylen Linnekin examines in a column today about efforts by local governments to prohibit people from delivering meals to those who need them most:

Starting in about 2006, several cities began arresting, fining, and otherwise oppressing private individuals and nonprofits that feed the homeless and less fortunate. A 2006 NPR report referred to a Las Vegas ban on feeding the homeless—a ban challenged by the Nevada state ACLU chapter—as "among the first of its kind in the country." [...]

I blogged at Hit & Run last summer about a ban in Orlando—the first of the most recent spate of such big-city laws. In that case, members of the anti-war group Food Not Bombs had been arrested for feeding the homeless in Orlando city parks.

Since then, other cities have followed suit. In New York City, for example, Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned food donations to the homeless earlier this year "because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content." Those familiar with Mayor Bloomberg are likely only surprised here that Hizzoner missed adding sugar to the list of terribles. [...]

Restrictions on feeding the homeless are unconstitutional, discriminatory, and wrongheaded. Courts should force cities to acknowledge that members of civil society have a right to help those in need, and that those in need have a right to obtain assistance outside of government channels.

These government crackdowns have been a topic of conversation on GBTV.  Earlier this year, Glenn examined "Political System X" and progressive regulations that appear to be engineered to hurt -- not help-- those most in need.  Why?  It's all political:

If the homeless’ situation were allowed to improve — or they continued to receive goodwill from individual citizens rather than the state — it would not be as easy for the left to co-opt them. But, Beck explained, through regulations and absurd edicts, the left can keep the underprivileged suspended in their current state indefinitely, and hence, “organize” them.


Bans on feeding the homeless are just one of many ways progressives use laws to co-opt the poor.  Click here for more.

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