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Banked, Unbanked, and Deplorable vs. Deplorables (12/15/2009)

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Note: This is an update of an older post from my Blog. The thing that reminded me of it was Mrs. Clintons “nouning” of the adjective “deplorable,” stooping to label individual persons as “deplorables” in a basket. I was going to do a post on that subject and wanted to link the idea of nouning adjectives to the more common verbing of nouns. Mrs. Clinton might have been in less trouble if she had simple described the Trump supporters as deplorable rather than as deplorables. It is slightly less insulting to say a person is, for example, crazy than to say he or she is a crazy, especially in today’s world of focus on personal identity and identity politics. I believe that Christian theology, while recognizing that many words and habits and actions are deplorable, would never support labeling anyone as a deplorable and certainly not as irredeemable. For an official word on the nouning of “deplorable,” see this.

And, following is the original post, the only common thread being grammatical issues.

As a person with membership and interest in a series of Christian churches, I have often heard references to unchurched people meaning those who are not connected with any church. I was shocked to open The State newspaper Sunday morning and see the following headline, “the unbanked.”  That is just the way it looked without a capital letter in sight.

I knew it was common to use bank incorrectly as a verb with money as the object as in, “I was banking my income,” but this headline in the newspaper referred to people without bank accounts. I guess a person without a bank account is to a banker as a person outside the church is to a pastor: a good candidate for banking in one case or churching in the other. The article also talks about those who are “underbanked,” folks who have a bank account but don’t use it. I have never heard the rarely used, “underchurched,” but I think that is a descriptor that could be pretty useful in many communities.

We might as well learn to live with inappropriate conversion of more and more nouns into verbs since there has always been a close connection between the two. If we eat something, it is eaten. If we see something, it is seen. If we wash something, it is washed. Which makes me think of that phrase, “the great unwashed,” which first appeared in an 1830 novel, Paul Clifford, by Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton who also came up with, “The pen is mightier than the sword” and “It was a dark and stormy night.”

There is a dark and stormy connection between those who, in the seventeenth century, would have been referred to as “the great unwashed” and those written about in “the unbanked.”  The un- and underbanked are mostly folks who have low incomes and are either paid in cash for work they do or pay 3.5% or more of their income just to have their checks cashed, perhaps right beside the machine that prints lottery tickets. Many then trek to the post office to buy money orders to pay their bills. They live payday to payday and have nothing for emergencies except food and clothing banks and other assisting agencies. (Well, some may be pimps or drug dealers with a few grand stuffed in the mattress, but I’m sure those are exceptions.)

I talk to lots of these folks in the volunteer work I do. According to the article, more than a third of South Carolina families are either un- or underbanked. We can be thankful for Mississippi (41%) and The District of Columbia (36%) which keep South Carolina out of the cellar on this ranking. (Bet you never saw those two lumped together before.)

Of course the fundamental problems are lack of education in ways to earn money and manage the money so earned and lack of entry-level jobs for which such individuals qualify. According to the story, some South Carolina banks are taking basic financial education into the public schools and teaching concepts of saving and interest. I think that is a good thing.

And when we run into a new case of a verb coined from a noun, we can just say, “That noun has been verbed.”  And those of us who are banked and washed and churched can give thanks for our many blessings.