So, as all of this talk of the economy tanking has been swirling around, I haven't felt too personally threatened. This is the simplicity of my position: we have no children (and therefore no college funds), no substantial investments or retirement savings, and we rent our home. Neither of our workplaces have needed bailing out by the government. Despite post-Christmas numbers in the retail world, my store was absolutely INSANE the two weeks before Christmas- if you had been standing there, you would have thought: what recession?
And then, two weeks ago, my husband was informed that his position was eliminated. It has nothing to do with his job performance and everything to do with the church's financial circumstances, and it was a long trail of toppled dominoes that ended in this result. One of the contributing factors was the fact that, six months ago, the church built and moved into a brand new (and much larger) building, the utilities of which have ended up gouging a little more than expected. This is partly because the group that intended to buy our old building could not come up with the funds, so the interest on the loans the church took out is a hefty percentage higher. The group that now rents our old building had several main donors back out, which prevented them from purchasing the building... and one of the most important of these was an individual based in the auto industry in Detroit.
I don't personally know anyone who has lost a job because Michigan's automakers are hurting; yet here we are. And I'm not terribly worried about us just yet. A while ago my uncle described his perspective this way: there's a snake in the road, and everyone has ground to a halt, because that's what you do. You take care and assess the situation until the snake goes on its way, or until you slowly back down. I know, I know, it is not that simple. I don't understand most of it, although This American Life had a few well-expressed episodes explaining how we got to this point. And my uncle made that observation months ago, before even more people were affected. But part of me holds out hope- a lot of people in this country have secure jobs and incomes, and may very well ride this out without much of a ripple.
My point merely is this: it's less than six degrees of separation between each of us and "the crisis". If all that means is that we cut back on credit cards and buy less stuff we don't need anyway, I think that's a positive thing.