Last month, President Obama belatedly decided that the global climate crisis necessitated action to reduce carbon emission caused by coal. He authorized the EPA to issue draft regulations requiring utilities to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030. With climate change and coal's inherent dirtiness not exactly state secrets, I wondered why the president had waited until a difficult election year, when Democrats in coal states face difficult elections. But Obama's unerring sense of timing is a subject for another day. And these proposed regulations, though an improvement, only scratch the surface of what needs to be done. The thought occurred: Wouldn't the economic dislocations of a serious effort on climate change be more bearable if the economy were at full employment?
I got laid off from a full-time job due to the belly-up economy. I didn't realize just how much of my identity I had associated with "being important" -- dressing up, interacting with clients, being seen as a professional. Now I was aimless, wearing jeans and flip flops, and worrying about money in a way I never had before.
Big challenges lie ahead for the emerging economies. To avoid serious social and political pressures, growth has to be not only rapid, but broad based and equitable, in the sense that if there are steep income increases for some accompanying rapid growth, they must be perceived as deserved by effort and job creation, and not due to exploitation of rents or political favours.
My story is not unique. It may be surprising, but it is not unique. I have a doctorate. I have been employed full-time for 35 years with only a week or so between jobs. I have worked my butt off my entire adult life. I do not have a drinking or gambling problem. And I still live paycheck to paycheck.