Sara, everything you say about our materialistic society is true. A few people have written about living a simpler and happy life which allows a family to have one parent at home to care for the children. My wife and I did exactly the same thing when our kids were little.
But our anecdotal evidence ignores the macroeconomic facts. I wrote about them here:
In 1946, median household income was $2,500, tuition at UCLA was $58 per year, the cheapest new car cost $1,280, the median house cost $5,600, and median rent was $35 a month.
In 1973, median household income was $8,983, tuition at UCLA was $1500 per year, the cheapest new car cost $2,250 the median house cost $32,500, and median rent was $175 a month.
In 2013, median household income was $51,759, tuition at UCLA was $13,251 per year, the cheapest new cars cost approximately $15,000, the median house cost $220,000, and median rent was $905 a month.
From 1946 to 1966, one parent with a good manufacturing job could buy a house, put their kids through college and save something for retirement, while the other could stay at home.
In big cities, this is impossible. Housing costs are incredibly high, regardless of whether you own or rent.
If anything, society is becoming even more fractured, with the largest cities having the highest concentration of wealth, serviced by a large poor population that struggles with an increasingly high cost of living.
For those who live on farms or around smaller cities, maybe they can get by on one income like you. But if you can’t afford to send your kids to college, or save for retirement, you’re still worse off than your parents were.
And I think that is the larger story that people don’t see because we are so distracted by all these wedge issue discussions.