Economic ripples hit both the rich and the poor

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a backlog of newspapers and happened across two articles that addressed the rippling effects of the country's current economic woes. Although these two stories had almost nothing to do with each other, it seemed to me that, between them, they very eloquently showed how economic problems have a way of affecting everybody.

The first article dealt with food banks in the Bronx. The area's food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens provide food to unemployed and lower-income individuals, often on a short-term, emergency basis. These organizations, in turn, receive their food stocks from a combination of personal and corporate gifts. Unfortunately, higher food costs and smaller amounts of disposable income have translated to massive drops in donations. Added to this, the unemployed population is steadily increasing, which means that a smaller and smaller pie is getting divided into more and more pieces.

This problem is, apparently, very widespread. For example, a food bank in Idaho has reported that the number of jobless people that it helps has increased by 10% every month this year. Moreover, these new food bank clients often come from the ranks of the middle and even the upper middle classes; for example, CNN recently reported the story of Patricia Guerrero, who went from having a $70,000 a year job in February to using a food bank in March. While Ms. Guerrero might have had fewer money in savings than most people in her economic position, hers is still a very eloquent cautionary tale.