Pop music blares from loud speakers overhead to brighten the mood, though it seems to have the opposite effect for some of the people waiting in line for a free meal at the Poverello House, a non-profit organization that has been serving the hungry and homeless since 1973. Billions of dollars cut from the state’s health and social services budget are expected to have drastic effects on fragile groups like the elderly and the disabled, who are increasingly living on the streets and relying on food pantries. “You can go to Salvation Army, Catholic Charities…You’ve got a whole rotation; that’s what the seniors in this town are doing right now,” said a 61-year-old veteran who lives in a van next to Poverello.

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“In 1978, it might have been economically feasible and perfectly legal for an executive to award himself a multimillion-dollar bonus while shedding 40 percent of his work force and requiring the survivors to take annual furloughs without pay. But no executive would have wanted the shame and outrage that would have followed any more than an executive today would want to be quoted using a racial slur or photographed with a paid escort.”

- The Broken Contract: Inequality and American Decline by George Packe

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