I've been an offender...I must admit. I've said, "The Middle Class is Disappearing" and getting "Squeezed". Intuitively, it made sense to parrot the pundits with all of the doom and gloom in the news.
Take a look however at this little video put together by the Wall Street Journal. It stars Drew Carey and it's a fun and economically sound examination of what the Middle Class is really going through today...and how it can afford so much stuff.
This video will at least challenge your ideas about how bad off the Middle Class really is. What is the definition of middle class anyway now?
What seems more plausible is that the expectations of the middle class have risen so much during the last 10 years. Not too long ago, an "average TV" for the house, maybe 27" or 32" if you were really doing well sold for $300-$600. Now the minimum entry point is 42"inch plasma...and those have just come down to about $1k. Regular TV? No way. The entry point of the HD plans on any service is now about $60/month. "But I've got the HDTV...I deserve to see the programs at their best right?
I could go on ad nauseum but think about your parents for a moment. Mine are 57. My family was archetypal middle class. The first new car they bought was in 1984 (age 34). Dad was a union butcher. Mom stayed home. We took a vacation every other year after about the age of 12 that usually involved driving immense distances and sleeping at rest stops. My mom mostly cooked and eating out was a treat.
Today, it's a very different picture. Is the Middle Class really being squeezed or is it that some just don't have more credit available to them to keep up with the Joneses?