The Bottom Line Six Feet Under

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Good Magazine has found a way to neatly wrap up the absurdity of funeral costs into a great little YouTube video. Really. I recommend you watch minus the sound. There is something somewhat creepy about death stats accompanied by music. The figures on the other hand are informative and fairly astonishing. I mean, it’s definitely not news that the funeral industry is a boon to certain markets. There’s cosmetics, casketry (I’m sure that’s not a word), and of course real estate. The average funeral costs $6,500 in the U.S. No wonder I vaguely remember hearing relatives complaining about money at, well, all the funerals for each of my grandparents. And that cost doesn’t even include the plot of land for burial. But don’t despair: While apartment hunting, you can pick up a burial plot for $1,000 on Craigslist. We happen to not be the most out of control funeral industry. An average funeral in Japan costs $45,000, which is why nearly 98 percent of its citizens opt for cremation.

Good also reminds us that death can be bad for the environment. Cremation adds to global warming and the formaldehyde leached into the ground water from burials is not so great for Mother Earth either. There are other options though. You could be buried in a forest or in an eco-friendly cardboard coffin (like the Aussies), have your ash turned into 250 pencils (like the Japanese), or if cost is not your issue, spend $12,500 and be left on the moon.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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