While feelings are mixed on whether or not the U.S. is recovering or still at risk are mixed, at least we can be reassured by the reliability of death and taxes. The latter, of course, is being made more certain by IRS efforts to catch tax-dodgers, while the former needs no help. Unfortunately, the inevitable demise that everyone faces is putting an ever-increasing strain on the deceased -- or, at least, on their survivors.
The number of people asking the government to pay for burials, cremations and funerals is surging. Counties and states are, increasingly, being left to foot the bill for people who can't afford this last trapping of life on their own. At a cost of $7,000 or more for a funeral, it isn't hard to see how changing priorities in a tough economic environment – let alone the brute availability of cash – would drive more estate executors into the arms of municipalities.