Skip to comments.Panhandling UNDERCOVER
Posted on 08/22/2013 9:46:36 PM PDT by hiho hiho
Now, one of your neighbors has taken the time to find out how much you could expect to make by standing outside with a homemade cardboard sign.
Last week, Oregon City resident David P. Spears II released Exit Ramp: A Short Case Study of the Profitability of Panhandling. Through an undercover study done at the Interstate 205 off-ramp into downtown Oregon City, his 98-page book mixes economic research and investigative journalism to make conclusions about modern urban charity.
Spears, 33, served for a year in the U.S. militarys Iraq operations before using the 9/11 G.I. bill to pay the costs for earning an economics and political science degree from George Fox University this spring.
Standing for 80 hours on the OC exit ramp started as a project to satisfy his own curiosity during summer break before his senior year. With his eye-opening findings recorded, he successfully raised $5,000 through an online Kickstarter campaign to launch his literary career.
To prepare for his experiment last July, Spears grew his beard for two months and pulled the rattiest garments out of his closet. After some brainstorming, he wrote Iraq Vet, Anything Helps in black Sharpie on his cardboard canvas.
Spears admitted that he suffered an internal dilemma about accepting money that he didnt need. Hes had a part-time job, but has been paying his mortgage on time thanks to government stipends that also pay for veterans college courses. In the end, he settled on accepting strangers money in the name of science and (as graciously as possible) refusing offers to help him find a job.
Satisfying curiosity Examining what kind of people give to panhandlers, Spears discovered that one of every 59 people driving through the exit ramp gave money to him. Men and women gave to him about equally, shattering his perception that women would shy away from his scruffy appearance and be more hesitant of stranger danger.
Middle-age people, estimated between 25 and 49, gave to Spears much more than those he perceived to be older or younger. Although they account for only 39 percent of insured drivers in Oregon, middle-age drivers made up 80 percent of his donors.
After 12 days of work, Spears found that he averaged $11.10 an hour, more than Oregons minimum wage of $8.95 an hour.
I was surprised by how often people gave and how much they gave, he said in conclusion. I was also disheartened by how often it amounted to nothing more than an exchange of money from one random individual to another random individual.
Spears spends the heart of the book detailing each transaction and lauding individuals who gave him more than just an extra dollar. In circumstances he said were more than real generosity, a woman referred him to an employment opportunity at her friends concrete-cutting company, and a fellow former military man offered him a ride to a veterans job-training center.
Taking 60 seconds of our daily commute to give a dollar to a total stranger is nothing more than the economic equivalent of a drive-by shooting not exactly a strategy to win the war on poverty, he wrote.
His inspiration for Exit Ramp sprang from reading popular economics books by authors like Paul Collier, Jeffrey Sachs and Esther Duflo. He was struck with the idea that he also wanted to publish an economics book but realized he didnt yet have the experience to write the unauthorized biography of Ben Bernanke or the history of inflation in pre-industrial Europe. Then he remembered his longstanding curiosity about panhandlers.
I dont think Im the only one thats had this curiosity, he said. I decided the best way to satisfy my curiosity was to build an independent data set by going undercover and doing some panhandling myself. No matter what I found out, I thought I would at least have some good stories to tell ... and it turns out I was right.
The book is available in paperback and electronic formats from major online retailers.
I’ve heard of scams like this are very profitable. Years ago, I hear of a guy in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC who made thousands of dollars. He wore a suit and was clean cut. He would tell people that he was pick-pocketed and was trying to get enough money to catch a bus ride back home. People believed him because he didn’t look like a bum.
The big thing around here is telling people “my car ran out of gas, and I just need a few bucks to get to my mom’s house.”
I also sometimes go to a big old Catholic church downtown, and I’ve seen a few shameless (young) people work the crowd for money as they leave Mass. I guess its smart - get them when they are feeling full of the holy spirit!
So he takes a verbal shot at those who gave him money? Not very gracious, seeing how he made more than minimum wage, TAX FREE as Cowboy Bob mentioned.
They did well IMO faking that they needed to eat out of the trash.
Then here in CA these days the 7-11s are all homeless franchises.
I mostly don't like that the homeless mostly choose to go harass women in parking lots. Those I report right away.
Last year at Christmas one of our church groups put together a bunch of small bags containing a pair of clean white socks, a small New Testament, a $3.00 coupon to one of the local fast food places and a bottle of water. Our intent was to hand them out to people begging on the major nearby freeway feeder roads. Almost without exception they would look inside them, take out the bottle of water and throw the rest of the contents on the ground.
Won’t bother trying that project again.
I was a soft touch when it came to panhandlers. I figured...there but for the grace of God go I.
There was a near naked man who constantly talked to himself around our office. We got him some clothes that he threw on the ground and said...D*mn it I wanted money.
There was a skeletal lady on my way to work that I was sure was starving to death. Same corner every morning..and I gave her money every morning. The local news did an expose of panhandlers and followed her covertly. Turned out she lived in a very nice home...and had a car.
Going home there was a guy on the exit of the interstate. He started out looking pretty ragged and had a dog. I am a soft touch for animals. I gave money and dog food. But all of a sudden...he started having a cat or cockatoo and different dogs. I even went with that for a while...until he got a manicure and his hair looked like Conway Twitty.
I send money to the local homeless shelters and soup kitchens now. If they need help...they can go to one of those. I still figure...there but for the grace of God...
The really aggressive homeless, the ones that scare nearly everybody, are known to pull in upwards of $300/day.
Also, most homeless are getting a cheque from somewhere so it’s all above that.
The last time I was approached it was a guy, a much taller woman and a little girl. They spotted me coming out of a restaurant and I saw the woman’s expression change as she zeroed in on me and she put her hand on her pregnant looking belly and patted. Who knows what was really in there. Something about the whole scene didn’t fit.
They moved on to the next mark in the parking lot and I noticed with her they were successful.
If I knew it was for real then I’d help.
On some street corners in Seattle the bums make up to $1000 per day (no joke!). Then they buy a bunch of heroin, go on a heroin binge, and end up and Harbor View Hospital.
The big thing around here is telling people my car ran out of gas, and I just need a few bucks to get to my moms house.
I had a couple of older teen girls try that on me while they were opening a brand new pack of cigarettes to have a smoke. They weren’t to happy when I laughed and told them they should of bought the gas instead of the smokes.
Not to mention he would get welfare, medical coupons, et al for being unemployed and having a disability and not to mention the scam of all scams now...PTSD for all sorts of things unrelated to armed conflict.
I had a teenager tell me he was on disability for PTSD because his friend got shot. Neither him nor his friend were in the military. His friend was shot in a gang war....and he didn’t even witness the shooting.
I wonder just how aggressive they’d be walking up to my drivers window and seeing that 1911 sitting there on the seat beside me.
A few years back as I was winding up some late night ministry in the darker parts of Charlotte, NC, I stopped in a fairly upscale McDonalds on Kings Drive for a burger. At a corner booth sat four of the street beggars that I had seen at various corners for several years. One of the men reached into the front of his bib overalls and pulled out a roll of bills big enough to choke a horse. It seemed to me that they were dividing their joint “earnings” between them, but I could be mistaken.
You’ll be screwed royally if the bum tells a cop you brandished your 1911. Cop would love to cuff you and take your gun merely on the word of a panhandling bum. Keep your weapon concealed and stop telling everyone about it. OPSEC
My personal belief is that this is at least an indirect result of the ‘progressive’ concept of government welfare. When there was none, yes there were still beggars and bums, but most people were doing their charity through local churches and organizations. Doing that, they were, perhaps, less inclined to give haphazardly WHILE the local charity keeps scamming under control.
Now with government welfare, we are disconnected from charity and, even when we do still give on our own, are more inclined to street giving unless we already know the scam. After all, maybe this one is genuine!
Still, the real answer that all but the most doctrinaire liberal must know deep inside, is work, receiving compensation for doing something other than waiting for the next welfare check to come in the mail (email?) That recent study showing where welfare in multiple states gives a better TAX-FREE income than a minimum wage job and the trends showing an increasing rate of multigenerational welfare ‘families’ show that this is a primrose path to our society’s destruction.
I used to think people that gave to panhandlers were big-hearted; now I see them as fools who simply contribute to the problem. A couple of months ago I had a perfectly healthy-looking white kid ask me for an “extra dollar”; I told him I had none, then walked on reflecting on what we’ve been reduced to.
Oddly enough, as the Bronze Horde continues to fill NJ with Hispanics, I have yet to see any Hispanic panhandlers. They have their share of junkies and drunks, but there is something cultural that prevents them from approaching strangers and asking for money for nothing. They are certainly content to get on the dole and accept the freebies, though; money for nothing is acceptable from “The Government”...
“That recent study showing where welfare in multiple states gives a better TAX-FREE income than a minimum wage job and the trends showing an increasing rate of multigenerational welfare families show that this is a primrose path to our societys destruction.”
That is certainly the case here in NJ/NY; any place with a high cost of living automatically makes the gubmint housing a golden ticket (with the welfare cash and foodstamps simply as gravy). Of course, to get it you have to breed at least one “golden ticket” bastard (though you don’t have to actually love/care for/nurture said bastard - and they don’t).