As long as we’re talking about panhandlers, and we were, not so long ago, here is the encapsulated experience of our man on the downtown streets:
Always interesting on Twitter. I'm asked about the proposed panhandling crack down & I respond my experience is most of them are scammers…
— Steve's OKC Central (@stevelackmeyer) September 14, 2015
I do think our society does way too little and has a poor understanding of issues involving poverty, mental illness and substance abuse. And I will acknowledge that some panhandlers are either poor or struggling with illness or abuse — but I believe they are the minority.
I used to carry a packet of free bus ride tickets, etc. to give to panhandlers who claimed they needed money for transportation, food… The passes, etc., were turned down all but one time — and the guy who took the pass still wanted money.
I have long suspected that some variation on Gresham’s Law was taking place: the truly needy are being crowded out by the scamsters. Not that this would be entirely unpredictable, of course: there is, as I always say, no system that can’t be gamed. Still, a few hardy souls persist:
A year ago today, Calvin was sleeping outside in a tent. TODAY Calvin is sleeping in his very own apartment! Congratulations, Calvin! We are so proud of your hard work! Calvin uses the income he earns from selling Curbside to afford all of his rent and expenses. Thank you Journey Home OKC and OKC Housing Authority for helping Calvin find affordable housing and making this possible. And thank YOU for helping Calvin achieve his financial goals by supporting him through sales. Calvin has worked extremely hard to reach this goal. You can find him selling at NW Expressway and Classen on the daily.
I’ve bought from Calvin before, in fact. And I’d just as soon not see him put out of a job, however tenuous it may seem, just because some people find it easier to beg than to work.