In Wayne County, Mich., which includes Detroit, state budget cuts have allowed the medical examiner’s office to bury only half the number of bodies that need to be buried each year, according to Albert Samuels, chief investigator for the office. Mr. Samuels said he has about 185 bodies in storage.
Once Mr. Samuels uses up his annual budget of $30,000, he has to stop burials. “Bodies are still coming in,” he said. “I get into a hole after a while.”
So Mr. Samuels struck a contract with a local crematorium allowing him to cremate an additional 50 bodies last year. The cremations cost $170 each, compared with $750 for a burial.
Meanwhile, he is working to submit the paperwork to the state for five corpses that have been in his morgue since 2008.
The article has several other cities mentioned. What does it say about society when the dead don’t get buried? What is the value of life, or the recognition of what being a human is, when the remains are treated in that manner? What is the old line about how you treat those who can’t stand up? Same week as this story at the other end of life about late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell (Grand Jury Report, Newspaper, Slate – William Saletan)?
Look, I’ve never been particularly romantic, but both of these stories about helpless folks are about how society encourages, condones, enables and turns a blind eye. That seems to be a change.
Even if society didn’t find value in a specific person in life, it usually found value in them as a human being – a carrier of the image of God. And that image would be respected. Can we really say that about our society today? Even Jefferson would write that famous phrase, “all men are created equal, endowed by their creator…” The equality there is not something that comes from ourselves, but outside ourselves; the image of God broken as it may be. When a society decides this is the way to treat the dead and the yet unborn, can we really believe those words; or do our actions tell more about us?