Politics, popular culture and Reagan conservatism spewed maybe once a week...or less
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Remember when they used to be called 'bums?'
They used to be called “bums.” The thesaurus also lists quite a few terms to describe what we used to call a “bum:” drifter, beggar, derelict, dodger, malingerer, shirker, slacker, gamine, ragamuffin, urchin, or waif. I’m sure that there are more names for these shiftless folks than Carter has pills, but the main topic of this post is a frank discussion of America’s losers who for whatever reason ended up in the American gutter after they were booted out of their last known domicile for a myriad of reasons. My working definition of a “bum” within the confines of this post is as follows: one who has no established residence and wanders idly from place to place without lawful or visible means of support.
But they are not, according to politically correct folk (a.k.a. liberals), to be referred to with these pejorative, colorful and truthful terms anymore. No, they are the “homeless” or “unsheltered.” Or better yet, they are simply “displaced populations.” Do you know why the thesaurus didn’t spit out any of these helpful descriptions when I entered the term “vagrant” into the search? The thesaurus search did not display any of these new terms because they are in no way accurate in describing the losers who fit this definition.
The people who came up with these new terms for America’s losers will have none of this “bum” business going forward. The word “bum” implies that the entire fault regarding the circumstances that led to the homeless person’s plight resulted from self destructive behavior on the part of the bum. This is not what these people believe. The liberal do-gooders and homeless advocates firmly believe that “there but for the grace of God go I.” Well, except that they don’t believe so much in God’s grace and all of that, these compassionate liberals and do-gooders think that each and every one of us could end up on the mean streets of America through sheer happenstance. These foolish do-gooders truly believe that many of us are just one paycheck away from losing our homes. They think that each and every one of those wretched homeless people you see huddled over hot air grates on the cold, New York sidewalks are good, hardworking souls who just fell through the cracks in the American dream. That these homeless souls are on the streets through no fault of their own, but rather are in their unpleasant situation because of circumstances beyond their control, and that the system didn’t cut them any slack.
That kind of thinking is just so wrong in so many different ways. Bums become bums not because there are external and uncontrollable forces at work actively trying to take away the roofs over their heads, but more accurately because these bums had an active and conscious role in making their own roof over their head disappear. The true reasons for homelessness are many and varied, to include drug addiction, mental illness, alcoholism, extremely poor life decisions, just plain bad luck on rare occasion, and at times even willful and calculated preference to life on the streets. Allow me to sum up in one word the basic and primary cause of homelessness: irresponsibility.
But to think that the homeless people wandering the American streets contributed little or nothing to their current circumstance is just foolish. There are losers everywhere in the world. And there are factors completely within their control that are the proximate cause to the straights these losers find themselves in. To remove blame and scorn when discussing “homeless” people is to ignore reality.
I still call them bums because that's what they are; irresponsible bums.