Beggars can't be choosers


A couple of years ago, one of our Houston TV stations decided that it would be a great sweeps week thing to “expose” the beggars. They set up a hidden camera and staked out three seperate beggars: one solitary male, one solitary female, and a female with kids. All of them were holding signs claiming to be homeless.

At the end of the day, they all went home and the camera crews followed them. The solitary male and the solitary female lived in low-rent hotels. Both of them had pulled in over $150 for one day’s work. The woman with kids went home to a nicer house than I live in. She had raked in nearly 400 clams in one day. She planned to do this until the kids got old enough to go to school, and claimed to be putting the money away for their college educations.

The item in question is a Straight Dope Staff Report by SDSTAFF Gfactor and not one of Cecil’s columns, so I’ll move this thread over to the Comments on Staff Reports forum.

moderator CCC

Oops. :smack:

Hi Clothahump

I’m in Htown too. It’s far better in a town like ours to donate to something like Star of Hope or SEARCH. Those kinds of organizations really take care of the people that can’t take care of themselves.

I have no problem giving spare change and the like to a street panhandler when I’ve been in cities that have a walking population.

It’s Houston, we’re mostly in cars. A person can work a corner. I’ve watched people deteriorate from managing a drug problem to not so well to they’re gone. It’s a different situation.

The programs I mentioned really help people.

Or so I believe.


I do have a problem with it. It encourages panhandling, which sometimes, here in SF and the Bay area at least- to “aggressive panhandling” where the dude follows you down the street, screaming and threatening.

I *do * give generously to buskers, OTOH.

I’ve got a question about this column as well–or rather, a question about something that was said in this column:

Say what? I’ve never heard anyone suggest that “long-term alcoholics” require less booze than others to get drunk. I’ve taken considerably more than “a couple of swallows” of fortified wine before, without coming anywhere close to passing out; it tasted vile and gave me a killer hangover, but that’s about it. (I feel compelled to explain: I was in college, and a friend decided his bottle collection needed a Night Train specimen.)

Could someone shed some light on this? Is it because there’s usually residual alcohol in the hardcore alcoholic’s bloodstream, so one need only top it off to achieve that “drunk as a boiled owl” feeling? Or is it because the long-term alcoholics have liver damage, and can’t metabolize alcohol as well, so the effect is magnified?

Or is it something else entirely?

…and my previous post should say, “Originally Posted by Gfactor,” of course.

Pssst. Panhandling: Don’t alcoholics have a greater tolerance for alcohol? :smiley:

Did anyone else think of the B. Kliban cartoon that said, ‘Chiggers can’t be boozers’?

What’s a busker?

A street musician who plays in the hope that people will give money. The term is used in the U.K. but I don’t know how much it is used in the U.S.

I’ve never heard it in my life, but I tend to give those folks money as well if they’re any good. I figure I don’t expect a free show from any other musician.

I’ve heard it in L.A.

Wikipedia has a detailed article on busking.

I have run across it in my reading, but probably never in conversation (except with brits.)

I’ve heard it in NYC. I seem to recall we had a whole ordinance refering to buskers . Probably the bigger US cities.

FWIW, I’ve lived in the 8th-largest city in America (with lots of streets, musicians and homeless folk) for almost 10 years, and before that I lived in between Baltimore and DC, the latter probably being among the street music landmarks of the US; and wouldn’tve had any idea what a busker was before this thread.

[NYC snobbery] Yeah but I’m talking about real cities.[/NYC snobbery] :smiley: