Before I start, I wanted to mention that the Freakonomics blog has been awesome since moving to I've always liked their stuff, but I think they're hitting us with a bunch of great topics and I actually prefer the quick descriptions to the full content in the RSS feed.

I say all this because I was blown away by a quote on the Freakonomics blog from the book Blue Blood by Edward Conlon. It's worth re-republishing as its that good.

I handed Tommy some money, he held up his hands and said, "C'mon, Eddie, you don't have to, it's okay." I said, "It's all right, you guys work, you take risks for us, you should get paid." He took the money, but he shook his head.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but I feel a little funny, since you guys pay out of your own pockets. Do you know how much we make out here, panhandling, during rush hour?'

"No, how much?"

"About a dollar a minute."


I didn't take my money back, but I saw his point. Charlie and Tommy made more money than us. I should have realized that earlier, as the math was not complicated — we took home less than a hundred dollars a day, while their habits were at least that. I tried not to dwell on the fact that, economically, a New York City police officer was a notch down from a bum.

First, I can't believe panhandlers make that much money! That's eye-opening to me and helps explain how so many people can afford to live on the street. It also makes it frustrating that they're still on the street if they could theoretically take home several hundred dollars a day. I have enough concerns about giving to panhandlers as it is, but that's a whole other blog post.

Second, I'm sure most cops aren't in it to get rich, but that's gotta be frustrating. It mostly shows how little people understand what a little bit of money can do. We tend to piss away small sums of money all the time that could be terribly useful when pooled together. I guess it's hard to grasp that in the same way it's hard to convince someone their vote is important in a sea of 100 million.

Third, I really want to buy this book. Ever since my obsessions with the Wire began, I'm fascinated by realistic tales of police work. Thanks for the recommendation, Freakies.