"Middle-class life is now 30 percent more expensive than it was 20 years ago," Quart writes, citing the costs of housing, education, health care and child care in particular. "In some cases the cost of daily life over the last 20 years has doubled."

In one of her book's many striking findings, Quart writes that according to a Pew study, "Before the 2008 crash, only one-quarter of Americans viewed themselves as lower class or lower-middle class. No longer. After the recession of 2008 . . . a full 40 percent of Americans viewed themselves as being at the bottom of the pyramid."


"In Montreal," where day care is government subsidized, it costs "$7 to $20 a day. That makes a huge difference for families." Figured annually for 50 weeks a year, five days a week, people in Montreal pay $1,750 to $5,000 per year on child care.

By comparison, Quart says that here, "many of the families I spoke to, who were ostensibly middle class, were spending around 20 to 30 percent of their income on day care." Annual averages in the US range from "$10,468 for a center-based child-care program to $28,905 for a nanny."

Problem with the U.S. is health, child care, and education, have exploded with inflation (i.e., most of inflation that occurs in the economy) because of lack of constraints in the cost structure (As well as counter-productive government subsidies). Yet, all these things are included in government public spending in most developed countries. At this point, probably the only way to reverse the trend without leaving large chunks of the population out in the cold is to provide a full public option for all of these areas, with aggressive cost control, but means-tested. This would then separate out the private sector so it can be more efficient, and costs would go down generally, because both the public and private subsectors would predominate towards pro-efficiency incentives (provided the details aren't mucked up, of course).

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