No apologies needed, pauletoy. This is an important topic
I don't watch the news, listed to the radio, or get the newspaper. But I'm acutely aware of this economic stuff, partly because a friend of mine has taken it upon himself to scrutinize the economic changes and offer it in a more digestible form for friends, neighbors, and the world at large. So I've been exposed to ideas of economic instability through him for a couple of years now.
A couple of years before that, we (DH and I) were already making choices that turned out to be smart ones; moving toward sustainability in the ways we felt possible at the time. I've been a SAHM for about 10 years and have had to be consciously frugal for most of that time.
We can't get around the fact that we need a family vehicle that has 4-wheel drive and can tow a trailer.
So, yes, we have an SUV. I don't know what else would work in our current situation. We don't go out much. Staying home with the kids means we appreciate each other's company more than we did. Because of gas prices, I don't feel it's an option to put my kids in all kinds of classes and activities in town (10-15 miles away), and I think ultimately that is a good thing. It's keeping me from getting caught up in the frenzy.
What used to be considered a modest income will now be considered insufficient. What used to be considered a generous income will now be considered modest.
Also, consumerism is catching up with people, and it's long overdue. I'm trying to remember that we are on the brink of some much-needed and exciting changes in the way average Americans view consumption. It won't be easy, but by thinking about this stuff now and taking steps to prepare ourselves (even by something as simple as lowering our expectations!), we are already ahead of the curve. I'm trying to stay positive and optimistic. I will assume that the worst-case is only in my head, but I'm going to prepare for that and hope to be pleasantly surprised in the end.