Good Old Days Are Now; It Keeps Getting Better
As Russ points out "Supposedly, over the last 20 years, all of the income gains have gone to the rich. Yet, somehow, the poorest households increased their access to appliances that make life more pleasant."
The chart above is based on data taken from in the 1985 survey and the 2005 survey, and expands on the data provided in Russ' post.
Bottom Line: Compared to 1985, today's (2005) poorest households have bigger homes and apartments by 15-20%, they are almost 3 times as likely to have central air conditioning, about two times as likely to have a dishwasher, clothes dryer and garbage disposal, more likely to have a washing machine, and more likely to be in a household with a car, or even 2 or more vehicles.
If those significant improvements happened overnight, it would be considered miraculous and would make headline news; but when they happen gradually over several decades, nobody notices, and the significant progress and advances in everybody's standard of living (including households below the poverty level) go largely unrecognized and unappreciated.
More evidence that "the good old days are now," and they keep getting better, see related previous CD posts here, here, here, here, here and here. There is a lot to be thankful for.