Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
One reason that should be examined for the middle class in the United States being "on the edge" is that "middle class" people of today believe they "require" more luxury goods than in generations past.  Many people in "middle class" are two paychecks from the poor house because they accumulate personal debt at unprecedented levels in order to purchase bigger homes than they can afford, additional cars that they really don't need, home electronic gadgets that didn't exist a few years ago, and clothing for kids that is far more expensive than any child should wear.  In past generations, when middle class people couldn't afford to pay for something, they either didn't buy it or saved up until they could make the purchase.  Many American "middle class" people live on the edge because they spend money as if they are "upper" middle class and desire the lifestyle of the wealthy.  
by Grand Poobah on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 11:50:45 AM EST
While that is certainly true, those who are responsible with their money are also living on the edge.  

Health care emergencies, job loss, pension loss, etc. can swallow up the savings of a middle class family which is living responsibly within its means.  

Especially coupled with the new "every man for himself" cultural philosophy.  One simply does not expect or even hope for one's company, community, or often even one's family (because they too are so close to the edge) to come to one's aid in hard times.  The Credit Card is the new "safety net."  Scary stuff.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 12:10:35 PM EST
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Perhaps, although spending on health care is also a variable that can be controlled: We spend a lot of money in situations where 50 years ago the people would simply have died. And it is hard to voluntarily live in a house comparable to a 1950s house because few people will deal with one bathroom and 1000 square feet while raising three kids. Back in the good old days, we rarely went out to eat. My parents only had one car until about 1960. My upper middle class grandparents went to Europe exactly once, for three weeks, by ship, in about 1955.

People have completely lost track of the way people lived 50 years ago. If there is really a lot of concern, budget yourself to a 1950 standard of living for a few years and save the difference.

I do agree that the Democrats are missing a big opportunity, but I gave up on them a long time ago...

by asdf on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 10:27:56 PM EST
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