Hence, need for heat is unpredictable and relative in numerous instances. When such a need arises yet goes unfilled in a critical juncture (i.e.quickly), personal and/or local equilibrium can fall to a different trajectory afterward. Homes in the southern U.S. can feel quite cold, when they only have space heaters for mild winters yet the Arctic vortex decides to repeatedly knock at the door. Perception and equilibrium from winter effects can change pretty fast. If a person stays cold all day for several months, it matters not if they are 500 hundred miles south of what a cold winter is normally expected to deliver. After all, the house 500 miles to the north is more likely to have the necessary heat provision in place. Thus, what one experiences as chilly, is relative to the degree it can actually be controlled locally.
A similar principle applies for the person who does not have a "paying" job. That is, they have adequate "heat" if they rely on someone who either has work or is otherwise financially stable. Of course, all bets are off in a warm "house" that becomes unexpectedly cold. Thus the best means of survival is to have access to a personal "thermostat" of one's own, even if it is not needed in every instance. While the analogy of work and heat probably seem like common sense, that reality can nonetheless thwart the significance of unemployment statistics. Much depends on circumstances and factors that are not necessarily in one's control. Therefore, local and non local circumstances define a person's true degree of economic separation, at any given moment.
So one may not have a job, and yet it remains possible to live life on middle class terms, for example. This could also be the individual who provides "early retirement" as explanation, when asked. While there may not be a strong correlation in reality, it is still one of the easiest ways to express such a decision in societal terms in the U.S. Also, a substantial degree of economic interaction with others is becoming more lucrative in terms of challenge and incentive, on terms which are not well compensated in the present. Oddly enough, prior to the Great Recession, one could say they retired early, and many would consider them fortunate. Only after the (relatively) forced early retirements of the Great Recession, did such individuals more often receive initial responses of sympathy from others - even if such a response wasn't actually warranted.
Of course, life in a cold house which is in ongoing need of heat, changes the entire equilibrium which one might normally rely upon. What seems as though common sense strategies, often refuse to work "as advertised", such as they would in a house that stays warm on a regular basis.
Some readers may have noticed the macroeconomics label at the bottom, and are wondering what this post has to do with macro. A colder winter than usual left me thinking about contrasting perceptions as to ongoing circumstance. However, it was a recent post from David Glasner which struck a chord, and made me want to organize these thoughts further. From David's post:
...Say's Law is a description of what happens in an economy when trading takes place at disequilibrium prices. At disequilibrium prices, potential gains from trade are left on the table. Not only are they left on the table, but the effects can be cumulative, because the failure to supply implies a further failure to demand...even infinite wage and price flexibility may not help an economy in which a lot of trade is occurring at disequilibrium prices...microeconomics rests on a macroeconomic foundation, and that is why it is illusory to imagine that macroeconomics can be logically derived from microfoundations. Microfoundations...are themselves founded on the existence of a macroeconomic equilibrium.If I follow his logic correctly: whether or not "heat" is needed in a local environment also depends on macroeconomic factors. Is the locale already "warm" (adequate societal coordination for economic access) or is it "cold", i.e. deficient of economic access and coordination at local levels.
Also consider the job seeker (in aggregate) whose less than ideal options made him or her decide to opt out of employment. Even though the decision is "voluntary", something substantial still remains left on the table by that opt out, in terms of production, consumption, and nominal balance (By balance, I mean relative costs of consumption relative to nominal income). Let alone the things that one would purchase through compensated time use, that have ceased to be defined in marketplace terms. What's more, something is definitely left on the table in the cold house, which just makes its occupant want to stay under the covers too long.
Hopefully this local versus not local interaction of circumstance, provides a small illustration of the ways micro and macro factors change the outcome of the other. As Bill Woolsey said recently, the numeraire is arbitrary. Both local and not local affect the daily existence of what one ultimately decides to do. Neither micro or macro can be insisted upon as a primary starting point, for they both have bearing on the world around them. Hence, daily existence reflects what one does, and what the rest of the world does as well.