As surprising as it might seem, the ultimate threat to one's existence is one's existence. As noted by the famous British philosopher Thomas Hobbes, a life outside any social structure is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short". This according to Hobbes is the basis of the "social contract" that humans enter into when they are born into a particular system of governance.
Presently in the United States (but the same argument is generally applicable to the whole world), we live in a society governed by capitalism. Recently in the US, capitalism has evolved into a hyper form of capitalism that has many characterizes of a cancer. The financial systems have created unstable and highly dangerous forms of wealth, derivative tumors, while instituting a system that permits these speculative forms of leverage. By means of capital utilized for lobbying, these Wall Street firms controlled the US political system. This allowed the destruction of financial safeguards created during the Great Depression.
Similarly, like cancer, these same Wall Street firms, which undercut the world's financial stability, are draining the state of further resources by repeated bailouts. Like cancer, more corporate collapses and large layoffs have become systemic. The cancer has rapidly metastasized into the whole economy.
Unfortunately, like all systems capitalism is governed by basis philosophical principles. In the last decade in the US, it has been subject to numerous financial bubbles. These arise as the United States financial community deals with the outsourcing of the American work force. Ultimately, you cannot have national purchasing power without good manufacturing jobs. Consequently, you find the financial community dealing in ersatz wealth delivered Tinkerbelle-like out of unsustainable bubbles.
Karl Marx noted that capitalism would plant the seeds of its own demise. These seeds are, however, capitalism's most notable and praiseworthy features: Millions of items can be manufactured at an ever diminishing cost of man-hours and materials. Unfortunately if fewer individuals are needed to make and service these items, it presents a major dilemma for capitalism. Only a small minority of the world is necessary to create its wealth; yet the organs of capitalism can only thrive if many are able to purchase its goods.
Perhaps this problem could be temporarily resolved if demand could be created artificially. Unfortunately, for President Obama, the United States exists in a highly competitive, capitalistic world. We can only create artificial demand by beggaring our future. Worse yet, we cannot rebuild our manufacturing base as long as no agreed upon labor and environmental standards are followed. Most corporations have no problem whatsoever in using 3rd world slave labor in environmental hell holes. As indicated by Wall Street, these same corporations also have no problem of cutting their own throat (and the world's) in the pursuit of short term gain.
This then is the macroeconomic world with which you presently deal. If you are not unemployed, you may soon be. From the viewpoint of capitalism and the large nation state, you are a unit of production that can easily be replaced. Your unemployment and/or underemployment are of no major concern unless it leads to large scale social unrest. With this new understanding of your existential dilemma, you may want to reconsider the social contract you entered into by being born. In the next article, we will explore creating economic micro niches inside a macroeconomic black hole.