This is a misrepresentation of the real statistics around wage stagnation. Real wages (adjusted for inflation and/or purchasing power) hasn’t changed much for the lower and middle classes in the USA for the past few decades. So, the average American can afford to purchase exactly what they could a couple decades ago.
A mid-size sedan you buy today will typically have more airbags and better efficiency than dad's '80 Corolla. It's going to cost more.
Conversely, dad's mid-range TV was probably a 21" NTSC CRT. Yours is a 60" ATSC "smart" LCD , a product that no amount of money could buy in 1980.
A new house today is likely to be a few square metres bigger than a house of similar market position 40 years ago.
There are expenses that are everyday today that would be exotic or unthinkable in 1980: internet service, cable/satellite TV, and mobile telephone are obvious, but I'd also include 401(k) contributions (instead of employer-funded pensions), and college expenses, both your student loan debt service and the need to proactively safe for your children's attendance. Child care is also a changed factor, given the increase in two-income households.
Saying "well, you make as many inflation-adjusted dollars as Dad did" doesn't mean you've kept my position on the social treadmill. When cheap credit goes away, that becomes more obvious.
Sure, if you ignore the cost of health insurance and medical bills. Also if you ignore the cost of higher education.