Bring Out Your Dead

If you’d like a good barometer to discern just how badly cash-strapped local and state governments are fairing across this gilded land of ‘Merica, take a peek at this:

Inside the Wayne County morgue in midtown Detroit, 67 bodies are piled up, unclaimed, in the freezing temperatures. Neither the families nor the county can afford to bury the corpses. So they stack up inside the freezer.

Albert Samuels, chief investigator for the morgue, said he has never seen anything like it during his 13 years on the job. “Some people don’t come forward even though they know the people are here,” said the former Detroit cop. “They don’t have the money.” [CNN Assignment Detroit]

And this, from The HuffingtonAreolaAggregatorWebExperiencePost:

But it’s not just Detroit. In Jefferson County, Alabama, the state has only recently resumed burying the indigent and unclaimed … The county has been unable to afford to pay its employees who handle burials and grave maintenance since August, but some hospitals have started footing the bill until the county can afford to continue their services.

The state of Illinois faced similar fears as its Department of Human Services announced in June that it would be unable to continue paying for burial or funeral services. Budget cuts … had shredded the $15 million the state annually puts aside to bury the approximate 10,000 corpses it takes care of. In August, the state rescinded, and approved $12.6 million for those purposes, which affords $1,655 per indigent burial, according to a report by the Southern, much to the delight of cemeteries and funeral homes

In Kentucky, it costs roughly $6,000-$7,500 to bury a body in the earth, according to the creepy-sounding Funeral Consumer Guardian. However, this figure doesn’t include the cost of the plot or of the headstone, so the cost of death in our recessionary times works out to the tune of at least $10,000. Considering that the average annual income of a household in Kentucky is about $41,000, your dying will cost your surviving immediate family members approximately one quarter of their entire yearly earnings.
But hey, at least we’ve got our health