Yeah I know, things ain't what they used to be. And according to "experts" like Robert Reich, Paul Krugman and a host of other economists, columnists and politicians, not only is life not what it used to be, it's far worse. That is for everyone except those fortunate few who find themselves in the upper single-digit percentile(s).
According to stats proffered by the Reich's and the Krugman's, your everyday American household has sat idle these past 3 or 4 decades while the upper class has grown ever-more upper class. The problem with these real-life household stats however is that they don't accurately reflect real-life households. I.e., those who'd have you believe the upper 1% is made up of some elite resource-hoarding fraternity would prefer you not think about who occupies your typical U.S. household these days.
Think in terms of the divorce rate since the '70s. Think in terms of last Friday's New York Times article titled For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage... Bottom line; the number of households has expanded substantially, relative to growth in population. I.e., simply looking at "households", as opposed to the lives of those who comprise them, distorts the facts in a way that favors the politician who'd have you feel the victim.
If you're believing the politically-inspired tale of the moribund middle-class, consider the following (as they come to my mind) shortlist, in terms of the invention, or improved quality, of the creature comforts today's middle class enjoys:
Skis, Ski boots, Ski bindings
Gyms (spin, yoga, Pilates, etc)
Stadium seating (movies)
While I hope that twenty years from now this exercise will produce equally eye-opening results, the pace of innovation going forward faces one major impediment: Today's popular notion that simply raising taxes on production, as opposed to spending within our means (btw 2007's federal budget would be balanced against today's revenue), is the answer to unchecked government borrowing that, at current pace, will make us very Europe-like in the not-too-distant future...