"When American companies began moving manufacturing jobs overseas in the 1970s, the idea was to make products more competitively for the American market. Today, American CEOs impress potential investors with their foreign sales figures and their plans to open new markets abroad. The companies that wrote us off as workers now write us off as consumers.
"If you're not a worker, not a consumer, and you don't earn significant income from investments, then you don't have much of a place in capitalist society. In the course of this recession, millions of us have slipped into that no place. Most of us will still manage to eat and keep our televisions connected.. But it can't be pleasant to live in a country whose elite have no regular use for us."
Barbara Garson - Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live In the Great Recession
Atlanta, which before the collapse of 2008 was heavily invested in real estate as its principal commodity, was hit particularly hard by the recession, and lags the rest of the country in the current recovery, even as anemic as that recovery is. The customers of my consulting business were formerly manufacturers, and when that dried up, real estate developers. With both of those markets now severely diminished, finding any clients at all has been a real challenge, as has making a living.
Yet somehow, I survive, scrappilly making it from one month and its bills to the next. It's been like this for almost 18 months now. I long ago stopped looking to my livelihood for my sense of self-identity, and rather than consider my spiritual life as something to support and augment my career, I now consider my livelihood as something to help sustain my spiritual life.
It's been said that during the chaotic Kamakura period of feudal Japan, the practice of Buddhism flourished as people sought solace and meaning in their lives. During this interminable recession, materialism might loosen its grip on Americans as we search for greater meaning in our lives than the model of the car we drive or the size of our homes. This might be the great blessing of this crisis.