US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Recession ripples

Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The New York Times' Bob Herbert makes some good points in a recent column ("Children in peril"): with all eyes on bank bailouts, foundering home sales, and the collapsing car industry, who's watching the kids? The social fallout from the months of diminishing economic returns are bound to begin showing up in longer lines for scarce jobs and at food banks and it will likely be America's children who will suffer the most before the economic gloom lifts.

In Herbert's column Dr. Irwin Redlener, president of the Children’s Health Fund in New
York, predicts that the number of children living in poverty in the United States may rise from about 12.5 million
before the recession to nearly 17 million by the end of 2009.

I guess if you live long enough everything happens again. I hate to think it, but could we be heading for a replay of the 1970s and '80s when crime and homelessness turned major U.S. cities into places Dante could have used for literary color?

Already there are indications that as unemployment increases, crime is on the rise; the number of people receiving food stamps has increased by 4.6 million, nearly 17 percent; and as job losses and foreclosures acccelerate, could we be on the
precipice of the return of large-scale family homelessness? The next social shoe to drop will certainly revolve around health care as thousands of laid-off workers lose their employee-sponsored health benefits. The Washington Post reports that every 1 percent increase in the jobless rate translates into 1.1 million people losing coverage nationally. North Carolina is already experiencing a 22 percent jump in the number of uninsured.

The old Depression Era tune ran "Happy days are here again," and I'm humming it now, but my version goes a little differently. Start with a rhyming alternative for Happy.