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The Panhandler Index



February 29, 2008 – Comments (5)

Wondering if I should use this as a new economic indicator. In the 3-4 years I've lived in the D.C. area, riding the trains about half the year, I could count on 3 fingers the number of times I'd seen panhandlers on my routes, and never on the trains themselves. In the past two weeks, I've had people bugging me for money 5 times. I've seen 2-3 other panhandlers who hit up other passengers but didn't bother with me.

Is this more of an economic thing or a weather thing?

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 29, 2008 at 10:09 AM, mickeyc21 (30.09) wrote:

I've noticed the same thing in LA. The aggression level has really jumped up a notch.

Nice work TMF. 

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#2) On February 29, 2008 at 12:57 PM, Tastylunch (28.61) wrote:

I use the crackhead index myself. Crackheads always know what's hot and they usually bring it to my shop (we are near a pawn shop) to try to hawk it.

In the past they brought Starter jackets, Nike shoes and EA Sports video games. More recently a lot of Copper scrap was very hot 1-2 years ago. These days it seems to be bootleg DVDs.

I don't know if it's a weather or economic thing Bent although I'm sure they play a part, it may be a social thing. Here in Columbus in the past several years areas of downtown have created what are called "special improvement districts". Basically the city and correpsonding landowner picks an area they think is blighted and hires a contractor to patrol the area,act as guides fo lost tourists, clean trash and chase panhandlers out of the district. Basically it just plays a whack-a-mole with the panhandlers, driving them to another area of town. I don't know if it's case with DC but it's entirely possible these new panhandlers have been driven from somewhere else to your train.

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#3) On February 29, 2008 at 1:14 PM, XMFPhila100 (89.31) wrote:

Ah Seth, you must take a different Metro route than I did. Let me guess ... the red line coming from NW DC with a switch to the yellow at Gallery or something. That route always seemed a bit cleaner. ;)

I commuted from Pentagon City to McPherson Square on the blue line for a year (2005-2006) and I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I was harrassed by panhandlers -- each week. They were all over back then and if your index has merit, I'm glad I don't take that route anymore!

My advice? Grow a beard, wear a scowl on your face, and whatever you do, don't look them in the eye! Haha.




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#4) On March 01, 2008 at 1:28 AM, abitare (30.18) wrote:

Freakonomics Quorum: The Economics of Street CharityOr
The economics of anti-begging regulations

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#5) On March 02, 2008 at 11:20 AM, allstar31 (99.90) wrote:

yeah, I never really had any problems with panhandlers on the red line....



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