For me the answer about the "American middle class" starts with the recognition that versions of this question are being asked in every single country around the world. Obviously the rich-country version of the question is different from what people are asking in becoming-richer economies in Southeast Asia and Latin America, and in still mainly poor economies in parts of Africa and the Middle East.
Even now, at the height of its success, Singapore doesn't get much love (as opposed to grudging respect) from the legions of foreigners who avail themselves of its First World amenities. It's almost obligatory for Westerners visiting or residing in Singapore to complain about the "sterility" of the place, and joke about the carefully manicured boulevards and the pristine shopping malls, contrasting Singapore unflatteringly to the grittier authenticity and "character" of nearby Cambodia and Vietnam. It's indeed easy to mock Singapore if you haven't lived in a poor country, and it's a form of colonial prejudice to begrudge Singaporeans their lack of Third World "charm." We prefer our tropics to be exotically chaotic, thank you -- not tidier and more efficient than the Swiss. And Singapore's system is highly responsive to its citizenry's needs and desires, without being terribly democratic.