For most of my life, it was only in gas prices that I could see the effects of government policy or economics. It's incredible how that has changed.
I have a job because of the stimulus package: I work with research grants, and a portion of the package went towards research. More money up for grabs meant more grant applications which meant they needed more people to edit these grants. Which ultimately meant that I got a job after four-months unemployment. Of course, my job runs out sometime next year because that money has about run out.
I read about unemployment, underemployment, and enormous student-loan debt. I've already been unemployed and underemployed, gone the better part of a year without health insurance. My college-educated friends feel lucky holding jobs as baristas and receptionists. My grandparents don't understand why post-grads are moving back in with their parents.
I have friends who lost their house in the housing market crash.
And I read about the Occupy protesters, and I wonder if they have the same experience as me in that politics and economics all of a sudden undeniably applies to their lives -- that strain of finding out I am not insulated -- or if what I'm feeling is just a by-product of growing up.
What I do know is that being struck by relevant economics is fascinating and stressful. I'm lucky enough to still be at a point where I feel optimistic, like I could still maybe follow those dreams they told me to follow when I was in middle school.
For now, it reminds me of being in DC for the 2008 presidential inauguration. After the ceremony, I made it to a bar with a friend. On the news we saw the mall filled with two million people. I remember thinking, "That's here. This is us."