That age-old mantra, "It's the economy stupid" has been growing in resonance across the world. And while words like TARP; stimulus; bail-out and sub-prime have become part of our everyday lexicon, ordinary people are being forced into situations unimaginable - just to survive.
Pan-handling, street-begging - whatever one calls it - are no longer frowned upon as last-resort tactics of the down-and-out; the working poor or those who sit on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Quite the contrary.
Even in China - which loves to brag about it so-called economic success, beggars are becoming a common sight in rich cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Economists are calling Begging- the only occupation group that has experienced a 20% growth since the Great Economic Downturn.
Determined to maintain this Jobs Growth, top US and UK universities have now included a new course to their usual fatuous curricula. "Street-begging 101" is just the first module in a subject major destined to make millionaires. So popular is this course that there is now a 5-year wait-list for students aspiring towards a successful begging career.
Highly successful street-beggars and panhandlers from Third World countries - have been hired to teach these courses. One such teacher panhandled his way to a million-dollar hotel empire in Dubai.
Faculty deans have given these new-age entrepreneurs a ringing endorsement rationalizing that in free societies begging is a right and only snobs frown on it as a social disorder.
This from the new US Elite Economics czar:
"Let's face it. Students go into massive debt just to get an undergraduate degree. Our economy doesn't guarantee them jobs. We can no longer tell them to eat cake. At least with this course under their belt they can set up shop at prime downtown locations where they can panhandle their way to success. It's the new way of becoming self-employed - it's a job with flex hours; no job description, no deductions. It's perfect."
Parsifal Plumley-Pennypincher, the bloated, egotistical dean of a snobby, UK university for the badly-behaved progeny of well-heeled Middle East sheikhs, pontificated sniffingly:
"Yes, I beg at the High Street in my off-hours. Have to. My 2 bitch ex-wives & their sniveling brats are bleeding me dry in support payments and my last lover told me in parting ... as she trashed my house ... that my wardrobe - if you please - with it's ratty elbow-patched cardigans and baggy unwashed corduroy pants is perfect for begging. Well, for once the bloody whiny bitch was right. I say, begging's been jolly lucrative. Here, would you like to check out my new flash car?"