Panhandling has turned professional, with determined and resourceful "spangers"—spare-change artists—overwhelming street corners throughout the country, some pulling in as much as $40,000 a year, Steven Malanga writes in City Journal. Beggars can even turn to the web for shakedown tips. If that seems like an unlikely destination, that's exactly the point: Many are hardly helpless, or even homeless.
It's "especially bad in cities that have a reputation for being liberal and tolerant," says the co-founder of a partnership that helped oust panhandlers from 1990s Manhattan. "People in New York would be shocked at what one encounters in other cities these days, where the panhandling can be very intimidating." The centralized advice explains the proliferation of the pointed, humorous approach to begging: "I won't lie," read many signs. "Need money for booze and drugs."