You have a family to feed, kids to educate and older parents to look after. The government isn't giving you any help. Voices scream that Social Security is unreliable, Medicare won't be there much longer and the schools are laying teachers off.
So what do you? You cut back, you hold on -- you don't spend. And because of that, things get worse.
That's the very real picture painted in the Los Angeles Times by columnist Scott Martelle. It's Exhibit One in the case for the social safety net and against the shrill attacks against any government anywhere at all.
Martelle lost his job at the Times in 2008, and describes his life since then: a series of freelance writing jobs, authorship of history books, etc., enough to keep life going, but that's it. His pension from his years at the Times is shaky, as is his wife's from her decades of teaching. Their 401(k) hasn't been contributed to in years and will take years more to regain most of its lost value.