Lessons From Mexico
There's little doubt that the current economic crisis in the U.S. is going to get worse. Even Paul Krugman has admitted we're probably heading for another depression (although it's for the wrong reasons).
Aside from that, you'll see pickup trucks full of produce at the side of the road selling everything from DVD's (pirated of course) to produce, to toys and so on.
The salient point is, they don't sit around waiting for someone to hand them a check, they get out on the street and do something. They might not make much, but they do it.
Oh, and lets not forget the window washers. And these guys won't vandalize your car if you tell them no. Every parking lot has a parking attendant who makes tips by helping people back out (apparently most Mexicans are incapable of this on their own) or load their purchases. Lots and lots of little micro-entrepreneurs.
Sure, in the US we have laws that say you can't sell food without a health permit and all this other stuff without business licenses and you can't do it on public roads, blah, blah, freaking blah. If massive amounts of people just started DOING IT, it would be impossible to enforce.
But no, Americans just have to sit around and collect unemployment and wait for the non-existent recovery to really take off so they can go back to work.