That beggar on the corner is making more money than the longtime labor union factory worker. Higher wages than the highway worker holding up the shovel nearby, and certainly better pay than the rancher pulling a calf in the middle of the night.
Every day, panhandlers are begging at major intersections around the city. Friday, there were two on opposite corners of major north-south, east-west thoroughfares.
Not hobos, young men, maybe 25, healthy appearing, T-shirts, jeans, standing with cardboard signs. Couldn’t see the one, and small black scribbling on the other nearly undecipherable. “Hungry. Anything helps. God Bless.”
Three plastic bags at his feet. One had a two-pound cracker box showing. Evidently, a passerby offered some food. Guess that freeloader wanted something else.
The other fella had a big styrofoam fountain drink with a straw he was sipping. Sodas aren’t cheap, so he got money to buy that somehow, or swiped it. Perhaps a generous soul gave it, or slipped him bucks.
A couple days earlier, different intersection, young woman with two small children also held up a poster message. Couldn’t make it out either. One would have to be heartless not to have some empathy; still hard to know.
It’s said mendicants with dogs attract compassion of many, too. Worse cases are those vigorous-appearing vagrants smoking a cigarette, talking on a cellphone, with a beer, and a moocher’s sign.
It’s not fair to judge without knowing. Yet, sure seems many of these vagabonds could work enough to get by. “Employees wanted” are about the only newspaper classifieds anymore. There are many job opportunities, whatever the pay.
So, how much do these numerous begging spongers make? Many variables, surveys show anywhere from $5 to $25 an hour, more than $200 certain days. None reported for taxes.
Don’t give money. Perhaps a drink of water, a sandwich, best of all opportunity to earn their own keep. Still, reports indicate that most scroungers instantly refuse work when offered.
Morally, one wants to help, and should, yet not be cheated or stolen from.
Reminds of Isaiah 58:7: “Share your food with the hungry.” Then, Proverbs 22:9: “A generous person will be blessed when he gives some of his food to the poor.” So, Matthew 10:42: “I tell you whoever gives water to the thirsty will never lose reward.”
Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.