The economic meltdown is yet to really hit here in Australia - there's bits and pieces about it affecting a shift at the car manufacturer here, (but that is probably because they insist on making big V6 cars here in Adelaideand making the much more sensible in oh so many ways smaller cars overseas) or a mine here, or an exporter here, but as yet it's not Really Hit Home. I find the web is therefore a REAL eye opener about people losing their jobs suddenly and horribly for that reason.
Comments around various blogs about the manufacturing issue with the USA - applies here too. We lost our entire clothing/footware manufacturing not that long ago, and not only did we lose the skills but there was also a move away from blue collar work being available to people, and towards people having no choice but to be unemployed because they can't (or granted, won't) do the work available.
In some ways I agree with the throwaway comments being made about "bring on another depression". People are soft. They don't know how to cook, or sew, or grow, or look after animals, or bake, or live communally, or raise children, and that means they are chasing something unreal and "higher" and ?more laudible than making a home and family work.
I just read a rambly post about this topic from the perspective of Gen X. It talks a lot about the change that people are making to going back to their hearth and raising children and running on one income rather than outsourcing childcare and food making and clothes construction, and chasing a bigger house and a second car and more and more debt. So many things have been outsourced and that makes us all very vulnerable when the economy contracts and people aren't able or willing to do those things.
And I include myself in all of this - I rely on society to do things for me that I don't want to do. Society is about that at a basic level (we can't do everything for ourselves!) but it costs money to do that, and it costs more for Jane to do x for me than it would me for to do said x for me, so there is an inflation involved in that. As more things are outsourced, I have to earn more or rack up more debt to get the same things as before, and so I am now living beyond my means. Multiply that by the whole economy and we're suddenly screwed. And there will be a day/year/decade of reckoning of this and it's going to hurt.
Where are the communes these days? Not so much in the free love kind of way, but in the "farm with workers" or the "boarding house with employees living in" or the "large house with family running it" etc. We live in way more space than we need or use and have spare rooms just in case, and a craft/yoga/study/library room that we use hardly ever and try to fill with stuff that we can't afford to have and don't use and so we spend more money that we don't have to entertain ourselves instead of reading a book or doing a workout or crafting.
And raising families - it takes a community to do this. An article I read recently suggested that what defines Gen X and Y from the previous generations is that we count our friends as or above families in terms of how much we see them and what we ask of them or do for them.
This also comes at the same time as peak oil is more part of the discussion, and people are worried about the impact that the reduction in cheap energy will have. I see so many of my friends getting bikes and scooters, and moving close to where they work, and reskilling, and embracing crafts and reuse/recycling/repurposing, and living in share houses even when in adult years.
I am trying to work through what this means for having a family plans in the next year or so as well. If the economy does implode here, I am relatively safe as I will always be able to find work. I can't say the same for many of my friends and family though, which is distressing.