Jack Dunphy: On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times told of a report from the City Administrative Officer titled “Homelessness and the City of Los Angeles.” Among the revelations in the report is that 15 different city agencies and departments spend more than $100 million each year on providing services to the homeless. “In July 2014,” the report says, “the Mayor pledged to end veteran homelessness by December 2015 and chronic homelessness in Los Angeles by December 2016.” As with any report from any government bureaucracy, this one says these goals will be achieved through the spending of even more money to be extracted from the taxpayer.
The report also contained recommendations, including this: “Treatment of the homeless with dignity, and clarity on their rights.”
Dignity and rights, they say. Well, sure, who isn’t for dignity and rights? But reading the report put me in mind of interactions I’ve had with some of the city’s homeless people, about whom “dignified” is not among the first thousand adjectives one would use to describe them. Here is a story about one of them:
Los Angeles is a popular destination for the homeless, not least for the great stacks of money spent on them, but also for the city’s pleasant climate. If you’re going to sleep outdoors, it might as well be in L.A. But that climate can at times turn inhospitable to those on the streets, and it is in those times that cops and firefighters see an upsurge in calls from homeless people claiming to have this or that malady, one that requires a trip to a hospital, a clean bed, and a meal. We call these people “frequent flyers.”
When I answered the radio call one day, the temperature in L.A. was nudging 100 degrees. The woman who had called 911 claimed to be suicidal, necessitating the response of multiple police units. “I’m going to kill myself,” she said. “You have to take me to the hospital.”
I recognized at once that this was a case of a frequent flyer, and by inquiring at the nearby homeless shelter, I learned that the woman had just that day been expelled from it for unruly behavior. She was too much of a bum, I was told, even for the other bums.
I explained to the woman that I was sorry she was feeling so blue, but she would not be getting the ride to the hospital she had hoped for.
“But you have to take me,” she said, “or I’ll kill myself. That will be on you.” That would be unfortunate, I told her, but I was sure I would get over it quickly enough. She went on at some length and with great vigor to condemn my callousness, and she threatened to haunt me from the grave. Call me heartless, but my decision was final.
To her credit, she was resourceful. She had a Plan B, which was to march right over to the same pay phone she had used earlier and call 911 again, this time asking for the Fire Department. She was connected to an LAFD dispatcher, to whom she reported symptoms of an affliction of some kind, and in due course there appeared noisily at the scene an ambulance and a fire engine, thus bringing the number of city employees in the little drama to about 10.
To these firefighters she again reported her “symptoms.” (She had now abandoned all suicide talk – that would have made her a police problem, and she knew she was getting nowhere with us.) The Fire Department protocols, based on her claimed symptoms, demanded that she be taken to a hospital, so with great resignation the firefighters loaded her onto a gurney and collected her “belongings” – a whole shopping cart full of trash, from what I could make of it – into plastic bags to be carted along with her.
And she was then delivered to some hospital in or around downtown L.A., there to waste the time of doctors, nurses, and other staff while she enjoyed the air conditioning, the clean sheets, and a free meal, and perhaps passed the time chatting it up with some other homeless person who had put a different group of cops and firefighters through a similar charade. All of it was paid for by the taxpayers of Los Angeles, and I’ll bet she does it every time she finds the weather not to her liking.
GOMER: Medical slang for a patient who “has lost–often through age–what goes into being a human being” (quote from Samuel Shem’s “The House Of God”). Typically an old demented non-communicative patient . Stands for “Get Out Of My Emergency Room”.
The term has been used several times on the television shows Scrubs and ER.
I highly recommend if you can fins a copy of this movie or the book to get it.
“To do nothing for the gomers was to do something, and the more conscientiously I did nothing the better they got.”
― Samuel Shem, The House of God
“Gomers are human beings who have lost what goes into being human beings. They want to die, and we will not let them.”
― Samuel Shem, The House of God
To turf (verb: to find any excuse to refer a patient to a different department or team)
Or is that “they want to be entitled and we let them” 🙂
Based on this report from the Administrative Officer and the mayor’s pledge to “end homelessness,” the city will no doubt commit even more money to the problem. (Perhaps they can fund it by running a unicorn farm.) And in two, five, or ten years there will be another report expressing wonderment and frustration as to why, after spending all that money, there are still so many homeless people in Los Angeles.
I’m grateful I don’t live there anymore.
I’m glad I never lived there. But isn’t this just how liberals work. How every problem’s solution is more and more of YOUR money. And since it never works, they have to keep doing the same insane thing over and over again expecting different results.
And if you don’t let them do it you’re a “racist”, a “bigot”, “heartless”, “hate women and children” “hate poor people and love rich people” or “a denier”. And because you don’t want to be that you turf their Gomers and the Gomers turf themselves in a very co-dependent relationship with YOUR money.
And remember, The Stimulus that didn’t work by Obama was because it wasn’t BIG enough.