You can't go it alone.
I think the need for building community is becoming very dire. Let's look in a real and honest manner of what we face.
1) The elderly and those about to retire at this moment have by and large lost their retirement incomes. At this moment, this morning, more or less all growth in real estate equity or more or less any instrument other than treasuries has lost all of the last 10 years returns. I don't believe these valueations will ever return, but even if one assumed they did, historically 10 years to get back to the break even point is certainly not an unreasonable time frame. At any rate, few will be in a position to retire as they had expect. Since even over the last period or relative wealth, the majority ended up on public assistence at some point, we need to realize that this overly burdened and underfunded system will be pushed to the breaking point.
Result: We must find ways of providing valuable and meaningful gainful employment for our elderly, and realize that the lion's share of the responsibility of caring for our own will fall into our own laps. Zoning, housing regulation as the rest need to respect the real need on the ground and flexibility needs to be written into the law, allowing people to take care of extended families in the manner that they are able, and in a permittable manner. For example, the debate about the whole "ohana" dwelling here needs to become a lot more humane, real quick.
2) Of those of working class age, we need to realize that wages will be stagnant and opportunities for growth few. Certainly those of "home buying" age at the moment are not going to be in the position of using the "capital" in their home as a de facto third income. As well, the last decade has enjoyed(ahem) historically low and unrealistic taxation. This will change. Working class families will earn less, and lose more of their earning to taxation. Health care and education costs will continue to rise disproportionally to the deflationary environment, and many families will just go without.
Result: Community will matter, in a emotional, social, and financial manner. Dollars will need to go further. When you purchase, or hire consider what that dollar will do and where it will go--and what sort of behaviors it encourages. Hire those who share your values and in a real and measurable manner do give to the community. Spending money on big foolish rims on your pickup is an anti-social act--and needs to be seen as such. Purchase little, but re-enforce ideas and ideology by seeking out and rewarding respectful and constructive behavior. Invest in those who invest in you. Your future depends on it.
3) Of those still young and in school, they will be condemned to facing an ever harder future with fewer skills, while school districts in general try to provide education with thinner and thinner budgets. Since the public school system is every bit as much a social services agency as well as education, if not more so, the climate of stress and poverty at home can only make the educational environment worse.
Result: Kids need all the help they can get, and they're not going to learn much at school. Realize that all of us need to be mentors and educators. Give a kid a job. Pay they too much. Teach them something.
Here is a place to start.
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