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Sir Robert Jones

Ban beggars and watch the votes flood in

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Following the 1929 share-market crash an American observer recorded the outbreak of the word “fundamental”, by diverse authorities from the President down. The general assertion was there was no need for alarm and the market would soon be restored because, fundamentally… readers can fill in the variety of situations this word, in the event, was wrongly applied to.

Its usage emerged here with our mid 1970s Labour Party. No Labour politician then seemed capable of uttering a sentence without including it, usually before that other bogus assertion of human rights. Thus we were regaled constantly, how it was a fundamental human right, to have housing, jobs, breakfast in bed and free this, that and anything else the speaker could dream up. Not so however with the 1984 Labour government which abandoned such cornucopian absurdities and instead, to our enormous benefit, dealt in hard facts and reality.

Using ‘fundamental’ is a dishonest verbal device to imply something is so obvious as to need no explanation, which is why it only appears when there’s not a shred of actual evidence to back an assertion. Sadly its utterly bogus head rose a week ago, this time from Napier lawyer Alan Cressey.

Mr Cressey is acting for some layabout bludgers and seeks a court review of the city’s by-law against begging which he asserted, “is the most fundamental breach of freedom of expression possible.”

That goes without saying, is world-class cock, thus the wearying reappearance of “fundamental.” This nonsense was predictably backed by an academic which certainly won’t wash. I’ll wager I can find academics to back the possibility that one and one are three, that Shakespeare was probably a woman and Mother Teresa an axe-murderer.

Freedom of expression is, (the proverbial shouting fire in a theatre type exceptions) a critical element of western democracies. It applies to pro-active dissent, not the eye-sore inertia of bums despoiling our cities, lying about with begging signs.

To date this year to my knowledge, backed by the police in Henderson, Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Palmerston North, Porirua, and Christchurch, the public have complained bitterly about these mainly Maori males around 30 years old, sprawled about our streets begging via signs. Numerous incidents have been reported of their threatening folk using ATMs. None have the gall to assert on their cardboard ‘fundamental expressions of speech’, that they’re hungry, given their common characteristic of obesity.

That said, all praise to the Napier city councillors who, rather than wringing their hands and mouthing platitudes, as with Wellington’s Council, have declared war on these parasites. And credit to the Napier police and also the judge who threw one of these no-goods in prison for a month for fraud, his sign falsely claiming he was homeless. Napier’s assertive approach is why Mr Cressey has popped up, this in a region annually importing vast numbers of islanders for market garden and orchard work.

The day following reportage of Mr Cressey’s nonsense the Dominion Post wrote the most gullible editorial I’ve ever read re this begging outbreak, and I say that as someone on record of admiration for the consistent quality of our newspaper editorials. It covered all of the issues fairly then spoiled it by asserting critics of this disgrace, despite their own (and the Herald’s) reader polls showing overwhelming support for making begging illegal, were “misguided and motivated by cosmetic considerations.”

The editorial rattled on about homelessness, therein forgetting its own report last year of the City Missioner advising in respect of beggars that this is rubbish; about mental health issues and such-like. In fact all of these concerns, apart from already being addressed by the state and many charities, are in most cases exaggerated and instead of writing from his or her lofty tower, the editorial’s author should talk to those at the coal-face, namely the police, about the true nature of these bludgers and in particular, that many are actually organised into shifts.

What specially irked me was the pejorative use of the word “cosmetic” for that is precisely the issue. In recent years, for a number of economic and social reasons, cities world-wide have gone overboard in their efforts to present themselves attractively for their citizens. These fat spongers now littering our streets completely negate those endeavours. If they want to degrade themselves, then that’s their business but they make it all of ours by doing this publicly.

A number of European countries, responding to public demand, have now made begging illegal, as it once was here. It’s long overdue to restore illegality, thereby removing the difficult burden from Councils. Judging by how many senior police have urged the public not to give money and also the true nature of these layabouts, they will, once legally empowered, eagerly put an end to this disgrace.

Evidently National will not act so not long ago I suggested this as a policy plank to a senior Labour MP. “Oh we can’t do that,” he said but couldn’t tell me why. I know why of course, namely fear of the fuss from the wet-behind-the-ears element Labour attracts. But as a party of purported concern for the underdog, the best way to help beggars is to ban them. It’s analogous to bans on smoking in public places and punitive taxes on smokers, all for their own good. Labour purports to be a caring for the underdog movement which is an excellent reason to support a ban, unless that is they consider begging a reasonable career choice.

Given the Party’s vote erosion to Winston, my Labour friend may well rue this hesitancy. On current polling NZ First is in line for a dozen plus seats and I have not the slightest doubt, given the public outrage, that that figure would rise at least 50% should Winston promise a ban. He’d certainly get my vote. Furthermore, should he, or more likely Shane Jones, a no-nonsense, non-handwringing realist do that, such is the depth of feeling, any young non-list Labour candidate who piped up in opposition would bear the brunt at the ballot-box.

This article is published with the kind permission of the author. It was first published by the NBR HERE.