Sunday, December 11, 2011

No sympathy for 'street people'

I can hardly stand to read the Chicago Tribune anymore.  What they call 'news' is simply nothing more than article after article with some liberal spin on the passing scene.  This morning, I picked up the paper from my driveway, thinking that I should really cancel this damn liberal rag, but started to read it anyway.

And in the editorial section called 'Perspective,' the headline is When you recognize the homeless .  The author and his wife were out Christmas shopping and were approached on the street by a homeless girl whom they knew from their New Jersey neighborhood.  And the author gushed on as to his discomfort and sympathy towards her and gave her all the money in his wallet to alleviate his guilt about her situation, and promised her that he would say 'hi' to her mom.

Give me a break.  In the piece, the details are very clear as to how this woman ended up on the street: she was irresponsible, had children out of wedlock as a teenager, and had hysterical outbursts that required police intervention, and the courts took her children away from her, and slapped a restraining order on her seeing them.  I suspect left out of the author's piece were drugs, alcohol, and varied and sordid other details that land people in the gutter.

While the author had enormous sympathy for this loser, I couldn't help but think that her newly found identity as a 'street person' was a choice she actively made.  People don't wind up on the mean streets of this country because they had a string of bad luck, or that everyone was out to get them (in other words, the fault of everybody else except themselves).

This is the reality of life in America: homelessness is a choice.  Nobody has to live on the streets if they don't want to. There are too many alternatives that can divert this eventuality, most involving family solutions, some run by the state, and many run by charities and churches.  Homelessness has many causes to include but not limited to: drug additions, alcohol abuse, criminal behavior, profound irresponsibility, inability to plan, inability to respect authority, and often a conscious choice to shun polite society and a deliberate choice to live life on the streets.

When approached by a homeless person, I avoid eye contact, never give them any money, but do not feel sorry for them; that is one of their tools of their trade - sympathy.  People live life on the streets because they choose this way of life, not because 'the man' is out to get them.  They are on the streets because they like it.  And don't let them tell you they don't because they lie like shamelss dogs: to you, to me and to themselves.  If they didn't like it, they could easily do something about it.

Like take responsibility for their lives, recognize and respect authority and ask for forgiveness from your estranged family.  In other words, choose not to be homeless.


Silverfiddle said...

Dang Fredd, you know how to bring it with the bark off!

We give to local charities. I do not give any money to bums on the street. I direct them to the the soup kitchen we give money to.

Numerous local churches and charities have programs to get people off the street, clean them up and help them get on with their lives.

The ones panhandling and swigging hooch in the parks with their fellow stew bums have voluntarily chosen to not avail themselves of such programs. Giving them money only enables them, and leads to their further destruction by substance abuse.

Fredd said...


Local charities and religious organizations used to do the lion's share of helping people down and out, back in the day. Without those organizations, the fornlorn would perish. Not so, anymore.

Nowadays, there's so much gubmint groceries available for the ne-er-do-wells, they simply rely on the nearest shelter for a cot in the coldest times of year, don't worry too much about where they sleep during the nice weather, and spend the rest of their days panhandling to sponsor the vice of their choosing. Life is good in the USA for homeless people today. Very good.

And they don't need no lousy stinkin' do-gooders herding them up and hosing them off; that cramps their style, their CHOSEN style.

Kid said...

You know what you get when you help the homeless. More homeless.
I've known enough of these people to know that helping them is hurting them. Outside of helping them get a job.

It seems to me these people put a lot more effort into maintaining their pandering lifestyle than if they just got a job at Mcdonalds.

Fredd said...


Just like in Yellowstone, what happens when you feed the mooching bears? More mooching bears.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

One factor which has been found to be much more common among the homeless than among the general population is mental illness.

For those who are not mentally ill, I agree with you that they choose to be homeless. There are so many alternatives out there and ample government programs to keep people in adequate housing.

Now since you brought up Yellowstone, we can talk about perspective. What's worse? A few people living on the street of Chicago, or the Yellowstone Caldera blowing its top and covering every state west of the Mississippi with ten feet of lava and ash?

Exactly. Don't you feel better already?

(If only the volcanic ash could be channelled to cover only the offices of the Chicago Tribune and the NY Times and the LA Times and the Boston Globe and the Washington Post and the Toronto Star....)

Fredd said...


I'm iffy about the mental illness thing.

Back in the day, boys in school were naturally rambunctious. Now they are given ritalin to treat attention deficit disorder. It's considered an illness to be a school boy these days. I don't buy it.

Ditto with all of these mentally ill bums on the streets. We assume that you would have to be crazy to live on the streets, and so we call them mentally ill.

Some are just stupid, but most use the mental illness angle as simply another tool of their profession. Give the mentally ill guy money, he just can't help himself.

Nope, I don't buy the mental illness thing, El. Maybe 10 in 1,000 street bums has brain damage, or otherwise is mentally impaired, but not a majority of them, and accordingly I did not mention them in the piece. They are an insignificant part of the bum population.

This Yellowstone Caldera has you watching the horizon, doesn't it El? Myself, I am keeping my eye out for those Chinese gamma rays that can read your mind. Accordingly, I have my tin foil hat at the ready, they can deflect these evil rays. One never knows....

Scooney Adrift said...

Excellent post. I agree 100%.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Understood, Fredd... I agree that a majority of homeless are not mentally ill. I just stated that the rate of mental illness is much higher among the homeless than among the general population. And I'm talking about severe OCD, schizophrenia, untreated severe bipolar disorder... stuff like that.

I know a few young people who have become homeless, believe it or not. In every case, there was no mental illness involved. There were usually the same issues: older adolescents who dropped out of school, turned to drugs, made their single mothers' lives a living hell, and rejected all attempts to help them. Thankfully, one of them decided he didn't enjoy the experience of jail and living on the streets and bumming a night on a friend's couch from time to time, and got himself back on track. Today, he's 21 years old, avoids drugs and most of his old "friends", has a job and his own apartment. Two years ago I would have told you he was close to making a date with the undertaker.

I guess this story substantially proves your point, but at least it also illustrates that there is hope for those who have gone down this path.

Frankenstein Government said...

Fredd...Don't be iffy about the mentally ill. I spent a career with them, on the street. Some are schizophrenics, some bi-polar, all seemingly depressed. They are dually diagnosed, mis diagnosed, relegated to the back waters of humanity.

On a personal note, I thought your piece was well written. It does however, echo the sentiment of a society that simply doesn't understand mental illness. Or homelessness. Instead we simply like to blame them for their lot in life. That is much simpler and cleaner for most of us.

Come spend a week in a homeless shelter.

Fredd said...


It's not that I don't 'get it,' and because of my indifference to understanding mental illness or homelessness in general, I side with society at large.

Not at all.

I have two brothers, one living and one dead, who provided me with more insight into this issue than the average bear.

My younger brother works with the mentally disabled, and has stories that bring tears to my eyes.

My older brother chose to be homeless, and fought tooth and nail any efforts by do-gooders (such as me) to provide him with a roof.

I get it.

Hack said...

I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this must have lived on the street. It is not uncommon for smart people to feel this way. Adolf Hitler was one of those few and sadly he became even more lost after he started leading Germany. Many tyrants and conquerors suffered this way actually and never changed their opinions even after they began to live comfortably. Even Julius Caesar suffered this kind of profoundness. I think throughout history conquerors have been highly burdened by the aftereffects of this sort of Way of Word. Everyone and anyone can experience being lost, even the richest of souls.

Fredd said...

Jay Wall:

I wrote this, and have never lived on the streets. Your comment stated that I 'must have' lived on the streets.

Wrong. How you came to that conclusion escapes me, Jay.

You comment that it is not uncommon for smart people to feel this way. How exactly is the way smart people feel, Jay? Care to elaborate?

Exactly what kind of profoundness did Julius Ceasar suffer, Jay? I am starting to lose you...

Everyone and anyone can experience being lost, you say. Not true, Jay. Few of us get 'lost' in the manner of winding up on the streets.

And if you read the post, my point was that these street people are not 'lost' at all: homelessness, living on the street, being a bum, whatever anyone wants to call it - is a conscious choice most of the time. People that wind up on the street want to live that way.

My older brother was a street person. He resented anyone telling him what to do, or where he should go to get help: he didn't want help, he was completely content on the street, and being a street person enhanced his resume, in his mind.

Jay, wake up.

Kid said...

Excellent Fredd. They WANT to live this way. 99.999% of them

Fredd said...


How on earth did you note this comment from a post I did nearly three years ago?

Kid said...

Damned if I know Fredd.