NYT Op Ed calls for Civil Gideon
Happy New Year, and happy day! My wish for 2009: that it will be the year of Civil Gideon.
Right now when budgets are being trimmed, cut, and scrutinized, advocates for the poor must continue to work hard demonstrating that adequate funding for legal services to the poor makes for sound policy, is economically smart, and also is just the right thing to do. Today's New York Times (published last night online) contains a fantastic opinion peice on Civil Gideon which does just that:
Advocates for the poor argue, persuasively, that outlays for civil legal services are budgetary pennies that save many dollars. A foreclosure prevented is an eviction avoided, a family kept from homelessness — and a considerable burden lifted from the government’s social-service safety net. With legal help, poor people can avoid litigation, easing the load on judges and courtrooms. They can get food stamps, leveraging federal dollars in an underused program. If they avoid the poorhouse they will have, by definition, more money to spend, increasing sales tax revenues and benefiting local businesses.
Kudos to the Times for this well written piece. In the current ecnomic climate, where any proposal to spend more money makes the average person wince, it's important to highlight how some forms of spending will ultimately lead to massive savings in the long run. That is the case with funding legal services to the poor.