In any economic crisis, it is always the poorest that feel the effects the earliest, suffer the most, and begin to recover last. It is also true that in any economic crisis, it is always those who make the most noise who receive the most aid. The voices of those in abject poverty have long ago been silenced, and so it follows that the United States government hands hundreds of billions of dollars to bankers and other wealthy men, while food shelf stocks shrink, unemployment aid is exhausted, and welfare recipients are denigrated as deadbeats regularly on national television and radio networks.

I was in rural Nepal when a schoolteacher asked me, "Is it true that there is no poverty in America?" As he explained to me how he and the majority of his countrymen lived on less than $1,500 per year, how many lived on far less than that, how could I explain that poverty does exist in the United States? "But you are so rich," he said. "How can there be anyone who is poor in America?" Yet poverty exists. It is as grinding, as crushing, and as punishing in the United States as anywhere else in the world. Today, in the midst of this economic turbulence, tent cities are popping up just down the road from the McMansions. The voice of the poor may be a quiet one, but it is growing in numbers.

In this issue, we share stories of these difficult times. Gregory Wilson provides the historical context of government involvement in economic development in his piece Bailout. Iceland’s financial crisis has been far more severe than much of the rest of the world, and newly-elected MP Birgitta Jonsdottir shares a mini-documentary called Icelandic financial crisis, about how and why everything fell apart. In Day laborers, Gayathri Vaidyanathan looks at how the crisis has affected undocumented immigrant workers in New York, and in ”Where’s my bailout?”, Dean Stattmann shows us how the crisis has affected graffiti in SoHo. In Mexico, where a war rages over the trafficking of drugs, violence is increasing. Patrick Corcoran documents the challenges of reporting on the violence without getting killed in Reports of violence.

The economic crisis, of course, has inspired some to greater things. In Today, finance and trade bailouts are too often in the headlines, Terry Lowenstein shares two poems drawn from the headlines. Others, such as Nathan Bahls, view the crisis as an opportunity to take a risk. He shares the details in Six short hours.

It may be a few brief months, or it may be a few long years, but eventually, like all things, this crisis, too, will pass. The question is, when it does, will we go back to our old, profligate ways, or will we learn a lasting lesson. Will we remember what it is like to be without, and share what we can with the women and men around us who are still struggling? Or will we turn our backs, return to the table, and continue to gorge ourselves on the excesses of a civilization?

I am a writer/editor turned web developer. I’ve served as both Editor-in-chief and Technical Developer of In The Fray Magazine over the past 5 years. I am gainfully employed, writing, editing and developing on the web for a small private college in Duluth, MN. I enjoy both silence and heavy metal, John Milton and Stephen King, sunrise and sunset. Like all of us, I contain multitudes.

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