Inspired by Fox News’ quest to expose the cushy lifestyle of homeless people everywhere, Stephen Colbert strapped on his own fake moustache and cardboard sign to find out just how well panhandlers do.
Back in November, Fox’s John Stossel bore a beard and flannel shirt and headed out to New York City’s streets to show that homeless people can pocket bucket loads of cash and that those who give are simply “enabling their drug and alcohol habit.”
The reporter got $11 in an hour, which he stated could translate into $23,000 a year –- tax free.
Colbert wanted to see if he could also secure such a hefty sum.
“I was so inspired by Stossel’s one-hour invested dress up, that I, too, went undercover to expose the scourge of selflessness,” Colbert said on his show on Monday night.
So while Colbert didn’t actually take to the streets (he never left the studio) and didn’t get money from actual strangers (he just got a $20 from another staff member), he did manage to take down Stossel’s argument without even braving the cold for 60 minutes.
“It took Jay only one second to give me $20,” Colbert noted. “That’s $72,000 an hour or $150 million a year -- tax free.”
And Colbert is just one of a number of people out there who have proven that Stossel’s conclusions couldn’t be more far off.
For one, as Think Progress pointed out, homeless people on average typically get about $25 a day, which amounts to about $9,000 a year, studies have shown. In order for the Stossel’s homeless persona to have accrued his estimated $23,000 annually, he would have to beg all day, every day, without ever taking a break to try and, say, find a job or housing.
While some passersby did give money to Stossel when he held a sign saying he was just trying to score a beer, most panhandlers aren’t out there trying to get a buzz.
A Think Progress study found that 94 percent of homeless people are really just trying to buy food.
Thanks for the perspective, guys.