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Street-corner begging pays well

Published: June 29, 2013
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Every freeway off-ramp and almost every signal light in this city has someone standing with a handwritten torn box-top sign asking for money. Many are now using gimmicks: a pregnant gal standing with a small kid; a woman sitting on a walker; a man with a cane wearing a Vietnam Vet cap saluting cars as they stop at the red light; an unkempt, long-haired, homeless-appearing younger man with a pit bull lying nearby; or the group of college-aged kids that had an old sofa on the corner to sit on while each would wait his turn to stand with the sign. Most people would give the person a dollar while waiting for the light to change.

Recently many money-seekers have appeared with a card around their necks, appearing fairly affluent, both men and women, calling out at cars, wanting us to believe they are licensed by the city to beg by wearing that card. NPR reported on a research study that found some off-ramp panhandlers were collecting upward of $200 a day.

As a major city with one of the lowest unemployment rates, there's work available in our city. But why work? Word has gotten out that it's a lot more profitable to stand on a street corner with a sign. I felt sorry for their station in life when I first moved here; I would stick my hand out with a dollar. But now they're everywhere and it's easy to keep the window rolled up.

Zane Stallins, Oklahoma City