I just found this link on a friend's blog and it made me laugh - while making a great point that seems to have been missed by way too many people in this country!
How did so many people somehow miss the boat on the basic concept that you should earn the money FIRST and THEN buy the stuff. How can the attitudes towards earning, spending and saving be adjusted in this country?
I guess when our government is spending money it doesn't have to do things that may not be very necessary or effective (the Iraq war, many overblown and undereffective government agencies), the practice gets copied. And after the tragedy of 9/11 when the message went out that we could show we "believed in America" by shopping up a storm and flaunting the materialistic qualities that our enemies accused us of, that was a shot in the foot in many ways.
I'd love to see a government that could tighten up every aspect of its operation and set an example of careful and efficient spending. While I think it would be ideal for people to just decide to embrace conservativism with their personal finances, it might take government help to get people going down this road. I'd love to see a government that offered greater perks for saving and greater penalties for spending on "luxury" items so that people would have greater incentive to save and become more self-reliant. I'd love to see more education in schools about saving and spending. I'd love to see more warnings and information on debt - just like cigarette packages have a warning from the surgeon general, credit card applications should offer a warning about escalating interest rates and reminds people to spend only the money they have.