I found The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Fathers Are Going Broke a quick and illuminating read. At first, I got the impression that it was a cloak for women-back-to-ye-kitchens, despite the authors (Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi) were high-flying professional woman (and mother and daughter.) That’s far from the case, and besides, the economic changes sicne the 1970s would make it an uncommon option even among those who desired it.
Fixed costs for living in the middle class are much higher than a generation ago, when a mother-at-home offered financial flexibility when the finances soured. Women’s added household income, used to prop up housing and health costs, raised costs for all and removed the domestic safety net. Their answers boil down to credit reform (to reduce preditory lending, forcing middle class families into controlling fixed costs) and public school vouchers (to scale down the war for housing in areas with good schools). Perhaps I’m missing key points others would find, but the authors shift the blame off the failure of the middle class to be rugged or individual enough (and take a stab at those politicos who want to make false moral conclusions about those who go bankrupt) while urging planning before the cold times come.
If you’ve read the book, comment below.