>"Then of course you have to remember, they don't have the expenses we do. . . no mortgage, no PG&E bill, phone bill, etc. That's a lot of money if you don't have those expenses."
Nick: I noticed that myself in my 20's. My multiple-month road/camping/hiking trips were far cheaper than staying at home (with rent, social events, movies, etc).
And I notice it in the high-functioning homeless and the off-the-gridders we have up here. Throw up a cabin on 5 acres you paid $3,000 cash for and you don't have (and can't get) a mortgage, electrical service, natural gas, city water, sewer, fuel oil, home-owner's insurance, phone service, cable-TV, internet, or garbage pick up. They cut a lot of wood and have to buy some gasoline, two-stroke oil, fish hooks, and bullets. And most work 2-3 months of the year to earn some cash for such items.
On your or my success if we tried panhandling: Yes, we might not appear as pathetic, but being scary or extremely unhygienic is its own barrier. Also, almost everyone gives to, votes for, or hires people they can identify with in some way, who share some attributes with them.