This item in the New York Times really ought to tip off anyone who remains unconvinced to the fact that our society is every bit as beset with usurious evil--the poor and sick shackled to rich insurance salesmen, bloated city bureaucracies, and landlords--as that described by William Blake and Charles Dickens or Baudelaire and Balzac. Or even the one described by Dante.
Edwina Nowlin, a poor Michigan resident, was ordered to reimburse a juvenile detention center $104 a month for holding her 16-year-old son. When she explained to the court that she could not afford to pay, Ms. Nowlin was sent to prison.
I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.
But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.
-Blake, "London" (Songs of Innocence and of Experience)