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.
There's a simple explanation for the prominence of the Social Security scare stories. There is a lot of money behind it. The 1 percent types, who have benefitted from the upward redistribution of the last three decades, find it very useful that national debate focus on $1,300 a month Social Security checks rather than the policies that made them incredibly wealthy.
It is no accident that as union strength declined, the social contract in America was systematically shredded. Yes, globalization and technology have changed the economy. But as labor weakened, both politically and on the job, business interests have been able to wring the benefits from these changes and shift the costs to workers.
Remember the story about how the aging of the baby boomers will bankrupt us because we will have too few workers to support the surge of retired baby boomers? Now we are supposed to be worried that we won't have any work for people to do because the robots will be there to do it faster and cheaper. Either of these stories could in principle be true, but they cannot both be true.