One of the under-reported consequences of the recession that never seems to end is an overflow at the county morgue. The problem isn’t that more people are dying…not yet. The problem is that people who can’t afford their house payments and the long-term unemployed often cannot afford a funeral when death strikes a loved one. A sudden expense of thousands of dollars for just a plot and casket, often on the heels of crippling medical bills is just beyond the means of the poor and the former middle class. The extended family is all too often no better off.
As a result bodies are going unclaimed in increasing numbers with the result that they are, sometimes literally, piling up at the county morgue, where they must be held for a mandatory period, usually a month or more, before they may be cremated or buried in potter’s field, depending on local ordinances. In the larger cities this has been a problem for over two years. Cremation of the unclaimed indigent costs about $350. In Cook County, Illinois two changes in policy combined to cause horrendous over-crowding at the morgue.
First, a county ordinance was changed to require individual burial for fetuses. The morgue was forced to store them while special smaller boxes were designed and built. Then, the state cut $13,000,000 in funding from the indigent burial program. Now the morgue that was designed for 300 bodies is storing about 500, counting children.
The refrigeration is unable to handle the increased load.
There are a lot of places that state and local taxes are spent that most of us never think about.
The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture. Philip Posehn's main blog is at The Town Scryer.
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