Ken Schram: Do more than just complain about the homeless

SEATTLE -- I have very arbitrary rules about giving money to panhandlers.

Guys in their 20's and 30's, no.

The guy in the wheelchair with both legs amputated below the knee claiming to be a vet, yes.

The guy in the white shirt and tie with a gas can and a sign saying he's trying to get to Spokane: What, do I look that stupid?

I also frequently buy the Real Change newspaper and donate money to a host of service agencies that feed and care for the homeless.

I bring this up because of a letter Mayor Mike McGinn got from a tourist complaining about aggressive panhandling in the fair City of Seattle.

The mayor's also been contacted by city business leaders saying panhandling and drug dealing on city streets is out of control.

Now, we already have laws against aggressive panhandling.

We certainly have laws against selling drugs on the street corner.

What we don't have is the financial means and the moral fortitude to rise above the issue of panhandling and confront the necessity of what to do for the mentally ill who wander our streets; what to do about the lack of substance abuse programs that could help people put their lives back together?

Instead, we pay attention to business leaders and tourists who object to seeing the underbelly of society and want more done to treat symptoms than to cure the sickness.

Pretty damn sad.

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