Tough question. Unless you follow a panhandler at night, after a day on the median strip, there's no way to know. There are a lot of people, especially men, who don't get any welfare money, and really don't have any permanent place to live. There are still a lot of poor people in this country -- about 13 percent of the population -- and you never see most of them. They don't stand in traffic with cardboard signs. A lot of them have full-time jobs, and they're still poor.
"I never see you give panhandlers money, Dad," my son said. Used to. Still do on the sidewalk, from time to time, but only if the panhandler is a senior citizen.