Without in any way minimising the economic and psychological blow that people experience when they lose their jobs, the unemployed in affluent countries still have a safety net, in the form of social security payments, and usually free healthcare and free education for their children. They also have sanitation and safe drinking water.
It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.
The fine print in the President's Social Security proposal is that all present and future workers under age 55 will have their promised retirement benefits cut.
If I ask you to write down the last 4 digits of your social security number, and then take you out to lunch and ask you how many dentists there are in Manhattan, there's going to be a high correlation between those two numbers. What happens is that the number psychologically makes you feel confident.
While it is clear that we need to make some adjustments to protect Social Security for the long term, it is disingenuous to say that the trust fund is facing a crisis.