I have witnessed a decline in the personal freedoms of those around me due to the large contraction in our economy and felt it was worth discussing further.
What freedom Costs
I captured the essence of why Freedom depends on finances best about a year ago in The Profit Prophet. The freedom I refer to is our choice of labor and life's work.
To enjoy the fruits of a free society, financial independence is of vital importance. Without it, your perspective will always be clouded by the necessity to "pay the bills". You'll do things in opposition to your life's passion for a paycheck, and this will cause internal conflict and disharmony. Over the years your childhood dreams of driving your own destiny will wither and fade.
Here in the US we are subject to a strange fluctuation in our personal freedoms. When times are good, and opportunities plentiful, we are free to find any job that suits us. Job mobility is a fundamental aspect of Freedom.
But when our economy contracts, limited competition prevents us from leaving an otherwise unacceptable situation out of fear of finding another job. Rising unemployment rates lock employees in. Although I've personally been very fortunate to work at an incredible engineering company for many years, I too seek to branch out in new directions by exploring social web data applications. Many of my friends and loved ones have not been as fortunate.
Freedom Is For Everyone
Personal freedom means very little when those around you are suffering. Each of us has friends and family that are struggling to find any work they can. This warps the view of those looking into a desparate form of tunnel vision. And for those who have positions at contracting or misguided businesses, stress is at an all time high.
The Solution is Slowly Adapting
As the environment of the American economy shifts we have been forced to change our lifestyles. Cutting back on (frivolous) expenditures such as Cable TV, disposable media, and non-essentials is only the first step. We have been forced to re-evaluate what is most important to our daily satisfaction. Critically judging this value will help guide new business growth. Certainly we must create real value not only in America, but globally. Across industries, surviving and thriving businesses seek to create and supply value throughout the world.