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The Democrats used to fight for the little guy. But these days, the little guy is defined as the middle-class. And in this recession the middle-class definitely needs a champion. He is losing his job, his 401K and his home. He is losing something else. The ability to contribute to charities. Which brings us to the littler guy: the poor. Rev. Jesse Jackson describes their predicament:

When the economy catches a cold, the poor suffer pneumonia. When the economy catches pneumonia, as this one has, poor people are reduced to emergency conditions.

Across America, poverty is rising. Food kitchens can’t meet demand. Shelters are overcrowded. Lines grow at public clinics and emergency rooms. The homeless crowd around grates and park benches in large cities. Desperation is growing.

The poor, of course, are the last hired and the first fired. Too many can find work only when the economy is at full employment. Too many lose work when the economy grows weaker.

Now, cities and states are facing severe budget crises. States cut back on Medicaid funds. Libraries that provide warmth as well as substance are shuttered. With the stock market suffering deep losses, charities are having trouble raising their budgets, much less raising the funds needed to respond to the current crisis.

For too many young people, jail becomes a comparatively secure environment. We overcrowd our prisons — more than 2 million are in jail, far more per capita than any other industrial nation. These are harsh, arbitrary, ugly environments — and they are meant to be. Yet, prisons provide 21 meals a week. Schools provide five lunches a week for poor children. Prisons provide shelter with heat. Homeless families lack both.

“Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.”–Proverbs 31


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