i think the middle class has to take at least some of the blame for the current sitution. i'm not saying it's their fault, but they certainly aren't doing anything to help the matter.
<<look at the cost of natural gas and gas for our cars....just so we can get to work.>>
the average size of a middle class home has gone from 1700 to 2200 square feet in the last fifteen years. more square feet, more gas consumed, more market pressure, higher prices, bigger bills. my house was built in 1999 and all of the orginal appliances (frig, dishwasher, hot water heater, furnace) are complete energy hogs. why? because they were the cheapest ones the builder could find and the orginal owner didn't care or didn't know any better.
i live in a middle class sub-division about 30 minutes from columbus, ohio. 90% of the residents have at least one large suv and many have an suv and a full-size pickup as their vehicles. since we're a small community in what was a farming area almost everyone commutes 30+ miles for work. i hear complaints all the time about high gas prices, but i sure see a lot of people with new vehicles that get 15 mpg.
<<my mom worked for 30 years at delphi.>>
one of my neighbors works for delphi and may be losing his job. i certainly feel bad for him, but he was making $70,000 a year with good benefits and a high school education. he's not a manager or anything, just a worker. is this realistic?
<<in arizona, housing prices have more than doubled in the last five years, but the az hospital assoc is on a big campaign to keep nursing wages down>>
blame the baby boomers and their buying power. i know several retirees that have a house in ohio for the summer months and one in arizona or florida for the winter. as more boomers retire i expect the markets in the sunny states to get worse instead of better.
<<i barely could pay my bills>>
i hear this from friends all the time, but when i visit their houses they have the latest and greatest widescreen hdtv, cable or direct tv and all of the premium channels, and an extensive dvd collection. one friend gave me 20+ brand new vhs tapes because he had replaced them with dvd's (he later told me they are a month behind on their mortgage payment). all of their kids have cell phones and the latest xbox games, toys, etc. my father-in-law was out of work for over a year, but that didn't stop them from eating out 3-4 times a week and my mother-in-law never missed her weekly nail appointment ($35 a pop) because she "needed it during this stressful time".
more people should read the great book "shattering the two-income myth".
<<increasing health insurance premiums>>
we are the fatest, least physically fit, most demanding health care consumers on the planet. one of my relatives had been on blood pressure and cholesterol medication for years. his employer changed insurance providers and his portion of the medication cost went up dramatically. he lost 50 pounds and made some diet changes and guess what, he doesn't need either medication any more. i argue with my wife all the time about taking the kids to the doctor. she makes an appointment everytime one of the kids coughs or has a 99 degree temp. when i was a kid if i wasn't puking blood or running a fever of 104 my parents gave me an aspirin and sent me to bed.
<<so much wealth is increasingly concentrated at the very top.>>
it should have been obvious this is the #1 agenda item for the current administration and republican controlled congress. however, in the election of 2004 bush and republicans received strong support from middle class families and nascar moms.