I really have to shout something from the rooftops. Way too many people have bought into the re-definition of what "middle class" is. Simply put, true "middle class" is historically defined as a one-income family being able to buy a home, a car and support a family. Surprised? You shouldn't be. This was the definition of the vast majority of households here in the U.S. for many years. If you are not old enough to remember, just watch some of the popular TV shows from the 50's and 60's and even the early 70's.
What we used to call "middle class" is now more accurately a "working class" on steroids. Currently, most households need at least two or more incomes to provide for their families. They do have more stuff; mostly from China, a bigger home and additional (bigger) cars, but are in debt up to the eyeballs. How did we get here?
Somewhere in the sensuous decade of the 80's; amidst the birth of Reaganomics and the growing trend of building malls, suburbia, and becoming overly materialistic....this notion that we need to have two incomes to "keep up" became more and more popular. Then in the prosperous 90's ...the trend went viral. So many people wanted "the good life" and used their homes as an ATM machine to buy bigger and more expensive homes. These and other major factors caused inordinate demand on (centrally located, yet decent neighborhood) housing which continued to inflate and pervert the market...."and the band played on"....
The need for a two-income family became a firmly established norm in the ever further spreading of the seemingly endless suburban sprawl. In many of the most expensive cities, by now, even two incomes were really not sufficient. Many people rented out rooms in their, now bigger homes, for the income they now needed to finance the economic insanity of urban America. This also has helped people like me, who hate apartments and I save a little money on rent!
I blame a significant part of the economic chaos of housing in urban America on our regressive tax policies, or not having a progressive real estate tax to help curb the artificial inflation and greedy speculation. I now just need to state that generally, it has been conservative, anti-labor policies of union busting, shipping jobs overseas, and the deregulation of the financial market that has decimated what was left of the "middle class". In my opinion, there is such a tiny, true middle class that we should just pronounce it "dead" circa the market crash of 2008 and the widest income gap seen in this country for almost 80 years!
When any liberal talks as if there is a "middle class", by even using this term; it weakens the cause to show how it was ALREADY dismantled completely by Reagan, and both Bush administrations. Please, enough damage has already been done! Let's make up our own terms that are appropriate for the new strata of classes which have been birthed out this economic nightmare caused by delusional "conservatives" which we accept as normal now.