We’ve all heard the news. Europe is sliding back into a recession as its economic elites continue to slash any spending that benefits the average citizen. In America, the Republicans have voted consistently to end Medicare and may gain enough power in the 2012 elections to achieve their aims. And Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party has floated the idea of slashing retirement benefits for future generations (though not, it should be noted, for Members of Parliament). Meanwhile, corporate profits hit record levels – as the wages they pay their employees stagnate and unemployment continues unabated. Their gain is your pain.

It’s nothing personal, mind you; the simple fact is that the interests of the top elites don’t align with yours. To you, a job might be the difference between shelter and homelessness, but to a corporate CEO, it’s an expense to cut. To you, a stable retirement fund like Social Security might seem like a natural undertaking for society, but to a Congress half-full of millionaires who will never need it, it might well seem like economic dead weight.

It’s gotten so egregious, even Nobel prize-winning economists agree: the age of trusting our elites is over. This is not your grandpa’s world of pensions and social responsibility.

In the face of this onslaught, you’ve got very few choices. You can play by the rules and hope they nobody pulls the rug out from under you. You can give up and slog through difficulties and debt, hoping you aren’t next on the chopping block.

Or you can fight back.

As one age draws to a close, another inevitably dawns. As you regular readers already know, I call it the age of PIE – personal, independent earnings. And as the headlines amply demonstrate, it’s never been more important to secure your own slice. When you take control of your earnings, you profit directly from your labour, rather than handing over the proceeds and settling for whatever portion your boss or employer decides to give you. When you need more money, you simply work harder – when your earnings are personal and independent, your wages are directly connected to your labour. Your work. Your income. Your call.

We’ve all played the game before, and it’s a game with a few very winners and all too many runners-up. You can try to win that race, but it’s a long, tiring marathon – and some of the runners start twenty-five miles in. You have another choice. You can play your own game. Make your own rules. Find and build your own personal, independent earnings.

And then, you can do anything you want.