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.
We have plenty of debate on whose budget numbers are fishy (Romney's) and on whether to bring about deficit reduction by slashing social spending to pay for even more tax cuts (Romney) or whether to have a mix or budget cuts and tax increases on the wealthy (Obama.) Of the two positions, Obama's is both the more sensible and intellectually honest. But the Democrats are mistaken when they argue that the deficit needs to be cut any time soon. With the economy weak, we certainly don't need $2 trillion in spending cuts as Obama proposes; if anything, we need more stimulus spending.