90% of us may say we're Middle Class, but what on average is our answer to the question What percent of Americans (i.e. everybody else) is Middle Class?
We were deliberately sold a bill of goods on "middle class" in the '50's and '60's in a very high powered campaign (which I am old enough to remember) involving thousands of colleges and universities, think tanks and thousands of newspaper editors. We're all middle class Americans now, except for those low-life scum next door or down the street who don't uphold our standards, or who are poorer or browner or speak worse English than us.
So how come so many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, driven by the fear of homelessness or an old age of poverty? How come we have to try harder and harder just to stay where we are, or take out a second mortgage just to fix the roof or fix our car?
Middle class used to mean managers, professionals, small business owners, medium-size farmers and academics. They shifted it to mean "wanting and trying to live a decent settled life with high standards of behavior and a decent income."
When I was a child, many of us were proud of being Working Class. When I was in college I saw how they were pushing hard on the idea that Working Class = Lower Class = Loser.
The truth is that at least 80% of us were and are Working Class - it may be 90% now. People who have to work for a paycheck to live, but we're the ones who built this country and made it great, and "without our brains and labor not a single wheel would turn."
This may be part of why we're so confused and divided. We are living in a Middle Class fantasy, and suffering because there's such a clash between our ideas and our reality.