Heruka wrote:with dharma being a cottage, self help, new age coffee table industry, are begging monks for alms relevant in this modern day age? is there not a better way for financial sangha group support away from traditional means?
It depends on the culture and tradition.
In Theravada monks are not allowed to even touch money (though whether this is entirely observed or not is another matter), so donating cash directly to them is inappropriate. However, they have a tradition where laity feed them lunch everyday and the community enjoys it while earning merit in the process. It is a win win situation for everyone.
In Japan you still see the occasional beggar monk even in Tokyo, but they're usually doing it for their basic essentials like underwear and health insurance. The majority of temples get their big bucks from doing funerals and all the other related post-mortem rituals.
In Taiwan you also see begging nuns and monks, but that's not their main source of income. They get a lot of financing from the huge number of lay people. In some cases the financing is enormous which enables some groups to build monuments and other costly projects.
Basically it seems in most countries begging is only minor and not terribly common.