My sixteen year old brother and two friends decided that they needed a little pocket money. They dressed in slacks or perhaps nice jeans and collared shirts. The three of them set up a table in front of a Safeway. The table had a jar on it. They draped a red cross they had fashioned over the edge of the table and sat behind it for three hours. They didn't say a word. No one asked them what they were going to do with the money. It was implied, and assumed.
At the end of the three hours, they packed up and went home, $700 richer.
Crises spawn gullibility.
The common man or woman does not question the connection between a signifier and what is conventionally signified by it.
If I have an opinion on my brother's action, it is this: many people want to help without knowing how. As far as these people know, they have given money to the Red Cross. There were no checks to write, no envelopes to mail, no time wasted out of anyone's day. They go home feeling better about themselves because they have had the chance to help. My brother was not only acting as an economic parasite, but also serving a useful social function. He was filling a need.
I am proud of him for this and many other things.