The economy is in a state that it hasn't seen for awhile, if ever. We are in a costly war, threats of terrorism have caused security costs to increase, fuel prices have risen, the national debt is at an all time high, Americans have a negative savings rate, the housing market has been poor, we are in the midst of a mortgage crisis, we're facing pressure from developing countries, and we're outsourcing jobs. Yet corporate profits are up. Companies have been growing, and making lots of money for their shareholders. Corporations are adapting to the new economy, and figuring out how to profit from it. Meanwhile, the average consumer is getting further in debt and their salaries aren't rising along with the costs of inflation.
This is why people have to invest their money in some form. Index funds, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, money market accounts. You can actively manage your money today, and if you're smart, you can keep up with trends and profit from them. Through the internet, people can get all the financial education they need, as well as the tools to invest their money at a low cost. The barriers to successful investing for the individual are much lower than they were 10 years ago.
The key to success is taking action. If you're not sure that your investing strategies will work, then set up mock portfolios, and track your potential results. But you've got to get interested in managing your money. The days of your employer and the government taking care of you forever are gone, if they ever existed to begin with. Take action and make some money!