An article in Business Day calls into question what progress really is.

The article highlights what progress isn’t: the strain of both parents having to work, rising debt and huge interest payments, increased environmental degradation from houses that are getting bigger and bigger, the stress of job security in an economic system that is based on making money and not based on making people happy (NB These are not the same thing, no matter what the free-market ideologues say!)

The article states:

The rampant cost of living means two-income families are increasingly worse off than single-income families were a generation ago – and it is threatening to put them under.

While median incomes and the number of women in the workforce has risen substantially, the money that families are putting into servicing the long-term commitments of a standard middle class lifestyle – comprehensive health insurance, a house in the right suburb and investment in education – has soared.

“It is increasingly clear that two incomes have trapped many families under a mountain of long-term financial commitments,” said economist Gareth Morgan.

And goes on to say:

Infometrics economist Matt Nolan said all recent government policy had been about getting second earners into the labour market, but that extra income – thanks to easy credit – was simply going into extra debt in the form of larger and flasher houses.

That income has gone into building bigger and better houses than they had before. The square metreage has doubled.