Lion of the Blogosphere

The 1980s is when bums became “homeless people”

Look at the Google ngram viewer:

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This NY Times article from 1970 demonstrates that newspapers used to call “homeless people” “vagrants.”

Midtown Eighth Avenue, where crowds lingering seven days a week include drug addicts, homosexuals, prostitutes, vagrants and thieves, has one of the highest arrest records in the city and some of its toughest problems of law enforcement.

Also how quaint that “homosexuals” hanging around is considered to be a problem and not a cause for a “pride” celebration.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 1, 2018 at 11:11 PM

Posted in News

36 Responses

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  1. The 1980’s when AIDS was, “we’re all at risk.”


    July 1, 2018 at 11:13 PM

  2. Skells is my favorite term.



    July 1, 2018 at 11:24 PM

  3. Reagan.

    It’s all his fault.


    July 1, 2018 at 11:25 PM

    • The Reagan era is when they became homeless. There was a rather famous homeless advocate, Mitch Snyder, who probably did the most to turn bums into homeless. Of course the media was more than willing to play along to paint Reagans Amerika as one where millions were on the streets because of Reaganomics.

      Mike Street Station

      July 2, 2018 at 6:08 AM

      • I remember the name Mitch Snyder. Thanks.

        My comment was about Reagan was snark of course. But he certainly got tagged as the creator of the problem that resulted with the shuttering of the asylums.

        Just like Trump will be when the media Eye of Sauron turns form the border to the homeless problem at some point.


        July 2, 2018 at 9:23 AM

      • Yeah him. He was my idol but I was young and he was given great press.
        No media manipulation there, no sirree.


        Mrs Stitch

        July 2, 2018 at 2:42 PM

  4. that’s interesting.

    there used to be a small number of people who chose to be hobos. they themselves would say they were lazy and restless. and they weren’t unhappy.

    but today…

    blaming homelessness on drugs and mental illness is what my grandfather would’ve called “facile”.

    it’s an EMBARRASSMENT to our country that in every major city thousands sleep rough.

    it’s not freedom. it’s gross.

    allan quartermain

    July 1, 2018 at 11:41 PM

    • it’s not freedom.

      It is about freedom. The freedom to let people do what they want, which idiots on the left support, and the freedom not to have to pay to control them, which idiots on the right support.


      July 2, 2018 at 6:40 AM

      • I remember once asking a tour guide in a former Iron Current country if it was true that there were no homeless in his country when it was communist and he said yes, so I asked him how that was. He said everyone was given a job and a place to live (obviously a very modest place). I asked him what if someone didn’t want to work and didn’t show up for the assigned job. In that case, government workers were sent out to find the person and urge them to go on to work. If that didn’t work there were increasingly frequent visits with increasingly stern warnings about the need to work. Finally, as a last resort, these people were transferred to a job in a small town where no one would support their work-free lifestyle (no handouts from the locals). If all that didn’t work, they were put in jail! Not a bad system, IMO.


        July 2, 2018 at 10:11 AM

      • It’s much more important that they don’t have children and don’t bother people that don’t want anything to do with them then that they work.


        July 2, 2018 at 3:40 PM

  5. It must have been around 1980 that they closed the mental hospitals and turned the patients out to fend for themselves. When I was young, in the ’60’s and ’70’s you never saw tramps or vagrants on the streets, at least not in Vancouver. When I tell young people this they don;t believe me.

    I do recall seeing Indians (feather not dot) passed out on the streets in Williams Lake–a small town in the interior of BC.


    July 1, 2018 at 11:48 PM

    • Canada may have started turning mentally ill people out on the street around 1980 but that process had been underway in the US for a decade or so already. Read the accounts by the late Charles Krauthammer on that subject.

      PV van der Byl

      July 2, 2018 at 12:08 AM

      • Can you link where to find these accounts out suggest some search terms. The deinstitutionalization movement is very interesting.

        Paul Ryan's Sickly Old Lap Dog

        July 3, 2018 at 10:07 AM

    • Don’t you mean Merritt? They might have been passed out in Williams Lake too, but we never lived there.

      Frau Katze

      July 2, 2018 at 12:24 AM

      • It was when we were visiting Williams Lake. I never saw passed out natives in Merritt.


        July 2, 2018 at 12:41 PM

  6. It’s strand because in France the change apperead exactly in 1983. The usual term was « vagabond » or « errant » who applied to homeless, gypsies and Jewish. There were and administratif term « sans domicile fixe «  (with no fix home ) who was transformed in SDF, and this term was created in 1983 and completely eclipsed the other . It was used by both TV and journalist .

    So it’s a worldwide phenomena .


    July 2, 2018 at 1:46 AM

  7. Also how quaint that “homosexuals” hanging around is considered to be a problem and not a cause for a “pride” celebration.

    Yikes! Has the Times ever apologized for its disgusting bigotry? Shouldn’t we tear down some statues or something?


    July 2, 2018 at 8:20 AM

  8. Maybe these department stores that are shutting down throughout the nation can be converted into bum repositories. The dumb middle class has spent, lent, and repent after decades of junk hoarding, as wealth inequality grows. A prole owns toys in his basement while the elites own real estate in elite cities.


    July 2, 2018 at 9:16 AM

    • “Maybe these department stores that are shutting down throughout the nation can be converted into bum repositories.”

    • A person with toys in their basement appreciates the sentimental value associated with the culture that defined their childhood. It’s part toy collection and part history. Elites by contrast rig the system in their favor like an idiot son winning the presidency. The two biggest turning points in US history were the presidential elections of 1860 and 1960. A lesser turning point was the 2000 election. America was doing well until George W Bush ruined the country and Obama failed to do much about it. Politics and elections have consequences.


      July 4, 2018 at 4:53 AM

  9. When women and children hit the streets/shelters, that’s when “homeless” came in vogue.


    July 2, 2018 at 10:19 AM

    • No one really gave a damn when the homeless population was overwhelmingly male.

      Oswald Spengler

      July 2, 2018 at 11:53 AM

      • Correct. You’d never dare call a woman or child a bum, hobo, vagrant or tramp.


        July 2, 2018 at 3:29 PM

    • Women always have the option of whoring themselves out. I’ll bet that’s one reason there are fewer homeless women than mem.


      July 2, 2018 at 12:05 PM

      • Another reason is the welfare state. Low income women and children gets tons of handouts while a childless man gets little or nothing.

        Jay Fink

        July 2, 2018 at 3:28 PM

      • I think it’s called marriage you bigot.

        Paul Ryan's Sickly Old Lap Dog

        July 3, 2018 at 10:08 AM

      • “Women always have the option of whoring themselves out.”

        Not once they hit “the wall!” I’m only judging by how the men on this blog talk about women, “Maryk” at 57 wouldn’t qualify for this “job.”


        July 3, 2018 at 11:13 AM

  10. In the USA like in France, around 1 person in 500 is homeless. As homeless average IQ is 85 and there are 10% autists and 20% schizo (vs 1% for each among general population), it means that you feet both criteria – you re in the bottom third in IQ and have a mental condition – are between 1 in 10 and 1 in 30 (depending on how strong the correlation between mental disorder and low IQ is). My guess is 1 in 25 at any given moment (not cumulative).

    So those traits makes you 20 times more likely than average people to end homeless

    NB : population of 1 million, 2k homeless, 600 have mental diseases against 20k among general population, we can suppose that 75% fall into the 333k dumber or 15k people, so 600 out of 15k is 4% chances against 1 in 500 on average.
    For people who don’t have those traits, more than 94 IQ without mental disease, 500k people (75% of 666k), around 600 out of 1400, chances are almost halved compare to general population.

    So the significant difference is 40 times. That’s why society should take care of its homeless while knowing they will always be there and there is nothing to do except alleviate their pain and try to let them live the best they can ….


    July 2, 2018 at 6:38 PM

    • It should be 661k if I take the 75% constant of 20k (not of 666k obviously). So it is less than 1 in one thousand …


      July 2, 2018 at 7:22 PM

    • The question is, what to do to help them? Given the prevalence of low IQ, autism and schizophrenia you mention, there is no simple answer. These people will tend to resist help.

      We know the problem became much worse when the large mental institutions were closed.

      And furthermore, it is now very difficult to force a person into a hospital against his wishes. (It seems to me that there are more homeless men than women).

      Even if more subsidized housing were built, how many could even successfully look after themselves in that environment (assuming they also received welfare)?

      And why has the problem become so bad just recently?

      Frau Katze

      July 2, 2018 at 9:00 PM

      • You gotta think that being homeless for extended periods is part of what makes them crazy and that if people were taken off the streets immediately there would be much less of those kinds of mental illnesses.


        July 3, 2018 at 12:18 AM

    • I came across a homeless camp of 4 today walking along a riverbank scouting fishing spots, 2 men, 1 old 1 young, 2 women, 1 old 1 very young, maybe they were related somehow, couple nice tents, coleman lanterns, hammock, 2 fishing rods, I was thinking to myself, maybe not so bad, couple miles from a bus route, go into the city to the main library, panhandle for beer money, but then I saw the piles of tissues and of course right by the trail, animals can’t even dig a hole. For that matter, the tents were right on the trail, couldn’t go 20 feet off, kill the poor (homeless)


      July 2, 2018 at 10:53 PM

  11. Related is the press not revealing race of suspects. I always assumed this started recently, maybe in the late 70s or 80s. But now I wonder, after learning something in an unlikely place, an academic book about the statehood movements in Alaska and Hawaii. The founding father of the state of Alaska was Ernest Gruening, so they had to give a mini-bio of him in the book. It seems that before he packed his carpetbag for his Great Northern journey, Gruening, as a young man, flitted from public to private to public jobs in the lower 48. One of these was an editorship of a city paper in the northeast, where he was proud of making a rule that suspects’ races would not appear in the police blotter. The book didn’t give a date for this, but it was before he left for Alaska in 1939. That’s amazing they were doing that stuff that early, at least I thought.


    July 2, 2018 at 7:55 PM

    • Natural selection favoring an instinct toward betrayal of one’s in-group.


      July 4, 2018 at 10:37 PM

  12. Lion, great find with that Times article. One can see the chaos of New York in the 70s and 80s (and up to today) incubating in that narrative. Three or five years prior, and Times Square would have resembled 1945 or 1935 more than it resembled 1975, 5 years later and Times square was a stinking, putrid, porn wracked cesspool: the pattern for the inner city all over America.

    The article has it all: loitering NAMS, faggots, prostitutes, post hippy, long-haired ne’er-do-wells, rioting, crazies, pushy immigrants.

    The porn theaters hadn’t really gotten off the ground in 1970. They started appearing 1 or 2 years later. What is described as sex shows in the article would have been small theaters showing “Beaver Shot” movies (yes, there was such a thing). These films showed seated young women, dressed in mini-skirts, varying their seated position, to flash a pantyhosed or pantied crotch (Oh, what innocent times).


    July 3, 2018 at 4:53 PM

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